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23rd Annual Winter Fun Festival

Truck Line Main
Phillip Dayton | Writer
Posted March 1, 2006

Four Wheelers Successfully Mix Black Knobbles with White Powder

If you enjoy running your rig through the best or worst that Mother Nature has to offer in the winter, then the Winter Fun Festival is the event for you!

The California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs has held the Winter Fun Festival for the last 23 years in Northern California. For the last few years, the main staging area for camping/RV parking, vehicle safety checks, registration, and food has been the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, California. As for the winter trails for this annual event, it all depends on the type of weather that the north end of California is getting during and before the event, which will change the terrain that you will be traveling through quickly! However, no matter what the conditions are like, the Winter Fun Festival is bound to test your driving ability and provide entertainment for your whole family from beginning to end. From snow to mud to rock, this event has it all with over ten trail runs at different skill levels.

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This year's event was planned for January 14-16, and when the trail crew checked the runs the week prior to the main event,there was plenty of deep, white powder -- it made for a day of fantastic winter wheeling.

All ten runs had a great snow pack this year. Several of the higher-elevation runs had to be relocated to new trails at lower elevations due to the high snow pack; however, thanks to the excellent trail crews at this event everyone kept moving in a timely manner. Without a doubt, everyone had a blast and a great winter wheeling experience.

The first trail run was set to leave the staging area on Friday night at 9 p.m. It was the night snow run. After preparing for the run, the group went to the trailhead and wheeled through the night in the snow. Wheeling at night is one thing, but trying this with white snow on the trail reflecting your light and creating deep shadows is a totally different experience for those who have never attempted it! If you are into adventure, then this is a trail run you will remember.

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The ten main trail runs were staged on Saturday morning. These trails had various names but were basically the SUV/Historical trail, medium-level snow trails, and the extreme snow trails.

The SUV/Historical trail had light to moderately deep snow and was open to all 4WD vehicles. No matter what your wheeling experience is or the capabilities of your rig, this is a great run to take for beginners as well as lifelong, hardcore enthusiasts. It's not hard on the vehicle or driver but is heavy on the history of the gold mining of the area and how life has changed in this area due to the end of the Gold Rush. This trail is sure to keep the whole family entertained throughout the event and is a fantastic entry-level trail for anyone with a 4x4 wanting to see history and teach their family about it.

The medium-level snow trails were through moderately deep snow with high-clearance 4WD vehicles with oversized tires recommend-ed. With the trail conditions as they were this year, most vehicles of all sizes made the run with no problem. The predominant rigs on these trails were full-size Jeeps along with a few Chevys, some Jeep CJs, and a few Fords. They started out at just a little after nine in the morning, heading on into the high country and the snow and mud. Within a couple of hundred yards on the trail, they hit a solid trail covered in 2 to 3 feet of snow, with the trail climbing higher into the Sierras. At the halfway point the drivers and passengers broke for lunch. After lunch it was time to saddle up again and finish the trail run. The rest of the trail was snow, snow, and more snow. The snow depth reached 3 to 4 feet at times but was still wheelable.

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