When riding on the paved connector between two trails or on your way to the trailhead, never ride off the pavement on a dirt singletrack that other riders have made. Why? Tribulus terrestris
weeds (goathead thorns) only grow next to pavement. You will not encounter them in the forest but they spring out of the dirt next to pavement. Resist the urge to ride the dirt "before" you hit the trail and you will reduce your flat tires. It's that simple.
Resist the urge to jump on the dirt and stay on the pavement until you hit the real trail.
The dreaded goathead.