My Jeep has been out of commission for a while. The engine blew a piston ring, and it was running really poorly. A couple weeks ago, I found someone selling a working engine for my Jeep. I had a buddy of mine install it, and get my Jeep up and running again.
After getting the new engine installed, Allyson and I thought it would be a fun to put it through its paces and try it out on a trail. We posted on a Facebook group, looking for a few other people to go with us. Pretty soon we had a small group consisting of, ourselves, someone new to off-roading, and another person who just had their radiator hoses replaced.
The trail starts just outside the city of Tonopah, which is about an hour west of Phoenix. The trail isn’t very well marked from the paved road, so it’s best to use a GPS to help locate the trail.
The staging area is right at the beginning of the trail next to a bulletin board. It is a good idea to air down here.
After the staging area, we followed a few fairly flat and easy trails. Even though the trails were flat, they were by no means boring. We were presented with magnificent views of the mountain and surrounding desert!
While on the west side of the mountain, it’s a good idea to stop and look around on the ground. Many, really interesting rocks can be found in this area. It’s a great area for rock hounders.
Once got about 1/4 of the way through the trail, the nice easy flat path stopped. Instead, we were facing a relatively deep and steep wash. After surveying the wash, we decided that the only way across, was by going down into the wash, and coming out the other side. This was a bit of a challenge for our new Jeeper, but everyone was able to make it in and out of the wash with no problem.
The southern half of the trail becomes a bit rougher. This part of the trail appears to get very little use. It’s not terribly difficult, but we did have to cross a few small, shallow washes. This part of the trail is a great place to get beautiful views of the mountain.
The eastern side of the trail presented us with a new challenge. The two Jeep Wranglers in our group were able to pass a medium sized wash, but the wash was too narrow for the Grand Cherokee with our new off-roader in it. When she tried to cross the wash, the front and back of her Jeep ended up touching either side of the wash and lifting her wheels off the ground. We had to stack a few rocks in front of her front wheels in order to get the Jeep across. She lost a little paint from her rear bumper in the process, but she made it across.
The east side of the mountain also gave us a few opportunities for rock hounding. There weren’t as many interesting rocks as the west side, but we did find a few with some nice crystals on them.
We finished off Saddle Mountain with a side trail that we spotted. It went up a hill to the west of us. A short drive up the hill, and we got a spectacular view of the mountain and the surrounding areas, just before sunset.
At the bottom of the hill, we pulled off the trail to air up and have dinner.
This trail was a lot of fun for both the beginner in our group, and those of us who were more experienced. We would recommend this trail for almost anyone with a higher clearance vehicle.
Watch the video below to see this adventure for yourself!