One of the perks of the job is that our company pays to fly us around the world and check out trails and events that hold promise. We also pay attention when people talk about wheeling this-or-that trail since we are always on the prowl for the next big thing. That has made us human encyclopedias of cool trails. Like any other group of people, each of us have different likes and dislikes.
The brain trust of Cappa, Hazel, and Trasborg all put pen to paper and listed their top 10 trails to wheel. Sure maybe some of them aren't trails, but they would still likely be a great time to drive in a Jeep. So, throw away your travel agent's destination vacation pamphlet and plan your next trip using a travel guide tailored to your interests. Just don't tell the wife the real reason for the trip until after she agrees.
1 Dalton Highway, Alaska: Sure it's been made famous by the History Channel's Ice Road Truckers TV show, and the truth is it wouldn't be all that hard, especially in summer. It's a graded gravel road! It seems to me the main issue is simply biting your lip and sucking up all the paint chips, dents, and broken glass your Jeep is gonna get from passing 18-wheelers. But it still sounds like an awesome adventure through the Alaskan outback.
2 Moab, Utah: I know, I've been there a lot already. But I'm not done yet. There are still lots of trails (new and old) that I haven't done yet. I'll never get sick of Hell's Revenge.
3 Montana: There has to be wheeling there. How come I've never been?
4 Glamis, California: You've missed most of the wild lawless party of the mid-to-late '90s but wheeling the monster dunes is a must do before you die.
5 Callahan Mountains, Oregon: One of my favorite trails of all time is Four Wheeler's TTC Tank Trap. Not the way the park normally has the trail set up, but the way the trail is set up specifically for TTC. Deep water holes, climbs, and mud make it more than interesting, although I could do without the poison oak. Anyway, the Callahan Mountains in Oregon seem to have what I would consider the closest thing to TTC's tank trap.
6 Four Wheeler's TTC: Woulda, coulda, shoulda...That's the rub, but once you've run it once you can't enter again. I ran it in 2005 and it was probably the most abusive fun I've had in a 4x4 all packed into a three-day event that uses your Jeep to 10-10ths of its capability. Maybe I'll just build something and show up to be the 11th competitor.
7 The Rubicon: It's lost a lot of its luster, at least to me. But I still think it's a trail that needs to be navigated before strict liberal California regulations make it even more difficult to drive or you kick the bucket.
8 Baja California, Mexico: Today I'm too scared to go wheeling alone in Baja. But I have to admit I love the Baja California coastline, driving on the beach, and the varying terrain. I imagine Baja looks a lot like southern California did over 100 years ago. Maybe the sparsely-populated hills are the mystic for me. I hope that Mexico becomes less scary for Americans someday before I die. For now the closest I might get to Baja is to go on a Wide Open Baja tour (wideopenbaja.com).
9 Death Valley, California: I don't really like being cold and I don't mind dry heat. I like the desert, I like small ghost towns, and I like being in the middle of nothing. That pretty much sums up Death Valley. There are hundreds of trails and dirt roads scattered over the 3.3-million acre National Park. Altitudes in the park range from a breath-taking 11,049 feet (Telescope Peak) to an unbelievable -282 feet below sea level (Badwater). You could likely spend a lifetime in the park and still not see every nook and cranny.
10 Axle Alley, Arizona: I think it was 1998 when I first went to the Arizona State Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs Jamboree event near Florence Junction. I wanted to do a trail called Axle Alley. The trail is made up of a series of waterfalls, some of which that you need to winch your Jeep up (at least at the time). I wasn't allowed on the trail that trip since it required a winch and I didn't have one. Since then I have visited the area many times for work and have hiked most of the trail, but for some reason I still have not driven it. I'll be remedying that soon enough though.
Hazel's Lust List
1 The Death Road In Peru: Most of it is on a cliff-edge, one-lane-wide, and trucks go buzzing by you all the time. I'd do it in an open-top Jeep with a parachute strapped to my back. Just jump and pull the cord if you go over.
2 Drive The Dalton Highway from San Diego all the way to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in a vintage Jeep.
3 Birdsville Tract Trough Simpson Desert In Australia: I did it in '00 or '01 in a Toyota Land Cruiser and would love to go back and do it in a Jeep.
4 Mojave Road All The Way Up Into The Colorado Rockies With No Pavement: There has got be a way to do it. Google earth makes it seem like it can be done. I think a vintage CJ with Dana 44s, lockers, and 35s with extra food and fuel could do it with lots of fun stops in two weeks.
5 Calamity Canyon And Die Trying In Montrose, Colorado: They're right next to each other. I love these trails. It would be cool to run Die Trying backwards and run it straight through into Calamity.
6 The North Pole: I've seen it on TV. I would love to do it in real life. Take Santa for a spin.
7 Botswana Through The Makgadikgadi Pan Up To The Okavango Delta: I saw it on Top Gear and it looked like a lot of fun.
8 Germany's High-Speed Nurnberg Ring Race Track: It's not a trail obviously, but I still want to take a Jeep SRT-8 Grand Cherokee on it and kill some Porsches and Vipers.
9 Maui, Hawaii: Just so we can go back to Hawaii on the company's dime.
10 Dubai Sand Dunes: I'd love to check out that country, and with all the disposable income you know the rigs would be sick. Those guys stick 7.0L Hemis in JKs and there are no emissions or bureaucracy to worry about.
Trasborg's Terrific Travels
1 Pine Barrens, New Jersey: I grew up not far away and this was always one of my favorite wheeling spots. I've travelled all over and still not seen any wheeling quite like it.
2 Mojave Road, California: I've had a few chances to run this trail since I've been on this coast and keep missing it. It is a historic road with all kinds of cool things to see from the turn of the last century.
3 Eagle Lake Trains, Maine: The Eagle Lake trains were used in the early 1900's to move logs. When the logging dried up, the trains were just left there in the woods 70-80 years ago.
4 Nantucket, Massachusetts: I was there as a kid, too young to drive on the beach. Some of the area that is legal to drive on can disappear at high tides and it feels like driving at the end of the world.
5 Chile Challenge, New Mexico: Some of the best climbs and challenging obstacles without huge cliffs on either side for challenging trails with no fear of death. I realize it is an event, not a trail, but all the trails I've seen there look like a lot of fun.
6 Imogene Pass, Colorado: Awesome views and scenery, great way to get from Telluride to Ouray. Bring a fuel-injected Jeep, or extra jets for your carburetor due to the elevation change over the 13,000-plus foot pass.
7 Harlan, Kentucky: Challenging trails with everything from rocks to eel-snot slick hill climbs. It was the first time in over a decade that I felt welcomed in a town even after they learned I was a Jeeper.
8 Route 66: I want to take a vintage Jeep, start in Chicago, and take old 66 just as much as I can to the Pacific Ocean. Much of old 66 is gone under weeds and fields due to abandonment. Finding the old road would be cool, and a four-wheel-drive Jeep is the perfect vehicle to do it in.
9 Superlift Orv Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas: Everything from mud to rocks, no matter what your taste or difficulty level. Plus, I want to run Impossible.
10 Just About Any Road Or Trail To Any Ghost Town. There is something about a town that was walked-away from, for whatever reason.