SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - You don't have to break the law to have fun going off-road in San Diego County. There are plenty of adventure trails in the backcountry that are perfectly legal to drive on.
Just keep in mind, when you drive on a county-maintained road, your vehicle must be street legal.
No 4-wheel drive is needed on Proctor Valley Rd. east of Chula Vista. The dirt road is flat and very easy to navigate.
The pavement ends on Proctor Valley Rd. just past the Eastlake community. It winds around the south side of Mount Miguel, finally ending up in Jamul. The total driving distance on the dirt is five miles.
The trip offers some awesome views of undeveloped countryside and, this time of year, the wild flowers are popping everywhere.
Bill Grunwald had the day off work, so he hopped on his old-school, Honda XL500 thumper motorcycle and rode through Proctor Valley.
"They used to call them enduros but now they call them dual sport bikes," said Grunwald. "I would tell you how fast I could go down this road but I probably should not do that!"
You don't have to be a speed demon to enjoy an off road adventure. Todd Hyde and his buddy tour around the backcountry on their modern, Kawasaki KRL650 adventure bikes.
"We just cruise. Actually we go slower and slower every time we go out," said Hyde. "Every time we see a dirt road, bang, we go down it."
"Sometimes we go to the top of Otay Mountain, which is nice. You can see all the way to the ocean and all the way into Mexico," Hyde said.
Todd was referring to Otay Mountain Truck Trail. This is one adventure trail where you probably do want a 4-wheel drive or a dual sport motorcycle. It's about a 15-mile trek up and over the mountain on narrow, well-maintained roads.
Otay Mountain Truck Trail actually has three entrances; all three converge at the 3,500-foot summit. If you enter off Otay Lakes Road, follow the trail south up the mountain, take a right turn near the summit and drive down, exiting at Alta Rd. near Donovan State Prison close to the Mexican border.
It is very likely you will cross paths with Border Patrol agents in trucks on Otay Mountain. One vehicle may have to back up to a wider spot in the trail to allow passage.
Remember to share the road, as hikers also walk this trail.
"I just hike it for exercise and to prepare for backpacking trips," said Lee Giddings, halfway up the trail. "There's wildlife up there, there's great views, great wild flowers."
Boulder Creek Rd. in the Cleveland National Forest is one of the longer adventure trails in the county; about 25 miles from start to finish, but only about 13 of those miles are dirt road. The rest is paved.
Boulder Creek Rd. forks off of Eagle Peak Rd. just south of Julian in the community of Pine Hills, and runs all the way south to Descanso near Interstate 8.
You can see all the way to Point Loma from the top of the trail, which is easily navigated by 2-wheel drive or motorcycle. Toward the bottom, the road crosses Boulder Creek, which can become flooded during the rainy season.
A fun trail in the East County is Mother Grundy Truck Trail. The entrance off Honey Springs Rd. is marked by a row of mailboxes and a small sign that reads "Mother Grundy."
The dirt trail runs for five miles, exiting at Deerhorn Valley Rd. north of Highway 94.
Mother Grundy can get a little muddy at times as it winds through boulder-covered hills and residential areas, but it is easily navigated with a 2-wheel drive vehicle.
If you do go driving on adventure trails in the backcountry, you'll definitely want to bring along a GPS navigation device. It will show you where you are located on the trail, and give you directions in case you get lost.
There are several web sites that feature maps and descriptions of San Diego's backcountry trails, like Dirtopia.com and Trails.com