Finding meaning in life is a process that mankind has faced since the beginning. Religions offer solutions to these issues, as well as scientists and philosophers the likes of Darwin and Sartre. For many people on this earth a so called bucket list has been used to identify goals or achievements that can be used to measure a full life.
While gear-heads may not be looking to unlock the mysteries of the universe, every auto enthusiast has their own bucket list of things they want to do or see in the pursuit of speed or style on the road. As we found ourselves in the quest for off-road adventures, exploring the notable trails around the Calico Ghost Town was a sure box to check off of our Jeeping bucket list.
Above: This is a very entertaining trail and would be especially challenging for full sized rigs. We would rate this trail around a 2.5 out of 5, doable for vehicles on 33-inch tires and a locker or two doesn’t hurt. Highlights of the trail include a challenging waterfall article that is best tackled with longer wheelbase rigs like this stretched TJ and stretched 2-Door JK.
In the late 19th century silver was found in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. Calico was a town founded to support the massive mining efforts of the time. Countless mines were carved into the desert and roads were cut to support the efforts.
The mining efforts dried up after a few decades, but much of the town was preserved and is now California Historical Landmark #782. While the town is certainly a sight worth visiting we were more interested in the former mining roads now turned 4×4 trails.
Above: Because of their canyon layout, these trails are subject to change upon rain or flash floods so conditions can very greatly from year to year.
We met up late on Friday night with some members of the City Slicker 4×4 Club. Getting involved in off-road clubs is always a good idea-not just to make like minded friends, but also to be sure you are safe if something goes wrong with your vehicle.
The next morning trail leader Lori started us up Odessa Trail in her Jeep TJ sporting an Atlas II transfer case and 35-inch tires. Our group of ten rigs varied in capability from stretched Wranglers on crate axles and full roll cages to a couple of nearly stock Jeep JK Unlimiteds. The trails in Calico are uniquely carved into small canyons; this provides shade and makes for simple navigation.
The next exciting section of the trail was a narrow and steep climb made up of both slick rock sections and loose gravel terrain.
Above: Brian’s Grand Cherokee ZJ outfitted with G2 crate Dana 44-axles and a Rubicon Express long arm kit was one of the bigger rigs in the group and gives good reference to the size of this narrow canyon climb.
Above: After finishing the Odessa trail our group stopped for lunch and explored some out the seemingly infinite mines and caves carved by men and water alike.
The Odessa trail led us up into the wilderness and before leaving to return to camp via the Doran Trail we stopped by an optional section of trail known as Wall Street. Wall street is a short section of obstacles that club members informed us was “more dug out by rain than they had ever seen.”
Due to the condition of the trail everyone in the club declined to give it a try, but we had driven a long way and had to give Wall Street a run for its money. Wall Street is a section cut into the dirt that is narrow and scattered with boulders; all this was made especially challenging due to the deep erosion veins running through it.
Above: This section was extremely challenging and we were lucky to have skilled spotting. A spotter is always a good idea to help give drivers another set of eyes on challenging sections of trail.
While cornering around a massive boulder in the narrow trail we had to enlist the help of some wheeling buddies to help keep the Jeep off of its side.
Above: We made it through Wall Street with minimal complications until the last section of trail when the irrigation trench got the better of the Jeep and set it on its side.
After we were winched back to all four wheels we rejoined the group and set off down the Doran Trail. Doran Trail followed the difficulty and terrain of Odessa Trail, but after a couple miles the trail opens up and is a smooth drive along the desert back to our camp.
All in all we were thrilled to wheel with the City Slickers and had a great time on the Odessa, Doran, and Wall Street Trails. While we may have checked Calico off our wheeling bucket list we will certainly return here in the future to soak up some more of the beautiful landscape and unique trails.