Let’s see what this year has brought in the way of jeep rides. We started off the year with a new years day ride to North Ocala at the Hard Rock off Road Park. It was cold, wet and had just rained. We left Kissimmee with temps in the high 50s; by the time we arrived it had dropped to the mid 40s. Hard rock provides a chance to test the Jeep on hills and mud. We slid down some hills and spun up some others. The mud was like peanut butter sticking to the tires. Driving the 2007 with street tires up and down hills without getting stuck gives you a big confidence boost in what a Jeep can do. We may have not gotten stuck, but it did convince me to spend that bonus check on the mud tires she now rides on.
From that point on it was off to Bartow Florida, preparations were being made for the Jeepin’ with Judd event at the Clear Springs Ranch that was coming at the end of February. The Orlando Jeep club has hosted the trail rides for this event for the last 4 years. They started off with finding some of the old trails and checking on the conditions. At the end of January the first test trial runs were made. 70+ Jeeps and there was plenty of brown grass and bumpy trails. Bumpy is an understatement. With the lack of tracks it was easy to get lost when it came to sticking to the route. After a good beat down over the next 4 weeks it was pretty easy to see where the trails went. The grass had turned green and spring was in the air. This Jeep only event has trails that are specially made to the size of Jeeps. The Cowpen was a narrow and often angled ride through tight spots lined with pine trees. Winding around the small ponds and slopped with a lot of trees and brush, you will be challenged to keep the side of the Jeep off the trees. Some failed. One guy lost his rear fender to an off camber obstacle, another hit a tree and bent his steering rod. This was my favorite trail. The easy trail for the year was a scenic ride around the Clear Springs ranch that could be done by any stock Jeep even in 2WD around 45 min of cows, birds, and gators winding around and up and down mild hills. From there they had three moderate courses, the grasslands, the Bottomlands, and the fore mentioned Cowpen. The Shire was the stock course with plenty of moguls and winding trails across the property.
After that the courses went up to the next level. Moderate to hardmoderate; The Ridge and Safari offered a bit more opportunity to test the limits of your Jeeps suspension and a chance to get hung up on a ridge. Hog’s Root, Twin Rock and an obstacle course also were offered. Don’t forget The Sandbox, a place to get stuck. Lockers were a plus. For a full list of trails please visit the Jeepin with Judd web site. (See link below.)
We made some videos of our trail rides and tests with the Jeep Club. Overall it was an impressive event and in total 6067 Jeeps were taken out to ride the trails during the three day event. Two Grand Cherokee Trailhawks that we took out to the Grasslands were a BIG surprise. I expected that we would be pulling them out of some of the holes, but to everyone’s amazement they just moved through the course without any assistance. Hats off to these guys, you impressed us all. It was a super dusty three days and the people at the front of the starting line deserve huge thanks for all the hard work that was done in the “DUST BOWL” of 2018. The crew pulled off a pretty big feat with keeping everyone moving by scheduling who will be where and when even people trying to stop traffic so the packs could get through. Everyone played a big part. Cows, did we mention cows? It’s a working cattle ranch. 18,000 acres of property and we only trailed on 2000 of it.
If you live in the Orlando area take some time to go to a meet and greet with the Orlando Jeep Club. See the web link below to see when and where. They do trail rides and events every month and the dues are worth every penny. We joined last November and have had a good time with the crew each time we head out. Nothing is more exhilarating as riding down the road with a group of 25 some odd jeeps in a line up pulling on and off the road.
Matt N Randy
Jeep Enthusiast, Pastor, Photographer, Artist, A husband and wife team that loves going out and seeing God's Creations.