About an hour north of Los Angeles is Frazier Mountain containing a large number of great 4×4 trails. My friend Daniel and I took a day-trip up to this area on Sunday only to find that the entire mountain and all of its trails were closed for the winter. I guess we should have called ahead of time.
Disappointed, we went over to the nearby Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area. I assumed it would be a bunch of rounded off torn up dirt hills, but Daniel having been there once before said it was worth it. Only $5 to enter, this turned out to be a very enjoyable place to explore and work on my driving skills. Daniel has a pretty well built rock crawling Jeep, so he was a great resource and helped me with some of the more technical sections.
We started with a shorter but advanced trail (Vics Cat Trail) which had a couple of very steep and sharp switchbacks. The first one was okay, but the second one had me teetering on two wheels, stalling the engine, and required me to do a three point turn – all while on a very steep incline pointing straight down the mountain. That was definitely a bit of a pucker moment and I could have been smoother on the controls to minimize the teetering, but it went well and I learned a bit from the obstacle. When we reached the bottom, some people on dirt bikes who had passed me on the trail commented on how impressed they were that I was able to make it through there, and with a stock vehicle.
After a lunch stop, we decided to hit up another advanced trail (the Pronghorn Trail) which had some fun tight and banked turns and a big rock face leading up to a ridgeline. Daniel scouted it out and guided me through the best route up. We continued down the scenic trail and eventually doubled back deciding to return to the steep rock face. This time Daniel filmed while I went down and up it a couple of times. This was probably the largest obstacle I’ve driven so far, and while I don’t plan on doing a lot of rock crawling it is nice knowing what my truck’s and my capabilities are. The rest of the roads were moderate to easy and very enjoyable.
Speaking with some folks who had been coming there for years, they suggested I go and try out the 4WD Practice Area. This turned out to be a great suggestion because I was able to take my time and try out lots of different obstacles with different approaches and settings (rear locker, gearing, etc.) and see how the truck handled. It was a very educational experience, and quite fun. Lastly, we went to an overlook point to hopefully get a nice broad view of the area and the setting sun. Turns out Frazier Mountain was right in the way blocking a majority of the sunset, so we headed back down toward the exit. Along the way, perfect skydome lighting and a scenic turnout proved to be a great spot for some photos of the truck.
By the time we got to the exit parking lot to air up the tires, the sunset decided to light on fire. Laughing that we were in probably the worst spot for a really great sunset, we took what photos we could and enjoyed the rest while the compressors were filling the tires back up with air. The great thing is that with the short drive back to LA, we were back in town in time for dinner. Hungry Valley is definitely a solid winter alternative to Frazier for day trips.