West coasters: Is the Deer Valley Trail (19E01) open yet? - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
 
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post #1 of 2 Old 08-03-2017, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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West coasters: Is the Deer Valley Trail (19E01) open yet?

So, back at the beginning of July my GF and I made it back to Blue Lakes via Blue Lakes Road and some forest road workarounds, but when we got to the trailhead it was still snowed in. I ran into the campground host and he was surprised to see us, as the paved road was closed and gated, but he was a pleasant fellow none-the-less. I asked about 19E01, but he said nobody had come through yet this summer and that he had tried, but failed to make it very far in his relatively stock CJ7. I said that I knew the trail was due to open this summer and he commented that "people were coming through all last summer" and that though the trail is technically closed "you can't stop people from using the trail". We chatted on a bit and he showed us a great area to have lunch. As an aside, from our lunch spot, we got to witness two Balled Eagles try to steal a fish from an Osprey. Well, the Osprey dropped it's catch and nobody got to eat, but what a spectacle! That was one of life's moments there... After that we headed back out to Hwy 88 and on to the Burnside Lake area. In retrospect, I suppose I should have asked the host for his contact info!

Anyway, I'm planning a trip at the end of the month and thought I'd see if anyone had any info on 19E01. The forest service website still lists the trail as closed, but they're totally unreliable.

Ethan
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post #2 of 2 Old 08-29-2017, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
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Well, we successfully went through 19E01/Deer Valley Trail, between Highways 4 and 88. It's fairly brutal at points and will give anyone a good time. I will say, the trail isn't at all what I had read about, as it gives the Rubicon a run for its money at points, equal in beauty and brutality. The idea that a "slightly modified 4x4" could make it is no longer applicable -- without serious damage. The trail is fairly eroded and rock piles and ruts are a plenty. I did tow my trailer through, but my trailer and JK are fairly modified and handled the task with ease. We high sided during one of the more "fun" uphill, off camber sections and got sideways to the point where the trailer was pretty well jackknifed. So, out came the winch for the first time on this Jeep. 10 minutes later we were on our way. Having that trailer on your butt makes an otherwise easy reverse and reroute into an impossibility at times.

We started at the Hwy 4 Hermit Camp side and were immediately met by Gate Keeper and then a consistently gnarly, mile and a half long, uphill climb. From there the trail winds its way through forests, valleys, and meadows and eventually brings you to Blue Lake. While the trail is technical challenging at points we were able to run the entire trail in about 4 hours, towing our very capable trailer. I ran into a guy in a full-size rig at the beginning of the trial and he got pretty banged up and had run the trail in 6 hours, including a lunch break. Had I left the trailer at home I could see running the trail end to end in 3 hours.

The trail will be closing in September, until next season, and new gates are going up. From what I heard from one of the Blue Lakes camp hosts is that the National Park's hope is to install gates to curtail the off season rescues they have to do every winter. Apparently the helicopter bills are out of control -- or so they say.

Anyway, get out there and enjoy that trail while you can!
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