Trailridge Runners 4WD Club
Miller Rock Review

by Ray Comeau

This 2014 spring Miller Rock trip will not be anything like the Trail Ridge Runners trips in past years. I personal have been on this trail many times over the years. It is one of my favorite close to home trails in the front Colorado range. Located just up the road from Lyons on Colorado highway 7, the trail starts in a small town called Raymond. The Miller Rock trail has many spur roads and is not a very long trail compared to other trails in Colorado, but challenging enough for most rigs to make it a fun day, today would be just that, a challenge.

The Miller Rock trail is a narrow road, due to the low usage, expect your vehicle paint to be pin stripped by the close to the road tree branches, I would soon learn how much paint or surface area there is on the side of a 2009 double cab Toyota Tacoma. Do to the September 2013 flood, Highway 7 was closed until November 2013. Soon after the opening I made a trip up to Raymond to check out the trail entrance. I was glad to see very little damage to homes in the area and the trail head seemed unharmed. But due to it being winter, there was no way to drive the trail at this time.

It was a long winter, with so many road closures and trails closed due to flooding, spring was here and it was time to check out our adopted trail Miller Rock.

On May 17th we did just that, the group met at the north Super Walmart at 8:30 am in Longmont. It was a nice overcast day with morning temperatures in the high 40's. For the trip today we would have 10 rigs, 9 jeeps and the first trip out in my 09 Tacoma, it was going to be an exciting day for me. Attendees would be, Ray & Wanda, Darrel & Judy, Greg, Larry, Josh and Jamie, Kevin, Clay & Julie, Gordon and Christy, Vic and Debbie and Adam.

The caravan traveled up Highway 7 to Raymond and once on the trail we air down and prepared our rigs for the trail. The first part of the trail is a north facing slow climb with a couple of spots one might need a spotter. We worked our way up to Miller Rock itself, we parked all our rigs and a few of us made the short walk to the top of the rock for a 360 deg view of the valley and the high peaks to our West.

Greg, Gordon, Adam, Larry, Jamie and Josh

While up on the rock I located the Geocache box which is always in the same location and Jamie having never seen a geocache checked it out.

It was early but time to head down to a flat spot for lunch which was the location many spur roads would come together. While the group was gathered around eating our lunch and enjoying each other company , we had a very stock older white 4 door Jeep Cherokee go by, more on this later.

In the beginning of the day we had driven up to the top of the mountain, now with lunch over we would drive down the mountain, heading south east to the opposite side of the mountain we drove up.

With Adam, Greg and Kevin staying behind, Josh and Jamie now ridding with Wanda and I, we left the lunch spot and drove just a few hundred yards down the trail when we came across a natural under ground spring that eroded the road away making a nice shelf that drops into a mug pit, if I was alone, no way would I attempted this with no winch or even then it might be questionable, but with 6 rigs behind me, I take the dive, over the ledge I go, with a very long wheel base it went ok, some of the other shorter wheel base rigs felt the drop of a lot more. But we all made it through, only due to it being a down hill drop the all of us went down just fine. Then we wondered, did that older stock Jeep Cherokee go down this too?

The group traveled on down the trail, with the September rains of 2013 the trail had been altered in many locations, Most all the trail on this side of the mountain is soft dirt with very little rock fill, so the earth or road washes away some what easily.

We had driven the main rock obstacle in the trail, one that turns some away, it's not so much the rock obstacle as when you exit the obstacle your rig is on the down hill side, the trail tips or slants to the driver side, and your on the side of a hill with no protection and it plays with your head. Gordon left , Ray to the right, but we all make it.

From here it's only a few hundred yards to the bottom. We cross over the South St. Vrain river to a large flat meadow and park our rigs. There it is, the stock Jeep Cherokee managed somehow to make it. Yes, we all thought the same thing, how many times do we see this while wheeling. One rig, built or not built all alone. I myself as well as other I know have gone it alone on trails, I'm not saying we should, must of us know our limitations, things can happen, in this case, this Jeep should not be here.

The people who dared to drive the Jeep Cherokee to this spot would not take much time in coming over to meet our group and talk, they mingled right in with us, followed our group down to the river for a little sight seeing and to stretch our legs. One could tell, they knew what they just did and in a round about way asked if they could travel with us on the way back out. I try to never say no when someone needs help, If my memory is correct, I myself have asked for help in years passed, they seem nice so why not.

It was time to head back up the trail, knowing what lies ahead, Wanda and I being the leaders, Co pilots Josh and Jamie in the back seat, knowing 3 others staying at the lunch spot ( with winches ) I stayed in the lead. Followed by Gordon and Christy then the White Jeep Cherokee. With a little trouble I managed with Wanda being my spotter to climb up over the rock obstacle, then Gordon came up with no problems, then the White Cherokee, oh my, I walked back to the spot, he had not even made it to the rock obstacle and was having problems on a large long tree root. I now notice the lack of tire tread on those really small stock tires. The driver was not paying attention to me trying to spot him, so it was time for a little education and I walked over to the passenger side window for a little talk. I got the point across to the driver really quick. With me as a spotter now, the jeep with no lockers and bald tires. It took a few tries over the rock obstacle, one stop to bungee his loose battery back in place he made it. Then the rest of the group followed with no problems. On down or up the trail we went, the little "jeep that could" kept moving forward, then there it was, the mud pit wall we all just drove down but now we are going up, way up.

I wanted first try, I new that if I waited, the mud pit would get worse as different rigs tried and made a bigger mess, well it did not matter, there is no crawling this, it's hit it and hit it fast, I took off, who put the tree root sticking out of the ground, my front safety skid plate hit it like hitting a rock, smashed my engine protective skid plate in making a nice v shape out of it, damn I hit hard. I backed up, pulled off to the side, the white Jeep Cherokee pulled of to the side too, I motioned Darrel to come on by us and give it a try, well, I'm not saying Darrel drove right up it, but he did with very little problems. But Darrel would be the only one, Darrel pulled all of us with a tow strap, the Jeep Cherokee was interesting, not a front tow hook or anything to attach a strap to, so we attached it to the center cross member under the transmission.

Vic being pulled by Darrel

So after playing in the mud, we checked out anther side trail only to have one end up on Private property and another had a washed out section of road, so we all turned around to head back down and exit the trail.

After airing up, Gordon and Christy headed for home, which was close by, the rest of us heading down the pavement into Lyons. Some continued on and went home or had other appointments to get to, Darrel and Judy, Greg, Josh and Jamie, Larry and Wanda and I all went to dinner and had barbeque and a local restaurant in Lyons.

It was a great day of wheeling again with dear friends in the great Colorado Mountains.

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