Never before have we been wheeling at a place with a more ominous reputation… I was not sure if I would even go, I marked “Maybe” under the attendance tab for the event. This place has swallowed vehicles whole, destroyed more engines and vehicles than perhaps any place we know. To make things worse, it rained cats and dog the night before going. This place was also on our Jeeping bucket list as a place to see, but it is also under lock and key. It is not open to public and you must stay with an owner at all times, or be labeled trespassing. I am talking about Suburban Estates, down in Holopaw, Florida. Time to get SUPER MUDDY!!!!
The orange grove road going in was a sign of things to come, we had to engage 4 low just to drive down the dirt road without getting stuck, after passing several big trucks stuck in the road we made it to the gate. Brian our guide and key holder opened the gate and beckoned us to our doom… or so I thought. We took out the 1995 YJ, it sits a bit higher and we already had the doors off and a bikini top on. No AC, no doors and ready to experience whatever the Florida mud could throw our way.
We started across the parking lot area that was a lake the night before. First thing that happened was that our trail leader blew out his front drive shaft … in the parking lot… ok so I am thinking, well at least we might not go extreme. Humm, I would like to say that I was very impressed with what he could get through in 2 wheel drive, it made for some skilled wheeling and rooster tails shooting 25 feet back. I got too close behind him at one point and got plastered with 2-3 inches of mud on the windshield and hood. As we pulled down to the power lines a full size truck with a trailer was in a hole and being pulled out by a side by side. We had been split up into two groups, the lifted and no so lifted. I went for the mild run being slightly apprehensive of flooding my motor out. We don’t have a snorkel on either Jeep. Our first destination was South Beach, it’s the entrance to a long water crossing down the center of a canal/creek. But the entrance was currently blocked by a truck that had gone too deep. Another engine sacrificed to Suburban Estates.
While we were in the South Beach area a scavenger hunt took place, somewhere a can had been painted Cat Yellow and hid in plain sight. If you found it first you won a prize. Across the canal we went and drove up and around on the other side. Fortune favored us, sitting up in a tree I spotted the can. My prize? A tire repair kit and a gift card to Racetrack, SWEET! We had a quick lunch and began heading out to North Beach. On the way we were treated to a few recovery opportunities, not mine, mostly Brian’s. I still can’t get over how much he went through in 2 wheel drive. The watery mud holes were frequent, most around 1 – 2 feet deep. Each hole had a different track to take, some to the right, some to the left. You had to ride close to see where the Jeep in front of you went. Some holes had massive pits and if you were just running through you would be sunk. We tend to ride towards the front of the pack; it makes it a better opportunity to see any wild life. At one point a big Red rat snake was sunning just to the right of the trail. I jumped out and grabbed him as he retreated into a dirt mound made from an old mattress, unfortunately he has too wrapped up on the inside for me to pull him out without harming him. To my regret I had to let him slither into his hole. If you’re a fan you know this was a hard thing to do, a cool find turned lose. The road leading to the North beach area was a muddy mess, how everyone made it though is a testament to what a Jeep can do. Even the stock LJ on the ride made it. The ruts were deep but the mud let your differential cut through without leaving you hanging.
North beach had a different feel then south beach with fewer trees and more of a hang out feel. A Creek with an old school rope swing, lots of side by sides and locals hanging out and cooling off in the creek. After a quick photo op we headed back towards the power lines. More muddy trails, more water holes, and more bogged out roads. We were covered in mud by the end, but had a great time. Thank you to Brian for being a great host and taking us through the legendary Suburban Estates.
Being part of The Orlando Jeep Club gives us plenty of great trail rides with a group of friends who are ready to recover your Jeep if you get stuck, most of the trail rides give opportunities for even stock, off the floor Jeeps to ride along. If you are in the Orlando area feel free to look us up or even come out to a meet and greet at a area Sonic to meet club members.
Matt N Randy
Jeep Enthusiast, Pastor, Photographer, Artist, A husband and wife team that loves going out and seeing God's Creations.