The Off-Highway Vehicle system on the San Bernardino National Forest is one of the best in Southern California. A variety of experiences and a large number of miles are available for 4-wheel driving, ATV, UTV and motorcycle use.
The San Bernardino National Forest OHV system is comprised of designated routes and trails primarily in Cajon Pass, North Lake Arrowhead, North and East of Big Bear, and West of Idyllwild. The San Bernardino National Forest does not have "open areas" for hill-climbing activities, cross country travel or motor cross tracks for racing.
The San Bernardino National Forest offers 42 miles of 24-50" trails with an additional 166 miles of forest roads available for green sticker/red sticker use. There are 903 miles of road open to Sport Utility Vehicle and four wheel drive vehicle travel (104 miles of which are primarily 4x4 routes). The OHV system offers a wide range of experience levels including novice, intermediate, and expert levels and signed easiest, more difficult, and most difficult.
Where to Go?
Big Bear - Head to Cactus Flats Staging area is located north of Big Bear on State Highway 18.
Lake Arrowhead - Plan to visit the Pinnacles Staging area located north of Lake Arrowhead on State Highway 173.
Cajon Pass - Stop by the Summit Staging area east of I-15, south of Highway 138 on Forest Road 3N22.
Mountaintop Ranger District - Lake Silverwood to Big Pine Flats
Mountaintop Ranger District - Big Pine Flats to Cactus Flats
San Jacinto Ranger District Off Highway Vehicle Riding Areas
Maps are best printed on 11" x 17" paper in color.
Practice Good Stewardship of your trails and road, so that others may enjoy these areas for years to come by practicing some of the following actions:
- Don't Litter... take along a trash bag or other receptacle for collecting your trash so that you can deposit it in the proper trash receptacle.
- Make sure that you ride on the designated trail or roadway in that area. Check with your destination ahead of time to make ensure that the area you plan to ride in is allowed.
- Don't ride in areas where it is not permitted. These areas have been declared "off limits" to riders to protect wildlife, vegetation, or for your safety.
- Yield the right of way to those passing or traveling uphill.
- Assist in the management of your public lands by reporting inappropriate behavior, natural resource damage or hazards you may encounter. (909-382-2693)
- Respect the environment and other trail users. By using common sense and common courtesy, what is available today will be there to enjoy tomorrow.
- To learn more about responsible OHV riding, go to the Tread Lightly website at: http://www.treadlightly.org
- Visit or call the local Ranger Station to check on conditions and weather. "Know Before You Go"
- Know the Rules and Regulations before you visit the National Forest.
- Share the roads and trails with all other users. Slow down when your sight distance ahead is limited by blind turns, weather conditions, vegetation, and when passing other forest users.
- Be extra careful when parking or loading and unloading, riders in the staging areas might not see you.
- Never ride alone. Accidents happen easily and you may not be able to help yourself.
- Wear adequate riding gear and boots, and always wear a helmet with eye protection.
- Flashlight - with extra batteries, or a hand crank charger
- Cell Phone - with extra batteries or a hand crank charger
- Road Map & Forest Map if traveling off the state and county roads
- GPS Units help pinpoint your exact location in an emergency - with extra batteries
- Make sure you have adequate fuel, water and snacks for a longer ride
- There are several hundred abandoned mines on the forest. The public is prohibited from entering any of these openings. If any of these of openings are causing a clear and present danger to the public, report the location to the local Ranger Station for signing or fencing.
Restrictions and the Laws applicable to the National Forest
- Off-highway travel is restricted to designated routes. Travel on designated routes only and pay attention to all signs that tell whether an area is open or closed to OHV use.
- Motorized travel is prohibited in some areas. Federal law (36 CFR 261.16(a)) prohibits operation of any mechanical or motorized equipment within the boundaries of a Wilderness.
- Your OHV must be equipped with a properly installed United States Forest Service approved spark arrester in good working order. Citations will be issued.
- UTV (also known as side-by-side's) operators cannot drive on Street Legal Routes or 24" to 50" wide ATV / Motorcycle routes.
- ATV operators must wear a helmet any time they are riding and must not carry passengers.
- Persons under age 14 must be supervised and be in possession of an ATV Certificate, or enrolled in a State Approved Course. Persons aged 14-17 must be in possession of an ATV Certificate or be enrolled in a State approved course or be under direct supervision of an adult who is in possession of a State approved certificate.
- All vehicles that are operated on public lands must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The registration fee is $25 per vehicle, and is valid for a two-year period. The OHV fund is used for acquisition of new OHV areas, development and operation of existing OHV areas, enforcement of the rules and regulations, and protection of the natural resources. Registration must be on the vehicle.
- Red Sticker vehicles riding season (California Red Sticker Season PDF)
Lytle Creek Area - October 1st through April 30th
Lake Arrowhead Area October 1st through April 30th
Big Bear Lake Area 1-October 1st through April 30th
Idyllwild Area - October 1st through May 31st
- Possession of Alcohol - It is illegal to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while riding in or operating an off-highway vehicle.
- Noise Limits - Noise from off-highway vehicles manufactured on or after January 1, 1998, shall be limited to not more than 96 dBA, and if manufactured prior to January 1, 1998, to not more than 101 dBA, when measured from a distance of 20 inches using test procedures established by the Society of Automotive Engineers under Standard J-1287, as applicable. Noise emissions of all other off-highway vehicles shall be limited to not more than 96 dBA if manufactured on or after January 1, 1986, and not more than 101 dBA if manufactured prior to January 1, 1986, when measured from a distance of 20 inches using test procedures established by the Society of Automotive Engineers under Standard J-1287, as applicable.
- Headlamps / Taillights - Any vehicle operated between sunset and sunrise must display at least one headlight that enables an operator to see clearly 200 feet ahead and one red taillight visible for 200 feet.
- Red/Blue Lights & Sirens on OHV's - OHV's shall not display a flashing or steady burning red or blue warning light on an off-highway motor vehicle or be equipped with a siren.
- Speed, Turning, Reckless Driving - You may not drive a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the safety of other persons or their property .
- Suspended Driving Privilege - A driverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s license is not necessary to operate an OHV in most areas. However, if your driving privilege is suspended in California, you may not operate an OHV on California public lands.
- It is your responsibility to know all of the regulations, and all citations issued for OHV's are reported to the DMV and may appear on your driving record.