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Brutal Off-Roading on Johnson Valley's Trails - Off Road Locations

Posted in Ultimate Adventure on July 1, 2006
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No doubt about it, Johnson Valley's trails are brutal. Some of the gnarliest, nastiest terrain ever to be wheeled on is found within a few miles of Means Dry Lake in the heart of the Mojave. Trails like Sledgehammer, Jackhammer, Wrecking Ball, and Clawhammer didn't get their names randomly. These trails are a supreme test of axles, tires, gears, and most of all, driving savvy. They're also a bad place to take your truck if your daily driver is also your weekend wheeler. What's the owner of a mildly built truck to do?

If the above describes your situation, we've got a trail for you. The Fissure Mountain Trail is one of Johnson Valley's original trails. By "original" we mean that Fissure Mountain was laid out by the Victor Valley 4 Wheelers well before four-wheelers were getting Hammered on the double-black-diamond stuff that's made the area a hard-core wheeling destination in recent years. Back in the day, most wheelers ran tires no bigger than 33s, and most rigs used a single locker or limited-slip if they used any sort of traction device at all. Today, 33s, a rear locker, and a set of rock sliders can get you through the Fissure Mountain Trail with a smile on your face. The trail's name comes from the fissures (cracks) that opened up during the Landers, California, earthquake of '92. Several fissures can be seen along the trail if you're sufficiently versed in geology to recognize them.

Although he's conquered all of the Hammers as well as multiple rockcrawling championships, All-Pro Off-Road owner Jon Bundrant recently took a group of Tacomas out for a Fissure Mountain run. Rigs ranging from Bundrant's flagship Taco' Supreme to IFS-equipped rigs sporting all-terrain tires mounted on factory wheels were along for the ride. Several rigs came away from the adventure with desert pinstriping, courtesy of the crusty granite boulders, but no one suffered major damage or a major breakdown. No breakdowns meant that the group was able to keep moving the whole time without stopping for trailside truck repairs. Yes, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from repairing maximal damage using minimal parts and even fewer tools while out on the trail. Trust us on this: the bigger the group, the smaller the overall satisfaction at even the most clever trailside repair. It's best to keep moving.

Fissure Mountain winds its way to the top of a ridge and snakes along several tricky slopes punctuated with rock gardens.The gardens demand respect - taking the wrong line can easily damage your rig or cause a rollover. Jon was joined by several experienced four-wheelers, including fellow champ Larry McRae, who successfully guided the group through the gardens. The Fissure slopes overlook vast desert valleys that eventually give way to jagged peaks jutting from the lowlands.

If you've got a capable multipurpose rig, we think Fissure Mountain is a cool old trail that's worth rediscovering. You don't have to get Hammered to have fun in Johnson Valley.

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