Off-Roading in New England

I’m on a mission to find good off-roading (or soft-roading) locations in New England. They MUST be out there, somewhere!

Current mood: Determined

Currently listening to: The fan

I’m on a mission.

Go google for off road trails in Massachusetts (or any other state) and you’ll find lots of hits, and you’ll even find quite a few clubs.

But there’s one thing you’ll notice as you browse them – they’re all generally “hardcore” clubs that drive on “hardcore” trails. (See my classification of trails; most of these clubs use the top 3 types.) And they all generally drive modified vehicles – they call them “rigs.” Jeeps, old Blazers and Broncos, old Toyotas and highly modified pickup trucks.

And that’s all fine & dandy, except for one thing: I don’t own such a vehicle. And frankly, nobody I know does either.

So there’s the problem. These clubs cater to the hardcore off-roaders, while people with “regular” or “stock” SUVs and trucks are left without an option. (Many of the clubs are Jeep only, and even those have requirements like big, BIG tires & whatnot.) Let’s consider the types of vehicles I’m talking about:

Subaru Forester

Mitsubishi Outlander

Toyota RAV4

Honda CR-V

Honda Element

Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy

Chevy S-10/GMC Sonoma

Chevy Trailblazer

Chevy Equinox

Chevy Tracker

Toyota Highlander

Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon

Ford Explorer

Ford Escape

Suzuki XL-7

And that’s just a sample. Almost anything with 4WD or AWD as it comes “stock” from the factory is not qualified for those “hardcore” trails, but they are still quite capable dirt-roaders. People with these kinds of vehicles have no club of their own, no place to go off-road. (The reason for this is, for example, in Massachusetts, no vehicle over 1000 lbs is permitted on any state land – i.e. state parks. There are trails for small 4-wheelers across the state, but current laws forbid any cars, trucks, or SUVs on these trails.)

My goal is to create a club – with FREE membership, mind you – so that we have someplace to go. Hopefully members will own land that we can use, and people will know of trails or old dirt roads that we can use – not “hardcore” off-road trails, but moderate trails that, while they don’t require high ground clearance, still require 4WD or AWD and some skilled driving. I mean, we’re just trying to have some fun here after all.

I really want this to become reality, if for no other reason than I want someplace to go off-roading in safety. Trying to find trails on your own is hard, you never know whether the land is public or private, and if the trail has unexpected surprises waiting for you (like big rocks or a deep, muddy stream). Those kinds of things would stop most of the vehicles I mentioned above dead in their tracks (unless you modify them by spending thousands of dollars on big tires and possibly a lift kit).

So dear readers, let’s give this a go, okay? If you know of trails, please post them here. If you drive a small truck or SUV, let me know! Let’s band together & have some fun, okay?

See y’all on the trails (hopefully)…

-Keithius

Outlanding Locations

Some places I have found for Outlanding (soft-roading) that are promising.

Some places I have found that are promising:

  • Behind the old Coin-Op car wash on John Fitch Highway in Fitchburg, next to Colonial West Chevrolet (near Carol’s Dary Bar). Appears to have a large sand-pit.
  • On the northbound side of Interstate 190, before the 117 (?) exit. Near power lines.
  • Near Mt. Watatic, in New Hampshire (exact location uncertain at this point, I’ll have to go there again to pin it down)
  • On both the north & southbound sides of Route 146 in Sutton, under some power lines – near the Honey Dew Donuts shop.
  • Behind the new industrial park on Main St. in Whitinsville, by the junction of Route 146. Only accessable on non-business days.
  • On Fisher road in Fitchburg (uncertain of exact road name, but I will find it again). Looks like a rocky trail leading up & north.

This is all I can think of for now, I may add some more later if I remember something. I’m going to try to keep this list current, so that I know where these off-roading places are!

As an aside, I’ve seen pictures for the Old Florida Road in Florida, Massachusetts. (For a status report on this road, click here to view the PDF.) It’s a very interesting “legal” road that has degraded into an off-road enthusiast’s dream. But, I think it’s too rough for the Keithmobile-D… maybe I’ll be able to tackle it when I have the Keithmobile-E

-Keithius

Outlanding on Ice

No, this isn’t some strange perversion of “Disney on Ice,” it’s truly Outlanding (as in, driving around in my Outlander)… on ice!

No, this isn’t some strange perversion of “Disney on Ice,” it’s truly Outlanding… on ice! Yesterday I called up Tom and we went Outlanding together… found some fun, fun trails, and even discovered a deep-space radar & radio tracking facility run by the MIT labs! I’ll post some pictures of it later; they had some huge antennas there! We saw them from a distance while Outlanding, and we decided to “find” them. What a crazy drive!

The best part, though, was when we went up to New Hampshire and drove around on this huge frozen lake. Now, in Massachusetts it’s illegal to do that, but in New Hampshire – well, “live free or die” kinda sums up a lot about New Hampshire, huh? It was SO cool!!! There were big, BIG trucks parked out on the ice where people were ice fishing; I mean like F-250’s… and there were about 10 snowmobiles racing across the ice on this “road” that someone had literally plowed across the ice! Tom had gone there the night before, and drilled down with a 24″ drill bit, and he didn’t strike water, so the ice was AT LEAST that thick… and you only need 12″ for it to be safe to drive on. Needless to say, I wasn’t worried that my measly 3800 lb Outlander would break ice that was supporting 5000+ lb trucks! We had a BLAST… doing donuts, trying to do an axial spin (came close, might have even done it at one point, it’s harder to do than you might think), and racing across the ice at 50 MPH… which FEELS a hell of a lot faster! Whee! The Keithmobile held up wonderfully, and with my crappy (for winter, anyway) All-Season radials, we were slippin’ & slidin’ every which way. It was TOTALLY coooool.

Of course, all of this fun was slightly hampered by the fact that I DO have a cold at the moment; which sucks, I must say. It’s mostly a cough … but it’s got that “tickle” in the back of your throat that makes you want to cough, even though it doesn’t do any good. It’s awful. And my head is a bit stuffed up too, which makes me a little groggy, but with some Dayquil and plenty of water, I’m OK enough. Still, I try to take it easy.

I did get a chance to try some skid tactics on the ice – the perfect place, since there’s nothing to run into, and it’s plenty slippery! Man, you REALLY have to move your hands FAST on the wheel to recover from a skid! But, at least now that I’ve done it a few times, I feel more confident about handling it. The hardest thing to do is not over-steer, but AWD makes it a little easier. The car just “wants” to go in a straight line!

After that adventure, Tom & I stopped at the IHOP up off of 495, past Lowell, which I had wanted to find for some time. I wasn’t feeling well at this point (it had been several hours since I took my Dayquil, and I was due to take some more), but a couple of glasses of cranberry juice and some food helped give me the energy I needed to get home. I gotta give Tom mad props for coming out with me yesterday; getting out of the house and doing some wild & crazy things was exactly what I needed. Aren’t friends great?

After getting home, I swallowed some pills, grabbed my Finding Nemo DVD and headed down to my mom’s house, where I was expected for dinner. After I got there, who should show up but PJ! So we watched Finding Nemo with my mom, and eventually just got some subs from Harry’s Pizza in Northbridge for dinner. We’re so lazy! It was fun, and I ended up staying there pretty late, but I got home and felt OK, took some Nyquil, watched a little TV (to let it get to work) and then went to bed.

This morning I discovered (after waking up at 9am – early for a weekend) that my friend Jim had called yesterday while I was out. Oops! Sorry Jim!

Today is going to be a quiet day; I’ve got to do the grocery shopping for the week, and get my car washed while it’s still “relatively” warm out. After that, I’ve gotta come home and do the bills which have been piling up all week – can’t get behind in them! Ah well…

On a side note, while I was out yesterday, I got 6 voice mails from work, 2 tickets, and a couple of LiveHelp messages. WTF?? Do people think we’re open on Saturdays or something? Do they need to file their court papers on Sunday before the superbowl or something? I just don’t get it. I’ll deal with THEM later…

Well, that’s all for now. As I said, I’ll post some of the pictures I took later on, but for now, I’ve gotta get down to the car wash. My poor car!! It’s so dirty!!

Adios,

-Keithius

Outlanding

Went exploring today in the Outlander (Keithmobile-D) for fun this afternoon. I was looking for a place to watch the Lunar Eclipse from, but there’s so many “no tresspassing” signs these days that it was hard to find anywhere to go.

Current mood: Happy

Currently listening to: The TV in the other room

Went exploring today in the Outlander (Keithmobile-D) for fun this afternoon. I was looking for a place to watch the Lunar Eclipse from, but there’s so many “no tresspassing” signs these days that it was hard to find anywhere to go. I did get down some … interesting … roads, but the Keithmobile-D ROCKS and I had no fear of potholes, dirt roads, or any other obstacles. It was fun, it made me happy.

In the end I think we’ll just stay here and watch the eclipse from our porch. We have a pretty good view of the moon anyway.

-Keithius