To ensure that your experience on the trials is both safe and enjoyable, read about what to know before going off-roading for the first time here.

Are you tired of busy streets and road rules? Perhaps it’s time to forgo the pavement and try your hand at the off road trails. For many, off-roading is an invigorating and rewarding activity that allows them to connect with nature while also challenging their vehicle-handling skills. However, if you’re new to this activity, tackling tough challenges out on remote trails can also be a bit intimidating. In the High Sierra and the adjoining Eastern Sierra front there are hundreds of miles of off road opportunities to test you new enthusiasm.

To ensure that you stay safe and have fun, we share what to know before going off-roading for the first time.

What To Pack

When off-roading, you never know what might happen. You could find yourself stuck in a mud puddle or get a flat tire. To minimize your chances of becoming stranded in the middle of nowhere, you must pack an ample amount of supplies. That said, you don’t want to overpack either and weigh down your vehicle or off-set its center of balance.

Instead, you’ll just want to pack the essentials for your jeep or truck, such as a first aid kit, recovery straps, a spare tire, a shovel, a flashlight, and a toolbox. Once you’ve packed everything, make sure to strap it all down so that it doesn’t go flying around while you drive.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Let go of any notions that off-roading involves tearing down trails and putting the pedal to the metal. This mindset couldn’t be farther from the truth. In reality, skilled off-roaders know that the best way to tackle the off road trails is to go slow and steady. 

In fact, one of the cardinal rules of off-roading is to go as slowly as possible and only as fast as necessary. In other words, you should only speed up when you need to generate momentum to get over an obstacle. This way of thinking will help you avoid getting stuck, prevent collisions with other drivers on the trail, and minimize your negative environmental impact. 

Always Bring a Buddy

Another important thing to know before going off-roading for the first time is that you should always bring a buddy in a separate vehicle. Even the most skilled and experienced off-roaders face vehicle issues or wind up stuck in a rut from time to time. In such cases, having someone there who can help pull you out or get help can mean the difference between life and death since you’ll often be out in the remote wilderness.


Here are few Easy beginner trails to consider:

Alabama Hills Movie Flat Area – LonePine Ca -Just outside Lone Pine, California, Alabama Hills – Movie Flat is a place where ancient, jagged rock formations enclose on the easy going, winding, off-road trails, and the snow covered Mount Whitney, in the eastern Sierra Nevadas, towers above you to the west.
Alabama Hills is a unique California destination and a popular movie and television shoot location.
Among the rock croppings of the Alabama Hills you will find some great camping, hiking and plenty of opportunities to explore the maze of trails throughout this incredible place.

Holcome Valley – 3n16 rd – 3N16 provides a scenic, enjoyable drive for all offroad enthusiasts. At roughly 26 miles long, this overland trail will take you through the backwoods of the San Bernardino National Forest. Along with some great views, 3N16 also has a historic route for which more information can be found at Big Bear Discovery Center or the trail review, Gold Fever Trail.

Butte Valley – Furnace Creek CA – In the middle of nowhere on the backside of the Panamint Mountain Range lays a secret of the desert. Even though it is extremely remote (60+ miles to the nearest town) this gem of the desert is a popular place for over landers and off-road enthusiast to visit. Butte Valley, on the southeastern corner of Death Valley, is a unique and exciting place only accessible by 4wd on very old Jeep Trails. While visiting the area be prepared for some amazing views of lands where very few humans have ever been. You will dive into the old mining days of Panamint Mountains as you enter an area that was constructed back in the late 1800’s.

Iron Lakes – 23E204 – Fish Camp – High in the Sierra National Forest, just south of the Yosemite National Park border is the hidden gem known as Iron Lakes. East of the small mountain town of Fish Camp, north of Bass Lake, and Oakhurst this short, semi-technical 4×4 trail leads to an overlook of Iron Lakes with some awesome views of the surrounding mountains and lake below. For those willing to make the hike, the clear waters at the lake are a short, but steep walk away.

Any off-roader with minimal 4×4 experience should do fine on this trail by taking it slow and picking the right lines.

Shuteye Peak – 6S59 rd – Bass Lake Ca – Dense forest, water crossings, steep switchbacks, moderate rock obstacles and some amazing views at the Shuteye Peak fire watch tower will make this one of your favorite California trails. High in the Bass Lake Ranger District of the Sierra National Forest, Shuteye Peak overlooks from the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains to Kaiser Pass, Shaver Lake and Bald Mountain, to Bass Lake, the Yosemite Wilderness past Madera Peak, over California’s Central Valley and beyond. With such diverse trail characteristic from start to finish, Shuteye Peak is one of Central California’s top trails and a must-do for any wheeler looking for high mountain views.

About the author

Kayla Beirne

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