The 4x4 trails near Ard­berg, ON, proved chal­leng­ing but they were no match for these hard­core wheel­ers.

- Words and Pho­tos by Quin­ton Neufeldt Ardbeg · General Purpose · Jeep Wrangler · Toronto · Parry Sound · China · The Canadian National Railway · Clear Lake, Iowa

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

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Fu­el­ing and air­ing down in Ard­beg.
Fu­el­ing and air­ing down in Ard­beg.
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Dar­rel’s TJ Ru­bi­con. We stayed close to the edges on more ex­treme wa­ter cross­ings just to be safe.
Dar­rel’s TJ Ru­bi­con. We stayed close to the edges on more ex­treme wa­ter cross­ings just to be safe.
 ??  ?? Randy’s ‘20 Jeep Glad­i­a­tor Ru­bi­con.
Randy’s ‘20 Jeep Glad­i­a­tor Ru­bi­con.

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