Cliffhanger Trail – Discount Tire Rally on the Rocks 2014
Trail Ride May 15, 2014
After the Discount Tire drivers meeting with free coffee, donuts and a surprise raffle we lined up at the Old Spanish Trail Arena and awaited a police escort to take us to the Cliffhanger Trail.
With the sun reflecting off the mountains in the background it was great to see people milling around, talking to fellow riders and anxiously waiting for the ride to start.
As we arrived at the Clifhanger trail head there was a huge line of side by sides going by for different trails. It’s awesome to see so many off road enthusiasts getting out and enjoying the trails together.
At the start of Cliffhanger there are a series of large ledges that lead down to a creek at the bottom of the canyon. After crossing the creek, the trail can quickly justify the common 7 out of 10 difficulty rating many off road authorities claim.
On our ride, a Polaris RZR 4 1000 ahead of me was attempting to climb a steep waterfall. He took the wrong line and flopped over, landing hard on the driver’s side door. Thankfully he kept his arms inside the vehicle and was not injured. After getting him out of his RZR our group worked together to figure out how to get him back on his wheels quickly. Luckily there was only minor cosmetic damage and the vehicle was able to continue.
Moments later, one of our Discount Tire vehicles attempted a slightly easier line but the left rear tire smashed hard into a protruding rock puncturing the tire and bending the lower trailing arm badly. This was not a good way to start the day. Not wanting to hold the group up, we decided to park the vehicle out of the way and come back for it later.
This trail has many obstacles to test both man and machine but the one that is most feared is near the edge of the main cliff. There is a steep stair step that is just feet away from a several hundred foot drop off. Going down isn’t too bad but coming back up can be challenging.
If you have a fear of heights this trail may not be for you.
Like the Poison Spider Mesa Trail, the Cliffhanger Trail ends with a loop that brings you back to the trail head where you began. The turn around spot is a perfect place to stop for lunch. Some daring souls stood at the edge of the cliff to peer down at the ground below. It is an eerie feeling and it makes you want to hold your breath.
During our lunch stop I noticed this creative use for a small tactical style trail bag that we handed out.
After lunch we started making our way back to the Cliffhanger trail head and as suspected the steep stair step on the cliff edge proved to be challenging. A Can-Am 4 – 1000 was the first to have a problem. While maneuvering the steps he bent a tie-rod. The driver and some helpers tried to straighten it out but the tie rod was now too weak. After bolting it back in the vehicle moved about one foot before the tie rod snapped in half. With no spare parts and no other options the vehicle had to be left until spare parts could be brought back from town. Fortunately, we had some extra seats for them to get back to the trail head.
As we continued along the trail a few other machines ran into problems also but we were able to keep them moving.
As we made it back down to the creek we stopped and picked up the Polaris RZR 4 900 that we left earlier in the day. Our guys had to put some plugs in the flat tire so we could limp it back to the trailer with its broken trailing arm.
Just behind us, the last RZR up the hill had just one wheel drive but with some helpful winching from a participant he made it out safely.
When we got to the road the trailer and a little bit of playful taunting was waiting for us. This ended up being a long day for such a short trail but it always puts a huge smile on my face when I reflect on how everyone pitched in to help without complaint.
Below are some additional photos from our excellent adventure on the Cliffhanger Trail. Enjoy!!