Grizzly Lake 4X4 Trail was not super high on my list of must do trails for this Colorado outing but it was amazing so I am glad that we did not miss it. The trail head is almost right in the ghost town of St. Elmo so we did not have to travel far to get started. We had my Mom & Step Dad with us for this run and Brandon and Morgan were out hiking when we left camp and did not go on this trail. We found out very quickly that Brandon would not have been able to have taken his FJ up the trail anyway. Right off the bat there is a large step that must be climbed and a stock vehicle will never make it up this step. Brandon's FJ has 3 inch lift and that would not have been enough. Larger tires, lower gears, lockers and some lift... that is the recipe for success on this trail. There is some debate on actual position but this trail is in the top 5 in Colorado for degree of toughness mainly due to the Step and then the steep section.
Just past the trailhead there short side road that leads over to the remains of an old mine that we went and explored before heading on up the trail to Grizzly Lake. Ken went first and had to make about 5 attempts to get his Rubicon up over the step but he finally made it. Mom was riding with him and got out to watch him get up the step. I followed and was able to get up on my first try and we headed up the trail.
I took the lead and we started up a very steep, rocky and loose section of the trail that was rather unnerving to drive up. Traction was poor due to the steepness of the road and the loose gravel and rocks. You had to try to not start spinning or bouncing off the rocks as there was a very sharp drop off to the right that ended at Grizzly Creek a few hundred feet below.
Rick, my step Dad was riding with me and we did a slow crawl up the trail and with the large footprint of my tires we did not have any problems to speak of. I was running with 7 lbs of air in my rear tires and about 9 in the front so I was getting pretty good traction for what the road conditions were. I noticed in my mirror that Ken had fallen behind and when we got to the top I saw that he was kind of sideways on the road an my Mom was out and walking up the hill towards us. I walked down to check out what the problem was and Ken was pretty nervous at the situation his Jeep was in. He had spun out and could not get over a rock that was up against his front right tire. He had tried a couple of times and ended up getting a bit sideways and was not comfortable trying to get it straightened out without a safety line. He has a winch but not trees or good anchor points were nearby so I hiked back up to the P.O.S.T. and put my low gearing to the test. I backed back down the hill using my drivers side mirror to guide me and keep me as close to the high side as possible. Once in place I Killed the engine, set the E brake and chocked the tires. We then hooked up his winch to one of my anchor points and with the winch as a safety line and giving him some help over the rock, he was able to get back on the road where he felt comfortable to continue up the mountain. We got the winch stowed and both of us made it up with no problems this time.
The rest of the road to the lake is great and we cruised right on up. We stopped a few time to check out old cabins and mines and after about an hour we made it to the lake. What a lake!! It was beautiful!
Wow I had not expected this. The lake was larger than I had thought and beautiful blue. We got out and spent a little while enjoying the view and then loaded up to head back down the hill to camp.
Our ride all the way down Grizzly Lake Trail was uneventful and the steep section was not a problem going down, you just had to go slow and easy.