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Month: November 2016

The JK Wrangler’s Last Hurrah

The JK Wrangler’s Last Hurrah

There seems to be some “buzz” lately as the realization starts to set in that the JK Wrangler’s reign is almost over, at least when it comes to new purchases. That’s right, we are officially in the last year the model will be produced.

I’ve mentioned it before and stand by my thoughts that much of the JL “shockers” have been nothing more than rumors (possible initiated by FCA themselves) to keep interest in the JK. Let’s face it, the human species doesn’t like change. More times than not, they would rather keep what they don’t like (yet know) than chance anything that is unknown. It doesn’t take much for those on the fence about a new Wrangler type purchase to feel more secure about jumping in now, before the JL is released.

While there hasn’t been many “official” spy shots released, one thing is already clear. The new JL is shaping up to be more of a JK rework than the “all new” model that was initially rumored long ago. We heard about independent suspension, aluminum tubs, and even a non-removable top. None of which are coming to fruition. As such, it is likely that buyers trying to avoid the next generation are starting to stall. Evidence of this is in the recent announcement that the JK Wrangler will have several “Special Editions” for it’s final model year.

I’ll hand it to FCA… they know how to work us! I can only imagine the marketing meeting; “How do we keep JK sales up with very little investment or changes and the JL just around the corner? I know, put some stickers on it and call it something special,… better yet limited edition!”  This isn’t their first time playing this card either. Remember the “Rubicon 10th Anniversary Editions” everyone was so excited about because they thought they were getting something special, only to have the same features be available to this day as a “Hard Rock” package?

Image result for jk hardrock

In spite of FCA’s trickery, there are other reasons why it might make sense for you to jump onto the JK/JKU bandwagon. It has proven to be a very capable and reliable trail rig that travels comfortably as well. There are TONS of off-the-shelf upgrades and modification parts available, and information is everywhere to help you install them. Even if the JL is great, it will take some time for aftermarket manufacturers to tool up and start making parts for them. If you’re in it for the long game, it might make sense to take pause. History shows us that each Wrangler type has been better than it’s predecessor in many ways. Jump now and you may find yourself wishing you waited this time next year.

Image result for jl wrangler

 

The article below calls out the special editions and when you will likely see them available.


Larry P. Vellequette with Automotive News

Jeep is stretching out consumer interest in the outgoing JK Wrangler by offering a number of special limited-edition packages over the next year while consumers await the arrival of the redesigned JL Wrangler in the second half of 2017.

The first two limited runs — the 2017 Wrangler Sport Freedom edition and 2017 Wrangler Sahara Winter edition — were detailed to dealers in their November ordering books.

Both go on sale in December, with the Freedom edition running only until February, and the Winter edition scheduled to run until May, according to dealer ordering information seen by Automotive News. A Jeep spokesman declined to comment.

The moves follow Jeep’s tradition of using limited-edition models to keep demand for the Wrangler strong. Wrangler sales in the U.S. are on the decline for the first time since the Great Recession this year as consumers await what promises to be a more fuel-efficient but still-capable replacement for the off-roader.

The Wrangler Sport Freedom edition will come with Freedom star hood and rear fender decals, an American flag driver side front fender decal and other interior and exterior badging. It will also feature 18-inch Sahara mid-gloss granite crystal wheels, a new rear heavy-duty cast differential cover, black fuel filter cover and taillamp guards. The sticker price will be $30,690 for the two-door Sport Freedom edition, and $34,590 for the four-door Wrangler Unlimited Sport Freedom edition, both including shipping.

The Wrangler Sahara Winter edition features new LED headlamps and fog lamps, standard remote start (with the automatic transmission), premium off-road rock rails and a standard hard top, with optional body coloring. It comes adorned with hood, driver side fender and rear fender decals, along with other special badging and accents. The sticker price will be $37,440 for the two-door Wrangler Sahara Winter edition, and $41,240 for the four-door Wrangler Unlimited Sahara Winter edition, including shipping.

Later in 2017, Jeep plans to offer other limited-run editions. However, their detailed specifications have yet to be announced. According to internal sources, they include:

• A Sport Big Bear edition, available from February until July

• A Sahara Chief edition, available from March until June

• A Sahara Smoky Mountain edition, available from March until July

• A Rubicon Recon edition, which will replace the Rubicon Hard Rock when it ends production in February. It is scheduled to be available until JK production ends in September 2017.

The JK Wrangler has been in production since 2006 and has undergone several upgrades over the years to improve its interior and powertrain. Despite its age, the Wrangler has remained one of the brand’s best-selling vehicles, with U.S. sales more than doubling since 2010 to more than 202,000 last year with little or no incentives. Through October of this year, however, Wrangler sales have slipped 5.7 percent.

Production of the JL Wrangler — which will have an available eight-speed automatic transmission, an available turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a more aerodynamic shape to greatly increase fuel economy — is scheduled to begin in mid-2017.

The JL Wrangler will be built at Fiat Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly Complex after the portion of the plant that currently builds the unibody Jeep Cherokee is retooled, beginning in March, for body-on-frame construction.

FCA will begin a limited retooling of its Belvidere Assembly plant in Illinois next month to continue producing the Jeep Cherokee.

Nine overland trips every Jeeper should do!

Nine overland trips every Jeeper should do!

Mrs. SSS and I have another cross-country trip planned next year to see our son who is stationed in Washington. Our trek will take us through many places we still have on our bucket list, and as such, we are planning an overlanding adventure to make the most of the trip. (This is actually the whole reason we purchased Klondike.) A recent article from Sean Holman of Four Wheeler Magazine came in perfect time for us and our planning. I have found the information and links so helpful, I wanted to share….

Hopefully it will inspire your next adventure!


 

 

Sean P. Holman
Content Director, Four Wheeler Network

 

In the spirit of escaping the daily grind, we polled the staff for some of their favorite overland trips that are right here in the good ol’ U.S.A. While this is just a handful of the awesome adventures that await you in the American backcountry, these are some of our most well loved excursions filled with adventure, history, and scenery. Any of these trips can be done with a well-equipped stock, or minimally modified rig. So in no particular order, here is our list of domestic excursions every wheeler should consider.

Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks is a series of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina featuring miles of OHV routes along the Atlantic Ocean, giving wheelers a unique opportunity to wheel right on the coast. One of the more popular areas is the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (www.nps.gov/caha), which is home to lighthouses, Civil War history, and protected sea life. Most of the OHV routes can easily be traversed in a stock 4×4 with proper tire pressure, although some routes are seasonal. Plan to visit the remote town of Carova Beach and/or have your rig ferried to the incredible South Core Banks.
Info: North Carolina’s Outer Banks
www.outer-banks.com

awesome Adventures outer Banks North Carolina Photo 39472315

Death Valley, California
Death Valley National Park has the distinction of being the hottest, driest, and lowest place in North America and encompasses more than 5,200 square miles of desolate terrain. Off-highway trails abound, and any explorer with the right resources can easily discover vast amounts of geologic and human history. Because of Death Valley’s size and desolate nature, you can go days between human contact in the backcountry and the hostile environment is a study in extremes. The terrain can be challenging, but a stock SUV can access the majority of trails with proper equipment and a skilled driver.
Info: Death Valley National Park
www.nps.gov/deva/

awesome Adventures death Valley California Photo 39472318

Moab, Utah
Moab is often considered the sport of wheeling’s Mecca in the United States. With incredible scenery unmatched by just about anywhere else on earth and trails of all lengths and difficulties that crisscross the terrain, anyone can find enjoyment in Moab. For those looking to extend their journey to Moab, try arriving via the dirt trails of the San Rafael Swell or Mexican Hat.
Info: City of Moab
www.discovermoab.com

awesome Adventures moab Utah Photo 39472321

Black Bear Pass, Colorado
Proving that Colorado is home to some of the most spectacular trails in the United States, Black Bear Road starts from U.S. Highway 550 between the towns of Ouray and Silverton and ends up in Telluride, Colorado. Reaching a maximum elevation of 12,840 feet, vehicles on Black Bear Road navigate tight switchbacks, loose terrain, and falling rock, but those who make the trip are rewarded with views of Ingram and Bridal Veil Falls and an unmatched perspective of Telluride. The local trail system includes other famous routes, such as Imogene Pass, Ophir Pass, Bullion King Lake, and Red Mountain Pass.
Info: Mile High Jeep Club
www.mhjc.com

awesome Adventures black Bear Pass Colorado Photo 39472324

Mojave Road, California
One of the original routes through the Mojave Desert to the California Coast, the Mojave Road is located mostly within the Mojave National Preserve. This trail is a step back in time with rich history that follows the path of Native Americans and early settlers of California. The 138-mile route starts on the banks of the Colorado River, crossing several mountain ranges, and terrain types before culminating near Barstow, California. While the trail isn’t technically difficult, it is does cross deep sand, sharp rocks, and desolate areas, giving travelers a glimpse of what it must have been like for settlers during the turn of the century. The Mojave Road Guide by Dennis Casebier is a must-have resource for anyone who plans on traversing the historic route and is available from the Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association (www.mdhcs.org).
Info: Mojave National Preserve
www.nps.gov/moja

awesome Adventures mojave Trail California Photo 39472327

Morrison Jeep Trail, Wyoming
The Morrison Jeep Trail, located northwest of Cody, Wyoming, and southwest of Billings, Montana, is known for its 27 tight switchbacks that make up the ascent from the Clarks Fork River to the top of Bear Tooth Plateau. This trail is another example of stunning scenery that can be accessed behind the wheel of a capable 4×4. After paralleling the Clarks Fork River, wheelers start the 2,000-foot climb, before being granted admittance to the stunning high country of Wyoming and Montana. Any number of trails in the area can extend your backcountry stay indefinitely.
Info: Magic City 4-Wheelers
www.mc4w.com

awesome Adventures morrison Jeep Trail Wyoming Photo 39472330

Border to Border
Back in 2010, Four Wheeler contributor Chris Collard successfully navigated from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, almost entirely on dirt. Even with the population explosion in the West, we were amazed that the ability to drive the entire height of the Western U.S. was still possible. Collard did have to make some adjustments to the formula, such as hitting pavement on East-West routes to bypass land closures, as well as adding in a few side trips, extending the run from about 1,300 miles to more than 2,700 miles. With the ability to complete this epic off-road journey fading fast, this is one you’ll want to attempt sooner than later.
Info: Four Wheeler
www.fourwheeler.com

awesome Adventures jeep Jk Wheeling Photo 39472333

Rubicon Trail, California
Long considered one of the best wheeling trails in the world (hey, there are even Jeeps named after it), the legendary Rubicon Trail is known for amazing scenery and challenging obstacles. From tight boulder fields to granite slabs with unbridled vistas, the Rubicon is often rearranged by winter weather, making no two trips exactly the same. No one who has ever traversed the Rubicon will argue that The Rubicon Trail should be atop every wheeler’s “To Do” list.
Info: Friends of the Rubicon
www.rubiconfriends.com;
Rubicon Trail Foundation
www.rubicontrail.org

awesome Adventures rubicon Trail California Photo 39472336

Lewis and Clark Trail, North Dakota
Four Wheeler contributors Manrico Delcore and Mary Beth Debicki negotiated the Lewis and Clark Trail in 2005, as did Senior Editor Brubaker and Tech Editor Holman. From the trail we experienced immense views of the North Dakota badlands and sat at an overlook of the Missouri River once use by Lewis and Clark themselves. If you like to combine history with your adventure, this is a great trail to explore.
Info: Four Wheeler
www.fourwheeler.com

awesome Adventures lewis And Clark Trail North Dakota Photo 39472339

Source
A new Jeep world record!

A new Jeep world record!

There seems to be lots of disgruntled Jeep enthusiasts today with changes FCA is making to the models and line. But based on their sales, they are likely okay with that. It’s hard to argue what they are doing is wrong when there is so much success with sales.

We get it… There were a lot of rumors about IFS/IRS and a 4-cylinder engine for the upcoming JL-Wrangler that had all of us confused about what FCA was doing to our beloved Jeep. But as the new Wrangler get’s closer and closer, most of these things are proving to be just that, rumors.

As I sit on the sidelines, I can’t help but wonder if many of these rumors were nothing but a dazzling play on us. Face it, you either are (or know) someone who purchased a late model JK because of a fear for what the JL would be.

Even models that many claim to be “not a Jeep” are selling well and if you give them a shot, it’s for good reason. Our KL Cherokee is hated by some and loved by others. What I find humorous is those who most often call it an abomination to the badge are often CJ and YJ guys/gals. In truth, the new Cherokee wheels more like them than a TJ or JK. Face it, the old leaf-sprung Jeeps didn’t flex over things…. They bounced their way around and over obstacles often carrying a tire more often than keeping them on the dirt. So, while I get that the Renegade or Cherokee doesn’t look like the old Jeeps, they sure do wheel like them! …and I’m sorry, but I will take the road handling and ride of any late Jeep over the ones of yesteryear.

If that makes me crazy or not a “true” Jeep lover, well, so what… I’m happy! …and based on the sales news allpar.com released today, I’m not alone.

 


By: Bill Cawthon w/ Allpar News,

Jeep will likely set a new global sales record this month, surpassing the 1.24 million sold in 2015.

Jeep chief Mike Manley reported that  2016 sales were 1.16 million at the end of October, so just 75,000 or so sales are needed in November to set a new annual record — a month ahead of schedule. If Jeep can repeat its 83,204 October sales in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, the new record will be set with room to spare.

Mike Manley

According to the European automobile manufacturers’ association, ACEA, Jeep posted another strong European month with 8,087 vehicles sold in October, an increase of more than 8% in a market that was down by 0.3%.

Year-to-date (YTD) Jeep registrations have risen by nearly 21%, to 88,384, one of the highest growth rates in Europe.  The Jeep Renegade was the main driver, with 74% of Jeep sales; around 6,000 new Renegades were sold last month. Overall, FCA rose by around 7%, to 75,108 sales last month, putting it around 4,600 units ahead of GM Europe and around 2,000 sales behind Ford.

Source

Ford Bronco is confirmed!

Ford Bronco is confirmed!

I know, I know…. The FORD Bronco isn’t exactly Jeep news…. Or is it? Hear me out…

You may have caught the news that the Ford Bronco and Ranger have been confirmed to make a return. The current plan is to build them in Michigan once the Focus and C-Max production has been moved to Mexico.

While they will be built here in the US, all development and production is being done in Australia, and this is where the news gets interesting. Insiders let it slip that Ford Australia purchased both a 4-door (JKU) Rubicon and 2-door (JK) Rubicon for benchmark purposes. If nothing else, this gives insight to their target audience. I’ll be the first to admit they have my attention!

In my opinion, Ford has a better engine and power-train line-up and when put in the hands of the historically power-hungry, and at times down right crazy, Australian engineers the outcome could be amazing. They sure seem to be on the right track with the prototypes and the desire to benchmark both a 2-door and 4-door JK leads me to believe we may see a wheelbase right in the sweet spot for the trail.

Time will tell, but if nothing else, I am happy that there may be some decent competition in the segment that for years Jeep has had largely to itself.

What do you think? Love it or hate it?

The Glacial Grooves of Kelleys Island

The Glacial Grooves of Kelleys Island

Not too long ago, we found ourselves wondering northern Ohio without a care or really even a destination in mind. The only real goal was to try and catch some nice fall foliage. The leaves had started to change around home (southern Ohio), so we thought a drive north would reveal trees that were a little farther along. This seemed to work out, at least for a little while. Then, as we continued north, the colors seemed to fade again.

Before we knew it we had traveled as far north as we could… Even the best snorkel and water preparation wouldn’t help us cross Lake Erie.

This didn’t really get us down though as the view and breeze was pretty amazing even if it was a bit brisk. While the air on this day was cool, we noticed the water wasn’t and this is likely why so many of the trees in the area had yet to turn. We hadn’t thought about the climate regulation that the lakes would provide in spite of the cooler weather we’d had.

With the trees still being mostly green, we modified our “goal” (if you want to call it that) and decided to follow US-6 west along the lake before going just a bit further north to Kelleys Island. US-6 (or any road for that matter) would only take you so far… A ferry is needed to take you to the island itself.

To our surprise, we darn near had the whole ferry to ourselves! In fact, when we looked at the ferry returning from Kelleys Island, we wondered if we were headed into something bad. 😯 We would later learn, there was some sort of VW Bus event that was wrapping up causing all of the one way traffic.

The empty ferry did offer lots of time to play with filters on the camera, which resulted in this pretty cool picture of Klondike. 😛 😎

Once on the Island, we made a b-line for the Glacial Grooves Geological Preserve. This preserve is a 400 foot long and 35 foot wide stretch of limestone that was forcibly carved by the Wisconsin Glacier 30,000 years ago. While this doesn’t sound like much, it’s actually pretty cool. If you can remember your Jr. High science book you likely remember pictures of this unique spot. These grooves are important to historians, scientists, and students. The Great Lakes and all the islands in them were carved out by glacial activity. From these glacial grooves, scientists can determine direction and time period of the glaciers on the North American continent, among other things.

Our home sits on top of a limestone ridge in the Glaciated Appalachian Plateau and between the Till Plains and Unglaciated Appalachian Plateau. It’s not much, but this ~200 foot high ridge that follows the path of I-71 is a product of this very glacier. It’s pretty awesome to think that the limestone all around and under us was pushed from so far away by nature’s power.

We met an older local couple while visiting the grooves and they shared some information that we found a bit sad… They have been visiting this site off-and-on for the last 20 years. They mentioned that over the years they could see where weather is taking a toll on the grooves. They later shared that the original memorial didn’t expose this entire stretch of stone and the lower third was cleared for viewing and study somewhat recently. Once they told us this the wear from the weather was quite clear. Even the pictures show a much more porous and rough stone in the upper section compared to the lower where the grooves are pretty clean and smooth.

One of the most interesting spots is this up/down sweep. We can’t help but wonder what obstruction caused this.

Pictures really can’t do justice for this preserve. While it isn’t very large at all, and won’t take you long to get your fill… the spot is well worth the trip in our opinion.

When we wrapped up here we decided to do a little more exploring and learning about the Island. With that being said, it was impossible to ignore the beach that is almost directly across from the Glacial Grooves. We again had this to ourselves thanks to the brisk air.

Given that Kelleys Island is only 2,880 acres, it is amazing that it has so much history. From a Military rendezvous post during The War of 1812 to limestone and grape production through the mid 1900s, the Island is mostly a vacation destination now. In 1975, 23 acres of the southern shore were designated a historic district and added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Evidence of the Island’s past is abundant to those looking. Especially if you like hiking and/or walking, although the main transportation on Kelleys seems to be golf carts. We could only wonder what this old foundation once supported.

Sadly, after only a few hours on the Island, we had to make a run for home. Hopefully you enjoyed this post. Let us know in the comments!

To Beadlock or not to beadlock, that is the question….

To Beadlock or not to beadlock, that is the question….

We took the opportunity to jump on a recent sale Pit Bull Tires was running and have 5 new 37″ Rockers on the way. The question we ask ourselves now is what to do about our wheels?

It’s not as easy a question to answer as it seems, we know we want beadlocks…. But do we spend money on them now. You see, we plan to upgrade at least the front axle on Dirty next year. This will likely turn into both front and rear axle swaps and the need for new wheels anyway with a different bolt pattern.

Having said this, we have often wanted to air down just a bit more than we do with unlocked beads and this was on our “D” rated MTRs. With the “E” rated Rockers we are concerned we will not get enough tire flex at the pressures we run….

Oh, what to do, what to do?

2016’s Top Off Road Trails & Parks in America?

2016’s Top Off Road Trails & Parks in America?

PartCatalog just released their 2016 “Top Off Road Trails” in America list (or at least in 38 states in America). Additionally, they announced the highest rated trails/parks based on all of the submissions they received. It’s important to note that this list is for all venues of off-roading. Why is this detail important? Well, some parks or trails are better for certain types of vehicles. For example, Windrock OHV Park in TN earned second place but is far from a top pick in our opinion for full-sized rigs. I do see where side-by-sides and ATVs would strongly agree with this award though.

Even though we already spoiled this a bit, their top rated trails/parks for 2016 are:

SMORR [MO]

SMOOR [MO]

Windrock [TN]

MOAB [UT]

As for the remainder of the list, I personally don’t agree with many of the rankings, but to be honest, this is pretty trivial when compared to the other issues I have with it. First, and the biggest, some of these places are private property and you need special permission to use them. Others are closed, and have been for some time. Some places, that happen to go by different names, appear in multiple rankings under both. Lastly, and when compared to the prior is fairly minor, but it’s a mistake to not separate parks or trails that only allow certain vehicle types. Some are only for ATVs and/or dirt bikes and at least one is only for full-sized rigs. But, much like our latest presidential election, the people have spoken and this is what the greater good had to say. Still, I think more vetting should have been done prior to publishing.

Having said all of that, it is still pretty awesome to have a list this encompassing. Even if in the end, it is only used to kick-start one’s own research.

Thanks to PartCatalog for putting the list together…


Click on the state abbreviations below to jump to your state or scroll through the whole list…. I took the time to add links to destinations where I could. Just click the park/trail name to go to that site!

[AL]   [AR]   [AZ]   [CA]   [CO]   [FL]   [GA]   [IL]   [IN]   [KS]   [LA]   [MA]    [ME]    [MD]   [MI]    [MN]    [MS]   [MO]   [NE]   [NV]   [NH]   [NJ]   [NM]   [NY]   [NC]   [OH]   [OK]   [OR]   [PA]   [SC]   [SD]   [TN]   [TX]   [UT]   [VA]   [WA]   [WV]   [WI]


Alabama 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Stony Lonesome – Bremen, AL
#2 Hawk Pride Mountain – Tuscumbia, AL
#3 Choccolocco Mountain – Jacksonville, AL
#4 Gray Rock – Gardendale, AL
#5 Top Trails – Talladega, AL

Arkansas 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Hot Springs ORV – Hot Springs, AR
#2 Mack’s Pines – Dover, AR
#3 Hillarosa – Blevins, AR
#4 Wolf Pen Gap – Mena, AR
#5 Mulberry Mountain – Ozark, AR

Arizona 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Carter’s Offroad – Bryant, AZ
#2 Byrd’s Adventure Center – Ozark, AZ
#3 Lake Havasu – Lake Havasu City, AZ
#4 Broken Arrow – Sedona, AZ
#5 President’s Choice – Parker, AZ

California 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Rubicon – Georgetown, CA
#2 Ocotillo Wells – Borrego Springs, CA
#3 Johnson Valley – Johnson Valley, CA
#4 Glamis Sand Dunes – El Centro, CA
#5 Big Bear (John Bull) – Big Bear City, CA

Colorado 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Black Bear Pass – Telluride, CO
#2 Imogene Pass – Ouray, CO
#3 Ouray – Ouray, CO
#4 Taylor Park – Tincup, CO
#5 Alpine Loop – Telluride, CO

Florida 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Ocala National Forest – Silver Springs, FL
#2 Florida Cracker Ranch – Bunnell, FL
#3 Hog Waller – Palatka, FL
#4 Hardrock – Ocala, FL
#5 Iron Horse Mud Ranch – Perry, FL

Georgia 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Durhamtown – Union Point, GA
#2 Highland Park – Cedartown, GA
#3 Possum Creek – Ray City, GA
#4 Fat Daddy’s – Blairsville, GA
#5 Moccasin Creek – Blackshear, GA

Illinois 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 The Cliffs Insane Terrain – Marseilles, IL
#2 Two Rivers Jeep Club – Pittsfield, IL
#3 Little Egypt – Marion, IL
#4 Fox Valley Off Road – Ottawa, IL
#5 South Fork – Taylorville, IL

Indiana 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Badlands – Attica, IN
#2 Haspin Acres – Laurel, IN
#3 Redbird – Linton, IN
#4 Interlake – Lynnville, IN
#5 Lawrence County Recreational Park – Springville, IN

Kansas 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Kansas Rocks – Mapleton, KS
#2 Tuttle Creek ORV – Randolph, KS
#3 Central Kansas Off Road – Florence, KS
#4 Kansas Badlands – South Haven, KS
#5 Syracuse Sand Dunes – Syracuse, KS

Kentucky 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Black Mountain – Harlan, KY
#2 Dirty Turtle – Bedford, KY
#3 Wildcat Offroad Park – London, KY
#4 Rush Offroad – Rush, KY
#5 Turkey Bay – Golden Pond, KY

Louisiana 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Muddy Bottoms – Sarepta, LA
#2 Catahoula Recreation Area – Sicily Island, LA
#3 Tower Trax – Fluker, LA
#4 South Toledo – Anacoco, LA
#5 Cooterville – Delhi, LA

Massachusetts 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Gremlin Graveyard – Sturbridge, MA
#2 Old Florida Road – Adams, MA
#3 Cape Cod National Seashore – Wellfleet, MA
#4 Pittsfield State Forest – Pittsfield, MA
#5 Nauset Beach – East Orleans, MA

Maine 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Rocky Mountain Terrain Park – Carthage, ME
#2 Wicked Hills – South China, ME
#3 Maine Jeep Jamboree – Bethel, ME
#4 Aroostook – Presque Isle, ME
#5 Down East Sunrise – Ellsworth, ME

Maryland 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Assateague Island Beach – Berlin, MD
#2 Budds Creek – Mechanicsville, MD
#3 Backbone – Oakland, MD
#4 Savage River – Grantsville, MD
#5 Piney Mountain – Friendsville, MD

Michigan 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Bundy Hill – Jerome, MI
#2 Rocks & Valleys – Harrison, MI
#3 Silver Lake – Mears, MI
#4 Turtle Ridge – Drummond Island, MI
#5 Washita Offroad Park – Farmington, MI

Minnesota 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Iron Range OHV Area – Gilbert, MN
#2 Snake Creek – Kellogg, MN
#3 Spider Lake – Pine River, MN
#4 Appleton OHV Park – Appleton, MN
#5 Moose Walk – Finland, MN

Mississippi 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Mudslangers – Woodland, MS
#2 Muddy Joe’s – Kiln, MS
#3 Red Creek Offroad – Perkinston, MS
#4 Barnyard Mudboggers – Fulton, MS
#5 Burdens Creek – Mount Olive, MS

Missouri 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 SMORR – Seymour, MO
#2 Flat Nasty – Jadwin, MO
#3 Moonlight Racing – Sullivan, MO
#4 Rush Springs – Pineville, MO
#5 Bricks – Poplar Bluff, MO

Nebraska 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Off Road Ranch – Norfolk, NE
#2 Dismal River Trail – Halsey, NE
#3 White Sands Raceway – Ashland, NE
#4 Fiddler Creek MX – Homer, NE

Nevada 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Rock Bottom – Logandale, NV
#2 Tie Rod Canyon – Las Vegas, NV
#3 Hunter Lake Trail – Reno, NV
#4 Bronco Falls – Logandale, NV
#5 Ryan’s Trail – Nelson, NV

New Hampshire 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Field & Forest – Harrisville, NH
#2 Little Monadnock Family Trails – Troy, NH
#3 Ride the Wilds – Coos County, NH
#4 Carnage Hill – Richmond, NH
#5 Classic 6 Roads – New Hampshire, NH

New Jersey 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Pine Barrens – Hammonton, NJ
#2 Wharton State Forest – Hammonton, NJ
#3 Island Beach State Park – Seaside Park, NJ
#4 Atco MX – Atco, NJ
#5 Butterfly Bogs – Jackson, NJ

New Mexico 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Chokecherry Canyon – Farmington, NM
#2 Las Cruces – Las Cruces, NM
#3 Chama – Chama, NM
#4 Gordy’s Hill – Socorro, NM
#5 Red River Offroad – Red River, NM

New York 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Tall Pines – Andover, NY
#2 Tar Hollow – Hancock, NY
#3 Demon Run Trails – Cath, NY
#4 Whispering Pines Hideaway – Lyons, NY
#5 Lewis County (Tug Hill) – Lowville, NY

North Carolina 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Uwharrie National Forest – Uwharrie, NC
#2 Tellico – Murphy, NC
#3 Brown Mountain – Morganton, NC
#4 Dirt City USA – Polkton, NC
#5 Brushy Mountain – Taylorsville, NC

Ohio 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Southington Offroad Park – Garrettsville, OH
#2 Wellsville – Wellsville, OH
#3 Yankee Lake – Brookfield, OH
#4 Phoenix Offroad Park – Wintersville, OH
#5 Powerline Park – St Clairsville, OH

Oklahoma 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Disney (Hogan’s) – Disney, OK
#2 Arbuckle – Mill Creek, OK
#3 Clayton (Green Acres) – Clayton, OK
#4 Little Sahara – Waynoka, OK
#5 Sundog Trails – Lexington, OK

Oregon 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Oregon Dunes – Reedsport, OR
#2 Blue Ridge Trails – Coos Bay, OR
#3 Christmas Valley Sand Dunes – Christmas Valley, OR
#4 Santiam Pass – Mckenzie Bridge, OR
#5 Firebreak Five – Tillamook, OR

Pennsylvania 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Rausch Creek – Tremont, PA
#2 Anthracite Adv Area – Coal Township, PA
#3 Majestic Trails – Smethport, PA
#4 Rock Run Recreation – Patton, PA
#5 New Lost Trails (Ride Lost Trails) – Dunmore, PA

South Carolina 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Carolina Adventure World – Winnsboro, SC
#2 Gulches Offroad Park – Waterloo, SC
#3 Battery Park – Nesmith, SC
#4 Pine Grove – Westminster, SC
#5 Sand Hill – Chesterfield, SC

South Dakota 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Black Hills – Custer, SD
#2 Talsma’s Trail – Avon, SD
#3 Oahe Downstream – Fort Pierre, SD
#4 Baja ORV – Interior, SD
#5 Revheim Bay – Mobridge, SD

Tennessee 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Windrock – Oliver Springs, TN
#2 Ride Royal Blue – Pioneer, TN
#3 Brimstone – Huntsville, TN
#4 Adventure Offroad Park – Pittsburg, TN
#5 Golden Mountain – Sparta, TN

Texas 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Hidden Falls Adv Park – Marble Falls, TX
#2 Wolf Caves – Mason, TX
#3 Barnwell Mountain – Gilmer, TX
#4 Katemcy Rocks – Mason, TX
#5 Bridgeport OHV – Bridgeport, TX

Utah 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Moab – Moab, UT
#2 Sand Hollow – Hurricane, UT
#3 Hell’s Revenge – Grand County, UT
#4 Paiute Trails – Maryville, UT
#5 Behind the Rocks – Moab, UT

Virginia – 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Big Dogs – Gore, VA
#2 George Wash Natl Forest – Hollins, VA
#3 Red Cloud – Woodbridge, VA
#4 Spearhead Trails – Norton, VA
#5 Potts Mountain – Covington, VA

Washington – 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Moses Lake Mud Flats and Sand Dunes – Grant, WA
#2 Walker Valley – Mt Vernon, WA
#3 Evans Creek ORV – Carbonado, WA
#4 Beverly Dunes – Royal City, WA
#5 Juniper Dunes – Pasco, WA

West Virginia – 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Hatfield McCoys – Lyburn, WV
#2 Chaos Offroad Park – Capon Bridge, WV
#3 Burning Rock – Tams, WV
#4 King Knob – Philippi, WV
#5 Bear Wallow – Logan, WV

Wisconsin – 2016 Top Off Road Trails
#1 Black River State Forest – Jackson County, WI
#2 Cheese County Trails – Monroe, WI
#3 Eagle River – Eagle River, WI
#4 Florence County – Florence, WI
#5 Apple Valley – New Auburn, WI


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New Narrow MCE Fender Flare for JK/JKU!

New Narrow MCE Fender Flare for JK/JKU!

It looks like those seeking a narrow fender flare on their JK/JKU will soon have another option (or already do if you know the right people). The guys over at MCE Fenders have been pretty busy. When not hunting or wheeling, they are often in the shop either wrenching on one of their rigs or making their awesome fenders. I spoke with Mike @ MCE about a narrow option several months ago and while he didn’t say anything to outright give it away, I got the impression these were on their way.

We had a set of the full widths on our 2-door Lil Punkin’ (See them here) and absolutely loved them. So much so, that if a narrow version were available at that time, we likely would have swapped out our aluminium Poison Spyder flares we currently run on Dirty. Now that they are here, doing just this is on our to-do list of mods. Why, you ask? Well, the MCE fenders clean easier and the paint doesn’t chip from small rocks getting flung out of the tires. This is by no means the only advantages, but they are the ones we care about the most.

Tell us what you think!

Bridges and Roads of Ashtabula County Ohio

Bridges and Roads of Ashtabula County Ohio

We are always on the lookout for a nice weekend or day getaway. An area that kept popping up on our radar was Northeastern Ohio, Ashtabula County more specifically. Whether it be for some of Ohio’s most scenic roads or their self-guided covered bridge tours, we knew it was a must see.

In spite of the fact we are Ohioans ourselves, this area is at the complete opposite end of the state and more than 4 hours away. This is the primary reason we decided to make our visit more encompassing with a hybrid bridge tour we put together ourselves. In typical Seven Slot Syndicate fashion, we avoided pavement when we could.

The route we came up with was right at 110 miles, but took almost a full day due to all the distractions and places we wanted to stop. About a third of these miles were made of dirt/gravel roads, but all were well maintained so any vehicle would be able to enjoy this trip.

If you would like to follow the exact route we took, you can either follow THIS LINK or use the embedded map below.  The map has three layers, one for the scenic spots where we stopped to take pictures and the other two are driving directions which had to be split into two for layer limitations. Step-by-step directions are available and you can click the orange camera icon to display a picture we took at that location.

 

 


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We began our day early from a hotel near Warren, Ohio. We first made our way to the Windsor Mills Covered Bridge.  This bridge was built in 1867, but was freshened up in 2004. It is also known as the Wiswell Road Bridge or Warner Hollow Bridge.

Travel with caution, as there were several horse and buggies on the roads in this area.

 

Our next stop would be the longest distance between destinations. The nearly sixteen miles was hardly noticed though as we were being treated to some of Ohio’s first fall colors of ’16. The leaves were not the only scenery on what was already some nice country roads.

 

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Soon we had arrived at the Riverdale Road Bridge in Morgan Township. Originally put into service in 1874, it is still holding up to time and travel thanks to a rebuilt floor in 1981 and a replaced abutment shortly thereafter in 1987.

 

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Back on the road and headed toward Ohio’s once longest bridge, at least until 2008, the Harpersfield Covered Bridge. We were far from alone when we arrived and for good reason. Each side of the 228 foot structure has some parking, the north, being a visitor center and the south, a park. The bridge also has a walkway where we were able to stretch our legs and walk to the opposite side.

By far our favorite area here was the south side park where there was quick access to the shore. Here you could get the best view of the bridge and the small dam just behind it. Watch your step though, the rocks are very slick!

 

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To be completely honest, the next bridge is more of a novelty stop… The West Liberty Street Bridge isn’t much of a bridge at all. In fact it could be replaced by a culvert, still it stands as our nation’s shortest fully functional covered bridge spanning a mere 18 feet.

There was too much traffic for me to accomplish it, but I tried to get a picture of Klondike spanning the bridge with a bumper on each side. 😛

 

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Just a short jaunt from Geneva is the Mechanicsville Road Bridge. Built in 1867, it is believed to be Ashtabula County’s oldest. You can still drive across the 156 foot span if you wish, but a replacement bridge now resides directly alongside this covered beauty and bypassing is encouraged.

 

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Continuing east, we ventured to the Doyle Road Bridge in Jefferson Township. Standing just one year younger, the bridge spans 94 feet with a clearance of just over 13. While it is holding up well, a laminated arch was added in 1987 to strengthen the structure. With this effort, the bridge is still in full service today.

If you plan to take photos as we did, be sure to pay attention to signage put in place by local land owners. This is one of many that have no trespassing signs in place making that perfect picture a bit trickier to get.

 

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A slight diversion from the bridge tour, but a nice stop on the way to the next bridge is the VFW memorial along 292. It’s near impossible to miss. Just look for a large helicopter on your left. 😎

 

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With its Victorian flare, the Netcher Road Bridge definitely stands out from the others we would be visiting. The fairly new bridge (built in 1999) spans ~110 feet and has a rather high, 14’6” interior height.

Depending on when the grass was mowed last and the season, we found the hills alongside the bridge to have lots of wild flowers just in case the bold red color of the bridge was too tranquil for you.

 

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The Giddings Road Bridge is another fairly new construction having been built just 21 years ago. Built with the Patt Truss Design, it is 107 feet long.  To be completely honest, this was our least favorite bridge we visited.

 

If you are following the map and/or directions we linked to at the beginning of this post, this is where you will transition to the second “directions” layer.

 

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Moving North again, we visited the Benetka Road Bridge.  Whether from its initial construction in the early 1900s or from its renovation in 1985, this bridge is a real charmer. The 138 foot structure seems to be much more embraced by its neighbors as wagon rides were being given by locals for those enjoying the area on this lovely early fall day.

 

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The next two bridges would take us west again for a bit, but not too far. At just three miles away, the Olin-Dewey Road Bridge has stood since 1873. The Town Lattice design is holding up well and allows for passage of the 115 foot span.

 

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Just another 3 miles west stands one of the most popular covered bridges in the nation, not just Ohio. This is also the bridge that took the “longest” title from the Harpersfield Bridge in 2008. I’m talking about the Smolen-Gulf Bridge. Spanning a distance of 613 feet across and 93 feet above the river below it is awesome!

The Smolen-Gulf has two wide lanes of traffic and a walk way on each side to take in views. Prepare to put some steps in though as parking and getting to the bridge is a bit of a hike. There is also a nice paved walkway under the bridge with its own covered bridge, for those looking to spend more time enjoying this area.

 

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Our next stop would be just a few clicks from Lake Erie. The Creek Road Bridge is not nearly as popular as the Smolen-Gulf but just as neat in its own way. Sitting in a much more secluded setting, it has a similar construction to others in the area. It is unknown when this bridge was original constructed, but it’s holding up well, largely in thanks to the 1994 renovations.

 

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From the most northernly, to the most easternly, Middle Road Bridge was built in 1868 and spans 136 feet. While there was really nothing of note, the tranquility of the setting had us sitting here for longer than even we expected.

 

 

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While our path wasn’t, the remaining bridges are aligned nearly due south from here on… The Conneaut Creek Covered Bridge, also known as the State Road Bridge, was built in 1983. It is another Town Lattice design, which is clear to see with its large open sides.

 

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Still in Monroe Township, the Root Road Bridge has stood since 1868. Renovations in ’82-’83 left the bridge with white paint that has now developed a nice patina. Beyond this white paint, the construction is very near the State Road Bridge so we can’t help but wonder if this stood as the template.

 

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One of the few bridges that we were not able to drive across this day, the Graham Road Bridge now sits alongside the road and is a piece-work of the recovered remains that had been washed downstream by a flood.

 

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The last in this southwardly run, the Caine Road Bridge stands in Pierpoint Township. Built to honor Ashtabula’s 175th anniversary, it was built in 1986. While it sits in a lovely setting, this is another where you must keep to specific spots for pictures to avoid trespassing.

 

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We are not sure it’s the best, but it was the last on our little adventure… The South Denmark Road Covered Bridge was bypassed in 1975 but can still be driven across. Originally constructed in 1890, little structural renovation has been done.

With mature trees on each end of the bridge and the main road now bypassing it, a small park like feeling is offered where you can relax a bit and listen to the water pass underneath.

 

This wrapped up our mission for the day with visiting the covered bridges and roads of Ashtabula County, but there were a few other roads and spots we caught glimpses of so we decided to back track just a bit before heading back to our hotel. You may recognize one of these spots.

 

Hopefully you enjoyed our synopsis of the day and want to follow our track for yourself. It was a pretty fun day out and about.

If you have any questions or comments, please share!