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September 5, 2020 - September 9, 2020
We are going back where the legend was discovered! This trip isn’t for the faint of heart or inexperienced driver! Most of these trails are rated difficult!
Please read entire post before responding going!!!!
Minimum vehicle requirements:
2 – Door: 33″ tires and at least one locker
4 – Door: 35″ tires and at least one locker
Also would recommend sliders & skid plates
List of trails:
Sunday – Gemini Bridges (Easy) & Metal Masher (Difficult)
Monday – Cliff Hanger (Difficult)
Tuesday – Elephant Hill (Difficult) or Cameo Cliffs (Moderate) or Jax Trax(Difficult)
Jeep Badge Of Honor Trails:
We added another day to the trip if anyone is interested. The trails for Sunday/Monday are near Moab. Tuesday is closer to home and I’m open to discuss which trails we want to run that day.
Here are descriptions of the trails:
GEMINI BRIDGES ( Start of Metal Masher) – Rating: Easy
Follow winding shelf road to spectacular natural arches.
One of the most popular mountain bike and 4-wheel-drive trips in Moab. Lots of traffic on weekends. Drive slow to minimize dust, especially passing bikers. Stunning views as you cross a high winding shelf road after one mile. Short hike to bridges. The bridges are not apparent until you get close and look down. Camp only in designated sites. You must carry and use a portable toilet if camping.
METAL MASHER – Rating: Difficult
Metal Masher is a rock crawlers delight and a scenic adventure. There are bypasses available around the more difficult obstacles and is recommended for novice drivers. Those bold enough attempt them will find this a very challenging, thrilling and satisfying and those that take the bypasses will still experience a trail worth the trip.
CLIFFHANGER – Rating: Difficult
This trail is the only vehicle route onto Amasa Back, a rather high isolated area bounded by Kane Springs Canyon, Hurrah Pass, Jackson Hole, and a big loop of the Colorado River. If Kane Creek is full the crossing can become impassable. The views, however, are unusual and spectacular all the way up the side of Kane Springs Canyon. Farther along, the trail is high above the canyon of the Colorado River. There are some petroglyphs and other evidence of early visitation.
There is nothing subtle about the Cliffhanger Trail. It doesn’t play poker, the cards are all on the table to be seen from the start. Since it isn’t a loop, every obstacle encountered must be dealt with on the return trip.
One departs Moab on Kane Creek Boulevard and uses it to the end of the paved section, then onto graded dirt as the road climbs a narrow graded road with tall Entrada sandstone walls on the left and a steep drop to the creek on the right. As one heads uphill the trail comes into view as it descends from the county road down to the creek. Finally, one arrives at the trailhead, which drops off to the right from the county road. A steel sign after the first short drop proclaims this as the Cliffhanger Trail, which is also known as “Amasa Back” to the mountain bike group, and a number of mountain bikes will be encountered on this trip. They are more prevalent after late morning and into the afternoon.
Once past the steel sign, the trip descends steeply to the right; walking this shelf filled hill is recommended before starting down, as a twisting route is usually best and checking out the drops and turns beforehand helps before trying it. While looking at the descent, remember this hill must be ascended to finish the trip. Many have descended here and broken drivelines trying to get back up, and the tow job is expensive!
When one gets down the first hill, the trail heads left to drop off what can only be described as a very mean shelf. Usually rocks are stacked here, and even then the skid plate will be hammered, a twisting route to the right is better, but still difficult. Once down this obstacle, a hard right turn starts one to the next challenge. Another shelf, that angles taller from right to left, with a loose ground drop on the left, forces one to try and pick a good line down. Usually the left side is best, yet it is still difficult. Now the road encounters a rocky hill, turns left, and descends to the creek.
The creek crossing is usually just a trickle, but it does vary by season, and flash flooding can occur if heavy rains occur upstream. Once across the creek, the wet tires load up with sand for a couple vehicle lengths, and then one encounters an angled shelf that must be surmounted. Longer wheel base rigs can do ok on the taller right hand side, but the shorter ones usually tackle the left side, where a large rock to the left waits for any body panels that get too close. The angle of the shelf helps slide a vehicle that way too. Significant delays at this spot during the 2011 Easter Jeep Safari led the club to make some repairs at this spot, a notch was chiseled into the shelf to help hold the tires from sliding sideways, hopefully this will aid in climbing this obstacle.
Once past the shelf the road ascends up a narrow dugway, and then hits a couple of switchback turns, to climb rapidly up from the creek bottom. From this point on it continues to climb upward, encountering numerous minor obstacles like rock shelves, holes, more angled shelves, boulder filled alleys, and even almost flat sections of slickrock. Eventually the “Z turn” looms ahead. As the name implies, one climbs this double shelf via a juke to the right followed by a hard left to line up for the second ascent. Once up this obstacle it is a relatively uneventful drive up the rest of the way to the top of Amasa Back, the name given the large area of land the road is ascending to.
The uneventful section ends rather quickly as the road narrows and starts out along the cliffhanger section. This section hangs along a cliff edge, looking down into an abandoned meander (rincon) of the Colorado River named Jackson Hole. Approaching the actual cliffhanger obstacle, the road further narrows and tucks closer to the wall on the right side. Scrape marks along the wall and on the road bed signal the actual obstacle. Again it is advisable to get out and walk this spot before driving it. Like a lot of other spots on this trail, the good line changes over time. What hasn’t changed is the fact that the vehicle has to descend some large rocks and then continue down through a rock strewn dirt area. From here one carefully twists, turns, and even leans a bit before ending the section on the cliff edge.
Next, the trail crosses over a gas pipeline that is used to transport gas to the potash plant on the opposite bank of the Colorado River far below. Just past this pipeline a minor road departs to the left, but it doesn’t go far. One can follow this, however, to lead to the top of “Jacob’s Ladder”, an amazing descent (and ascent) on foot into Jackson Hole. This is the route mountain bikers use when traveling the complete loop over Hurrah Pass, into Jackson Hole, then up Jacobs Ladder onto Amasa Back, then down to eventually emerge at Kane Creek Boulevard close to where the pavement ends. Who said jeepers were the only crazy ones?
Beyond the pipeline life gets easy for close to ¼ mile, and then it is back to rocks and shelves. Soon, a nasty little off camber slickrock section with some soft dirt on the right can push vehicles close to a rollover to traverse its short length. After this point many more shelves and one challenging twisty rock climb and descent must be overcome before the road finally ends on a large slickrock area. The views from the edge down to the Colorado River and the potash mine are spectacular, but don’t just look down. Looking north one can see segments of the Poison Spider and Golden Spike trails, and on the horizon even see Skyline Arch that is in Arches National Park.
Soon it is time to start retracing one’s route. All those sharp little drops have to be climbed, and all the climbs are now descents. There are several areas that offer spectacular scenic views toward the distant LaSal Mountains, an additional treat to a fun and challenging trip.
ELEPHANT HILL – Passes Needed! – Rating: Difficult
The Elephant Hill off-road trail takes you deep into the interior of the otherworldly scenery that lays within the Needles District in Canyonlands National Park. Some call it one of the most technical routes in all of Utah, which may or may not be true depending on your driving skills. Without question, though, is that this trail has some of the most amazing scenery and solitude in the area accessible by four-wheel drive. Along the route, you are immersed in the thousands of the colorful sandstone spires that come up from the desert floor, washes, cliff edges, and narrow slot canyons.
The road over Elephant Hill was originally built in the early 1940s by a man named Puge Stocks, to improve the cattle grazing activity in the area. Several small airstrips were also built in the area after the road was finished, so light airplanes could service the ranching operations. Although it is not visible today, one of the runways was near the road on the top of Elephant Hill!
Only twenty-four day-use permits are allowed per day for this trail, so be sure to plan appropriately. This is also a Jeep Badge of Honor Trail.
CAMEO CLIFFS TO WILSON ARCH – Rating: Easy
Great cross-country trail inside “Hook & Ladder” OHV Area.
Trail is part of the beautiful and fun Cameo Cliffs OHV Area (a.k.a. Hook & Ladder Area). Much of northern half of route follows along cliff edges and ends at a dramatic overlook of Wilson Arch. A very popular ATV area, but most of the routes are wide enough for UTVs and Jeeps. This trail is now part of the Moab Easter Jeep Safari. Overlook at Wpt. 06 has picnic table and is great spot for lunch.
A mix of easy and moderate terrain. About a quarter mile before Waypoint 06 there is a steep downhill ledge that is borderline difficult, but an experienced driver can get a stock, high-clearance, 4×4 SUV down and up this spot. If you don’t want to try it, you’re close enough to walk. The view at the end is worth the effort. Trails are marked with numbered brown posts. Slickrock is marked with painted white dashes and red-tipped rebar..
JAX TRAX – Rating: Difficult
The Cameo South is an area 25 miles south of Moab is an area never before visited by Jeep Safari. Jack Bickers, a club member in the beginning years, contributed many things to the EJS, mostly related to our trails and their names. Jax Trax is a tribute to Jack, made up of old mineral exploration roads he rediscovered in the 1990s. The trip has been carefully chosen to provide some four wheeling challenges while maximizing the views of the abundant scenery in this area. Those looking for extreme challenges will be disappointed, but novices are advised they may want to choose a different trip also. Approximate mileages 80 overall, 16 off pavement.
**Please note a rear locker is required equipment for this trail.**
The 5 rating gives the hint there won’t be many obstacles worthy of names, but Jack did leave us with the “Top Notch” and “El Diablo”. The latter, while not technically difficult for most vehicles, can be intimidating to the driver. But don’t worry, there is a slightly easier alternate route. The trip starts out in sandy Sandstone Draw that has sections that are pretty brushy. A shelfy little climb gets one up onto a sagebrush flat that offers views of the LaSals, Cameo Mesa and Agate Point before beginning a twisting bumpy descent into the middle reaches of a wash that drains into Sandstone Draw. Next up is a twisting, wandering tour of the area, sometimes down low , sometimes higher up with sweeping vistas.
The descent down to the “Top Notch”, and from there past Kokopelli Point and on down to Hook and Ladder Wash is interesting. Then the brushy, sandy bottom of Hook and Ladder is used to transition to the start of the trail named “El Diablo”. That trail brings the trip up onto Cameo Ridge, and from there along the south side of Cameo Mesa to reenter Sandstone Draw close to the start at Steen Road.
**There are inherent risks and dangers while off-roading. Summit 4X4 Club is not responsible for any and all risks of injury, harm, medical conditions, or property damage to participates. All participants (on behalf of him/her self and his/her minor children) are responsible for their own safety and assumes all liabilities, and waives any and all damages against Summit 4X4 Club (including its organizers, hosts, sponsors, and members).**