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Discussion Starter #1
We just booked our next summer adventure to the Flagstaff area to stay with friends and take the boys to the South Rim of the GC. We will be driving Superoo from Austin TX and I wanted to see if I could find some fun dirt to offer as a reward for all those miles of pavement.

We are basically going to be staying across the road from Cinder Hills OHV Area and I wanted to know if that place was Outback friendly. It looks like a blast, but it also looks like a place you could get in to trouble very quickly.

I'm open to other suggestions too. We'll be in GCNP for the first night and at our friends place for another 5 nights, so anything within a 30-40 min drive could be interesting. Thanks everyone.

Oh, and my car is stock but rolling on the Yoko Geo AT G015's. So, I'm looking for easy stuff. Not interested in trail damage.
 

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Fancy meeting you here. That's an area I've had the OB to many times but haven't hit the dirt around there. Report back on how it goes! You taking the bikes?
 

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You need the Massey trail guide(s). If you can find a used copy of his big, hard-cover AZ book, you will have all trails included and a lot of fun flora and fauna info to boot.

If not, you will need the single Massey Northeast region book. You do NOT want the Wells AZ guide, not for a stock car. Very few trails there would be suitable.

The Massey guide is full of 1 and 2 rated dirt roads within easy reach of Flagstaff. You should not have any issues on any 3-rated trails as well.

You will want to stay away from 4s. Some are doable in a stock car but you will not know which and unlike 1-3 rated trails, 4s and up may or may not be maintained so you can think you are on a 4 (which it was when he wrote over a decade ago) and it turns out it is brutal or even impassible or maybe even closed now.

Generally, the forest roads are fine, but there are exceptions. You will know the latter by their look; usually it is obvious right from the trailhead.

I have not done Cinder Hills. I explored the outer edges in the B9 Tribeca but never returned. The volcanic ash is like fine sand, if it is hot, which it will be, you can overheat the transmission rather quickly and some of the trails maybe too rocky for a stock car.
 

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I gave it a quick look. Yes, Massey's book, being quite old, underrates Cinder Hills though I am sure there are easy sections. The area has been heavily used by ATVs/UTVs for over a decade since he wrote.

Similarly, the Sedona area trails see very heavy use and are harder than his book will make you think.

In addition, his easier trails around Sedona intersect with some that are much more challenging, so you will need to make sure you stay on course, especially in that area.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Fancy meeting you here. That's an area I've had the OB to many times but haven't hit the dirt around there. Report back on how it goes! You taking the bikes?
Ha! Small world I guess. I haven't decided whether to take the bike. My boys bikes are coming along, but I don't know that I'll get any time to get a ride in myself. It'd be a shame though, because I'm sure there is awesome riding in the area.

I have not done Cinder Hills. I explored the outer edges in the B9 Tribeca but never returned. The volcanic ash is like fine sand, if it is hot, which it will be, you can overheat the transmission rather quickly and some of the trails maybe too rocky for a stock car.
I was pretty much waiting for your reply on this. You advised me to get the Massey guide for the CO front range and that really helped my planning for our Estes Park trip a couple years ago. So, I understand the value of those guides.
It's always good to hear first hand accounts from fellow Outback owners though.

Overheating was a big concern of mine for Cinder Hills and I was wondering if I'd be swarmed by bikes and quads. It's so close to where we'll be though, I might just drive over to check it out. Such unique terrain.
 
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I wouldn't bother with Cinder Hills. I went there last November and it was fun for a while but most of the trails were badly whooped out. Not foot tall rollers either, 2-3 feet deep in many places. You might be able to pick a few paths around the place but even the smooth areas might be too soft for a relatively stock car. The cinders are like pea gravel or mine tailings if you've ever driven on those. Video to give you an idea:
[ame]https://youtu.be/6wFD4gKRiQ0?t=45s[/ame]

Second the Massey advice, somewhere online I found gpx tracks of all the trails in those books but can't find the link right now. You could find plenty of decent forest roads in northern Arizona if you just start wandering around though. You'll see some cool scenery and some will be plenty challenging for your car. These sites are helpful too:
https://www.fs.fed.us/ivm/index.html
https://www.blm.gov/visit
 

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Here is this one as well:
Flagstaff - AZOFFROAD.NET - Your source for offroading in AZ

I looked through the entire site, looks like up to 4 included should be fine for a stock car, with extra care on the 4s. I think 5 is asking for serious work on a stock vehicle and 6 will likely be like running the Camel Trophy!
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Pontoontodd, I’m a mountain biker and that video reminded me of POV MTB vids I watch. That did NOTHING to dissuade me from trying that place out. That looked awesome.

I might just peek around a bit in there, otherwise I’ll explore the other links y’all posted. Thanks a bunch!


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Pontoontodd, I’m a mountain biker and that video reminded me of POV MTB vids I watch. That did NOTHING to dissuade me from trying that place out. That looked awesome.

I might just peek around a bit in there, otherwise I’ll explore the other links y’all posted. Thanks a bunch!


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The main road in will definitely be no problem for you, I just worry about your car sinking in and getting stuck once you get on the trails, that stuff is fairly soft. Keep in mind my car sits a few inches higher than yours, has mud tires, long travel suspension, and much better approach and departure angles. Not trying to brag, just don't want you to ruin your vacation stuck in the cinders by yourself. You will probably get around just fine I suppose, just wanted to warn you.
 

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@pontoontodd ,

That is a nice video!

What mods have you done?
 

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Pontoontodd, I’m a mountain biker and that video reminded me of POV MTB vids I watch. That did NOTHING to dissuade me from trying that place out. That looked awesome.

I might just peek around a bit in there, otherwise I’ll explore the other links y’all posted. Thanks a bunch!


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I think that's always a good idea. The trails on the website I linked should be easy. I hope the descriptions are more or less current since it is a local website as opposed to a 15-year old print edition.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The main road in will definitely be no problem for you, I just worry about your car sinking in and getting stuck once you get on the trails, that stuff is fairly soft. Keep in mind my car sits a few inches higher than yours, has mud tires, long travel suspension, and much better approach and departure angles. Not trying to brag, just don't want you to ruin your vacation stuck in the cinders by yourself. You will probably get around just fine I suppose, just wanted to warn you.
I appreciate the warning. I definite won't be taking it as fast as you did! You're driving those trails like you're running an unlimited trophy truck! I'll be going just fast enough to keep my momentum up and avoiding any climbs.

What is the second location in that video?
 

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I appreciate the warning. I definite won't be taking it as fast as you did! You're driving those trails like you're running an unlimited trophy truck! I'll be going just fast enough to keep my momentum up and avoiding any climbs.

What is the second location in that video?
I'll take that as a compliment but trophy trucks go about twice as fast as we do over rough terrain.
Locations are in the description:
Grand Falls
Cinder Hills ORV park
Mohave Road
Navajo National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients
Chaco Culture
Bandelier National Monument
Fossil Rim Safari Park
If you tell me what time in the video you're asking about I can confirm.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I was using hyperbole with the trophy truck comment. You're no BJ Baldwin, but that's pretty quick for an OB. No wonder you bashed in your oil pan. Looks like fun.

I was curious about the trails shown from the 6:20ish mark to the 7:50. Can't tell if those are different locations or the same place. It looks like part of it is following an old railway.

The links y'all have posted have given me lots of ideas. It looks like there is more to do than I'll actually have time for!
 

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I was using hyperbole with the trophy truck comment. You're no BJ Baldwin, but that's pretty quick for an OB. No wonder you bashed in your oil pan. Looks like fun.

I was curious about the trails shown from the 6:20ish mark to the 7:50. Can't tell if those are different locations or the same place. It looks like part of it is following an old railway.

The links y'all have posted have given me lots of ideas. It looks like there is more to do than I'll actually have time for!
Didn't bash in the oil pan.
5:00-11:00 is on or near the west end of the Mohave Road, famous 150 mile long off road trail in southern California. That rail section was very short and a bit north of the main trail, we stumbled across it. That was a lot of fun but don't try to cross the river at the western end, it's deep.
You could spend months or years just in northern AZ and probably not see all the dirt roads/trails you could do with your Outback. Don't go down any hills you can't drive back up. Have fun!
 

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I appreciate the warning. I definite won't be taking it as fast as you did! You're driving those trails like you're running an unlimited trophy truck! I'll be going just fast enough to keep my momentum up and avoiding any climbs.

What is the second location in that video?
If you do end up buying Wells, you will see that 14 and 15 cover Cinder Hills and that you can easily avoid the two short moderate segments, one in each trail. So, there should be enough accessible terrain to drive.

Btw, as with all pictures, his usually don't show things the way they are. Most of the time everything on his pictures looks flatter than it is and the rocks look smaller than they are.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So, I've added Schnebly Hill Road in Sedona to the itinerary after seeing reviews on Trip Advisor and one of the off-road websites specific to the area. Everything I read made it sound like a nice calm dirt road in one of the most scenic parts of Sedona. So I thought it would make a great intro to town as we travelled in from Flag.

I was doing more trip planning this evening and watched a more recent video of Schnebly Hill Rd. that did not at all look like a tame, graded dirt road. After a quick search I came across MiddleAgeSubie's post back in 2015 giving an update that the road was degrading quite a bit. After I found a few more recently posted youtube vids, I am wondering if anyone (MidAgeSub or anyone else) has gone back or done this recently.

As a reminder, I am basically stock with the exception of my tires, and I know that as AT's go they are fairly lightly armored. I was pretty stoked on driving this on our trip and I'm fairly confident I could pic my way down with good line choice assuming it hasn't gotten even worse. But, I'm wondering if it's worth it now. I'll have my family in the car and I don't know that they'd be as excited as I am about bouncing around for a few hours. The views look pretty epic, but I don't think my 4-6yo will have the same appreciation even though they tell me they love off-roading with me.

Thoughts?
 

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You should be fine but it might be bumpy to the point of being really annoying. If you drive it, go downhill because then you get to enjoy the big views. If you go uphill, you will see the rocks on the road better but not the views.

Last time there were a couple of spots to pay attention as well as some individual loose rock of good size here and there; the latter must be gone but I have no idea about the rest. I have driven pretty fast over the majority of the rocky section but the trucks usually move really slowly over that one.

I was especially disappointed that the smooth forest section from I-17 to the overview had become just bumpy enough not to be the fun it once was. The section from the overview to Sedona has been bumpy for at least a decade now.

It is off my radar now. I have done it 4 times plus half a run to where it is closed in winter.
 
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Discussion Starter #20
You should be fine but it might be bumpy to the point of being really annoying. If you drive it, go downhill because then you get to enjoy the big views. If you go uphill, you will see the rocks on the road better but not the views.

Last time there were a couple of spots to pay attention as well as some individual loose rock of good size here and there; the latter must be gone but I have no idea about the rest. I have driven pretty fast over the majority of the rocky section but the trucks usually move really slowly over that one.

I was especially disappointed that the smooth forest section from I-17 to the overview had become just bumpy enough not to be the fun it once was. The section from the overview to Sedona has been bumpy for at least a decade now.

It is off my radar now. I have done it 4 times plus half a run to where it is closed in winter.


Thanks. Bummer about the forest section. That sounded like a fun bit to open it up a little. I think headed down the views will be worth it. If people need a break, we can pull over at one of the (few) turn offs. I’ll be stopping to take pictures anyway.


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