Friday I got off to an early start and drove out to the park, getting there around noon. I wanted to do some scouting since I’d heard that there were some new trails and we had found one new trail on the prior trip a few weeks ago. I also wanted to check out a few parts of the park I hadn’t been to in several years to see how they looked.
- Kirk – FJ Cruiser
- Matt – GMC Yukon
- Brian – Jeep JKU
- Kathy & Rick – FJ Cruiser
- Miguel – Lexus GX470
- John – Toyota Tacoma
I found several short new trails in the North Hill area, one of which I thought would fit in with the group trip, the others were in areas that made them harder to get to. The new trails in North Hill are all marked blue. On the other hand, the trail we ran a few weeks before off of the coal haul road was now closed. I did run 2400 from Coal Haul, and that did connect to the same loop area and around under the power lines. So for anyone looking for some more technical stuff, 2400 is fun. But I figured it was a bit much for the group.
After driving around a bit I headed over to the campsite. I had site 7, the same one as last year. Last year, the tent sites were all covered with a really coarse gravel which made teny camping uncomfortable. Since last year, the park has put down a nice layer of fine gravel to fill in and smooth out the tent pads, making for much more comfortable camping.
Saturday we met at the North Hill entrance and aired down. There were a total of 6 of us. We started out by going into the North Hill area, and doing a bunch of trails in that area. We skipped the narrow spot between the trees that caused a lot of headache last year, and did a number of the trails in the reverse direction from last year, such as going down the steep 1103 trail. Along the way we did a new trail that isn’t on the maps that connects from 1101 to party way down 1104. We left the area via 1102, going over the big rock we did the prior year in the opposite direction.
We drove down the Coal Haul road and had lunch in the picnic area. Last year we were able to drive down to the end of the picnic area, this year the area was closed to vehicles, so we used one of the picnic areas right off the main parking lot. It’s not quite as nice, but was along the river and a good place to hang out.
After lunch we went into the Potomac River area. We wound our way up to the slag pile where some of us went up the climbs, but most of the group wasn’t that interested in playing around on the slag pile. So we continued and did some of the green trails and finally came out of Potomac by doing 2103 in the opposite direction we did it last year. It’s still my favorite trail in the park, but I like it going “inward” away from the park gate a bit better, I think the scenery is better and the obstacles a bit more interesting.
We then headed back to the campsite and a trip into town for dinner at Don Patons.
We also discovered that Miguel’s Lexus had a problem that probably started as a loose sway bar link that took out the CV boot. The truck was driving badly and wobbling, which made us think that something else was also wrong, possibly the top ball joint. Miguel wound up getting a tow truck home on Monday as there weren’t any tows available on Sunday that would take him all the way back to his place.
Sunday, after we made sure Miguel was good, two of us went over to the Huckleberry Rocks section of the park. I had a really good set of GPS traces of that part of the park from prior trips, but I somehow managed to delete part of them the day before.
So we went through and managed to re-complete my traces on the green trails in the southern part of that area. Huckleberry Rocks has gotten more interesting over the years from when the park first opened. Most of the green in Huckleberry rocks is still really green, but 0207 (or maybe 0205, I actually am not sure I remember which correctly) probably should be re-rated as blue. We weren’t in the park long. After that we headed home.
Over all, we had a good time. The Denali’s side steps will never be the same again, and the mess with the Lexus was odd, but not caused by the trails, though the suspension deflection probably helped the swaybar link come out.
Trail Report written by Kirk Adams. Pictures contributed by Matt Malone, Rick King, and Kathy King. GPS tracks provided by Matt Malone.