GOOD VIBES IN NORTH COUNTRY
The 4x4 trails near Ardberg, ON, proved challenging but they were no match for these hardcore wheelers.
Several friends and I were excited to get out wheeling and try some of the trails in the Ardbeg region when fall was at its peak and before the frigid temps and heavy snow blanketed the region. After getting the wheels in motion – so to speak – we made a plan for a day trip with a group consisting of Randy in his ‘20 Jeep Rubicon Gladiator; Mike in his Jeep ‘84 CJ7; Darrel in his ‘06 Jeep TJ Rubicon; Brian in his ‘97 Jeep TJ Wrangler; and myself in a project Ford ‘99 Super Duty.
Our meeting place was the Loggers Station House Restaurant in the village of Ardbeg, about three hours north of Toronto near Parry Sound. This is the site of the old station along the CN Rail line and trains still pass by daily. The restaurant serves food (take out only at the time of publication), fuel, and other essentials. Hours of operation may also vary so be sure to check its website prior to your visit.
After airing down our tires, we drove west along Clear Lake Road and once we were among the power lines, we turned north onto a winding trail. These trails have been graded and maintained by the area’s cottage association and provide numerous opportunities to test your vehicle’s capabilities on the many rock ledges, boulders and hills.
Randy had been out on the trails earlier in the season with his Gladiator Rubicon and was excited to be running them again. His pickup has a relatively longer wheelbase, which meant he would be choosing some slightly different lines than the group’s CJ or TJ’s. In fact, he logged his 20,000th km (12,427 mi) on the odometre during this run, and to hit it on the trail was a smile-producing mile marker.
Fall is a great time to go off-roading here.
In addition to the bright fall leaves and pristine lakes, terrain normally hidden by vegetation in the summer was now visible. The area is notable for its spectacular vistas in nearly every direction, and the powerline right-of-way offers unobstructed views from various hilltops.
The standing water levels on the trail were much higher than the last time I was here. Both Darrel and Brian had snorkels on their rigs, but we generally avoided the deepest parts by staying near the edge of the water crossings. My SuperDuty was performing well although the large hood made it a challenge to see obstacles (and avoid them). Nevertheless we were feeling pretty good about the day - up to this point.
That was until we came to a section of the trail that looked relatively harmless. I was driving cautiously when forward momentum suddenly ceased. I put the truck in reverse and