Where Are the Best Places to Learn How to Ride a Dirt Bike in SoCal?
One of the most important parts of learning how to ride a dirt bike is picking the best place to learn how to ride. It may sound silly, but you don't want to find yourself on a trail that's way above your skill level. Not only is that extremely dangerous, but it may deter you from trying to ride again!
To help, we've created a list of some of the places we ride, including the pros and cons for a beginner rider.
Gorman (Hungry Valley SVRA)
Pros: This area is the closest to the LA area and super easy to get to! There are designated roads, camping spots and trails, so you always know you're in the right place. Since the park is run by the state, it's kept clean, there are bathrooms, and park rangers available should you need immediate assistance. The valley where everyone parks/camps contains low, rolling hills which are easy to ride.
Cons: As opposed to riding the open desert, this park contains designated trails/roads—and there are a lot of them that cross paths with each other. You need to be mindful of oncoming traffic. Gorman can get reaallllyyyyy busy, especially on weekends, and is open to dirt bikes, UTVs, and 4x4 cars. Additionally, as you start to ride away from the campgrounds, most of the trails get tighter and take you up into the trees/on the side of mountains. Hairpin turns seem to come out of no where and can send you off a cliff or into some trees (both speaking from experience lol). This is a very popular area for beginners and there are a lot of accidents. Stay alert; you never know what's coming around the turn.
Our recommendation: This area is not ideal for someone just learning how to ride, but good if you've got the swing of things and now learning to improve your skills. If you can get here during the week, it's much less crowded! You'll feel like you'll have the entire park to yourself.
Pros: The riding area north of California City (map to Borax Bill Park & Station to help you get there) is relatively flat and WIDE. ASS. OPEN. There are trails and roads to help you, but you can pretty much ride anywhere. This makes it a great area to learn how to ride a dirt bike because you have a lot of room to cruise, make turns and fall. The lack of notable landscape makes it almost impossible to hit anything that will severely harm you or your bike—win! When you're ready, you can find mountains, hill climbs, and more technical riding as you get more comfortable exploring the area.
Cons: Caution!! The wide open desert with wide open roads means that people like to go fast; and because this is a popular area for beginners, accidents are more likely to happen. Always look both ways before crossing another trail/road, and be aware of your surroundings. The openness also means that it's really easy to get lost, especially as you start to ride away from your campsite. Everything can start to look the same very quickly...
Our recommendation: Grab a map and carry it with you! The "camping" area is actually a housing development that never got developed... so there are actual street names that can help you if you get lost. Ride to specific landmarks until you're comfortable riding around on your own.
Spangler Hills (also called Red Mountain, Trona, Ridgecrest)
Pros: A great riding area for beginners! Spangler boasts a lot of flat, wide open desert. The "camping" isn't as official as the first two locations mentioned so it really spreads the crowd out, making the trails less crowded. This area is also just a few miles north of Johannesburg (for gas) and Randsburg (a fun town that off-road enthusiasts flock to on holiday weekends to grab a drink and some food).
Cons: Similar to Cal City, it's very easy to get lost here. Everything starts to looks the same, and it's easy to forget which rock you took a left turn at...
Our recommendation: For a little bit more of a secluded campsite, go down Trona Road and pull off on one of the side roads from there. When you ride, take a phone or GPS with you, and be mindful of your surroundings. Definitely visit Randsburg for a milkshake!
Pros: Another great riding area for beginners! The camping areas are easy to get to, and the landscape is novice-friendly with rolling hills and small shrubbery.
Cons: There are areas of deep sand, so lean back and throttle out! This area can also get pretty crowded with all types of off-road vehicles and riders, especially on holiday weekends. Look both ways, and never ride faster than you can handle.
Our recommendation: Take a ride to the Jawbone Canyon Store! Not sure about weekdays or off weekends, but on busy weekends they'll have beer, food and live music out back. Anyone who isn't riding can meet you there by car.
Pros: Visually more appealing than the open desert locations, and there are some awesome camping spots! This is the sister location of Dove Springs, but perhaps the older, more mature sibling...
Cons: There are a lot of steep hill climbs to get out of the canyon, and the bottom of the canyon is filled with a lot of sand—a losing situation for anyone learning.
Our recommendation: In our opinion, this location is not ideal for beginner riders. Venture this way when you're ready to work on your technical skills, and perhaps riding with someone who can help you should you need trail assistance.
What do you think? Do you have any pros or cons to add to the list? Or if you have recommendations for any other amazing places to ride in SoCal, drop them in the comments!