Oriflamme and Chariot Canyons is a 11 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Julian, California that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and off road driving and is best used from November until March.
off road driving
Fun trail. Many washed out spots from the winter rains. Half way up the lengthy switchbacks, there is a tight squeeze due to a boulder that has fallen on the trail: get over or by it, or back down a gnarly section and turn around.
When we got to the trail's end on Banner Grade, there was a "locked gate," or so it appeared. My kids' jaws dropped and they shouted in unison, "what the heck!" (Just push it open...haha).
There is a coin-operated car wash in Ramona to rinse off the mega-amounts of dirt that you will accumulate.
Loved it and beautiful! I would rate this as hard. There is a giant boulder and I needed a spotter to make it by in a jeep unlimited. Most of it is up the mountain overlooking the cliff. Of course it's now all rocks so you have to go slow. There is a gate that is closed and looks locked, just undo the chains and move on
Fun trail. Awesome scenery! However, the recent storm destroyed the trail. The trail rating is probably more in between moderate and hard. About half way on the trail a giant boulder fell and there was just enough room for a Jeep wrangler to squeeze by. Anything wider would not fit. Luckily I had a co pilot to help navigate.
There was no water in the creekbed in November, there was no trail other than the 4x4 truck trail you walk on which is a very rocky road, and then you have to pick a spot to drop down into the canyon. There's lots of brush and prickly bushes, rattlesnake hideouts and tarantulas. We did see a rattlesnake on the truck trail so be careful.
Moderate 4wd trail. Gorgeous views at top. Steep and narrow switchbacks which can be intimidating to new drivers. Lots of cactus blooms in season. Pass a few mines, some still in operation (Chariot Mine.)
Please note: We started the trail from Hwy S2, ten miles south of Hwy 78 and ended in Banner. As you descend toward Banner at the end of the trail, you'll encounter a gate that appears to be chained and locked. We've been on this trail several times and each time the gate is "fake locked." I have no idea why except that locals have said people do it to keep the 4wd riffraff like us out!