If you’ve never been out in a four-wheeler before, Ryan Weisenfeld has some advice: go with someone who has. The sales representative for Bruce Titus Olympia Chrysler Jeep is a member of the Capitol City Crawlers, a group of 4 x 4 enthusiasts that routinely takes beginners out for a spin. “We help people get used to it,” says Weisenfeld. “You really need to go with someone who has experience when it’s your first time.”
The area surrounding Thurston County includes several great tracks for 4 x 4s, ranging from relatively easy to quite challenging. For those just starting out, he recommends Tuhuya ORV Park near Belfair. Comprised of 23,000 acres in Mason County, Tuhuya has 84 miles of trails available and makes an ideal place to learn. “That’s where we go when we take customers on runs,” says Weisenfeld. “There are bypasses for every obstacle and a lot of people go there just to observe.” All vehicles will require a Discover Pass.
Located near Buckley, Evans Creek ORV offers 45 miles of trails for more experienced riders. “You need to go with somebody who knows what they’re doing or be prepared to leave the trail,” says Weisenfeld. “There are no bypasses, so once you’re on the trail, you’re committed.” Much of the terrain is steep, although the area includes a few lower end trails, he notes. Visitors will need a Northwest Forest Pass which can be purchased online or by calling 1-800-270-7504.
East of Elbe, the Elbe Hills ORV area is small but challenging, consisting of 8.6 miles of trails built by volunteers. The Busy Wild Trail is widely acknowledged as one of the most difficult in the region, running through a clear-cut area littered with stumps and steep inclines. The nearby campground is free, but reservations are required.
Regardless of which area you visit, it’s important to be prepared, says Weisenfeld. That includes making sure your vehicle is ready to go and bringing plenty of supplies with you. “Depending on what you’re starting with, you’re looking for an aggressive tire,” he says. “You’ll want to have toe straps that don’t have metal hooks, because they can become projectiles.” He routinely takes his tires down to three pounds of pressure when traveling on snow. “It allows you to float on top of the snow,” he explains. “You air up before you hit the street again. Just make sure you don’t take the pressure down too low or the tire can fall off the rim.”
Having recovery points on your vehicle is important in case you get stuck and someone needs to pull you out, he maintains. If your vehicle is beyond repair, you may have to walk out, so quality footwear is critical, along with plenty of food, water, extra clothes and a first aid kit.
The most important thing? “Never go alone,” he says. “Be smart. Get involved with a local club and you’ll find plenty of like-minded people.” And, if you are new to the activity, or are looking to up your game with a new set of wheels, visit Weisenfeld or any of the team at Olympia Chrysler Jeep in the Olympia Auto Mall. They can help you find the perfect 4 X 4 and the perfect trail.
For more information about Bruce Titus Automotive Group, visit www.brucetitus.com or call (360)754-5525.