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On the Trail: Logandale Trail System
Usually when I think of off-roading near Las Vegas it involves The Mint 400 or Joe Pesci's speech about holes in the desert in Casino. But the Logandale Trail System waits just north of Las Vegas for your off-roading enjoyment, too. You don't even need burying a mob snitch as an excuse to go, either. So there's that. In this edition of Off the Trail, Austin Stobaugh (@carbonoffroad), Cortney Schiffer (@justagirlandhertj), and Jeremy Hicks (@discipleoffroad) experience the Logandale Trail System firsthand.
Leaving Las Vegas
With a 45,000 acres, the Logandale Trail System has plenty of real estate for your off-roading pleasure. The system lies about 40 miles north of Las Vegas, near Fire State Park, and packs a little something for most types of off-roaders. Over 200 miles of designated off-road trail give you everything from dirt roads, sand dunes, and hiking to rock crawling and Moab-esque landscape tackling. On top of all of that the scenery gets pretty spectacular as well.
If you're looking for something remote, though, this is not the place. Being located so close to Sin City makes it a popular destination with your fellow dirt enthusiasts. Supplies for the trip are also near at hand in the town of Logandale.
However, if you are looking for some socializing in the dirt, the annual Hump 'N Bump Jeep festival is held here every fall. Jeep owners from all over the country invade Logandale for the three day event.
Our crew wasn't one hundred percent sure which sort of obstacles they were going to face here so they erred on the side of caution by bringing three very capable rigs to the challenge. They weren't afraid by any means; they just wanted to make sure they could handle whatever obstacles awaited them on the trail. Austin brought his 2009 four-door Jeep JK to the table. Locked front and rear, it packs high performance suspension, it's wide, and it rolls on 40-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers. Courtney is piloting her 2002 stretched Jeep TJ. It's also locked front and rear but also packs body armor, skid plates, and 37-inch Trail Grapplers also. What really sets her rig apart from the other two is that she's rolling with a stick shift. Like a badass. She'll have to spend more time consciously thinking her way through tough terrain because of the manual transmission, but I don't think she'd have gone OG like that if she didn't know what she was doing. Finally, we have Jeremy's 2014 Jeep JK four-door with EVO bolt-on coilover suspension and 37-inch Trail Grapplers, too.
Gear-wise the trio brought in the usual bare essentials that we always recommend: food, water, sunscreen, and spare tires. Beyond those basics, you'll also want clothing appropriate to the weather; deserts love to run hot or cold. The only middle ground you'll find here is made of dirt. If you're not running lockers, having recovery gear is a good plan here as well. Familiarize yourself with that recovery gear beforehand so you don't have to learn it during a bad situation. Basic tools and spare parts are also a good idea.
We decided to hit Bronco Falls and Shedder Trail first: two separate trails known to be the hardest parts of the Logandale Trail System. Shedder Bowl was the first major obstacle of the day and after scouting it on foot, the group chose to take the middle path through it. It meanders a bit going in and out which should be fun. Even though the Shedder Trail is only a mile long, it's not for the timid. It's an obstaclefest and you'll want at least 33-inch tires and a lift for it. Jeremy didn't have lockers so he adapted by using the Double Foot method (left foot on the brake, right on the gas to stabilize the vehicle and engage both wheels). Without lockers, Jeremy paid more attention to his trail lines along the way and took his time.
Fear and Off-Roading in Las Vegas
Okay, not exactly fear; we exercised caution at this point because we ran into a problem. The steep climb out of Shredder Bowl exacted a price in blood. Not from our drivers but from Austin's shocks. He noticed one of his shocks was leaking fluid and that meant a field repair once all three vehicles were on level ground where doing so would be much easier. After a little field work, Austin tested it out on a small patch of hill and decided to soldier on instead of limping his Jeep back to the trailer. To her credit, Courtney's enthusiasm for the whole situation lacked, well, enthusiasm. But who can blame her? No one likes a repair job fifteen minutes into a trip. Austin's in-field repair work passed the test, though, so onward we went!
Some more rock-tackling later, it was lunch time. With full bellies and energized spirits, the trio planned the next leg of the trip. All of that blood loss from the shock incident precluded us from our original plan of taking on Bronco Falls. After the team scouted it they decided it was just too much rock climbing for the wounded Jeep to take.
Instead, they hit Rock Bottom. Not the kind where you go on a daytime talk show after rehab; this would be the trail section of the same name. It wouldn't be an easy path, however. Bronco Falls carries a rating of eight but Rock Bottom is still a seven.
Viva Rock Vegas
Much like Shredder Trail (or my childhood), Rock Bottom is short but action-packed. Having someone along who knows the obstacles and lines for it is highly recommended. Austin took his Jeep through a very technical climb first to get a good feel for it then guided Jeremy through it. Once he was through, though, Jeremy scouted a different line for Courtney's turn because what they'd thought was the best line through might not have been the case.
After Courtney was through, the group ran down into the sand dunes near Logandale. Red rock formations surrounded them and made for a beautiful backdrop to the recap at day's end. And no one had to bury a body. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for the full lineup of On the Trail adventures.
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On the Trail: Odessa and Duran Canyons
Many of us know Barstow, California as a place to stop for lunch on the drive from LA to Las Vegas but there's more to the place than that. It's also a major railroad hub for SoCal and it's also near Odessa Canyon and Duran Canyon, which is great if you're into off-roading (which we obviously are).
Our destination lies just northeast of Calico Ghost Town. Austin Stobaugh of Carbon Off Road, his fiancee Courtney Shipper, and Jeremy Ricks of Disciple Off Road tackled the canyons together. The area packs not only canyons but also desert race courses as well, giving you some variety from which to choose. Odessa and Duran canyons also have a little of everything for the intrepid desert off-roader. Ledges, big rocks, and crawling are among the many challenges offered.
For today's excursion, the team brought along Austin's fully-built Jeep JKU on 40-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers, Courtney's 2002 Jeep TJ with 37-inch Trail Grapplers, and Jeremy's 2014 Jeep JK four-door with EVO coilover and 37-inch Trail Grapplers as well. All three of these Jeeps are highly modified for off-road work and should do pretty well here. That said, we'll see; the trails here get pretty narrow and these Jeeps are on the wide side.
Gear-wise, you'll want the usual basics: food, water, and sunscreen. A spare tire is a good plan, too, but if you don't want to pack one, you can do what Austin and Courtney did and bring all the tire plugs in the world. All three of our Jeeps also carry winches, which is a good idea here as well. Jeremy also points out the merits of a tool bag with basic spare parts.
On the Trail
Having geared up, the trio went for it on the trail. You can travel either direction but we chose north on Duran and south on Odessa. Just be on the lookout for traffic rolling the other way.
Early in the day we came to the biggest hurdle of the trip: an old dead waterfall. As Jeremy points out, if you can make it here, you should be able to conquer the rest of the trip without too much hassle. The team got out and planned their path of attack, noting the darker main line as a guide to going up the rocky terrain. Austin went up first and then spotted Courtney and Jeremy through it. But not before realizing Jeremy's lockers were on the fritz. For you kids who aren't familiar, lockers in this instance doesn't refer to little stinky closets in high school. We're talking about the parts that lock up a differential, making sure equal power goes to all four wheels regardless of traction. That's kind of important in this situation. Busted lockers aren't a deal breaker here, though. They just up the difficulty level.
Winch Way Do We Go?
After some tight spots, Jeremy found himself stuck. This is where having winches proved quite useful. Austin hooked Jeremy's Jeep at the highside corner of where it was stuck. What proceeds from that is a how-to in winching a stuck Jeep. You'll want to avoid pulls longer than two minutes; going longer than that in one shot can damage the winch motor.
Next it was on to Pucker Pass. With its 20-foot washout, Austin and Courtney decided to bust out the tape measure and compare whether the washout line or the bypass was wider for passing. The washout wasn't wide enough for Austin's Jeep so he and Courtney took the bypass while Jeremy drove the washout line. Jeremy had to shimmy the wheels at one point and actually ran into the issue of tires having too much grip at one point. Not that the loose shale of the bypass was any easier; at one point it looked like Austin was pinched but good in the rocks. Despite second guessing herself, Courtney beat the pass like a champ.
From there it was on to lunch at the old Calico Mines. Barstow had its own gold rush in the 1800s and the mines are leftover from that time. Now it was on to Duran Canyon. And it was all downhill from there.
No, really, it was. This portion of the trip was all about obstacles and challenges on a downward slope. At one point, Austin got out to scout a narrow path between two walls on foot, just to make sure it was wide enough for our Jeeps.
I am the Gatekeeper
"If you're not cool with body damage, use the bypass to get around this obstacle." Not the nicest endorsement, is it? Yet that's how we'd advise you at the Duran Gatekeeper. Most trails have a make-or-break obstacle near the beginning. In this case, it's the Duran Gatekeeper. We aren't okay with messed up body work, so we avoided this part.
Allow Me to Sum Up
The high walls, sometimes hundreds of feet above, were pretty cool. The area is beautiful if you're into the desert as well. And navigating the narrow canyons was lots of fun too. Watch the video for the full story.
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On the Trail: Red River Gorge
Am I the only one who pictures themself in the Death Star trench when I'm driving through a gorge? In this edition of On the Trail, we're taking you to Kentucky's Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Not only did host Dario Ventura (@miguelsclimbshop) and pro climber Dru Mack (@drumack5) tackle the sandstone terrain, they also had a blast doing what the gorge is famous for: rock climbing.
Look at the Size of That Thing
Red River Gorge is a canyon system in central Kentucky centered around, not surprisingly, Red River. Sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, natural bridges, and rock shelters make it one of the top rock climbing destinations in the world. Seriously, there are over a hundred sandstone arches in the area. That alone should make you want to explore the place.
Seeing as how the trail system through the park isn't on the technical side, Dario and Dru brought stock vehicles for the job. Namely, a 2019 Toyota Tundra on Nitto Trail Grapplers and a Ford Ranger FX4 with Terra Grappler G2 tires.
If you have good tires and a friend for spotting, you should be able to tackle the obstacles at Red River Gorge without too much trouble.
After prepping for the day, the guys hit Bald Rock Fork Road for the first leg of the journey. Like Dario says in the video, Red River Gorge is extensive and has something for all levels of off-roading. After navigating water crossings and berms, they hit the real technical part of the gorge: rock climbing. Red River Gorge is a real skill test for rock climbers. Climbing folk aren't exactly known for their laziness; quite the opposite.
Scaling rock walls is all about challenging so it makes sense that one of the most popular climbing destinations on Earth would be a bit more difficult than that climbing wall at the local REI. And at this point, they hit the motherlode. No, literally; they arrived at The Motherlode. It's a well-known climbing obstacle in the park and the first our heroes tackled during the day.
The Force is Strong in this One
Having taken on The Motherlode, Dario and Dru hit Hell Creek Trail for the run to their next rock wall to conquer. That would be Miller Fork. Like The Motherlode, Miller Fork offers very technical climbing for the adventurous.
You're All Clear, Kid. Now Let's Blow this Thing and Go Home
By the time Dario and Dru finished the arduous fun of Miller Fork, they were ready to relax with some good food. Their meal-of-choice was that go-to of gamers all over the world: pizza. Luckily, Miguel's Pizza sits right outside Red River Gorge, letting them scratch that itch right away.