BFGoodrich Outstanding Trail In Payson, Arizona
The 2-foot-tall rock shelf cambered toward the pool of water, leaning Brian's Wrangler Rubicon toward the edge. The front suspension unloaded, and 80 percent of the vehicle's weight shifted to the passenger rear tire, perched on a small pile of crumbling rock. To this point, the Pyeatt Draw trail had been a moderate route, challenging the group of 10 high-clearance trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs with a series of 3.0-rated sandstone and rock obstacles.
Pyeatt Draw was formed by heavy spring watershed from the Mogollon Rim, the alluvial confluence of Lewis Creek and Ellison Creek collecting at the Draw's high point just west of Tonto Village. Just east of the confluence, the water cascades off of the trail's final (and optional) obstacle. This 4.0-rated exit is a cambered and narrow waterfall with a series of ledges just inside the wheelbase of most vehicles, adding to the challenge.
The trail gets more approachable after Thompson Road climbs above Diamond Rim and turns east, crossing Pyeatt Draw. Our group, led by John Shotts in his "Trail Limo" Land Cruiser began the process of airing down, disconnecting sway bars, and shifting into low range. We were fortunate to have a diverse group of vehicles in attendance, including an FJ40, three Tacomas, the big 100-series, two FZJ80 Land Cruisers, a Land Rover Discovery II, a solid-axle Toyota Truck, and a pair of Jeep TJs. I always prefer having several makes and models on the trail, as it is much more interesting than watching the same trucks drive the obstacles in nearly the same way. With wheelbases measuring between 93 and 127 inches, there was certainly variety in approach and degree of success.
We were also fortunate to have two entertaining drivers willing to push their rigs on the more challenging lines. Ben was driving an FZJ80 Land Cruiser with 35-inch Maxxis Creepy Crawlers, and Brian was piloting an '03 Jeep Rubicon with 33-inch MT/Rs and a hybrid long-travel suspension. Both drivers used finesse to clear the big ledges and rocks of the optional lines and were impressive to watch.