Dan Lee

Trail Reviews: 2200 points
Questions Answered: 0 points
Off-Road Experience:
6+ years
Off-Road Style:
Dirt Roads, snow, rocks
My Garage:
Nothing in garage
Learned to 4x4 in elementary school on back roads in Western NC w/ my father in a '88 stock Jeep Cherokee. Passion continued by hitting muddy fields on the farm growing up, and still exists today. 2020 F-250 Long bed, extended cab isn't so great for offroading due to size. 2.0 Fox Racing shocks and 35" BFG KO2s help make it a little more civilized once off pavement. I primarily run ATVs for the actual trails...if you break your highway rig, you're in a bad spot. If you break your toy, you hike/hitchhike back to the truck and then figure it out, but at least you're not stranded! Currently beating up: '08 Polaris Sportsman X2 (up-sized to 27" UTV tires) '17 Can-Am Outlander stock (26" A/Ts) '20 Polaris RZR Fox Racing edition on up-sized 27" tires and a 1/2" UHMW full body skid. Prefer avoiding the challenges that risk breaking the vehicle and the crowded "Instagram" spots, look more for those access roads that few people use to avoid the crowds and four-wheel at my own pace exploring the back country and dispersed camping. Enjoy testing out trails in winter too, seeing how much different they are once buried in snow, so 4x4ing continues year round!

My Trail Reviews (8)

(within last 6 months)
Saints John (10/04/2020)
Only ran from Montezuma SB to the rock ledge seen in waypoint #4. Was riding solo in a little trail width SXS, no lift or a-arm extensions, so didn't feel like risking it going too far. Road was rocky, completely manageable. High clearance stock 4x4s (Xterras, Wranglers, 4-Runners, Tacos) should be fine long as you don't act foolish. Some slopes were a little steep, but even a quad should be fine here with an experienced rider with no issues. Minimal traffic on the mountain, saw 3-4 other SXSs, couple of Jeeps, nothing else. Weirdly quiet for being that close to Denver in perfect weather on a weekend. If you OHV it from Montezuma, MVUM suggests you have to go a half mile up Saints John road before it's "legal," though I saw other people who just unloaded at the edge of town. There are a couple of large generous turnoffs on the switch backs you can park and drop ATVs once you're in the legal area. First half is pure alpine forest, really nice. Then once you're above the treeline it's full on tundra. It was ~60F for temps, but soon as the wind picked up I ended up throwing a flannel over my tank. Lots of great places with 360 degree views you can pull over, drop some chairs, and chill out if you don't mind the wind. As mentioned, please don't go off trail or mess with the collapsed mine ruins.
North Fork Swan River (09/13/2020)
One thing to note (I learned the hard way) that Middle Fork has a higher rating here, but the description suggests it's actually the easier. I mistakenly took North Fork thinking it would be easier, and didn't feel comfortable completing it. The rocky hill ascent was very steep/rough and I more than once ended up with both passenger tires in the air with some roll over vibes. Turned back since I was going solo. Already getting some snowfields forming up on top, nothing more than a foot deep as of 13SEP2020, but another good storm and there may be some there for the season. Now aside from calling it early in the favor of discretion, the ride up the mountain to the old cabin up on top was fun and intense, weather was great, views were excellent. Some of the large unavoidable rocks will give any stock full-sized rig a run for their money. I ended up high centered a couple of times for a second or two until I slid off. 1/2" UHMW full body skids were a life saver. Disclaimer on my experience: I was in a little trail-width RZR, so a ~4x8' total footprint and 10" of suspension travel was partially why there were some harrowing moments. Easy to avoid obstacles and pick a nice line, but off-camber and steep slopes get concerning quickly. Only saw other full size RZRs out who also ran the hill up on top without much difficulty. If I'd read reviews about the tree being down, would've brought a chainsaw for it since the bypass is getting used kind of heavily and showing signs of wear. It's not currently safe to bypass in a highway legal full sized rig, and is tight even for SXSs.
Crooked Creek (09/05/2020)
~Note for OHV riders: there's confusing signage and contradictory MVUM information out there. There's an unload/air down area about another mile or so past the cattle guard/gate/fenced area, even though there's national forest signage which can make you think you're already on the OHV legal forest service roads!~ Overall a really nice trail, as noted there are some rock garden areas further in with large embedded rocks that will bounce you all over the place. OHVs can easily just pick around them, but stock vehicles on lower clearance may have some damage or real problems. Stream crossing was long and shallow, nice way to splash through and cool down. On the confusing/contradictory signage note, about the last 1/4-1/2 mile or so, there's another sign that suddenly says OHVs are illegal, even though the MVUM shows you can go all the way up the old road legally on them *past* where the road ends and is blocked off...so may be some legacy of when White River NF wasn't very OHV friendly. Not sure. Views up on top are great, loads to explore. There's a small stream by where the road ends, and some primitive camp sites scattered about, not very heavily used. Seems to be a bit of a local gem, minimal traffic on the trail on Labor Day weekend.
Brown's Pass (09/04/2020)
Hit Brown's Pass and some of Breakneck once it gets into the valley over near Twelvemile creek. Nice road, good for stock 4x4 rigs or lightly built ones. Are some pretty steep slopes/chutes that can be a little exciting on ATVs, but slow and steady in a truck or SUV shouldn't cause much concern. Actually had a mechanical issues with a quad and took my stock long bed (8' box + ext cab) F-250 up via Breakneck to retrieve it with no damage done. Figure a stock F-250 is about the worst you can have on trails like this, so not a bad option for novice folks looking for more off roading experience with low risk. Was able to get a campsite at nearby Fourmile Campground as well, good option if you have a camper or need something w/ USFS approved fire pits during the Stage I ban. Lots of fun easy trails in the area, and super scenic as well.
Clohesy Lake (08/15/2020)
As noted, you can't quite make it to the old gate anymore. Avalanche from 2019 wasn't cleared for 2020 season, though there's a short well worn hiking trail to hoof it in. Minimal turn around spot at the very end, so keep that in mind if you have a particularly long truck. Trail was about a 3-4 difficulty in a trail width (50") stock SXS on just 11-12" of clearance. Bumped the skids a couple of times, but no marks. No traction issues, though as noted if you have low clearance and open diffs the initial steep/rocky climb out of the stream crossing at the start may give you trouble. In mid August, there was maybe a foot of water at the deepest points, a little bit sloshed up to the floorboards of the RZR when going at decent pace. You probably want 32-33" tires on highway legal vehicles just due to all the steep erosion control ridges that are a constant on the road to avoid dragging, unless you're particularly short wheelbase. Probably about a dozen off-road vehicles were camping over the weekend, which isn't bad at all for Colorado during C19. Great views of the lake at the end, we just hoofed in our gear the last 0.2 miles or so. Take is pretty algae-filled and mucky along shore, but great fishing and boating opportunities! Handful of rarely used dispersed sites around the lake, both exposed and in the treeline.
Bill Moore Lake (07/11/2020)
Fully clear and dry, albeit w/ snowpack at the top. Pretty heavily trafficked, so be aware of folks coming and going. Beautiful views on top as always, have run the trail in a stock pickup and in 4-wheelers. Just have to be careful with your approaches at times. Currently Stage II fire ban, so not much camping appeal, though fun for a day trip. Lake was tepid and refreshing to wade in.
Jones Pass (07/06/2020)
Beautiful as always, and still blocked at the top till at least August this year. Some unofficial trail expansion from people trying to get around drifts, unfortunately. Looking at snowpack at the pass, likely another 4 weeks or more before it's clear depending on weather.
Crescent Lake (07/03/2020)
Great trail, ran it on a Can-Am Outlander. Probably closer to a 4-5 difficulty rating than a 6, but it helps having an OHV with more approach angles/lines than a full-size highway legal vehicle. Will definitely challenge the best of stock 4x4s. Wasn't crowded at all on July 3rd, only saw 3 SXS's (all RZRs) on the trail that made it to the end. Great way to get a taste of the Flat Tops without the traffic, though you're pretty limited to this road and not much else in the area. If you have the clearance for the trail, you have the clearance for the water crossings, though may get splashed. As always, stay the trail. There are well defined long-term bypasses to some of the worst curves and slopes, and then there are some very clearly new unofficial ones that shouldn't have been made.