Off-Road Travel: San Gabriel OHV Area (a.k.a. Azusa Canyon)
The largest mud pit in Southern California is at San Gabriel Canyon OHV Area (a.k.a. Azusa Canyon). This off-road oasis is the closest destination for city dwellers with 4x4s in the greater Los Angeles area.
The San Gabriel OHV area is actually part of the Gabriel Dam, which is a controlled dam for water shed off the San Gabriel Mountains. Most of the year the OHV area is accessible for off-roading, and there’s always some mud. As water is released and the water level drops, more mud becomes available.
Our family has been going to Azusa Canyon since the early ‘70s. We’ve made friends there and now second and third generations enjoy the sport. Believe it or not, even though I’ve been to such places as Baja, Colorado, Moab and Crandon to name a few, this mud pit still holds a special place. It’s where I rode my first bike, experienced the great outdoors and got to share the fun of off-roading with my family.
Today, Azusa Canyon is a bonafide off-highway vehicle park with a parking lot/ staging area, bathrooms, U.S. Forest Service Rangers and soon to come Obstacle Course and ATV track for the youngsters to increase their riding skills (for more information, visit http://www.acorausa.com/).
In June of 2010, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved funding for the construction of the Azusa Canyon Obstacle Course and ATV Training Area.
The local off-road club ACORA (Azusa Canyon Off Road Association) has been an integral part in making this project finally gain some traction. Big players like Yamaha have also stepped up to provide a grant to aid in the development.
The real attraction at Azusa Canyon is the mud. Featured in countless off-road magazines, catalogs and videos—it is among the top off-road destinations in the west for hard-core mud boggin’.
Filled with adrenaline junkies and mud warriors, Azusa Canyon is the place for a great mud bog. If you’ve never been boggin’—you’re missing out.
On any given weekend, it’s not uncommon to see purpose-built mud trucks rolling on 42-inch tires, low gears and big horsepower.
It’s a completly different sport than rock crawling, desert racing or even running trails. It’s dirty, at times nasty, but overall a lot of fun.
Besides flexing your horsepower and defying the consistency of this tacky substance, part of the fun of mud boggin’ is seeing how far you can push your rig and your driving skills before they come to a halt. Then you really get dirty.
Most of the regulars are willing to give a helping hand to a stuck vehicle, but don’t expect AAA service. You need to get out of your 4x4 and help hook up the tow strap even if it means getting muddy.
If high-power mud boggin’ isn’t really your thing, Azusa Canyon has more to offer. There are sandy washes, stream crossings, dirt hills to climb, and even some areas for rock crawling.
Since most of the action is at the rim of the dam, the rest of the canyon is pretty open for riding ATVs and dirtbikes. Places for setting up your day camp, BBQ and hammock are plentiful. If you’re up to it, take a dip in the stream. We always did as kids.
There is no overnight camping at the San Gabriel OHV Area, but campgrounds are nearby. The closest campground with full-hook ups is at Camp Williams Resort http://www.campwilliams.com/ located at East Fork—about 5 miles away from the San Gabriel OHV Area. Hotels are also available in Azusa and neighboring Glendora, CA.
FUN FACT: CalTech and the US Navy had a torpedo test site at Morris Dam during WWII. The test site still remains and can be seen as you head up to San Gabriel OHV area on Hwy 39.
Azusa Canyon OHV area is only open on weekends and major holidays. It does close on occasion if the water level of the San Gabriel Dam is too high. Make sure to call ahead for status.
FEE: $8 per vehicle/day
For more information contact: