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Unread 06-12-2012, 01:11 PM   #1
nullspace
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Seattle, WA
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Entry-Level Trail for Stock Grand Cherokee?

I recently purchased a 2012 GC Overland with the Off-Road package. This is my first Jeep and I've never done any off-roading. Are there any trails near Seattle that are appropriate for a beginner on stock tires? I don't want to risk damaging my vehicle, and I might even bring my 3 year old son with me in a car seat, so I'm not looking for anything too adventurous (maybe that will come later).

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Unread 06-12-2012, 04:07 PM   #2
MrFish
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Tahuya is good for stock Jeeps. http://nwjeepn.com/Tahuya.html
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Unread 06-12-2012, 06:42 PM   #3
lupinsea
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The Fortune Creek Trail north of Cle Elum would be another recommendations I'd make. It's about 1.5 hrs east on I-90 from Seattle (and then a drive north on surface roads). But the scenery is spectacular. Your vehicle will have no problem making it. But the trail opens late in June. You should contact the Cle Elum ranger station to verify the actual opening date, however.

There are also other trails in the North Cle Elum area I'd recommend, too.

Here is a good trail list.

Parts of Liberty would be ok when it's dry, at the height of summer.

And I'd also say perhaps parts of the Manastash area such as Manastash Ridge Road or the steep climb up Frost Mt if you can access that. And immediately south of Ellensburg is Durr Rd which leads to Umtanum Ridge and the trail along that spine. Finally, there is the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route which is more of an overlanding route that I think would be more appropriate for your GC at this point. You don't have to run the entire route but can certainly do segments.

Sorry, these are the closest I can think of to Seattle that would be interseting. The other ORV areas are a bit more technical and I wouldn't want to risk bashing up or scratching your new GC.

Welcome to Jeeping!

Get your feet wet with the easier stuff and see where you want to go from there.

Oh, and I'd HIGHLY recommend that you NOT go out as a solo vehicle. Travel with at least one other vehicle. See if you could meet up with others on JF here. Keep an eye out for anyone interesteed in hitting the trails. Or heck, post up a threat for other beginners and head out together!

Lastly, check the sticky at the top of this forum section on some of the trails to run.
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Unread 06-12-2012, 09:07 PM   #4
Koja
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Big quil in the olympics is logging rds, should be passable now if the snow is high enough
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Unread 06-13-2012, 10:06 AM   #5
nullspace
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Thanks for the tips, everyone! I am definitely going to check some of these out.
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Unread 06-15-2012, 01:19 PM   #6
zjzach
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when naches pass trail is dry/no snow/and not too muddy I'd bet you could do it, late july ish

I did it in my 97 grand cherokee stock a few summers ago, but taking a brand new gc is a lot more expensive and a lot more pucker factor.
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Unread 06-15-2012, 02:12 PM   #7
MysticAlpaca
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My first time out with my JKU after only owning for a few months was on Naches. Bone stock (came with limited slip) with those crapy all season tires. I decided to follow a couple other rigs and they entered the Naches at the lower entrance (designated moderate to hard). I had no idea...wow, talk about pucker moments. I was off camber a few times and could almost touch the ground from my window.

What a thrilling learning experience with no damage and I didn't have to get winched or rescued. I think i was very lucky looking back. That run gave me a good impression what the Jeep could do and what upgrades I needed. Since then I have made a few upgrades, and still need more.

If you enter Naches at the mid-point or the top where the actual entrance is you will be fine. I took a friend in his stock offroad xterra and he did just fine from the too entrance.
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Unread 06-15-2012, 09:18 PM   #8
CRASHNDENT
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we've had stock cherokee's with 28" nothing tires run Naches with us without any problems, but like MysticAlpaca said, probably don't want to try the lower entrance if you are nervous about damage, and i don't blame you if you are nervous with the price tag attached to that rig.
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Unread 06-18-2012, 09:30 AM   #9
nullspace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticAlpaca View Post
My first time out with my JKU after only owning for a few months was on Naches. Bone stock (came with limited slip) with those crapy all season tires. I decided to follow a couple other rigs and they entered the Naches at the lower entrance (designated moderate to hard). I had no idea...wow, talk about pucker moments. I was off camber a few times and could almost touch the ground from my window.

What a thrilling learning experience with no damage and I didn't have to get winched or rescued. I think i was very lucky looking back. That run gave me a good impression what the Jeep could do and what upgrades I needed. Since then I have made a few upgrades, and still need more.

If you enter Naches at the mid-point or the top where the actual entrance is you will be fine. I took a friend in his stock offroad xterra and he did just fine from the too entrance.
I get nervous just thinking about that, but it does sound fun. Maybe I will take yours and CrashNDent's advice and try the mid-point. Is that still unsafe to do alone?
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Unread 06-20-2012, 05:58 PM   #10
MysticAlpaca
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The mid point is OK if you are carefull, there is a spot near the top where you want to get out and spot your line as the drop off is a bit steep on the left hand side.

Without a winch I'm not sure I would go out alone expect for forest service roads. Then again, this time of year, someone will, usually come along. Just pack for an overnight stay in case.

If you post here looking to organize a trail, usually a couple of people will chime in and join up. I'm looking to get out on the trails. July 15th Naches opens.

Bill
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Unread 06-21-2012, 12:49 PM   #11
zjzach
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the lowest entrance is closed now, thats where I got my first body damage without rockrails when my ZJ was stock. I've seen JKUs pop off fenders on other parts of the trail too, but its nice that their supposed to do that. I would just take them off ahead of time.
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Unread 06-22-2012, 12:04 AM   #12
CRASHNDENT
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We're heading to Naches tomorrow for a group run. Camping Friday night and running wagon trail and other stuff Saturday. You're welcome to join us. we'll probably be running channel 22 and camping off of FS19. Heading down 410 towards cliffdell, you just take a left on FS19 and go about 2.7 miles. you'll take a left on FS1902 and the campsite is just off to the right. If you want to join us just PM me for cell #.
Don
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Unread 06-22-2012, 11:36 PM   #13
billzcat1
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I think Naches is going to be a bit tight for a first timer with a WK2. That's a big vehicle and it's not overly blessed with wheel travel.

Fortune Creek is a good choice but it does have 2 areas that might be a stretch for the WK2. It's rocky and bumpy, but not all that tight in most places and doesn't need much flex. I have taken my 2 y/o in a car seat up and back this trail. However, and this is a big however, it is going to be impassable until at least late July. Last year was early August before the snow was clear. And then the snow starts Labor day. I've been to Fortune Creek every year for the last 3 years and it is a great place to go. I have tons of pics of it in my build thread which is linked in my signature. Check page 4 for two trips up Fortune Creek.

Tahuya is a better choice to start out with IMO. It's closer, it's open year-round, and it's all dirt and roots, not tons of rocks. Much less likely to damage the stock tires there, much closer to civilization if there's a problem. Pretty easy going, and the tricky part on the South Loop (where I chomped up my WJ) is A) now repaired from the washout and B)bypassable. For what its worth, both my ZJ (lacking armor) and WJ (well-armored) have taken damage on that section - the much-wider WK2 is going to drag fender on the right side dirt wall. Take the bypass. Check my build thread Page 3, 8 for Tahuya

To be honest though, the most fun I have had has been on the longer, less-demanding trips. The Umptanum Ridge area (between Ellensburg and Yakima) has about 100 miles of interlocking undeveloped roads that are not so difficult, mostly 2WD ok but a few sections that need 4WD or 4LO to control descent speed. Beautiful scenery, low-stress trails, and lots of room. Check my build thread page 1 and 22 for that area. Right now it is all open, no snow, and not too dried out/dusty. Look up Old Durr Road, Ellensburg with Google and then follow the ridge west. We got in a good 50 miles up there last month.

Jumpoff Lookout is a great destination thats about 13 miles of travel each way and gives an amazing view. This is closer to Mt. Rainier. Check page 5 of my build thread for pics of this one. Jumpoff is all FS roads, as long as you have a full size spare you can go alone (it's easy to find with GPS as well). Of course, it's always better to go with a wheeling buddy! You never know what's going to happen, and all of the "someone died" stories start with someone going out alone. PM me if you'd like to have a Grand Cherokee reunion meet - I think it would be fun to go out with a WK2 to see how it does!
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