Best trail car/truck

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
Webfoot
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Webfoot » April 21st, 2021, 10:20 am

retired jerry wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 8:35 am
I can't think of any trailheads that I want to go to that require 4WD

Cloud Cap or Top Spur on Mt Hood. The trailheads for Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams. I can go to Grouse Vista on Silver Star but not the north trailhead.
Okay. Cloud Cap and Top Spur are hardly "the worst of FS roads" however. Grouse Vista is easier still. High clearance isn't needed for those as attested by dmthomas49 doing them in a CRV.

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Chip Down
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Chip Down » April 21st, 2021, 1:09 pm

This reminds me, I forgot about my planned April Fools prank: trailer a Civic up to the Silver Star north TH, and set up a motion-detected camera to capture all the perplexed looks. No, wait, can't do that in April. Maybe I'll do it in June.

Also, as noted above, it doesn't matter what you drive, just get some lessons from Don Nelsen, he'll show you how it's done :lol: . (He knows a thing or two about hiking as well.)

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drm
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by drm » April 21st, 2021, 1:23 pm

retired jerry wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 8:35 am
I can't think of any trailheads that I want to go to that require 4WD
Most often it will be needed when a road that doesn't always require 4WD gets damaged. They aren't that fast getting roads fixed in remote areas. I've run into a number of such conditions in Gifford Pinchot. I've also driven to late season hikes on roads that were icy or packed snow where I was very glad to have good AWD.

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teachpdx
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by teachpdx » April 21st, 2021, 2:35 pm

I agree that having a vehicle that is super practical for everyday use, that can get you to 90% of the trailheads, is better than something rather impractical that you will use to access the Bennetts and Breitenbushes only a handful of times per season. And there are generally more accessible trailheads to any destination, only adding a few miles of hiking.

My 2017 GTI does really get me just about everywhere I need to go, as long as the track is relatively dry. Even on stock low-profile all-seasons and no additional mods (with the exception of a new metal oil pan... why they do a plastic oil pan and no skid plate is BEYOND me).

It's been up to Cloud Cap, Boulder Lake, Frazier Turnaround (VERY slowly), Priest Hole, Alvord Desert, Steens Mountain, and that really rocky road to Crack in the Ground. It's even been out as far as the Cow Creek TH on Dug Bar Road.
It's big enough for car camping if you set it up right (I'm 6'-2" and it's tight but fine for two). I can get it to most trailheads that an Outback could reach... I just need to take it a bit slower.
It's low clearance but also has a short wheelbase, and it's narrow enough to not get scratched up on brushy roads. And I also get 34 MPG on the highway and enough horsepower to have way too much fun on paved roads.

I learned my lesson the hard way re: the plastic oil pan on a random rock, hidden in mud, on Harvey Road (the other Eagle Creek). It was just an unfortunate accident on a road that should've been otherwise easily passable.

I know better than to take it to Breitenbush Lake, Bennett Pass, Freebridge, etc. And I wouldn't take it to Frazier again.
That's why you make friends with folks who drive tanks!

We're equipping it with a roof rack/box and beefier tires with taller sidewalls prior to next summer's 6000 mile journey to the Arctic Ocean in Canada (that's nearly 1000 miles of gravel road, total). I wouldn't have the confidence to make such an ambitious journey in the GTI if I hadn't spent the last 4 years taking it right to the limit on the forest roads of the PNW.
instagram: @robo_remy

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texasbb
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by texasbb » April 21st, 2021, 2:52 pm

retired jerry wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 8:35 am
I can't think of any trailheads that I want to go to that require 4WD
That may depend on when you want to go! The vast majority of times I use 4WD on forest roads is early season when there's lingering snow. Often there are short sections, sometimes just a few yards across, that are trivial with 4WD and good tires but would risk hours of shoveling in a 99% car or require chaining up. Other times it's deep sand, but that's rare.

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retired jerry
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by retired jerry » April 21st, 2021, 4:12 pm

I can think of a couple times I ran into snow and just turned around

Webfoot
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Webfoot » April 21st, 2021, 8:15 pm

teachpdx wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 2:35 pm
I agree that having a vehicle that is super practical for everyday use, that can get you to 90% of the trailheads, is better than something rather impractical that you will use to access the Bennetts and Breitenbushes only a handful of times per season. And there are generally more accessible trailheads to any destination, only adding a few miles of hiking.
What is practical varies. I have a spinal condition that limits most of my hikes to only a few miles. I do a couple of 5 mile (round trip) hikes a year and they leave me wrecked for days. Every yard my vehicle can get me is a bit more of the beautiful world I can see.
teachpdx wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 2:35 pm
We're equipping it with a roof rack/box and beefier tires with taller sidewalls prior to next summer's 6000 mile journey to the Arctic Ocean in Canada (that's nearly 1000 miles of gravel road, total). I wouldn't have the confidence to make such an ambitious journey in the GTI if I hadn't spent the last 4 years taking it right to the limit on the forest roads of the PNW.
You're doing the ALCAN? Alone or part of a convoy?

Limey
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Limey » April 21st, 2021, 9:14 pm

For something that will go absolutely anywhere I highly recommend a late 80's early 90's Isuzu Trooper. It's what we use for hiking and exploring. In 4wheel low it climbs up and over rocks, small downed trees etc. We have never been stuck or had to turn around because of road conditions. I can't say enough about it. We jokingly refer to it as our side by side four wheeler as it will go anywhere our polaris will go. Great ground clearance, low gear in both two and four wheel drive. Also gets very reasonable gas mileage. Only downside is that it isn't very comfortable, kinda like riding in a tin can but where we go we are usually at a low speed so it doesn't really matter. It will beat you to death on washboardy roads if you go too fast. The benefits absolutely out weigh the bad. We also have over 300,000 miles on it.

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Charley
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Charley » April 21st, 2021, 10:06 pm

Webfoot wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 8:21 am
... the local test pieces I can think of: 4109 to Silver Star, 3530 (Old Barlow Road), 3550 (Bennett Pass), 4220 near Breitenbush Lake, the ditch on the old north leg of Lolo Pass Road, the road to the top of Mt Defiance, Freebridge Road, etc. (The washout on 4610 cannot be described as a road.
Charley wrote:
April 20th, 2021, 8:26 pm
Like Jerry, I have a 2wd Tacoma.
I don't think I could get through most of the roads listed above in 2WD. Are you taking roads like these? I consider AWD/4WD a basic requirement given the number of times I would have become stuck with 2WD only.
4109 to Silver Star, Yes
3530 (Old Barlow Road), No, but it's a great ski
3550 (Bennett Pass), No, but I have ridden it on my bike
4220 near Breitenbush Lake, No
the ditch on the old north leg of Lolo Pass Road, Yes, but in my old Civic, when I took a wrong turn
the road to the top of Mt Defiance, No, and why?
Freebridge Road, etc. No, I'd be more likely to just ride my bike up the other side of the river
(The washout on 4610 cannot be described as a road. No, but this looks like a great bike ride

This is a list of a lot of places that I don't really need to go in a car, to access the thousands of miles of trail that I've hiked, skied, or biked over the years.

I've done A LOT of driving on bad roads in Eastern Oregon (Steens area, the Deschutes, Malheur, Fremont Forests, etc) in both my old Civic and my Tacoma. I'm very slow and precise (to the point of getting out and eyeballing things from in front of the vehicle). I drive the more questionable roads in dry season or just don't bother with them.

I turn around every now and then, too. Given the cost of purchasing, driving, and maintaining an AWD vehicle, there's not any doubt in my mind that it would be a waste of my money. The marginal benefit is, what exactly? Access to a few more trails? My bucket list is already a lifetime long! :)
Webfoot wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 8:15 pm
What is practical varies. I have a spinal condition that limits most of my hikes to only a few miles. I do a couple of 5 mile (round trip) hikes a year and they leave me wrecked for days. Every yard my vehicle can get me is a bit more of the beautiful world I can see.
Yeah, you have a totally different situation and it sounds like your vehicle works well for you!

Honestly, I like what I heard about AWD/4WD from a dirt-biking friend: "Only use your AWD to get out of trouble, never into trouble." I just make sure not to get into trouble.

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Charley
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Charley » April 21st, 2021, 10:18 pm

I'm really digging these practical, every day vehicle posts, as well. I'm really into the mountains- hiking, biking, skiing, climbing, etc. But I don't make large purchases, like automobiles, based only on my hobbies. I absolutely do appreciate being able to drive rougher roads and camp in the back, but I also bought a truck because I'm in the habit of hauling thousands of pounds of lumber, soil, gravel, etc.

Otherwise, I'd have stuck with my old Civic. I like the gas mileage, the reliability, the convenience around downtown, and the drive quality. I also really love how the front wheel drive Civics just tank their way through the snow when I've got my chains on (I've out-driven Subarus up at Mt Hood, because they're struggling along with normal tires).

I often think about the 99% problem when I see a shiny lifted pickup, with no cargo, nor any ennobling dents or scratches, at a paved trailhead. That truck, with all its shiny add-ons and engineering power, is just a waste of materials for 99% of the mileage it's driven.

And who are all these people that have the money for these things??? Well, a lot of them are probably highly indebted. I paid cash for my old Taco.
teachpdx wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 2:35 pm
I agree that having a vehicle that is super practical for everyday use, that can get you to 90% of the trailheads, is better than something rather impractical that you will use to access the Bennetts and Breitenbushes only a handful of times per season. And there are generally more accessible trailheads to any destination, only adding a few miles of hiking.

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