Channel Your Inner Astronaut: Off-roading in Valley of the Moons

The Down and Dirty:

Location: 32.6238, -116.1128 Duration: 3-4 HoursNoteworthy: This trail has it all! Rock crawling. Spectacular scenery. An abandoned mine to explore.TrailRecon Rating: 5 TiresRig Requirements: 33” tires, high clearance, lockers are helpful

If you were ever that kid who pretended to be an astronaut, then Valley of the Moons in Jacumba, California is the trail for you. The desert landscape scattered with massive boulders will make you feel like you've landed on the moon.

Without doubt, this is my favorite trail in San Diego County. I first explored it in May 2016  and a return trip has been long overdue. So, I met up with some wheeling buddies near the California-Mexico border, we gave our rigs a once over, aired down, had a quick drivers’ meeting, and set out for an amazing day of wheeling.

If you plan on having on off-roading adventure in Valley of the Moons, here’s what you need to know.

Your Rig First of all, a solid off-road vehicle with high clearance and a great set of tires is essential. Having wheel lockers definitely wouldn’t hurt either. Last, but not least, you’ll want to bring along a good trail buddy or two because you never know when you’re going to need some help.

The Trail

After a short drive along the border fence, you’ll start to climb the mountain. The views spanning two countries are incredible, but don’t take your eye off the trail for too long – there are lots of obstacles on the way up that require your undivided attention.

You’ll find several gate keepers along this trail and the first is a steep rock climb. It’s also pretty narrow and you’ll probably get a tire or two up in the air. Having lockers will make easy work of this section and good wheel placement can make all the difference when it comes to getting over those obstacles

The next big obstacle along the trail is a large granite “waterfall.” There’s an easy detour to the left, but everyone in our group took the hardline. We weren't here for an easy ride. If you have 37s and you’re up for a challenge, taking the right line shouldn’t be a problem.

A good portion of the trail’s first half hugs the border fence. The barbed wire section has plenty of holes and has seen better days. You might see plenty of footprints headed in both directions.

Further down the trail is a nice 

little offshoot that takes you off the dirt path and onto a slab of granite. You can hop onto it, flex out if you want, and choose a few lines to get you through this section. Obstacles like this, scattered throughout the trail, are part of what makes Valley of the Moons so amazing. 

The next leg of the trail takes you up a mountain to Elliot’s Mine. This is a great place to get out and stretch your legs. The mine entrance is pretty narrow and the interior doesn’t have a lot of headroom, but you’ll find  some cool caverns. It’s worth spending a little time exploring.

When you get back on the trail after checking out the mine, you’ll make your way to what appears to be the end of the trail, but don’t stop here because the best is yet to come. Seriously. Some people just don’t find it. Keep going and find the next gate keeper. Crawl over it, head out over the granite rocks, and drive on. You will not be disappointed.

When you finally make it to the bottom of the valley, you’ll understand how the trail got its name, Valley of the Moons. The flat open fields surrounded by massive boulders looks like an alien landscape and makes you feel like you’re on a different planet.

This trail has it all, from smooth to rugged and rocky, with several technical areas and stunning views of Mexico and California. If you're in Southern California, I highly recommend hitting the trail and exploring Valley of the Moons. You won’t regret it.

The Video?

Without a doubt, Valley of the Moons trail is my favorite trail in San Diego County and a return trip has been long overdue. In this episode of TrailRecon we met up with some of our closest wheeling buddies near the California and Mexico board, gave our rigs a once over, had a short drivers meeting and got ready for what would be an amazing day of wheeling.

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