Northern & Southern California 4×4 Trails Book Review

California 4x4 Trails Book Review

California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive (4×4) Trails Guide/Book Review

An absolute must-have for anyone with a 4×4!

If you are looking for the ultimate guide to 4×4 trails in Northern and Southern California, you have found it. The California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive (4×4) Trails book is your complete guide to the top 4×4 trails. There are hundreds of 4×4 trails throughout Northern and Southern California and this book does not cover all of them, but they sure do cover quite a few (100 to be exact).

There is a ton of information in this book along with the 100 4×4 trails that they cover. Boasting 500 photos, and 232 pages of information packed with 4×4 trail tips and tricks, you will find yourself reading this book every chance you get. Whether you are a beginner in the 4×4 world or an expert, this is a must own book for any 4Runner or 4-wheel drive owner.

California Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails does a great job of putting together the top 100 trails in California. Take a look at the highlights and features below for this must have California 4×4 Trails book.

Interesting fact: Did you know there are 3000+ Lakes in California? But, that is nothing compared to Alaska at 3,000,000. Yeah, that’s right. Alaska has 3 million lakes! 

Highlights & Features of the California 4×4 Trails Book

  • 100 Northern & Southern California Trails, 232 Pages & 500 Color Photos
  • 108 Custom Maps with Landmarks & Difficulty
  • Durable Cover with Spiral Binding
  • California ATV and UTV Trails
  • Turn-by-Turn Mileage Log (Very Helpful)
  • GPS Coordinates
  • Historical Landmarks Explained (Brief History)

Northern California & Southern California 4×4 Trail Maps

California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive (4x4) Trails

This is an excellent book to have when you are off-road and need a reference point for where you are located and where you are heading. Of course, you want a GPS to tell you exactly where you are, but having this book does help guide you in the right direction.

In each Northern or Southern California Trail guide, you will find detailed information about that specific trail’s difficulty, step by step directions, map overview guides, trail landmarks, and on-trail photos.

California Trail Ratings & Difficulty (4×4 Trails Broken Down)

Conditions on any 4×4 trail in California can change at any moment. Weather and time of year play a huge role in what a trail will drive like and whether it will be easy, moderate or difficult. You must be the final judge of the trails condition on the day you drive it. In California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive (4×4) Trails, if any part of the trail is difficult, they mark the entire trail difficult. You may be able to drive a significant portion of the trail before reaching the difficult spot. It is up to you to determine whether or not you want to pursue any given trail.

Easy California 4×4 Trails (Fire Roads & Flat Trails)

Gravel, dirt, Clay, sand, or mild rocky road. Gentle grades. Water levels low except during periods of heavy run off. Four-with single lane or wider with adequate room to pass most of the time. With easy 4x4d trails, the road is wide with minor sideways tilt. Some trails can be driven in 2-wheel drive under ideal conditions. Others will need 4-wheel drive and in some cases low range four wheel drive.

Moderate California 4×4 Trails (Steep Inclines & Rocky Terrain)

Rough dirt terrain and rocky road conditions make for moderate 4×4 trails. Careful tire placement may be necessary as rocks, boulders and narrow shelf terrain becomes a factor. Some grades are fairly steep but manageable when driven slow and thoughtful. Sideways tilt will require caution on few parts of moderate 4×4 trails. Water depths possible, stock height clearance vehicles OK, except during periods of high run off. Mud holes may be present especially in the spring. Undercarriage my scrape occasionally depending on ground clearance. Rock-stacking may be necessary in some cases. The brush may touch your 4Runner. 4-wheel drive, 4-low, and higher ground clearance with aftermarket 5th Gen 4Runner suspension required in most cases. Aftermarket skid plates and higher ground clearance may be recommended on many trails.

Difficult California 4×4 Trails (Large Rocks, Challenging Transitions, Narrow Roads)

Grades can be very steep a severe wash-outs with large boulders. Sideways till can be extreme. Sandhills very steep with soft down slips. Deep water crossings possible through all seasons. Shelf roads extremely narrow; use caution in a full-size vehicle. Passing may be difficult. The brush may scratch sides of your 4Runner.

Body damage is highly possible, please use caution. Some trails suitable for more aggressive stock vehicles but most trails require vehicle modification. Full suspension lift kits, aftermarket lift kits, differential lockers, aggressive articulation, and or winch mounts recommended many cases. Skid plates other 5th Gen 4Runner Accessories required.

Northern California 4×4 Trails (Maps & Trail Guides)

Multiple “Zones” to cover in Northern California. In the Northern California 4×4 Trails section, there are four different zones that cover everything from Eureka through Red Bluff and Redding to Truckee, Tahoe, and Yosemite. We are located in Sacramento so this is where we are going to spend most of our time. Take a look below to see some of the specific 4×4 trails in Northern California.

Northern  California 4×4 Trails list Area 1

Redding, Red Bluff, Gold Lake & Our Beloved Lake Tahoe

  • Bowerman Ridge
  • Shasta Balley peak
  • Pellegrino Jeep Way
  • High Lakes
  • Stag Point
  • Cleghorn Bar
  • Poker Flat
  • Deer Lake
  • Golden Valley
  • Snake Lake
  • Sierra Buttes
  • Ellis Peak & Blackwood Canyon
  • Buck Lake
  • Rubicon Westside
  • Rubicon Eastside
  • Shirttail Canyon

Northern California 4×4 Trails list Area 2

Lake Alpine, Bridgeport, Mammoth Lakes, Big Pine, Shaver Lake & Yosemite Area 

  • Barney Riley
  • Slickrock Trail
  • Coral Hollow
  • Niagara Rim
  • Bodie Ghost Town
  • Kavanaugh Ridge
  • Copper Mountain
  • Deadman Pass
  • Laurel Lakes
  • San Canyon
  • Wheeler Ridge
  • Buttermilk Country
  • Coyote Flat
  • Mazourka Canyon
  • Bald Mountain
  • Brewer Lake
  • Mirror Lake & Strawberry Lake
  • Coyote Lake
  • Swamp lake
  • Dusy/Ershim Trail
  • Spanish Route

Southern California 4×4 Trails (Maps & Trail Guides)

Southern California has some of the coolest scenes in California’s 4×4 world. From Hollister Hills to the Mud Caves, Southern California has much to be explored. In the Southern California section of California 4×4 Trails, there are four-five zones that are covered. If you are able to cover every trail in each of these zones, awesome. There are quite a few. If you are looking for a good starting point for southern California 4×4 Trails, start here. You will not be disappointed.

Southern California 4×4 Trails list Area 3

Lone Pine, Death Valley National Park & the Panamint Mountains 

  • Movie Rd.
  • Alabama Hills
  • Swansea-Cerro Gordo Scenic Drive
  • Racetrack via Hunter Mountain
  • Marble & Cottonwood Canyons
  • Titus canyon
  • Chloride City
  • Inyo-Mine & Echo Pass
  • Pleasant Canyon
  • Briggs Camp
  • Goler wash & Mengle Pass
  • Butte Valley
  • Sperry Wash
  • Dumont Dunes

Southern California 4×4 Trails list Area 4

Lake Isabella, Ridgecrest, Barstow 

  • Monache Meadows
  • Sherman Pass 4×4 Trail
  • Freeway Ridge – Black Gulch Trail
  • Jawbone to Lake Isabella
  • Jawbone OHV
  • Bonanza Gulch
  • Opal Canyon
  • Last Chance Canyon
  • Wall Street Canyon Overlook
  • Odessa-Doran loop
  • Phillips loop

Southern California 4×4 Trails list Area 5

Frazier Park, Santa Clarita, big bear, Lake Arrowhead 

  • Hungry Valley SVRA
  • Alamo Mountain Loop
  • Liebre mountain
  • Sierra Pelona Ridge – Rowler OHV
  • Cleghorn Ridge
  • Pilot Rock Road
  • Willow Creek Rd
  • Grapevine Canyon
  • Dish Pan Springs
  • Holcomb Creek
  • John Bull Trail
  • Jacoby Canyon
  • Skyline Dr
  • Clarks Summit
  • Burns Canyon

Southern California 4×4 Trails list Area 6

Ocotillo, Anza-Borrego Desert, Superstition Mountain, Imperial Sandune’s

  • Ocotillo Wells SVRA
  • Pumpkin Patch
  • Cross Over Trail
  • Calcite Mine
  • Fonts point
  • The Slot
  • Pinyon Mountain Valley
  • Sandstone Canyon
  • Blair Valley
  • Canyon Sin Nombre
  • Mud Caves
  • Mortero Wash
  • McCain Valley Rd
  • Los Pinos Mountain Loop
  • Sidewinder
  • Bronco Peak
  • Superstition Mountain
  • Glamis, Oldsmobile Hill, and Sand Highway

A few others remain but that is about 90% of the trails that they cover. In each one of these sections, you will find detailed information on the 4×4 trail itself along with maps, tips and local history/ points of interest. This book cuts right to the good stuff. Aside from busy trail directory websites, this book gives you everything you need to know and a little more.

California Backroads & Detailed Off-Road Landmarks

California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive (4x4) Trails

My favorite part about this book is all of the attention to detail they feature. The authors know what we like. Amazing nature shots and off the beaten path landmarks.  As 4×4 owners, we all look forward to getting out in the back country and having fun and in our four-wheel drives and 4Runners.

It’s so disappointing to come back from the 4×4 trip that turned out to be a big waste of time. After three decades of exploring the west, the authors have learned the difference between “yawner trails”  and the true exciting adventure trails throughout Northern and Southern California.

When you’re in your 4Runner you want the drive to be interesting with curves, dips and something real to see. This book replaces the two previous black-and-white books that were written over a decade ago. In that time some of the trails were closed. Of the 4×4 trails still open, this book has put together the list of the best 100 Northern and Southern California 4×4 trails. The guide to California back roads and four-wheel-drive trails is so sure that they guaranteed it.

So go forth, have fun but remember to be responsible and always stay on designated trails. 

Extra Shots of the California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive (4×4) Trails Book

California 4x4 Trails Guide - Detailed Landmarks California 4x4 Trails Guide - Cover California 4x4 Trails Guide - Detailed Maps California 4x4 Trails Guide - Huge Trail Photographs California 4x4 Trails Guide - Detailed Landmarks California 4x4 Trails Guide - Guide Maps

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Derek C
Derek C
6 years ago

Hi, looks like a detailed book. Thanks for the suggestion, one question though…. Any comment on the 2014 publish date on it considering its 2018 ? Any suggestion on a more current book ? Thanks in advance, Derek

5 years ago
Reply to  Derek C

Yeah this book is now 5 years old. I am wondering the same before I plunk down the $35.

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