Otay Mountain Truck Trail is an off-road adventure route in the Otay Mountain Wilderness, a nearly 17,000-acre expanse of rugged terrain in the San Ysidro Mountains of southernmost San Diego County.
The trail offers opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and off-road vehicle recreation, but is particularly popular among the off-roading community.
This is one of the more accessible off-road trails in San Diego. Any weekend in the cooler months, you’re likely to find Jeeps, Toyotas, and other trucks cruising exploring the area and testing their chops on some of the more technical off-shoot trails. The truck trail is located in the Otay Mountain Wilderness which is managed by the US Bureau of Land Management. There are large portions of this area set aside as an ecological reserve, so stay on established trails to prevent damaging these important habitats.
The trail is well maintained as US Border Patrol uses the route to intercept anyone attempting to cross the US-Mexico border just to the south without documentation.
Stock SUV such as Subarus or smaller Jeeps should be fine unless recent rains have damaged the trail. The trail offers a number of optional routes for the more adventurous, some of which best attempted in high-clearance, 4-wheel-drive vehicles only.
The area has three primary entrance points. The northernmost entrance is next to Pio Pico RV Resort and Campground, 2.7 miles northeast of Lower Otay Lake, off Otay Lakes Road (Trailhead GPS: 32.6524628832469, -116.85496447822487).
While the section from this entrance to Doghouse Junction (see below) is often referred to as part of Otay Mountain Truck Trail for shorthand, it’s actually named Minnewawa Truck Trail.
The southernmost entrance is from the southwestern side of the area, off Alta Road, in an industrial park near the Otay Mesa Compose Facility, Vulcan Materials factory and a couple of jails (Trailhead GPS: 32.581950649763186, -116.91912751881245). The third entrance is from the direction of Engineer Springs to the east and starts from Marron Valley Road (Trailhead GPS: 32.60058049532975, -116.77020912657669) near the South Bay Rod and Gun Club.
You can start from any of the trailheads and exit the other. Roughly halfway between the two access points is Doghouse Junction (GPS: 32.60046449695425, -116.84194406577576), where the three portions of the trail intersect.
Along the main trails, you’ll find more technically challenging spurs to lookout points or simply optional offshoots used by more aggressive off-road vehicles.
The area boasts a unique ecosystem and is home to the endangered quino checkerspot butterfly, the only known stand of Tecate cypress and population of the Mexican flannel bush.
If you are looking for a mellow, easy to access trail off-road further north in San Diego, check out Black Mountain Truck Trail.