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Homecourt Trail - Rockin' Off Route 66

Posted in Events on January 1, 2009
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No need to worry about your CB antenna under the second Santa Fe bridge, it's high and tight, just ignore the graffiti.

As we were dropping down through the rocky canyon on the pavement of historic Route 66, looking for the turnoff to Homecourt trail, I flashed back to the first time I'd driven this road nearly 50 years earlier. In 1963 - long before Interstate 40 replaced Route 66 - I was returning from a summer vacation in Rhode Island, driving a bright-red, 35-year-old Chevy-powered 1928 Ford Model A pickup, on my way back home to Southern California. I can still remember the sweet, throaty sound of the open Moon-tuned headers bouncing off the rock walls that flanked the two-lane byway. In those days, you could run open headers on a federal highway if you had out-of-state plates and didn't leave the highway. It was a "fix-it" ticket with no fines involved, so most LEOs-local, county, and state-left you alone. Flash forward to the present, and here I was still driving a bright-red rig, albeit a much more modern one but a much less powerful one, a 2007 JK, over the same highway; this time, looking for the trail's turn-off just minutes west of Kingman, Arizona.

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Homecourt Trail, named for its discoverer, is well-known to the Jeepers of Kingman. It's rated as a 3+ to 4 and many of the Kingman Jeepers use it as a tune-up and a test trail before trailering up and heading for the Hammers in Johnson Valley, California. The turn-off, which is also an excellent spot to leave your RV or trailer-towing rig, is a wide, flat area about the size of the football field, on the south side of Route 66 right at mile-post 47, exactly 2.3 miles from the intersection of Beale Street and West Andy Devine Avenue (Old Route 66). Even if you're from out of state, you can't miss the turn for Route 66, the Mohave County Museum sits on the corner, which is just a few blocks southeast of I-40 on Beale.

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At the turn-off, lower your air pressure on your 35-inch tires, engage 'em if you've got 'em (hubs, I'm talking about), and dial your Rancho shocks down to "1" to soften up the suspension. Drop into the sand wash that roughly parallels Route 66, turn left back toward Kingman, and drive upstream (east). You'll follow the wash under a very low railroad bridge, cross a poorly paved road (Old Trails Road), and then under a very tall railroad bridge (both tracks belong to the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe line). Continue up the wash, taking a slight left at the first Y (Sawmill Canyon is up the right arm of the Y), and then keep an eye out for a faint set of tracks to the right. Once you've found the right canyon, you'll want to shift into low range and lock up the differentials, 'cause you're going to need at least one locker to make it through. Even though every summer's monsoons rearrange the rocks of Homecourt, tread lightly and stay off the flora.

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Enjoy Homecourt but don't attempt to enjoy it alone. As you can see in the photos, you'll not want to try this one by yourself. Take at least two vehicles - or more, if possible - and at least one winch.

You might also want to make sure there are more than one spare tire per vehicle - these rocks are sharp! They are not worn smooth by too many tires; this canyon might see only one run per year, if that. Come prepared. I don't mean to imply that you need two or more spares per Jeep, but one spare per rig is mandatory.

Should you suffer a condition of upset or a mechanical problem while in the Kingman area, call Precision Automotive. The owners and employees not only speak Jeep, they own them as well. They can also suggest some other challenging trails in the area.

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