Trail Difficulty Ratings 1-4+


All weather road; 4WD not needed.

1 1/2

Graded road; 4WD may be needed in poor weather.


Unimproved or rarely graded road. 4WD or extra clearance
needed at times, with no special driving skills required.

2 1/2

Road rarely maintained, 4WD, good clearance, low gears
often needed, with some extra care and a bit of driving experience useful.


Road in difficult terrain, rarely maintained, 4WD, good clearance, and low
gears essential, with some driving skill and daring required.

3 1/2

Road in difficult terrain, probably maintained only by occasional users.
Excellent stock truck or utility vehicle required, with considerable driving
skill and daring needed.


Trail either never bladed or badly eroded. Stock vehicles are in jeopardy.
Modifications for improved off-road performance and top driving skills needed.

4 +

It is common to have as many as 10 percent of the vehicles experience
major mechanical failures (gears, axles, driveshafts)
on these trails.

Trail Difficulty Ratings 1-10


Graded dirt road. Dry, or less than 3" water crossing depth. Gentle grades.2WD under all conditions except snow. No width problems,
two vehicles wide.


Dirt road. Dry, or less than 3" water crossing depth. Some ruts. Slight grades, up to 10 degrees. 2WD under most conditions. Rain
or snow may make 4WD necessary. Usually one and a half to two vehicles wide.


Dirt road. Rutted, washes, or gulches. Water crossings up to 6" depth. Passable mud. Grades up to 10 degrees. Small rocks or holes.
4WD recommended but 2WD possible under good conditions and with adequate ground clearance and skill. No width problems for any normal
vehicle. Vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.


Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to
15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available
if less than two vehicles wide.


Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves. Rocks up to 12" and water crossings up to 12" with possible currents. Passable mud. Moderate grades
to 15 degrees. 6" holes. Side hill to 20 degrees. 4WD required. No width problems.


Quite rocky or deep ruts. Rocks to 12" and frequent. Water crossings may exceed hub depth with strong currents. Shelves to 6". Mud may
require checking before proceeding. Moderate grades to 20 degrees. Sidehill may approach 30 degrees. 4WD necessary and second attempts
may be required with stock vehicles. Caution may be required with wider vehicles.


Rocks frequent and large, 12" and may exceed hub height. Holes frequent or deep (12"). Shelves to 9". Mud 8" deep and may be present
on uphill sections. Grades to 25 degrees and sidehill to 30 degrees. Water crossings to 18" and may have strong currents. 1-1/2 vehicles
wide. 4WD required. Driver experience helpful.


Heavy rock and/or severe ruts. Rocks exceeding hub height frequent. Shelves to 12". Deep mud or uphill mud sections. Steep grades to 25
degrees and can be loose or rocky. Water crossings may exceed 30" in depth. Side hill to 30 degrees. One vehicle wide. Body damage
possible. Experience needed. Vehicle Modifications helpful.


Severe rock over 15". Frequent deep holes over 15". Shelves over 15". Mud bog conditions (long, deep, no form bottom). Over 30" water
crossings with strong currents. Steep grades over 30 degrees. Sidehill over 30 degrees. May not be passable by stock vehicles.
Experience essential. Body damage, mechanical breakdown, rollover probable. Extreme caution required.


Severe conditions. Extreme caution recommended. Impassable by stock vehicles. Winching required. Trail building necessary. May be
impassable. Impassable under anything but ideal conditions. Vehicle damage probable. Personal injury possible. Extreme caution necessary.

What To Carry In Your 4x4
and Equipping Your Vehicle

On "Easy" 4WD trips two-wheel drive is usually acceptable with high ground clearance. Four wheel drive (4WD) makes the trip safer and there will be less tire spinning.

"Easy Difficulty" 4WD TRIPS

What you should carry and how your vehicle should be equipped when you leave the safety of the pavement to venture into the backcountry will depend on the difficulty of the trip and, of course, how long you intend to stay. Based on many years of experience I have categorized "What to Carry" and "Equipping Your Vehicle" by trail difficulty. There is no need to carry extra axles on a picnic to a frequently visited campground in your local Forest. This is not meant to be a complete list but rather a place for you to start when you develop your own list.

Vehicle Maintenance Check

Fan belts Hoses, Engine oil, Transmission oil, Brake fluid, Radiator coolant, Seat belts, Tire air pressure (also check spare), Tire wear - 60% worn or better, Basic 4WD Equipment, Basic tool box, First aid kit, Air pressure gauge, Fire extinguisher, DC air pump, Spare tire, Tire jack, Duct tape, Tow strap, Shovel, Tire sealing kit, Rags, Flashlight and extra batteries, 40 channel CB (portable type OK), Trash bag

Additional Items to consider carrying on Easy 4WD Trips

Binoculars, Bottle opener, Cooler cup, Jacket, hat, Pocket knife, Snacks Trash bag, Water, Extra keys, Compass, Sunglasses and/or goggles, Ice and ice chest or cooler, Camera, case, film and batteries, Maps: Sidekick Off Road Maps, state, county, Forestry, BLM Desert Access Guide, etc. Snow tire chains (winter), Tune-up items (i.e., points, plugs)

Basic Tool Box

3/8" drive socket set 3/8" to �" Crescent wrench - small & medium, Electrical tape, Allen wrenches, Pliers, Standard & Phillips screw drivers, Open end/box wrenches 3/8" to 3/4"

"More Difficult" 4WD TRIPS

On More Difficult Trips 4WD, low air pressure, and some experience driving off road is best. For experienced ATV & motorcycle drivers only.

Additional items to carry on more difficult trails

40 channel walkie talkie (as spare CB)Hydraulic jack or Hi-Lift Jack, Off highway lights: non-street legal type, Tools, Extra flashlight, Grease, Gloves and hand cleaner, Jumper cables, Tire star wrench, Full size shovel, WD-40 spray, Brake fluid, Power steering fluid, Motor oil, Bungie cords, Extra gas & funnel, Short strap or chain with no hooks on either end: use caution when attaching to vehicles.

Expanded tool box

Spare Parts For Trail Repairs, Bring anything that's broken twice, Electrical wire #16, #10, Lug nuts, Assorted nuts & bolts, Valve stem, Fuel line hose, Radiator hose, Front hub or flange, Spark plugs, Coil/electronic ignition, Tire repair kit, Fan belt (water pump), Tie wraps, Electric fuel pump, Fuses, U-joints (drive shaft & axles), Radiator stop leak - silver flakes in tube, Larger special application nuts (i.e., back of transfer case on Jeeps), Extra spark plug wire - 2 of longest

Vehicle Upgrades

Tires: upgrade to 31"
Adjust air pressure - check with mfgr. - we use:
Sand/Dirt: 8-12 lb.; Rocks/Dirt: 15-18 lb.
Snow/Mud: depends on tire tread
Lift kit only if required for 31" tires
Front tow hook
Rear hitch or tow hooks
Skid plates under transmission/transfer case
Rear posi-traction recommended

"Most Difficult" 4WD TRIPS

Four wheel drive vehicles with a rear locker is required. In addition a locker or limited slip in the front differential make the drive safer. Low air pressure, roll bar, off highway experience, and a buddy vehicle are important. Plus: "You can never whimper over body damage." ATVs and motorcycles the "Most Difficult" routes are for experienced ATV & M/C drivers.

Optional hard parts you may consider carrying for "Most Difficult" trails

Axles, Alternator, Transfer case, Spindle Bearings, Drive shaft, Spider gears, Ring & pinion, Starter & solenoid, Tie rods & ends

Expanded Tool Box

Deep sockets 3/8" � �", Lock tight, Large crescent wrench, Breaker bar, Spark plug wrench, Magnet, Cotter keys - various sizes, Files: flat & round, Large channel locks, Silicone - RTV, 2 sizes of pipe wrenches, C-clamps, Cotter keys - various sizes, Valve stem remover, Voltage meter or test light, Larger sockets, Battery terminal cleaner (wire type), Electrical connectors - crimp type, �" drive set w/smaller socket sizes, Metric sockets 10mm, 12mm (3/8" drive), �" drive ratchet w/larger socket sizes, Tube wrenches: �" �", 9/16", 5/8", 11/16", Welding rod & hood Winch Kit: Tree strap, Hi-lift jack, Snatch block, Pickle fork, Shackle, Gloves

Extended Maintenance

Checklist U-joints Brakes Loose bolts or nuts Shocks Grease: Steering/U-joints Gear oils: transfer case/differentials

Additional Vehicle Upgrades for "Most Difficult" trails

* Tire upgrade to 33" - 35"
* Buy additional sets of tires/wheels:
* Sand: paddle tires on wide rims Mud/Snow/Rock: 8" rim with radical tread
* Dirt/Light Sand: 10" rim with milder tread
* Lift kit: as required for taller tires
* Rocker panel protection
* CB radio (with sideband for max. reception)
* Skid plates under spring pads
* Rear locker required
* Front locker or limited slip recommended
* 8,000# winch or stronger (install on/off switch)

Rubicon lockers in high range !

I heard a few guys talking about running rubi lockers in any gear.

Well I did it. It costs a dime and takes 15 Minutes to do. Pull the dash upper trim and take out the 2 screws there. Snap off the center dash panel. Remove the four screws holding the swith panel in place. on early rubicons look for the red wire with white stripe. on the 05 Rubicon look for the violet wire with the orange stripe. Right next to that wire behind the switch is a black wire. bridge the 2 wires with a 10 cent trailer tap splicer. you know the little 3M blue splicers.

Now your locker switch thinks the jeep is in 4 lo all the time.

If you dont think its safe dont do it. I am now able to lock the rear locker in 2 wheel drive when pulling out of the slippery wet boat ramp. I will be able to use the lockers if I feel like it in the snow now also.

I am not questioning the manufacturer for making the switch the way they did. For me this way is preffered. If you dont think its a good idea dont do it.

Unknown author

Freakshow, (Bob)

Jeep stands for,
Just Empty Every Pocket