Kings Canyon OHV Trail (the "maiden voyage")
Updated: Jan 17, 2021
The last measurable snow we received was several weeks ago and we've had fall-like weather since then. The snow level is still pretty high in many places, about 7,000 feet or higher. These conditions opened to the door to us driving the Kings Canyon OHV Trail earlier today. This is a 9.3 mile trail that has entry points near Spooner Summit and Carson City. I've thought about driving this trail many times but the reviews I've read made it seem like a few spots were a little too tricky for our stock Land Cruiser. Now that we've driven it, I can tell you I am glad I didn't take the Land Cruiser. The trail had incredible views of the valley below and for the most part was an easily travelled forest road. There were two challenging spots, at least for someone new to OHV trails with limited off road driving experience. The first spot was passing over a small rock slide area. Instead of just giving it a try I asked Bri to drive while I acted as her spotter. She did an outstanding job of following my signals and working her way over the rocks. The next challenging spot, and easily the more sketchy one, was a creek crossing that had a very steep entrance/exit that were covered with 2 inches of ice. It took us three tries to climb out of the creek, mostly because my first attempts were in 2 wheel drive - my first major mistake. The vehicle slid sideways as we backed down the slope after the failed attempts. Once we engaged four wheel drive and made a third try, we climbed out. We were happy to be out of that creek and back on drier ground. As we made our way into Carson City we stopped at a little waterfall that we've heard about over the years, but never made time for. It was a short hike up to the falls, and a worthwhile stop.
What did I learn?
Well, obviously that I need to check whether I am in four wheel drive before taking on an obstacle that's going to require as much traction as we have! I also think it would have helped on the rocks if I had lowered the PSI in the tires. The tires seemed to spin against the rocks instead of grabbing and climbing onto them. I also learned the favorable approach and departure angles on a Jeep are critical in tight spots. The Land Cruiser wouldn't have made this trail, at least not without some frame or body damage.