We have been covering BFGoodrich's Outstanding Trails program since it was first announced in 2006. Outstanding Trails is a program started by BFGoodrich and is dedicated to the responsible use and preservation of trails, while providing grants to local clubs for the purpose of conservation and maintenance. So far BFG has recognized 11 trails in 9 states, as well as one in Canada, and has given out $42,000 in grants. For 2008 BFG announced its list of recognized trails and invited us out to the first event of the year, running the Black Cat trail in the Superstition Mountains east of San Diego with the storied San Diego 4 Wheelers club.
BFG chose the Superstition Mountains because of its mix of easy-to-difficult trails that encompass an amazing array of terrain-everything from expansive sand dunes to highly technical crags. More importantly, BFG chose the San Diego 4 Wheelers because of their commitment to the sport of four-wheeling.
The San Diego 4 Wheelers is one of the largest and oldest four-wheeling clubs in Southern California. Started in the late-'60s, they currently have 35 active families. This non-profit, family-oriented organization supports off-highway vehicle recreation and its mission is to promote as well as participate in safe and responsible off-highway recreation, while educating the public on how to properly use and conserve the land. The club helps in the maintenance and preservation of existing 4WD OHV opportunities and the creation of new ones. What makes this club's approach different is the way in which they work with local government to get results.
For example, the San Diego 4 Wheelers approached the BLM to find out what would need to be done to keep the area open. Because of a lack of funding and resources, the BLM wasn't able to do the archeological studies and mapping of the trails that were required. By networking through other off-highway organizations, the San Diego 4 Wheelers located an archeologist to do the study, and armed with a $22,600 proposal to complete the work, they went before the Imperial County Board of Supervisors. Thanks to their hard work, Imperial County agreed to allocate funds and paid for the study. Because of the $371 million a year that off-highway recreation adds to the Imperial County economy, the Board of Supervisors was happy to help, and since then has partnered with the San Diego 4 Wheelers on other projects.
With an enthusiastic and responsible club like this one, we couldn't wait to get on the trail with them. The hospitality and organization of the club is outstanding, and with 150 of our new friends, we hit the trail in Project 'Con Artist. This was the first time we were really able to test out our new 35-inch BFGoodrich M/T KM2s and recently upgraded underbody protection, and we knew the 'Con was overdue for some real trail work. Black Cat's narrow canyons were just right for our Unlimited. Any bigger and we would surely have incurred body damage.
After a half day of exploring Black Cat, picking up trash, and enjoying the company of the San Diego 4 Wheelers, we were treated to an excellent BBQ lunch, a raffle, vendor area, and presenting of the BFG check, with an impromptu air show put on by some curious Navy F/A-18s overhead, complete with a couple of strafing runs and a flyby or two just off the deck. What a treat for the end of a great day of wheeling with like-minded people.