EASY: Graded dirt or gravel road, unimproved dirt road. 4wd and extra clearance may or may not be needed, street tires ok.
Vehicles: Any 4wd, including stock SUVs, high-clearance pickup trucks with 2wd.
MODERATE: 4wd low range required, difficult terrain, some steep grades but no major rock obstacles, trail tires needed but stock suspension ok, challenge for novice drivers. Possible paint or body damage.
Vehicles: Any 4wd with low range, including stock SUVs with trail tires.
DIFFICULT: More difficult trail: Very rugged terrain. Loose gravel, large pot holes, steep inclines, boulders, possibly all combined. Low-range 4-wheel drive necessary. Difficult for stock vehicles. Higher than stock ground clearance required. Lockers or limited-slip differentials highly recommended. Aggressive tread required and low air pressure may be needed. Above average off-highway driving skill required. At least one member of the party should have a high-lift jack. A winch could also be helpful. Likely paint damage, possible vehicle body and/or mechanical damage.
Vehicles: Any modified 4wd or SUVs with trail tires and at least a mild lift, limited slip or rear locker.
VERY DIFFICULT: Most difficult trail: Extremely rugged terrain. Very steep inclines, large boulders, potentially dangerous situations. Not possible for stock vehicles. High level of off-highway driving skill required. Highly modified vehicle required, including lift, lockers, and over-sized tires. Likely paint damage, possible vehicle body and/or mechanical damage. Possibility of rollover. At least one member of the party should have a winch.
Vehicles: 3 to 4 inch lift, 33"+ tires, locker in rear, limited slip or locker in front, winch, extra gears.
Trail conditions change, and something that is hard for one driver might be easy for another, even if they are driving the same vehicle. A rainstorm might make an easy trail impassable, or a hard one easy. So rating trails is tough. Be aware that conditions can change and the experience level of the person doing the rating may be different from yours. While we've tried to make this system useful, take these or any rating methods with a grain of salt - use our ratings as guidelines only. So rating trails is tough. Be aware that conditions can change and the experience level of the person doing the rating may be different from yours. While we've tried to make this system useful, take these or any rating methods with a grain of salt - use our ratings as guidelines only.
ON THE TRAIL WITH THE EASTERN SIERRA 4WD CLUB -
No one is left behind; also we will not push (pull or drag) you further than you want to go. If you feel you are in over your head stop and let it be known. These trips are for fun, but remember that four wheeling does involve risk. If we are going beyond your level of comfort with risk it is your responsibility to stop and let a club officer or trip leader know. We can then take action to help you.
Communication is the key to a successful trip! Do not be embarrassed to ask questions, or state your feelings. Our trips are a great opportunity for everyone to learn. A CB radio is highly recommended. We use channel 14.
Breaks and rest stops; the trip leader should inform the group when we stop how long the break is and what time you need to be back at your vehicle.
If you decide to leave the group and go your own way please inform the group leader so we can call out search and rescue to find you if the situation arises.
Always keep track of the vehicle behind you. If you come to a fork in the road the vehicle in front of you should be waiting for you and you should wait for the vehicle following you.
Very steep hill climbs, and other difficult obstacles - Stop and watch the vehicle in front of you before you try. If you follow to close and the vehicle in front of you does not make it, then you both will have to back out.
Minor stuck or other small problems - Inform the group so we can all stop. Let the vehicles in front of you and behind you help if they can. When the problem is resolved let the leader know if we can proceed.
Major stuck or other large problems - Inform the group so we can all stop. Inform the trip leader and a club officer that a major problem exists. The trip leader or club officer will assign or assume the role as an incident commander. The purpose of an incident commander is to assess the problem and direct the solution. Everyone in the group should report to the IC and make their recommendations. The IC will then assign people to tasks that will resolve the problem. Let's all keep our cool, stay organized, and work together!
Tread lightly. Drive on designated roads and trails and try to minimize your impact.
Pack it in - Pack it out. Always pick up your trash.