Texas is chockfull of Toyota owners eager to get their 4WD rigs on trails. We saw that plain as day when some 440 Toyotas showed up for the 2018 Lone Star Toyota Jamboree. The four-day event took place in early May at Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area (BMRA) near Gilmer, Texas.
The event has grown rapidly in recent years, and from what we saw it is a well-organized affair. There were guided trail rides, safety and skills classes, plenty of food, and a huge raffle on Saturday night. In addition to all the trail running, drivers can compete for best times in the Rock Garden, Blind Man's Bluff over a twisty course, or the Lone Star Stampede obstacle course.
BMRA encompasses some 1,800 acres and 140 miles of OHV trails. We ran trails of all difficulty and there's a good variety to be found. Near-constant sprinkling rain on Friday slicked up a lot of the terrain and increased the challenge on all the trails. Drivers had to watch for trees and stand deeper in the throttle to get up a lot of the slimy hills. Fortunately, the rain moved on Friday night and the Saturday trails started muddy but began to dry during the day.
BMRA is owned by the nonprofit Texas Motorized Trails Coalition. The organization was formed in 1999 and now boasts 1,400 members that use a variety of motorized vehicles off-road. They are working hard to provide fun off-road recreation in Texas. BMRA has been turned into an excellent venue and the coalition is preparing to open an even bigger property in west Texas.
Hats off to the volunteers who put the jamboree together. It was a blast. Check out the Lone Star Toyota Jamboree Facebook page for details on the 2019 event.
This tight, off-camber squeeze on Spider Ravine caught a few drivers by surprise, tipping most rigs towards a tree. This FJ Cruiser driver slipped through rather quickly, but it cost him a few body dents and broken window glass.
George Stanley climbs up one of the Jeep Eater trail exits. His 2008 FJ Cruiser is much more capable than stock with All-Pro Off Road A-arms, Walker Evans coilovers, 4.88 gears, and 35-inch mud-terrain tires.
After the rains had passed, the trails were especially slippery. It took Xerxuz David several attempts to get his 2015 Tacoma to crest this hill. A strong throttle assault, with all tires spinning, finally put him on top.
We love seeing first-generation pickups in the dirt. Jimmy Sherrell crawled this sweet 1983 truck up Twister with no problem. His rig formula included a 22R engine on propane, Marlin Crawler dual transfer cases, simple leaf spring suspension, and 40-inch Maxxis Trepador tires.
Along with the newer Toyotas we saw a handful of FJ60 Cruisers at the event. This driver was well experienced and brought the whole family along for the trail runs.
Rod Peterson from Toyota Trail Riders led us into Twister and then Binder Boulevard in his 1985 Toyota pickup perched on Super Swamper tires.
Vintage Toyotas were in the minority at the event, but there were plenty of rigs to gawk at and crawl under. There were strong showings by the Tacomas, 4Runners, and FJ Cruisers, so it was a great chance to wheel and talk shop with other owners.
Most of the trails wind through the trees, and BMRA has some rocky hill climbs to fully test suspensions and traction.
This 1985 4Runner chugged easily up all the trails and flexed well. Austin Entrop swapped in a five-cylinder Mercedes turbodiesel from a 300D sedan. It was mated to a Toyota five-speed manual transmission and backed with dual transfer cases with 10.7:1 low-low range, making crawling the steep climbs quite effortless for his rig.
Dave Crosby stands up his 2006 4Runner at the bottom of a tough climb. He has swapped a set of linked Dana 60 axles and a Marlin Crawler transfer case under the Toyota to handle 39-inch BFGoodrich Krawlers.
Bob Wohlers from Off-Road Safety Academy was on hand during most of the event giving classes on off-road technique and skills. The event was tailored to everyone from beginners to highly experienced wheelers.
Shay Wasserman was our leader in his 2011 Tacoma for Green Lane on Saturday morning. The rain from the previous day confounded some of the drivers with all-terrain tires when the tires quickly loaded up with trail goo.
Big Mike Czajkowski wooed onlookers by running his 2016 Tacoma across the rock garden. He showed the prowess of a custom IFS truck running 40-inch Cooper tires, driven by a triple-transfer case setup.
Saturday afternoon drivers competed in the Lone Star Stampede, a timed obstacle course. Tyler Pelfrey didn't hesitate to air out the family's well-built, late-model 4Runner.