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Top 5 West Coast Off-road Trails You Need to Experience

The American West is full of beautiful places to explore, and there are few better ways to do so than by taking your offroad vehicle out on one of the many trails the region has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a challenging trail to test your skills or a scenic route to take in the sights, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for on the West Coast.

In this article, we’ll take a look at five of the best off-road trails the West Coast has to offer. So, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-time adventurer, read on for the top 5 West Coast off-road trails you need to experience.

Jeep Rubicon passing by one of the mountain passes in Oregon

Why the West Coast is the best coast for off-roading

The West Coast is the perfect location for off-roading. From the California deserts to the lush forests of Oregon and Washington, the West Coast offers a variety of terrains for off-roaders to explore.

The dry desert air of the California and Nevada deserts is great for dust-free trails year-round, and the high elevation of the Colorado Rockies makes for some truly spectacular views along the way. Oregon and Washington feature some of the most incredible scenery in the country, with lush forests, serene lakes, cascading waterfalls, and mountain passes.

The West Coast is also home to some of the best off-road events in the US, like the California Off-road Jamboree and the Oregon Trail Race. The combination of great terrains, unique experiences, and year-round events make the West Coast the perfect destination for off-roading enthusiasts. So bring your rig and don’t forget to mount your light bars

Trail 1: The Rubicon Trail

An offroading Jeep Wrangler driving down the Rubicon trail at sunset

The Rubicon Trail in California is probably one of the most iconic off-roading trails in the US. This 14-mile-long trail winds through the El Dorado National Forest and is one of the most challenging trails on the West Coast

This trail is known for its tight, narrow turns and large, uneven rocks. The trail features several challenging obstacles, such as the 'Little Sluice'and the 'Soup Bowl', as well as spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains.

Make sure to plan extra time and bring proper safety gear to tackle this difficult trail. The Rubicon Trail is not for the faint of heart, and you should exercise caution when driving this scenic route

Keep in mind that the Rubicon Trail is a one-way trail and there is no turning around – you will need to follow the path from start to finish. Additionally, the trail is only open to registered vehicles and off-roaders should obtain a permit prior to driving.

Trail 2: Johnson Valley

Entrance of the Johnson Valley offroading trail

Johnson Valley in California also boasts one of the toughest off-road trails on the West Coast. This 12-mile-long trail is located in the Johnson Valley State Motorcycle Park and offers some of the best views of the surrounding desert

The trail is known for its steep climbs and sharp switchback turns, and rocky terrain which offer a thrilling ride for off-road enthusiasts. Notable points of the hike include Rattlesnake Ravine, Flickerwood, and Powder Wash Lookout.

To ride the trail, you will need to obtain an off-road permit beforehand. The route can be accessed from the south at Lue Cyn, or from the north at Cleghorn Fire Road. The trail is best experienced in a four-wheel drive vehicle, as portions of the trail are rocky and require a high degree of driving skill

Trail 3: Mojave Road

Mojave road looks like a wasteland on a sunny day

Mojave Road in California is often regarded as one of the most exciting off-road trails on the West Coast. The Mojave Road stretches over approximately 100 miles or 165 kilometers and is suitable for both jeep and ATV vehicles.

The scenic route weaves throughout the desert and offers unbeatable views of the nearby mountain ranges and canyons. The landscape is filled with Joshua Trees and vegetation peculiar to the Mojave Desert. Some of the other notable points along the trail include Lava Valley, Marl Springs, and North Day Canyon. The trail is best experienced in daylight hours and is divided into two parts: the dry lakebed section which is approximately 40 miles long and the mud hills section which is roughly 65 miles.

>A permit is required to traverse the trail. This is a great place to get your first off-roading experience as it offers an abundance of obstacles and technical difficulties for all skill levels. With its breathtaking views, the Mojave Road is a must-visit for every off-roader.

A Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4 conquering the Tahuya Trail

Situated in the sprawling state of Oregon, is the unparalleled Tahuya State Forest. This forest offers miles and miles of lush trails and stunning scenery that is perfect for touching off your off-roading adventures. This trail is considered very mild in terms of difficulty but it doesn’t fail to deliver a wild and unique terrain.

You will find yourself trekking through rocky terrain, sandy trails, and gravel paths as you pass by picturesque riverbanks, open grasslands, and towering pine trees. Tahuya made one of the best viewing spots in the region and offers extraordinary views of Mt. Hood and the surrounding ranges.

Tahuya has trails of various difficulty and terrain types so you can get the perfect off-roading experience for your skill set. The Forest Service requires a permit for vehicles that can be acquired easily either online or by visiting a local office.

With its rugged terrain and breathtaking views, Tahuya State Forest is one of the most spectacular and beloved off-roading and recreation spots on the West Coast.

Trail 5: ORV areas in Washington

Two Jeep resting on the Columbia Hills State Park<

Washington's scenic panoramas offer some of the most incredible off-roading experiences on the West Coast. Home to some of the most popular and remarkable ORV areas in the country, Washington is the perfect destination for any off-roading enthusiast.

Here are the top five off-roading destinations in Washington that will exceed your expectations:

1. Little Naches Trail

This trail passes through two old-growth forests full of lodge-pole pines and lush ferns. You will find yourself trekking through rocky terrain and sandy paths as you experience breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

2. Monte Cristo Trail

This trail is perfect for beginners and experienced riders alike, with its easy-to-follow route and sweeping views of the surrounding Cascade Range.

3. Mount Annette Trail

This trail is considered intermediate due to its intense elevation and terrain. This is not for the faint of heart but promises an unforgettable ride.

4. The Superhighway

Enjoy a long day of off-roading through spectacular terrain full of lakes, alpine meadows, and deep forests. This trail has some of the most magnificent views of Washington.

5. Columbia Hills State Park

This off-roading spot is home to archaeological sites, natural features, and sweeping views. Enjoy rugged terrain and a challenging ride up the hills.

Conclusion and invitation to explore these thrilling trails

The West Coast of the United States is home to some of the best off-road trails in the country. From the challenging terrain of the Rubicon Trail in California to the scenic beauty of the Pacific Northwest Backcountry Discovery Route, there is something for every level of off-road enthusiast. Whether you're looking for a weekend getaway or a longer adventure, the top 5 West Coast off-road trails are sure to provide an unforgettable experience. So, pack your bags, gather your gear, and hit the road for an off-road adventure of a lifetime.  For your additional safety gear check out some of our LED light bars that you can use for your weekend trail.

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Meet the Author: Extreme LED has been helping offroad enthusiasts with their LED lighting needs since 2011. We have built our company to provide you with the best experience from shopping to customer support and ultimately use and longevity of our products. Our high-performance LED Light Bars & Pods are covered by our Lifetime Warranty and with free shipping over $100, you can rest assured that you are getting a high-quality product that will provide long-lasting lighting for your vehicle.

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