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I just returned from a week in Ouray and while there I drove Black Bear Pass and I have some questions for those of you that have driven that trail. I don't know how much the trail changes year to year, I do most of my wheeling in Utah where the trails can change day to day, so please take that into account when answering if you know that it was more difficult last year or whatever.

My FJ is essentially stock, it's not lifted and the only aftermarket parts that impact trails are the BudBuilt rock sliders that installed. No extra skid plates, no extra nothing for trail work. My tires are 265/75r16 Michelin Defender LT's. When offroading I typically run them at 20 psi and have never had a flat or an issue to speak of, though they are definitely not the greatest mud tires ever. I've been offroading for a little over 2 years but I go often, Utah gives a lot of opportunity to explore the back country.

I typically wheel alone and I tackled Black Bear Pass that way. I tried joining the local Jeep club but it didn't suit me, I found the members unhelpful and reckless. On the first outing the leader of the drive, the experienced one, nearly ripped his roof rack off his vehicle and subjected us to signficant rock shelves. I was second in line on that drive and he would regularly speed off and leave me leading the group. Just wasn't my thing. So I started going off on my own, my wife and I, and going at my own pace, increasing the difficulty of the trails as we went and learning our lessons.

My questions about Black Bear Pass are really because I wasn't with anyone and didn't have anyone to ask questions of afterwards. So I'll turn to you guys, who drive a similar vehicle and so can give me the benefit of your wisdom and experience on that trail. I'll say that I thought the steps were the nastiest piece of trail I've been on. I found it to be exceedingly rocky, tippy in a couple of places, the truck came down hard once and I gouged the factory skid plate 6 or 8 times. In spite of everything I just couldn't seem to find a line where I wasn't scraping fairly often. So that's really my question to all of you, did you experience similar things on the steps? If not, to what do you attribute it to driving a better line, having an upgraded vehicle (lifted, bigger tires, etc.), a lot of experience on these types of trails, or what? I know that everyone will save driving is important and I understand that, I'm curious if dragging on that portion of the trail is common or if I just did it wrong.
 

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Well, I've never driven Black Bear Pass, so these comments are worth exactly what you paid for them. The 3" OME lift with taller tires has made a significant improvement on my FJ. It gives the vehicle the proper stance and clearance a 4X4 should have leaving the showroom.
The FJ in a 4X4 configuration sits to low as it came from Toyota in my opinion, as do most ALL of the current 4X4's available today.
Climbing and/or dropping off a shelf would be the STOCK FJ's weakest point in my opinion due to its 2 wheel drive like stance.
Like you, I don't carry around a spotter, even so, if the vehicle doesn't have the clearance its going to be hitting something while dealing with shelves.
 

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the number one problem with the steps, is people try to get to close to the wall. And that makes everything rougher

I have taken many stock vehicles down Black Bear, and have heard some scrapes, but normally nothing.

There is a relatively smooth line just off center. the next time you do it, you will most likely see it.

three years ago the 3rd switch back was washed away, and had just been repaired. That is the only time in 10 years of leading that trail, that I was concerned, and of course had to have an extended cab Tundra on it with me.

Normally, the difficulty of Black Bear is just getting over all the horror stories people always bring up. It really is not that difficult of a trail, but the passenger view is a lot worse/better than the drivers. Pretty safe on the driver side it seems. Have had a lot of screamers on the trail.
 

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I have run Black Bear a number of times..

I am stock other than running 285's which gives a bit of a lift.
This was the first year (with the help of a GREAT spotter) that I didnt drop in that last hole before the right hand turn coming down the steps.
Unless you are running 35's and/or 3+ inch lift, you will likely bump and scrape. Taking it slow, will make sure no real damage is done.

Black bear is more a mental thing, than really difficult. (I think Poughkeepsie is more difficult (and not just the "WALL"))
 

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I typically wheel alone and I tackled Black Bear Pass that way. I tried joining the local Jeep club but it didn't suit me, I found the members unhelpful and reckless. On the first outing the leader of the drive, the experienced one, nearly ripped his roof rack off his vehicle and subjected us to signficant rock shelves. I was second in line on that drive and he would regularly speed off and leave me leading the group. Just wasn't my thing. So I started going off on my own, my wife and I, and going at my own pace, increasing the difficulty of the trails as we went and learning our lessons.
I wouldn't fault an entire club for the actions of one trail leader, although your experience does align with how I've seen most Jeep groups operate. Especially as the trucks get older (cheaper) and the trail leaders get younger.

And I definitely wouldn't recommend going anywhere new without at least one other truck with you. Once you're familiar enough with a place to know where the obstacles are (to limit the risk of driving mistakes) or how much traffic there is on the trail (you can hitch-hike) then I'd consider it, but going to a new place alone is a bit risky. This isn't an indictment of your experience or your vehicle, it's simply an awareness that there are a million bad things that can happen on the trail and most of those bad things are improved greatly by having a second truck with you.

So consider hanging around whatever local club you have until you meet a couple of people who are built roughly the same as you, who have roughly the same tolerance for trail difficulty as you. Make some friends locally and do small 2-3 truck runs with them. If you're going somewhere far away, contact a local club and see if anybody wants to go on a run (Colorado FJ Cruisers does this for people coming in from out of state).

Above all: most of the places where most of us go aren't covered by cell phones, and you really want to minimize the odds of you having to walk out of somewhere like that.

I found it to be exceedingly rocky, tippy in a couple of places, the truck came down hard once and I gouged the factory skid plate 6 or 8 times. In spite of everything I just couldn't seem to find a line where I wasn't scraping fairly often. So that's really my question to all of you, did you experience similar things on the steps? If not, to what do you attribute it to driving a better line, having an upgraded vehicle (lifted, bigger tires, etc.), a lot of experience on these types of trails, or what? I know that everyone will save driving is important and I understand that, I'm curious if dragging on that portion of the trail is common or if I just did it wrong.
Your factory skid is not designed to hold the weight of the truck, that's more for a car in front of you kicking up a rock that would take out your oil pan or you driving over a stick that could pop up and poke something soft. Point being, hitting the factory skid isn't really an indication of anything other than "that was really close, I should get some better skidplates".

I've done Black Bear at Summit 4 times, every time I drop into that tippy spot and every time the truck slides. Doesn't matter how slow it's going, 1st gear / Low, on the brakes, nothing. Drop, slide. The trail is skinny enough at that spot that there aren't a lot of choices on line, don't drive off the mountain is your line :rofl: and gravity takes care of the rest.

Having a lift, bigger tires and armor would have made this trail a little less stressful. If you're looking at using your FJ offroad a lot, mods are essential to increase your truck's clearance and keep you from damaging the truck. A 3-inch lift and 33-inch tires are pretty much the baseline for FJ's, anything less is a lot of work for not much benefit. Going to 35's starts to cause other issues that are mainly justified by how hard the trails are that you do, so I would start at 33's and go to 35's with your next set if you think you need them. Don't look at armor as a way to get over very hard obstacles (some people do), look at armor as insurance in case you misjudge something or slip off a rock or slide into something. That's skidplates (engine, transmission, transfer case), armoring the frame mount for the fronts of your rear lower control arms, and having some kind of rock sliders (kick-out sliders are best).

I've got a full set of BudBuilt's, a rear diff skid, kick-out sliders etc. I'll do any trail once, my truck can do the hard trails but I don't usually do them multiple times because that's just asking for damage. The armor is so I don't worry when I accidentally scrape something on an easy / medium trail.

Good luck! There's lots of info on this site about how to modify your truck, and also some regional forums for different parts of the US if you want to meet up with other FJ owners to offroad.
 

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I've done Black Bear roughly 30 times over the last 15-16 years (twice in the opposite direction.....going up instead of down) and it does change slightly each year as a result of slides that require dirt/rock removal by the county prior to tourist season. As others have mentioned, if you plan on off-roading on a regular basis it makes sense to upgrade equipment to some extent depending on the degree of difficulty of the runs you might plan on doing in the future. I've seen stock FJ's do Hell's Gate in Moab without incident. I've also taken stock FJ's on Moab Rim in Moab (an extremely challenging trail), again without incident. Totally depends on the skill of the driver as well as that of the spotter one chooses to use. I consider Black Bear a non-challenging trail, other than seeing how many zero to one point turns I can do without the aid of a spotter on the way down. Once you know the line on the steps on Black Bear there really isn't much of a challenge there either.
 

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I've done Black Bear roughly 30 times over the last 15-16 years (twice in the opposite direction.....going up instead of down) and it does change slightly each year as a result of slides that require dirt/rock removal by the county prior to tourist season. As others have mentioned, if you plan on off-roading on a regular basis it makes sense to upgrade equipment to some extent depending on the degree of difficulty of the runs you might plan on doing in the future. I've seen stock FJ's do Hell's Gate in Moab without incident. I've also taken stock FJ's on Moab Rim in Moab (an extremely challenging trail), again without incident. Totally depends on the skill of the driver as well as that of the spotter one chooses to use. I consider Black Bear a non-challenging trail, other than seeing how many zero to one point turns I can do without the aid of a spotter on the way down. Once you know the line on the steps on Black Bear there really isn't much of a challenge there either.


I need to do this trail with someone like you! Ive been to Moab and throughout Utah but the videos of bbp scare me. Not challenging in the usual way but for some reason that off camber looking over the edge stuff gets to me..


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Like others have said, with some basic equipment BBP is quite an easy trail IMO. On 34's and 2" lift I don't think I scraped anything.

All depends on what you're used to and comfort level. Some of the gnarliest stuff I've done has been relatively close to home at ORV parks in Kansas. Compared to that I'd consider BBP a mountain road.

Just keep wheeling, eventually what you once thought to be intimidating will become easier!
 

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My first trip down BBP was in 2010 in my 78 FJ40 my wife and to very good friends from grand junction, co. without anyone with us that has done it before. I loved the trail, it wasn't as challenging as I had read. The scenery is fantastic and I wasn't even nervous one bit. The steps are really fun with four corner leaf springs instead of the FJ cruiser set up. As many have said "it is a head game". Just think how many others have been down it without a problem and that will calm your nerves. Continue to use your cruiser as it was meant for and enjoy all that you can see in it.
 
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