Which way to the trail? Every off-roader wants to know the answer to this. If you ask this question in Ridgecrest, California, you’re gonna have to be more specific.
Originally a small outpost that sprang to life in the 1940s in conjunction with the U.S. Navy’s Ordnance Test Station, Ridgecrest has grown ever since. These days, Ridgecrest visitors can choose from a plethora of hotels, restaurantsand off-road opportunities.
When in Ridgecrest, all points of the compass lead to a trail or an off-road area of some sort. Directly north, the China Lake Naval Weapons Center offers guided tours of Little Petroglyph Canyon, home to rock art that’s thousands of years old, and is reached by pavement, dirt, and hiking boot. Further north are the Inyo Mountains and Cerro Gordo Ghost Town. Heading south? You’ll find dozens of trails around Randsburg, the living ghost town that’s got the welcome mat out for dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs, prerunners, and 4x4s. East of Ridgecrest you’ll find the Spangler Hills open OHV area and the otherworldly Trona Pinnacles. Pointing west you’ll come to the towering Sierra Nevada, as well as a leg of the proposed State Motorized Trail System.
We’ve mentioned north, south, east, and west. What about the bearings in between? It turns out that dirt and trails exist there, too. When we say all points of the compass we really mean it.
Like a hungry 5-year-old at a dessert buffet, we wanted to dig into everything. Reality then kicked in, and we picked a few trails from the menu and went for it, leaving the rest for later. Every trail quest at Ridgecrest is destined to be successful. After all, life is good when there’s dirt in every direction.