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The Washington Trail Tour

Rear View Cars On Mission
Mark Nobles | Writer
Posted August 18, 2005

New Adventures in the Pacific Northwest

Running north to south along the western edge of Washington's hard-scrabble Cascade Mountains, four-wheelers can find some of the most interesting trails in the Pacific Northwest. Although not typically considered a hot spot for four-wheeling, Washington offers a tremendous variety of terrain that can range from the mild to the extreme. And in this part of the country, where rain is nearly a daily occurrence, the wetter it gets, the more challenging the trails become.

The sole non-Jeep driver on the trip, Al Vandervelde steered his Toyota unerringly through the nastiest of trails. Only the final day saw any damage done to the rig. But who wants those rocker panels anyway?

Looking to introduce a group of seasoned four-wheelers to some of the wonders of Washington 'wheeling, Scott Frary of Tractech (Detroit Locker) recently laid out a week-long series of day-trips to some of the area's best trail systems. Comprising this group of intrepid four-wheelers were a number of regional enthusiasts, as well as a handful of industry notables, including Jerrod Prindle of Advanced Frame Works, Larry Trim of Trail Ready, Keith Hart of the Gear Centre, and Trent McGee of Superlift TV. With trail guidance coming from the local four-wheeling gurus at S&N Fabrication, the nearly all-Jeep squad hit the trail early Monday morning and never looked back.

The Detroit Locker Hemi Jeep made its trail debut on this trip and it performed like a champ. Scott Frary was rightfully proud of it, as was AFW's Jerrod Prindle, whose shop did most of the buildup on it.

Day One: Elbe Hills
Lying due west of the Mt. Ranier National Park, Elbe Hills is a perfect introduction to Washington four-wheeling. We found lots of rocks, pools of mud, and winding, slippery trails. For anyone accustomed to crawling slowly over rocks with lots of traction and low gearing, these trails were a rude awakening. Controlled horsepower is what was required. Forward momentum was absolutely essential to make it through most of the obstacles. And if you lost it, you were left with little choice other than to slide back down and try again. Surprisingly, there was no damage done the first day, and everyone made it back into town under their own power.

Washington trails mean mud. Lots of mud. Deep, sticky mud.

Day Two: Evan's Creek
After their initial break-in period, the crew was ready to up the ante a bit. Evan's Creek is another beautiful OHV area, but its trail system is comprised of terrain that will challenge even the most foolhardy. It consists largely of tight, hairpin turns that wind sharply back and forth through heavily wooded forest. Deep, sloppy mud on badly rutted trails was a constant this day - to say nothing of the rocks and tree stumps that had to be traversed. Again, steering skills were really put to the test. This area is definitely designed for the short-wheelbase contingent. For fullsize rigs, it would be sheer carnage.

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