Monday, February 25, 2013

Offroad in the Tillamook State Forest

My Suzuki Sidekick in Tillamook State Forest
The Teal Terror getting some off-road action in Oregon's Tillamook State Forest.
I've long said that you don't have to have a giant 4x4 got get out there and have some fun. You also don't have to invest $30,000 on a 4x4 to get dirty. We hit up the Browns Camp area of Tillamook State Forest yesterday with some friends; one in a Jeep Wrangler, the other in a built Suzuki Sidekick.

It's trips like this, however, when I'm with more "built" rigs that make me want to upgrade mine even more. I've got a mild lift, 235/75/15 (aka 29") mud terrain tires, and such on my Sidekick. But a couple of more inches of lift would give me enough room to put 31" tires on, giving me more clearance. However, then we're talking a worse gear ratio due to the larger tires which means slower acceleration, and of course, more money spent.

One thing I will likely do next is add a Lock-Right rear locker. This will allow the rear tires to get 50/50 distribution all the time—better for off-road situations such as these. I also need to invest in a set of rock sliders to protect my door sill areas.

My Suzuki Sidekick stuck in the ruts
Need. More. Ground clearance! Good thing we had a winch.
I did get stuck once yesterday; high-centered on a huge rut going into a mud hole. Luckily, Eric from pulled me out with his WARN winch. Again—more ground clearance would've surely helped here.

Ben in his Jeep Wrangler TJ starting Fire Break 5
Ben starting the Fire Break 5 trail.
We ran several intermediate-level trails. I didn't need to use the winch on any of them. I had to give some of the obstacles a running start, or a bump as we call it, but no winch needed. We did head over to the Fire Break 5 trail, which is rated as difficult. Ben, in his Jeep, and Eric, in his Sidekick both did it. They have front and rear lockers, more ground clearance, and underbody armor, too. As much as I wanted to attempt it, I also didn't want to risk breaking my vehicle.

Eric in his Suzuki Sidekick
Eric climbing to the top of Fire Break 5.
So until I get those upgrades, I'll stay out of the big rock fields. But, I look forward to the day where my Sidekick is able to run with the best of them across the rocks, through the deep ruts, and such. Until then, I suppose I'll stick to driving under trees.

Cedar Tree Trail in Tillamook State Forest
Driving the Cedar Tree trail. It's not everyday you get to drive under a tree.

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