There’s a lot of country to be explored… especially once you get off the highways and take to the trails. Whether your setting out to buzz the dunes and beaches in Oregon, to throw mud and rock on the paths through the Appalachians, or to climb to the top of Colorado – there are plenty of great trails to be explored. Sometimes the options can be a little daunting. Here are (in our humble opinion) seven of the “must-explores” throughout the country. That said, don’t let us stand as the sole judge and juror, get out and explore for yourself. We’d love to hear your opinion.
1- Hatfield and McCoy Trails, West Virginia
How can you go wrong following the trail of a good blood feud? As one of the most extensively mapped and marked systems on the East Coast, the Hatfield and McCoy trails cover over 700 miles of West Virginia mud, rock and woods. From the backwoods to the cities and towns, most of these trails are not for flatlanders. One of the great parts about these trails is the ability to drive right into town after a long days drive, grab a bite to eat, and then stay at a hotel or inn for the night.
2- Sayers Brook Off-Roading, Missouri
With over 50 miles of lakes, streams, woods and caves, this is a rugged Missouri off-road candy shop. Chock full of a wide variety of terrain and obstacles over a network of trails ranging from 3’s to 9’s, it’s no wonder that Sayers Brook has become home to many four wheel rallies including Jeep rallies, Hummer jamborees, and even the Missouri Rock Climbing Club get togethers.
3- Iron Range Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Area, Minnesota
What was once an iron mine is now one of the best four wheeling sites in the Upper Midwest. Minnesota’s first designated state recreation area for off-highway vehicles (OHV), the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area has over 36 miles of trails that take drivers through a diverse back country environment that includes 1,200 acres of trails (with a 3500 acre expansion to come) of scramble areas, hill climbs, rock crawls, mud and bogs. Some of Minnesota’s finest off-road offerings.
4- Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming
Just down from the famed Yellowstone National Park, and rising up through elevations that can reach up to 13,000 feet would be the trails of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. The Big Horn Mountains has more dramatic peaks, bigger lakes, more wildlife and more trails with more variety than almost anywhere else in the world. The remoteness of the wilderness also comes into play, as well as some of the other great outdoor activities. If off-roading isn’t enough, you can always break it up with a day of hunting or fishing. There’s almost no end to the exploration in the Big Horn Mountains.
It’s hard to beat a good trek across the sands as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. And the Oregon Dunes provide just that for around 350,000 off-roaders each year. With three main riding areas, these dunes provide a wide variety of OHV experiences. You’ll find sand roads between South Jetty to the Siltcoos River, the highest and most dramatic dunes in the Umpqua Riding area, along with larger areas with multiple riding opportunities between Spinreel and Horsfall. If you can’t have fun here, you might want to look into a defibrillator.
6- Rubicon 4×4 Trail, California
Among the best known trails in the world is the Rubicon 4×4 trail of the Eldorado National Forest in California. A hardcore mix of granite slab, piercing rocks, soft dirt and giant boulders all combine to create a rare blend of difficulty and beauty for your rock-crawling pleasure. The trail is rated difficult, and while some of the more extreme sections can be bypassed, many cannot. This includes Big Sluice and Cadillac Hill, a conspiracy of steep, tippy and potentially dangerous challenges. So you have to have your act together. With it’s many challenges, this is a trail that hosts one of the most popular Jeep Jamborees around, and must be conquered before any Jeep can recieve the prestigious Rubicon Badge.
7- Moab, Utah
No “must-explore” list is complete without including the Moab area trails. Moab is considered by some as the Off Road Mecca, and has a broad range of backcountry to explore. From casual 2-wheel scenic and beginner drives like Secret Spire and Chicken Corners, to some of the most difficult challenges you could face as a 4 wheeler such as Golden Spike and Pritchett Canyon. Just south of Moab, you will find Area BFE. A privately owned, donation run 320 acre playground for off roaders. Also south of Moab, you’ll find the Moab Rim 4×4 trail with some of the most challenging action any 4 wheeler can find. The first half mile alone is a tight, tippy climb with incredibly difficult and dangerous ledges. Bring your skills, a great rig, and leave the stock at home.
Al Soffer / pirate 4×4
Sayers Brook Ranch – Toyota4Runner.org
Iron Range Idaho – Alison Graham
Big Horn Mountains – Paul Ruhter/The Billings Gazette
Oregon Dunes – Cynthia Vranizan-Saltys
Rubicon Trail – Carnage 4×4
Moab, Hell Dorado – JPFreak
Hatfield and McCoy Trails, West Virginia, Sayers Brook Off-Roading, Missouri, Iron Range Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Area, Minnesota, Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon, Moab Area Trails, Utah