Off-roading in the Pike National Forest
I took my new Jeep Wrangler out last Saturday for my first real off-road driving experience. I drove west on US 285, over Kenosha Pass, and then south on Colorado Route 77 along Tarryall Creek towards Highway 24. I’ve taken this route a couple of times before on my motorcycle, but hadn’t headed that way for a couple of years. The road surface is much improved from the north, but parts are still under construction.
This is still one of my favorite parts of Colorado. The hills are gentler, more rolling grassland rimmed by mountain than the more typical Rocky Mountain areas. I find a kind of calm, lonely beauty here. This time instead of staying on the main highway I detoured off into the network of Forest Service roads in the National Forest and started exploring. I had the aid of a Garmin GPS and big printout of the Motor Vehicle Use Map for the South Park Ranger District.
Since I’m a novice and was flying solo I was conservative in my trail choices. Most of the trails I explored were fairly easy to tackle, but I did find a big climb on route 214.B that I took one look at and decided against immediately. I climbed that one on foot and it was nearly like going up a staircase. I’m not that brave. I did a few other climbs that were less extreme, including one on 232 and La Salle Pass (44). I took these slow and steady in low range, first gear.
I scouted a few promising looking campsites with existing fire rings that were a little ways off the main trails. I’ll probably go back and stay overnight out there sometime soon. I think it would be nice to sit outside there with a small campfire, maybe read a little and look at the stars.
I met a couple other Jeeps on La Salle Pass, and I saw a few dirt bikes and ATVs near one of the main staging areas, but otherwise it was quiet and lonely which suits me. Looking back at the map it’s clear that I only covered a tiny fraction of the trails in this area, so I’ll definitely be heading back to see more in the near future.
Posted on 20 June 2016