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Spring is in the air, which means if you have kids, they’re at home over spring break… and driving you nuts. A trail run in your 4x4 is just what the doctor ordered, but the mountain trails are either still snowed in or plain too muddy. Nearby trails in Southern California tend to be crowded or just too full of stupid during this time of year.
If you’re in the mood for a trail run that would be interesting for the kids, here are a couple of suggestions. These local trails can be run in most stock 4x4s at this time of year. The first is a short day-long trek and the second is a more involved 2-3 day excursion. Both are free and springtime brings out the best in them. And remember - don’t wheel alone.
If you’re looking for a quick overnight trip, Pleasant Canyon fits the bill. The scenic 23-mile long trail gets especially photogenic in the springtime when the flowers are blooming. Kids will also love the mines and other structures you encounter along the way.
It features free cabins located on private land owned made available by C.R. Briggs Corporation. The stocked cabins are first come, first served and if you’re using one you raise a flag. Portions of the trail get difficult and only street-legal vehicles are permitted inside Death Valley National Park. Pack plenty of water, extra provisions, and sunscreen, and if you stay in a cabin or a tent beware of the wild donkeys.
This historic Mojave Trail route is one of the last westward legs of the pony express. It sports natural springs, easy trail runs, landmarks, good camping spots and fun stuff for kids to see. Avi Casino is the trailhead that you can take to Baker and this turnoff is a good place to stop for gas and airing up tires. Among the highlights along the 138-mile trip are Lava tubes that you can go down in and look around, Native American pictographs, and ruins of old forts. Be cautious with some of the fire pits that people have made with shale. If you get your fire too hot, they can pop and send hot razor sharp rock bits flying.
There’s usually a hot spell in mid-April that makes it a good time to go. You’ll see lots of wild flowers as the desert has its spring bloom. Take plenty of water and firewood because the desert gets very cold at night. Be sure you have the truck and Jeep accessories prepared to take the punishment that the desert dishes out. There are lots of local paved roads that are within a mile or two of the trail and are easy to get to in case of an emergency.