Just like Jack Hammer, the trail consists of waterfalls, massive rocks, and areas where you have to set-up for following obstacles. This trail is for the adrenaline junkies and the people that want to do the extreme. Sledge Hammer will likely leave its mark on even the most built rigs with the most experienced drivers. Planning, spotting, and patience will be required to complete the trail. For a trail like this, it is never-ending major obstacles that are just feet away from each other. There are no breaks or rest spots on this trail, once you are in the rocks, it is like that to the mailbox at the top. This guide covers what we feel like are some of the most important obstacles to plan for, but note, even the obstacles on this trail that might not be as hard could easily roll a vehicle over or break someone. Planning is important, and spotting is critical.
This trail is only for the highly experienced to extreme drivers with a well-built rig and strong roll cages. Do not attempt this trail alone and do not attempt this trail unless you have recovery gear, spare parts, and a group of at least 3 vehicles.
Flash floods can happen in this canyon. Never enter if rain is in the area.
1. Trailhead - Sledge Hammer
At the base of the trail is a sign letting you know to either go right for Sledge or left for Jack. Once you pass the sign, be prepared for you and your vehicle to never be the same again. These are some of the most extreme offroad trails trails in the nation and for a good reason.
Not far up the trail, you get to the first waterfall. This v-notch waterfall is about 4-5 feet tall and can easily put a vehicle on its side. There is a catch to this waterfall that you have to see to understand. And that is the straight line up this will not work. Each vehicle has to take what line will work for them if they want to go up this.
Just after this spot is a right turn you have to setup for when going through the v-notch waterfall. It is important you do this obstacle correctly in order to setup for the next spot just feet past this.
3. Plaque Rock
What might be the only official named obstacle on the trail. Plaque Rock is a tough one. With about 7 feet of vertical climb and on top of that it is undercut, this is one of the hardest obstacles on the trail. There are a few lines that work, but it is easy to rollover or break here. Extreme caution needs to be used.
The easier line is on the right side (8-Rating) which you have to s-turn up the rock. This is a dangerous line because of the increased risk of rollover. Thus the 9-Rated line, even though harder is the safer line.
The next obstacle is deceptive in nature, the harder looking line is often easier because of the increased traction, while the easier looking line doesn't provide much traction making it hard to get it up.
5. Go Right - Mailbox and JackConnector
Once at the top of the canyon is a mailbox. This is pretty much the end of the original Sledge Hammer Trail. This is a great spot to take a break, relax, and discuss the victories and losses.
If you really wanted to, you could camp in this area due to it being an large open area that could easily fit a large group.
You didn't think the fun was over yet did you? This large waterfall is a great challenge, people have made bypasses around it now so it isn't required.
7. Stay Right for Exit or go left for 3rd Canyon
The original exit to sledge is on the right while if you want to go do the 3rd Canyon, you can go left.
8. Fissure Mountain Trailhead - Stay West
This is the trailhead to Fissure Mountain which the trail splits off and goes up the hill. You want to continue straight or to the right to stay on Sledge Hammer.
From this point, you can go straight up to the overlook or make a right on the less-traveled path and which also goes to the overlook.
9. Top of the Mountain
After heading around the corner you get to a great lookout point. Here you can see Johnson Valley in almost its entirety. This is a cool spot to take photos and check voicemails.
The area is also open enough for camping if you are looking to camp away from everyone. But getting up here isn't easy, even coming in the back way.
10. Sand Hill Straight or Optional Rock Crawling East - Go Straight
Near the end of the trail is a rather steep downhill section that is a combination of sand and rocks. The hill is getting very torn up and is quickly becoming an obstacle that people are not liking. There is an option route around it that involves some rock crawling just to the east that might be easier when going up it. When going down, the sandhill isn't as hard as the rock crawling but people often choose to go that route because of how intimidating the sandhill is.
This is also shared with Fissure Mountain Trail thus what is probably the hardest obstacle that is part of that trail network.
The 3rd photo shows the rock crawling route on the left side.
11. Trail End
The trail ends at the bottom of a sand hill not very far from where you started.