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WishIWasHunting's picture
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Location: Brighton, CO
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4WD Trail Ratings

I was going to post this up last year after I found myself on a 4WD trail wondering how I was going to get out of the area without, at a minimum, damaging my wife's pickup.  I just did not get around to it.  After finding myself in the same type of situation yesterday, I decided I need to find out if I am the only person who manages to find myself in situations like that.   Whistling

For me, it seems easy and innocent enough how I find myself in these situations.  I spend hours ahead of time looking at satellite images on Google maps, using the Hunter Atlas on CDOW's website, and looking at multiple different paper maps from multiple different sources (BLM, National Forest, county governments, private entities, etc.).  I notice a couple spots that I decide I want to check out on foot, and, conveniently enough, some sort of road takes me within a reasonable hiking distance of where I want to go.  None of my maps seem to have any practical rating of the road/trail, aside from the occaisional "4WD Trail" designation.  Having driven on many alleged 4WD trails that I would not hesitate to take my 2WD car on, that designation has nearly lost all meaning with me (I am beginning to rethink that mindset Confused ).

In person, for the situation last year, there were signs saying "High clearance 4WD recommended" or something of that nature.  Having driven many miles on that same trail with that same warning without any problems or any hesitations to drive that trail again, I had no reason to think that a short section of the trail would become significantly more difficult to maneuver while avoiding damaging my vehicle.  For the situation yesterday, there was not a single sign indicating that even the use of a 4WD vehicle was necessary.  

In both situations, about one-third to half-way into the new section of trail, the trails did seem to warn of what was ahead with a small section that was a little more challenging, but nothing I could not manage.  In the back of my mind, I think about turning back, but several factors usualy propel me towards what ends up being the wrong decision.  First, I do not want to be a wuss.  Second, by then, I usually have quite a bit of time invested in taking this path.  Finally, I am curious what lies ahead.   Thumbs up

Again, in both situations, these were downhill trails.  Shortly after the warning section mentioned above that I so intelligently decide to proceed through, I more or less slide down a part of the trail that, even if I wanted to, I doubt I could reverse back up the trail.  Now, reluctantly, I am fully committed to getting down the trail.  Luckily, in both instances, these trails were not dead ends, so getting down the trails was all there was to it.  

Finally, in both situations, I did get down the trails without getting stuck and without damaging the pickup mechanically.  I did stratch and dent the body, but I was just glad that the pickup is not a permanent display in those parts of the forest.  

While I will be more cautious in the future about exploring 4WD trails, I can't help but think that some sort of trail rating system with signage on site would be useful.  I realize that several factors such as the technical specifications of the vehicle (wheel base, ground clearance, etc.), the experience/abilities of the driver, and variable environmental conditions can all play into how to subjectively rate a trail.  However, I still believe some sort of rating system would be useful, whether that is a simple 1-10 system, or some brief recommendations regarding wheel base and ground clearance.  Basically, I would like some information before I get quite a ways down the trail to help me decide how adventurous I feel, and how badly I want to know that is on the other side of that trail.  Both of these trails would be fun on an ATV or motorcycle, but, if I could do it again, I would not take my factory 4WD down.  

So, anybody else want to fess up to similar decision-making abilities?   Yes

 

Vehicle: 

2000 Dodge Dakota with Offroad package

Trails:

Roosevelt National Forest 505.1 Caribou Trail

Boulder County 95J

Retired2hunt's picture
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Location: Colorado Springs, CO & Fort Myers, FL
Joined: 07/28/2011
Posts: 1632
Had to laugh... and hard!

I laughed hard reading your post because I found myself exactly in the same situation last year. I bought an OTC bull tag for the same unit that I had pulled a cow tag in. I had private property already secured and scouted for the hunt... but... I decided I would spend a couple of days in the National Forest first. I looked at maps, google earth, etc. prior and thought I was all set. I chose a specific set of trails as they would take me the deepest into the area. Luckily I did have the clearance and the engine power. I went up and down very rocky trails that were probably not meant for a regular market 4WD truck. I did make it to the end of the trail but decided to backtrack and hunt an area about 3 miles back. I was a little nervous about staying so far in. I ended up scratching the oil pan on one area but besides the "Colorado pin-striping" (tree limb scratches on the paint job for those non-Coloradans) I was able to get in and out without needed assistance.

It was a rush but I would definitely like to have that trail guide that would MAYBE convince me on what trails I do take. lol

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited (V8/4WD)
Rio Grande National Forest

WishIWasHunting's picture
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Location: Brighton, CO
Joined: 01/31/2011
Posts: 697
I am sorry to hear that you

I am sorry to hear that you can relate so well, but I am also glad that I am not the only person who finds myself in those situations.   lol  

I also think it is a fair request to have some idea about the possibility of damaging my vehicle by taking it down a given trail.  I don't care how good of driver you are, when the dimensions of your vehicle exceed the dimensions of the trail, you are going to sustain some sort of damage no matter how well you maneuver the vehicle.  

SGM
SGM's picture
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Location: Canon City, Colorado
Joined: 08/13/2011
Posts: 1071
I feel your pain brother! In

I feel your pain brother! In fact my wife and I finally bought an old CJ7 to do our scouting just because of these facts. We have found ourselves looking at new areas and found out that a F150 or F250 is too wide or long to make it over the humps or some turns. If you hit the well used 4x4 roads you can read several books that tell you the conditions etc. However, when you ride the less known areas or some 3 mile forest service road you have no idea what you are getting into. So no you and Retired to Hunt are not the only members of this club. In fact I bet most of the serious hunters on BGH are members of this club to some extent

WishIWasHunting's picture
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Location: Brighton, CO
Joined: 01/31/2011
Posts: 697
After my most recent

After my most recent experience, I did find a few 4X4 trail guide books at Jax.  However, since they are targeted towards the 4WD recreational crowd, they did not cover the areas/trails that I am curious about.  I guess this is a good thing because it probably keeps more people from using those trails, but it doesn't help me keep my vehicle out of harm's way.  

Eventually, I will probably have to get a vehicle dedicated for hunting, like your jeep, and simply accept that I will probably find myself in situations were the vehicle might get some damage.  Also,  although I do plan on trying out new units, I will probably keep hunting many of the same areas.  Eventually, I should at least have pretty solid first-hand knowledge of the trails in my current hunting units.

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