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Independence Trail is brutal! There's no other way to put it. You WILL get body damage. You WILL break something. You WILL push your vehicle to the limits. And, you WILL do this in a measly 1/2 mile stretch. The photos don't even begin to show the difficulty of Indy. If you don't have at least 33" Tires, a winch, crawling gears and a nice selection of spare axles, don't even bother. I felt bad just having my stock XJ within a mile of the trail.
Indy begings with a drop into a boulder field that helps to weed out the vehicles that should be there. Just past the boulder field, driver's are offered an exit route that was difficult enough to break the axle on CJ. For those with enough guts to continue are faced with a 4' drop that managed to bash a little metal on nearly all the vehicles. You can see the severity of the drops in some of the photos. After the drop, a short and rocky downhill test the skills of you spotter. Jon Jacobs and his spotter Grant Barclay of the Colorado XJ Group made it look easy.
Once to the bottom of the hill, the trail neanders past of few more obstacle and leads to a split in the trail. The left goes up the newer Liberty Trail, while the right become Patriot Trail. Patriot is a gruely, unending climb through large boulders and steep banks. The highlight is an obstacle that I call "The Stand," named after Jon Jacob's unique line that, once again, entertained on-lookers. It's not often that you get to see someone balancing on the front tire of an XJ that's 8 feet off the ground.
As you continue up the trial, things get steeper and deeper. The final climb out of the canyon really tested the vehicles. Remember, once into the trail, the minimum towing fee is $350. Make sure you come prepared with extra parts and friends with winches.
I had a great time and met some very nice folks from the Mountaineers and Predator 4x4 Clubs. If anyone has stories or pictures of Independence that they'd like to share, please e-mail me and I'll be happy to post them.
From Colorado Springs, CO you take South Nevada Street south out of town (South Nevada becomes Highway 115). Follow 115 for 20-30 minutes to the North side of Penrose, CO. You'll look for a sign indicating Brush Hollow Reservoir. Take this road West and take your second right on CR 127. Follow this road (you'll be heading North) through a few cattle gates and you'll come to the trail head [Latitude: N38?29.651' Longitude: W105?1.856'].