We typically do rocks, mud, and dirt. Once or twice a year, we like to shift gears and try beach driving. At Assateague Island National Seashore we have a chance to do sand. It about three hours from the DC metro area and just south of Ocean City in the town of Berlin, MD. This is the barrier island with the wild ponies. Seven rigs were able to make the trip.
- Mike O’Grady (CORE VP) – 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon,
- Dawn Keslar (CORE Secretary) — 2015 Toyota 4Runner,
- Niels Vilstrup (Member) – 2015 Jeep Wrangler Sport,
- Steve Schueler (Member) – 2012 Nissan Frontier SL,
- Javi Armendariz. (Guest) — 2014 Green FJ Cruiser,
- James Bullock (Member) — 2007 Land Rover LR3, and
- Carlos and Hana Vizcarra (Guests) — 2021 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4xe
The ride through the eastern shore is quite straightforward and very beautiful. The ranger station is located at 38o11’29”N, 75o09’30”W. We went to the National Park. There are also Maryland and Virginia State Parks with different rules and access. One thing to keep in mind, the park does not have day passes to drive on the beach, only annual passes, which cost $110. There is also the regular National Park entrance fee of $25 per vehicle.
The wild ponies are very cool and beautiful, but give them a wide berth. They are very wild, e.g., bite, kick, and charge.
After airing down, most of us were at about 15-18 PSI for the sand. We headed onto the beach. Dawn led the way. Sand does take a little getting used to. Similar to snow, but a little more left and right slide in the steering.
The weather was mid-twenties and a little windy. Wind chill was 19F so we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. We had a good straight run down the beach for 12 miles until we reached the VA line, which is fenced and posted and looks like a Normandy beachhead.
At the VA border we circled the 4×4’s and settled down to a fine picnic lunch. After lunch many of the group explored an abandoned house that had been destroyed by a storm years earlier. Dawn had brought eco-logs and we were able to have a nice fire on the beach. You do have to be careful to dispose of the old logs and ashes.
On the way back we did a little exploring down a couple of tracks that took us off the beach and into the wetlands. There are two areas where you’re allowed to drive through the dunes to the bay side of the island. They’re worth the time and effort.
We were all comfortable with sand driving by that point. We still had two hours before we had to head back, so we took a fast run up to the VA line again and back. It was great fun. We weaved back and forth across the different consistencies of sand. From the very dry to the very wet.
As we approached the VA line for the second time, we came across a family stuck in the sand. It was a Jeep Grand Cherokee that had lost its four-wheel drive and was buried up to the back axle. Mike pulled in front to line up for a kinetic rope extraction and promptly got stuck himself. He was able to extract himself relatively quickly using MaxTrax and a little shovel work. It was a great trip. A very manageable and fun day trip to the beach.
Trail Report written by Mike O’Grady. Pictures contributed by Steve Schueler, Niels Vilstrup, Hana Vizcarra. Videos contributed by Hana Vizcarra and Steve Schueler.