What self-respecting Jeep owners don’t dream of tackling the many great outdoor trails the US has to offer? I’m not talking namby pamby Sunday country drives or flat fields of grain. I’m talking the mud-covered trails of the Northwest, the dank swamp bayou country south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the boulder strewn mountains of the Rockies, and the arid desert country of the Southwest. These trails not only take technical skill and courage as a Jeep operator, but they take Jeeps that are modified with only the best tires, support and alignment systems, and all the necessary add-ons like snorkels, winches, lift-kits, zip-ties, Geri cans for extra gas, and so much more. Oh, and do not forget the first aid kit just in case you flip your Jeep.
It’s no secret that some of the most popular off roading trails the US has to offer are also some of the most dangerous, with accidents and even deaths occurring with relative frequency. If the trails are so popular and familiar, why do Jeep operators still find them so challenging? Because they are ever changing. On any given hour, a dry roadbed can become a river of deep mud after a deluge of rain. Simple as that. Like they say, you can’t fight Mother Nature. But if you’re a Jeep junkie, you can attempt to tame it.
So where can you find some of the most dangerous trails in the US? According to Extreme Terrain, these are the top 5.
1. Moab Rim Trail
Go west young man (and woman). While Utah is a four-wheeler’s paradise with its natural rock arches, canyons, mesas and even the Colorado River which some Jeep operators love to ford (don’t forget that snorkel), the main attraction is also one of its most dangerous trails. The eight-mile Moab Rim Trail. It’s an extreme climb for the first mile over bedrock that’s been cut over time into ledges and steps. As you come to the 85-degree top, your Jeep will begin to slip and slide on sand and slick rock, and you might get the gut-wrenching sensation that you’re about to flip over.
2. The Rubicon Trail
Set in the High Sierras not far from Lake Tahoe, the Rubicon Trail is described as a “relentless journey” of Jeep versus huge granite boulders, hair-raising ledges, and muddy water crossings (don’t get stuck ‘cause there’s no way out). For the sake of safety and preventing severe damage to the underside of your ride, this is slow going Jeep adventure. It might take you twenty minutes just to make it over a couple of boulders. But the payout is worth it. The views are said to be spectacular. You can also make camp pretty much anywhere.
3. Fordyce Creek TrailLocated not far from the Rubicon Trail is the Fordyce Creek Trail. Said by some Jeep aficionados to be more challenging than the Rubicon, this trail ride requires some significant technical driving skills. Six river crossings highlight the expedition, and unless you have 35” tires, there’s a real good chance you’re gonna be floating while you’re driving. Extreme Terrain also states that when the waters are high in the spring season, not even 44” tires will do the trick. Since this is boulder country, you need rocker guards and the best skid plates money can buy. Five specific runs on the trail are referred to as “winch hills” by the most experienced Jeepsters. They are impossible to navigate without tow hooks and straps.
4. The Lake Como Trail
What on earth could be more fun for Jeep junkies than the “worst road in Colorado?” The first bit is an easy climb of 9,000 ft (that’s a joke). By the time you reach nose bleed territory at 11,400 ft, the bad road turns into impossible road with extremely angled, slick slabs, and a base of loose rocks. The only way to make it all the way to the lake on the opposite end of the trail, is to drive a major-league modified Jeep that sports a shorter 4-wheel drive wheel base.
5. Wood Pecker Mine Trail
A list of the US’s most dangerous trails would be remiss without an inclusion from Arizona. Situated near Florence Junction, Phoenix, is a relatively short, 5.8 mile Jeep lover’s obstacle course called Wood Pecker Mine. While it starts out on fairly tame terms with a boulder strewn creek bed, you soon come to a V-notch. You can pass though the notch so long as you have a short wheel base, but it’s possible you’ll suffer a few scrapes on your sides and doors (if you’ve removed them, watch out for your arms). Should you get through that obstacle okay, you dry off by climbing a mega-steep bank. If you’re lucky enough not to flip front-fender-over-rear-fender style, you’ll be pleased to know that you have now arrived at “the highway to hell.” This little bit of a road is characterized by its extreme climbs and descents, kind of like a plane that’s about to crash.
Enjoy the ride folks!