With 14 Jeep JK Wranglers (about a 50/50 split between 2-doors and 4-doors), 3 TJ Wranglers and even a Mitsubishi Montero Sport along for the ride, this Project-JK run up Lockwood Creek Miller Jeep Trail was by far the biggest turnout we’ve had for an outting to date. And, without a doubt, it was by far one of the best ones we’ve had as well.
As always, we began our trail run by meeting up for breakfast at a local joint close to the trail head. This always gives people a chance to spend some quality time getting to know one another and build friendships in a way that just running a trail alone cannot. And, being that Lockwood Miller Jeep Trail is close to Frazier Park, CA, we decided to eat at a great little cafe that we found online call the Dream Castle Cafe & Bakery. Fortunately for us, the food was delicious, portions huge, parking for all our rigs was ample and they had plenty of seating for everyone in our group out on their patio dining area. Need I say, I would highly recommend this place to anyone and for any reason and will definitely be dining here again.
Now, I have to tell you that this is the first time I’ve had a chance to run Lockwood Miller Jeep Trail since the big fire ripped through this area and overall, I’d have to say that the trail was a lot easier than I remembered it being. Granted, we did run the trail in our new JK and I’m sure that would have made a diffence, but, I’ve run this trail on years where Gatekeeper (the entrance to the trail and first major obstical) was formidable enough that rigs would suffer breaks attempting to climb it. This time around, it was little more than a graded dirt road and one that nobody gave a second thought to. In fact, I’d have to say that the only real obstical on the trail up to Piru Creek even worth mentioning was the small optional rocky climb about a quarter mile up from Gatekeeper. While everyone who attempted it did manage to clear it without any damage, one of the stock Rubicon’s in our group did require a yank out after finding himself high-centered on a boulder but that’s about it. Above and beyond that, everything else was pretty much a cake walk including the long steep climb up from the Yellowjacket trail head and Kabob Hill where a stock 2-door X in our group made it up with very little effort. If I had to guess, I would have to say the fire crews that came through this area to fight the fire must have worked the trail down in an effort to make it easier for them to bring in their equipment. But, who knows for sure.
After a long hard drive through a fire ravaged landscape, choking sooty dust and under an intensely hot sun with no shade to be found anywhere, we finally arrived at Piru Creek which was our lunch destination for the day and final resting stop before our climb back out to civilization via the Miller Jeep Trail. Fortunately for us, this gem of a campsite was spared from the fire and the large trees surrounding it were still adorned with lush green leaves providing a much welcomed umbrella of shade from the merciless sun above. And, maybe the best part of our stop at Piru Creek was the fact that the creek was still flowing with cool clear water in spite of the drought we’ve been having and it offered us a chance to get cleaned up a bit before filling up our bellies and heading out.
As expected, our climb up the Miller Jeep Trail was some of the most technical and challenging terrain we encounted all day and required everyone to climb (no bypasses). But, even at it’s hardest sections, I was pleasantly suprised to see everyone (newbies included) tackle the obsticals they encounted and with very little to no spotting required. I suppose if it weren’t so late in the day by the time we got to this section of the trail, I would have encouraged everyone to take much harder lines but, after 9+ hours on the trail and with the sun going down, I think everyone was pretty much shot and in my experience, that’s when stupid mistakes start to happen. Need I say, I felt it would be better to just be satisfied with everyone making it to the top of the mountain, pose for pics and then call it a day.
Whether the trail was just leveled out for the fire crews or just that the Jeep JK Wrangler makes everything a walk in the park, I’d have to say that this trip up Lockwood Miller Jeep Trail was by far the easiest I’ve done to date. In fact, I think the hardest part of the run was all the waiting around we had to do under the scorching hot sun and choking dust in between obsticals. But, even at that, if I had to do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat. Just having the opportunity to go wheeling with all the great people that came on this run again would be all the reason I need.
If you would like to see a short but great video of our run that was filmed and produced by one of our forum moderators, Matt (aka - doojer) and his cameraman Ken, simply click on the image above or the link below:
Special Thanks: I just wanted to give a big thanks to Matt (aka - doojer) and his cameraman Ken for producing this video of our run and making it available to Project-JK.com. I would also like to thank Trent Riddle for covering this event and for being such a great help to me on the trail. I really appreciate all your efforts. Last but not least, I’d like to thank everyone who joined us on this run. You guys and gals made this trip what it was and I’m grateful to have met and wheeled with all of you.