We had tried Winding Stairs Road the weekend before, but it was too late and too rainy so we turned around just before the Sluice. This weekend we went back to Rampart Range Road so we could finally complete Winding Stairs Road. It ended up being even more fun and even more challenging than we thought it would be.
We had done some exploring on the way there, so it was lunch time already when we started Winding Stairs Road. We went a little way in and then took a little spur to find a small campsite with no one already there. It made for a great lunch.
We headed down the trail and Trickle came right after the intersection. It was really foggy all day, but it wasn't really raining. There were a few sprinkles sometimes but it was never truly rain. The fog at Trickle was very thick, and it made for some cool pictures. Everyone got nice and flexy at the bottom.
The tippy parts were still tippy and a little nerve wracking, but we made it through just fine.
We snapped some pictures at the second big crack on the way to the last, challenging part of the trail. The fog was still really cool, and it didn't even look like Colorado.
When we got to the Sluice we talked it over for a bit, then Monica headed down first. The rocks at the top were pretty straightforward as you dropped down them and then straddled the crack. Monica got some good flex.
The concern was still the tree at the bottom of the Sluice. Monica's top came to within a foot of the tree, but she didn't hit it or really get that close. It ended up being not too bad at all.
Bill came through the Sluice next and got some awesome articulation out of his suspension. He had his hard top on but he also didn't come dangerously close to the tree at the bottom.
Jeff was the first Unlimited through the obstacle, and he also flexed really well. The tree wasn't a problem for him, either.
Dane came down it without an issue, getting nice and twisted at the top. He breezed right by the tree.
Cheryl flexed her way through the top, then tried to stay far away from the tree at the bottom. The rest of the group had intentionally driven close. She got even more tippy near the tree, which tipped her top over toward it. Still, she didn't really get that close to hitting it.
Cheryl was still finishing up when Mike was halfway down it. He hugged the tree but didn't touch it.
The trail mellowed out and we all had a time to relax and chat on the CB. We were in a slightly tippy section and the trail was a little washed out in front of us. We got out to look, and decided that it wasn't too washed out to cross. Monica took it slowly but made it without sliding in the wet, sandy dirt. Everyone else crossed it in their own way and didn't have an issue, either.
At the top of the final, huge hill we looked at what seemed to be an alternate way down. It was definitely more challenging. In the end, we decided that it was just made from water runoff and it wasn't legal, so we didn't take it. We headed down the hill.
Monica headed around the Rapids switchback and found herself sliding sideways toward the big rock. She tried to go forward but it was no use. The switchback was tilted and steep, and she had to just keep sliding until her sidewalls came in contact with the rock. At that point, she just scraped her way by on rubber.
There were grooves in the dirt of the obstacle, much higher up. Bill tried to stay in those but missed them in the middle, and he slid down too. Everyone tried to give him some weight by standing in various places on his Jeep, but he was going to slide down, too. He barely touched the rock, and then he was through. Then he fell in the big hole just past the switchback, but he got out.
Jeff tried the Rapids next and stayed really high, with all four tires in the grooves. Then he used a bit of momentum at the end, and he missed the rock completely. That's the line!
Dane, Cheryl and Mike followed Jeff's line through the Rapids obstacle and none of them had an issue with sliding. It still brought on a little anxiety, though.
We were enjoying the crazy hill of cracks when we found ourselves at Spillway. Monica was perched at the top when she thought it might be good to have a spotter and someone who had actually seen the obstacle.
The spotters had her back up and reposition, then she came down it. She was still too far over, though, and ended up with her front, passenger-side tire in the crack and her rear, driver-side tire high in the air. She was balancing there, and everyone jumped on the high tire to stop her from going over.
Bill attached a tow strap to her back bumper and his Jeep was an anchor as she worked her way down. It was steep but it all worked out, and she was through. The bottom of the Spillway was pretty loose, but she was finally back on the hardened trail.
Bill had seen enough, and he took the bypass. It was still steep and loose, and it was a controlled slide down.
Jeff tried the Spillway next, making a wide circle at the very top so he came at it almost pointed downward instead of trying to turn in the obstacle. He had a strap on his rear bumper, but he didn't need it. The line was perfect and he came right down it.
Dane came next and turned a bit too soon, and found himself almost where Monica was. His rear tire was high in the air, but Dane just enjoyed himself. It made for some great pictures! He had a tow strap on his rear bumper attached to Cheryl's Jeep, and he came down it safely.
Cheryl declined the strap on her rear bumper, and found a good line. She didn't need any help, just rolling right down the obstacle. Nice!
Mike had seen enough tires in the air, and he took the bypass down this time.
We thought we'd seen the biggest cracks on the way to this point, but the last bit was completely insane. The cracks were huge -- some of them looked like they were five feet deep or so. There was even a section where the cracks formed some whoopdeedoos. It was a blast all the way to the bottom.
Suddenly, we were out in the meadow at the end. We explored a bit to the right but everything was blocked or vehicles were not permitted. We didn't spend too much time exploring, preferring instead to head back up Winding Stairs Road.
We started up, and Monica immediately got her front, passenger-side corner about six feet in the air when she fell in the crack. She turned on her lockers and that proved to be the key.
Dane had the same issue, but he had to really work to get out of it. He couldn't get back to where he was straddling the crack instead of in it. He kept at it, though, and made it through.
No one took the Spillway up -- we all took the bypass. It was too slick and we were ready to keep working our way out. We'll get an earlier start next time so we have time for it.
Jeff put his rear tire in a hole on the way up and really got a wheelstand. He had a hard time getting back on track without flipping himself over, so he used his winch to hold his front end down.
Mike hit the same spot and slid off the other side of the rock next to the hole, and ended up high-centering himself just a bit. He worked on it for just a minute and got himself through.
No one had troubles with the tree in the Sluice, but a few people slid off the rock at the top of it. It didn't end up mattering, though, as everyone had enough clearance to get over the rock.
By the time we got to Trickle we realized how little that crack really is, relatively. Mike even went through it in two-wheel drive. It was funny how our perceptions had changed.
This trail was a blast, and we can't wait to do it again. It would be a lot different if it was dry.
Reports from Other Days: 2
Use the arrows or dots to flip through the previews of the other reports for Winding Stairs Road. Click one of them to read more and see all of the photos from that day.