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Heldorado Trail report 50th EJS in Moab - Day 2

A quick run up an infamous trail

Verne Simons
Mar 21, 2016
Photographers: Verne Simons
Some of our best memories from the trails have come from spontaneous trips. You know the ones where you and a few friends decide to hit a trail suddenly out of the blue. Maybe it’s Sunday afternoon, and you all just ran one trail and want more? Maybe you’ve found yourself in the ideal spot for fun that no one should pass up with the time to spare. Spontaneity and just a few well equipped rigs with good drivers and a little bit of time can make short work of even very tough trails. Today we got a rare chance to run Area BFE’s Heldorado Trail with Chris Durham of Chris Durham Motorsports, Jessi Combs in her Savvy Off Road EMC KOH race car, and Ned Bacon in his iconic Killer Bee flattie. If you don’t know these names invoke the Googles and learn. They are our heroes and important folks in off-road. Anyways, getting back on task, it’s been a while since we’ve been on Helldorado(…maybe since it was known as Upper Heldorado), although it’s always been a favorite of ours so when we had time to spare and Chris suggested it we said; “heck yea, lets go”. The trail is tough; it’s got sick climbs, twisty cracks, undercut ledges, and huge boulders. Anyone entering should expect breakage and body damage, and bring a winch. The trail is fun and even includes a nearly un-drivable water fall. Can you make it? This is bound to be one of our long time memories of a quick run up Helldorado at the 50th Easter Jeep Safari with three cool rigs and icons and icons in the making.
Photo 2/15   |   001 Heldorado Quick Run
Chris Durham drops into the beginning of Heldorado in his sick low rider JK. This part of the trail requires flex and knowing the right line.
Photo 3/15   |   002 Heldorado Quick Run
From there straddling a huge crack continues to stretch any rigs legs. Get too far to one side and you can slip down into this crack with a crash.
Photo 4/15   |   003 Heldorado Quick Run
Then a quick jog to the left brings you out of those big tire swallowing boulders. Phew if you made it this far without flopping you’re off to a good start, but don’t get lazy the fun has just begun.
Photo 5/15   |   004 Heldorado Quick Run
The next obstacle is interesting. An overhang on the left forces the rig on to the rock to the right. Its tight and chances are good you’ll rub your windshield or roof on that underhang.
Photo 6/15   |   005 Heldorado Quick Run
Hug hard right and keep headed that way. As you crest around the bend a huge rock in the center of the trail loves grabbing tie rods and diffs. Keep the tires turned to the right and as the rig goes up (if it will) the right side of that rock should grab your tire and keep you headed the right way.
Photo 7/15   |   006 Heldorado Quick Run
Then drive up that rock like a ramp. It will try to grab your rear diff and stop you dead.
Photo 8/15   |   007 Heldorado Quick Run
After a short break you come to the next obstacle with two lines. One to the right side (shown) and one to the left.
Photo 9/15   |   008 Heldorado Quick Run
One line to the far right if you’re rig is wide enough means hugging a wall and straddling a huge hole. Falling off the line here could do some serious damage and the climbs are undercut so they can be very hard on axleshafts.
Photo 10/15   |   009 Heldorado Quick Run
The slightly easier line, and one that works better for rigs with narrower axles is to the far left. It involves shinnying up and over a huge sandstone rock that will test your belly clearance and probably hammer your center skid plate pretty hard.
Photo 11/15   |   010 Heldorado Quick Run
From here tire placement helps rigs make it over some huge jagged chert boulders and a few coffin sized blocks of sandstone. Definitely not the hardest part of the trail, but technical enough to mean if you snooze you loose.
Photo 12/15   |   011 Heldorado Quick Run
The next obstacle is a doozy. The Heldorado waterfall. It literally towers over most jeeps and is nearly un-drivable.
Photo 13/15   |   012 Heldorado Quick Run
To drive it, according to Durham, who’s driven it a time or two, stay hard right all the way to the top. You’ll have to hit it and prey near the top. Don’t hesitate to rig up a winch line to a sturdy anchor at the top first to keep you from pirouetting over backwards. It’s a long ways down. It’s hard to see but Durham’s Warn Zeon is hooked up here. Most people winch without trying the climb.
Photo 14/15   |   013 Heldorado Quick Run
Ned and Chris, Heldorado waterfall veterans help Jessie, a Heldorado newbie, winch up the waterfall as most sane people do.
Photo 15/15   |   014 Heldorado Quick Run
The Killer Bee is arguably Ned’s most prized possession. He even ran her in the NORRA Mexican 1000 a few years back. Taking the winch means Ned gets to keep enjoying the Bee rather than risk injury and or huge amounts of damage.

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