Whether you are a full-time welder or an industry foreman, chances are you're feeling the economic crunch. For many of us this means holding off on any 4x upgrades and cutting your hobby budget in half. But don't let that stop you from getting out on the trail. Sure, you might not think a weekend trail ride is a sound idea when money is tight, but think of it not as spending money but rather investing in happiness.
You don't need to go far. Pick a trail that's close to you and set out on a weekend adventure. Simply fill up the tank, grab snacks and a buddy, and head out. Far too often wheelers believe they need to have lockers, a winch, and a trick suspension to have fun, but that's simply not the case. Think back to when you were just excited to have a four-wheel-drive or when you sank your parent's SUV in a nearby mudhole. Those memories are what build our off-road knowledge and fuel campfire stories. Compiled here are just a few of the trails and wheeling destinations across the U.S. that we've enjoyed over the years. If you know of a new spot that we need to visit, then drop us a line at 4wheeloffroad.com.
Moab is a place every wheeling enthusiast must experience before he or she departs this planet. It has some of the most challenging and fun trails in the nation and an unbelievable landscape to match. Those looking for an extreme challenge, cruise over to Area BFE and experience the legendary Upper Helldorado trail. Many of the trails are easy enough to drive with minimal vehicle modifications, yet there are optional obstacles along the way that can test even the most modified rigs. Moab is a constant maze of rust and white sandstone slickrock (which actually provides excellent traction), and Moab offers spectacular views of the usually snow-covered peaks of the Manti-La Sal mountains. If you have a bit of wheeling experience and a good 4x4, but have never been to Moab, we suggest trying Hell's Revenge for your first taste of this area's trail offerings. www.moab-utah.com
Superlift's OHV in Hot Springs, Arkansas, has a little bit of everything. From mud pits to massive rocks, if you want to wheel it, it's there. Host to past Jeep Jamborees and rock racing events, the park's diversified terrain and terrific landscape will make you never want to leave. One of our favorites on that side of the country. Check them out at www.orvpark.com.
Tucked in the North Carolina foothills sits a trail system for all levels and makes of wheelers called the Uwharrie National Forest. Comprised of hillclimbs, sticky clay, and patches of extruding rocks, there is a pleasant mix of scenery and challenges throughout. Open from April 1 to December 15, the weather plays a big part in what type of adventure awaits ahead. Our favorite time of the year to visit is during the fall, when the weather is just right and a nice rain shower or two keeps the trails interesting. www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc
The Hammer trails at Johnson Valley are located just outside of Lucerne, California. It's home to some of the toughest rockcrawling in California and maybe the world. There is almost nothing better than driving home from JV on a Sunday evening after a great weekend wheeling--there is dirt everywhere, you're exhausted, and your 4x4 is most likely broken, but you've just had an amazing time. Bring plenty of water and your own food because there's nothing out there. And don't forget that your manifold makes an excellent burrito cooker. www.desertusa.com/OHV/du_ohv_johnson
From the hard-core Jellico rocks in Tennessee to the endless mud pits of Florida, the south has a ton of great wheeling destinations to offer. With a heavy mix of mud racing, National Forests, and privately owned OHV parks, there is sure to be something close to you. Those of you closer to the Carolinas, check out www.sfwda.com, and if the Seminoles are in your neck of the woods, visit www.fl4wda.com.
The Table Mesa area north of Phoenix is home to some of the most rig-devouring and part-spitting trails in the West. Factor in the plethora of surrounding wheeling spots and it's easy to see why Phoenix is one of our favorite places to be. Better suited for highly modified rigs, it's not a bad idea to have a few spare parts and a good spotter along for the ride. www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation
Black Bear Pass
Some trails offer a heightened sense of impending doom. It's the kind of trail that feeds adrenaline through your veins and makes the trail run more exciting. Black Bear Pass above Telluride, Colorado, is one of our favorite trails. Black Bear combines the spectacular beauty of the Rocky Mountains with a death-defying trail. Some sections of this shelf-road trail are just wide enough to squeeze a Jeep or a small truck through. Fullsized vehicles are not recommended. The narrow trail isn't that technically challenging, but it is extremely dangerous due to the narrowness of the switchbacks and tight turns. This old mining shelf-road starts at a summit of approximately 11,020 feet in Red Mountain Pass, and winds its way down to the town of Telluride. The trail is regulated to one-way downhill traffic, and access to the trailhead is just off Highway 550 between the towns of Silverton and Ouray.
There are 800 acres in Mason County, Texas, that nobody wanted since they couldn't graze cattle on the exposed rock slab. Thanks to Shain Chapman and Randy Kruse, wheelers can now wander around where cows won't at the Katemcy Rocks off-road park. Ultimate Adventure '07 found us finishing our trip in the beautiful Texas countryside dotted with cactus, mesquite, creeks, and boulders! The Waterfall Trail makes its way down several V-notch waterfalls that will surely get your attention for their beauty and difficulty. The "slickrock" here is made of granite instead of the sandstone of the Moab area and provides traction akin to bubble gum stuck to the underside of a desk, so your tires will try to defy gravity at each turn. Yee-haw! katemcyrocks.com
Outlaw Adventures Off-Road Park located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is 110 acres of pure four-wheeling bliss. The multitude of different terrains is astounding with limestone cliffs, exposed tree roots, slimy boulders, and water-filled grottos making you feel like you're wheeling Jurassic Park--except rocks and trees will try to eat your 4x4, not a T-Rex. The trails of Outlaw Adventures Off-Road Park are definitely worth a visit. 479.790.0722