California: Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area

Gorman, Calif.

Midway between Los Angeles and Bakersfield in sunny California is the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area—the second largest riding area under the control of the California State Park's Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division.

Consisting of 19,000 acres, Hungry Valley offers more than 130 miles of scenic trails for ATVs, motorcycles, dune buggies and four-by-four vehicles. Officials say that riders of all skill levels will find challenging terrain at the recreation area.

Hungry Valley is divided into use zones, with each specifying a certain OHV use. It's important to stay on trails and ride in the proper zones because soils in many areas of Hungry Valley erode rapidly when disturbed.

Officials note that more than 4,000 acres are available for open riding in the open riding/camping zone with a variety of terrain: flat areas, sand washes, rolling hills, and steep hill climbs.

Camping is available in more than 2,000 acres of the zone. Nine semi-developed campgrounds are furnished with a vault restroom and refuse disposal containers. And each of the 150 campsites features a shade ramada, picnic table, and fire ring.

Be forewarned, there is no water available anywhere in the recreation area.

OHV use is restricted to designated trails only in Hungry Valley's more than 130 miles of trails.

The trails are rated from easy to most difficult, based on the trail width, steepness and trail surface composition.

Near the Smith Forks Campground is a one-acre mini-track that is fenced off for use by beginning riders on 90cc or smaller machines. The track has a series of twists, turns and small jumps for young riders under parental control to practice their skills safely.

You can also enjoy riding in the Native Grasslands Management Area at Hungry Valley as long as you stay on the trails.

Some hazards to watch out for include old pieces of barbed wire from fencing, cliffs that are as much as 200 feet high, rattlesnakes, and even snow in upper areas.

Plus, summer temperatures normally range from 90 degrees to 100 degrees.

To ride at Hungry Valley, a U.S. Forest Service-approved spark arrester and current California off-road vehicle registration (Green Sticker) is required. The California off-highway ID plate must be displayed as required by law.

Also, you must wear a helmet, and all ATV operators under the age of 18 must be directly supervised by an adult.

The speed limit at Hungry Valley is 15 mph within 50 feet of a campground, campsite, or concentration of people or animals.

Plus, the trails are two-way, so ride defensively.

If you don't want to camp, there is a hotel in Gorman. You'll also find some hotels in Lancaster or Palmdale, about 40 minutes east. Or, there is always Los Angeles, which is 60 minutes away.

For more information, contact the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area, P.O. Box 1360, Lebec, CA 93243; telephone: (661) 248-7007; or the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division, P.O. Box 942896, Sacramento, CA 94296-0001; telephone: (916) 324-4442;