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5,504 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

I'm not sure how much of a build thread this will be since I didn't start with any sort of plan and haven't documented much with pictures or whatever. I've never modified a vehicle before and didn't really intend to with my FJC, but I'm addicted to wheeling so all of this has just been a means to make that a more enjoyable and breakage-free experience. :)

I bought my FJC new in February, 2011. I can't remember what option packages it had, but it has a locking rear diff and ATRAC. Here is an early pic of it with less than 100 miles on it:

Here's an article on the TLCA Toyota Trails website that mentions my FJC when it was stock (there's a username and password mentioned at this link, with a link to the actual article): Home | FJC Magazine - For FJ Cruiser Owners and Enthusiasts

The evolution, starting with Thanksgiving 2011 Moab trip:

2/12/2012 Chinaman Gulch trip:

4/7/2012 China Wall:

4/30/2012 Top Of The World:

6/24/2012 Ironclads:

7/22/2012 Ouray:

8/5/2012 Spring Creek:

9/4/2012 Rubicon Trail:

9/29/2012 Holy Cross:

8/23/2014 Blanca Peak:

With the exception of any welding, I've done all of the modifications so far myself with the help of friends and family. I really want to learn how things work and I've been surprised at just how easy the FJC has been to work on (so far).

Ok, here's the list of stuff:

ToyTec Ultimate 3" lift
"Digger" rear lower links (destroyed)
Toytec/Rokmen alminum rear lower links w/johnny joints
Light Racing front upper control arms
Custom rear bump stops thanks to Briareos (removed)
Toytec aluminum rear bump stop extenders/relocators

Demello 3 stage hybrid kick-out sliders
Outrider suspension armor (everything except the diff skid; leading edge of rear link front bracket skid welded to frame)
BudBuilt bash, engine, transmission skids

Goodyear MT/Rs 35 x 12.50 R17
BFG KMs 255/75R17 (removed)
Trail Ready HD Beadlocks 17 x 8.5, 3.5 BS w/Rock Ring
RimRock RADS (built-in deflation valves)

DeMello Offroad Rally front bumper
MetalTech Red Eye rear bumper
Rigid SR-Series 6" LED lights in the front bumper wings
MetalTech tube front bumper with winch plate (removed)
Hella 500 driving lights (removed)
PIAA 540 fog lights (removed)
Bandi mount
Expedition One rear bumper w/tire carrier (destroyed)

MPAC HD side rack
10 lbs. PowerTank CO2
Fire extinguisher

48" Hi Lift (removed)
60" Hi Lift Extreme
Hi Lift road base
Hi Lift winching kit
Hi Lift 5-piece shovel/axe/sledge hammer/pick axe kit
ARB snatch strap
Bulldog static tow strap
Smittybuilt XRC10 comp series winch w/synthetic line (wore out winch line and replaced)
MasterPull 100' synthetic winch line (blue)
Rocktek rock rail Hi Lift adapter
Red Rock 4x4 12K lbs. land anchor
12K lbs. come-along
An assortment of d-rings
some chain

Staun deflators (set ~15psi, set 7psi)
Cobra 75wxst big bill combo
Yaesu FT-60R VHF/UHF transceiver w/magnetic external antenna
Yaesu FTM-400DR Dual Band transceiver
Diamond K9000 motorized antenna mount
GoPro HD Hero3+ camera
Off-road camping trailer with roof-top tent (sold)

Special Thanks
Demello for the sliders (forum give-away) and the front bumper
FJinCO for technical support and showing me what an FJC is capable of
Old Cruiser, Chris Delancy for responding to all of my PMs bouncing ideas off of them constantly
jimmy-buffet for helping me feed the addiction the first couple of years

Pics with the trailer:

Advertisement with my FJ in it:


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5,504 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Now the most important part - the trails I've run in my FJC so far! Green is for trails I ran mostly stock (no lift/skid plates). Please let me know if you can think of any ways for me to make this more useful.

Arrastra Gulch - Very cool trail through some of the more impressive mining remains in the Silverton area. Did it the first time as a night run and the pucker factor was very high. Not so bad in daylight.
Barbour Fork - Snow run in mid-November 2011. Doesn't seem like it would be too exciting without the snow.
Bill Moore Lake - Did this one with Red Elephant and Mill Creek. Bill Moore was the downhill/exit and I don't remember it being much worse than a really rough dirt road in most places.
Black Bear Pass - Extremely scenic but fairly easy pass between Ouray and Telluride. My tires hate the switchbacks (rubbing)!
Blanca Peak - This trail is no joke! I'd say it's the hardest trail I've run in Colorado so far. Once out of the sand in the beginning, this trail is relentless all the way to the top.
Bunce School Road - Easy trail that would be fine for a stock FJC. This road provides access to T-33A Plane Crash and Ironclads.
California Gulch - Did this as the exit route off of Poughkeepsie Gulch at FJ Summit in 2011 followed by Corkscrew.
Cascade Creek - A short but moderately challenging trail near Idaho Springs, if run in the uphill direction. Ran this after Devil's Canyon, which was also fairly short.
Cedar Mountain Road - Easy road connecting Metberry, Longwater, and Hackett gulches. Like it's name, this is basically just a dirt road and I'm not even sure it should be on this list.
China Wall - One of the first trails I did. I remember looking at the "wall" obstacle thinking it looked impossible then going back in the snow a number of months later and thinking it looked totally doable. Returning to this trail really showed me just how much my perspective has changed on my FJC's capabilities. This is a terrific beginner trail and still one of my favorites in the winter when everything else is snowed in.
Chinaman Gulch - I ran this one almost completely stock (only had the OSA suspension armor and digger links at the time). I think the only way I made it through this one without demolishing my FJC was the expert spotting by Chuck and Matt (the Funtreks guys). This one still sticks out in my mind as the toughest trail I've done and I wouldn't recommend it for a stock cruiser. I *really* want to go back and see if it still seems as difficult. Update: I've been back a couple of times and it seems to get more difficult each time. This trail is always a fun challenge but I can't say it's even close to the toughest I've run anymore.
Chinns Lake - Easy but fun run up to some gorgeous lakes in the St. Mary's Glacier area.
Cinnamon Gulch - Short but fun spur off of Peru Creek, if my memory is correct.
Coney Flats - Very fun trail with mid-range difficulty. It was pouring rain when I ran it, so not sure how much water is normally on the trail. There was a ton this day!
Corkscrew Gulch - Exit off of Poughkeepsie/California Pass.
Cottonwood Pass - Did this one on the way back from FJ Summit in 2011. Half of it is paved, the other half is a dirt road suitable for a Prius.
Crystal Mountain - This trail was slightly challenging and fun, but not all that difficult. There is one "wall" to play on, but none of the FJCs in our group were able to get over it on the toughest lines. A highly modified 4Runner (SAC'd on 37s) was able to do it. Ran this with Moody Hill.
Cumberland Gulch - Did this one with Yankee Hill and Miners Gulch. There's a maze of trails in this area!
Deer Creek - Easy exit from the top of Radical Hill down into Montezuma. Took me 15-20 minutes.
Devil's Canyon - A short and mild trail with one short, fun hill at the top. Was originally supposed to run this last winter as a snow run (with Barbour Fork) but we got stuck on Barbour Fork for too long and didn't make it. This would definitely be more fun with snow on it. Update: there is a seasonal closure on this trail so there would need to be some early season snow to make a snow run out of it.
Eagle Rock - Snow run in mid November 2011. Pretty challenging as a snow run.
Fern Creek - I've run this a few times as an exit from Illinois/Missouri Gulches in the Rainbow Falls area. Easy but fun connecting trail to Rampart Range Rd. Update: unfortunately, this trail has been graded and some of the fun/character is now gone.
Fireman Hill - One of the trails in the Left Hand Canyon area. I've run this one up/down/in the dark. Nice challenge for a stock FJC.
Geneva Creek - Easy but fun trail with lots of old mining roads to explore near the top.
Georgia Pass - Easy run up near Breckenridge.
Goose Creek Rd. - A dirt road through the Hayman Burn area with gorgeous scenery. Much more fun in the snow and a nice way to get to China Wall from Denver. Very first dirt my FJC saw!
Governor Basin - Fun trail in the Ouray area.
Grizzly Lake - Very difficult trail. There's a large ledge at the beginning that turned our group around the first time we tried it. Went back the next day and someone had done some extensive rock stacking so we were able to get over it without winching. The rest of the trail was a ton of fun with a very pretty lake at the end.
Hackett Gulch - One of the three gulches in the area (Metberry, Longwater, and Hackett). This one is furthest south and probably the second best, after Metberry. Saw a bear watching us near the beginning of the trail. This trail is easily passable by a stock FJ.
Halfmoon Creek - Very scenic trail between Colorado's two highest peaks (Elbert and Mt. Massive). The left (south) fork is the tougher of the two forks, mainly for an obstacle after the second creek crossing that may cause problems/be impassable with a stock FJC. The right (north fork) is much easier and has all the scenery. Continue on past the Champion Mill up to the top of the ridge for outstanding views all the way out to the Elk Range and Maroon Bells.
Hayden Pass - Did this one with my trailer in June 2011. Part of the weekend with Medano Pass. Coming up from the San Luis Valley side let us do the rocky part uphill, which is always more fun.
Holy Cross - Very difficult trail! Picked up some more body damage when I slipped in some mud into a rock at the top of French Creek on the way back down.
Illinois Gulch - Fun play area named "Moab Hill" a little way into the trail. Otherwise, pretty mediocre.
Imogene Pass - Did this one at FJ Summit 2011. Fun, scenic, but very crowded trail.
Iron Chest - The first half mile or so of this one is through the worst boulder field I've been through. Large, loose boulders that change the line from truck to truck. On the way out, I had a boulder roll out from under one of my rear wheels and high center me on my frame. It was around a 3 hour recovery to get me unstuck...would've been much quicker if I had a winch at the time.
Ironclads - Slightly easier than T-33A Plane Crash trail, if you avoid the optional obstacles. This trail had some really fun optional stuff to play around on.
Last Dollar Road - Easy trail between Telluride and Ridgway (way more west of Ridgway than I'd realized). There's nothing technical on the trail, but it has a different feel compared with all of the other trails I've run in the area.
Kingston Peak - Easy and scenic trail in the Yankee Hill area. Don't forget to add a rock to the "rock cottage" up on top for good luck!
Left Hand Canyon - This is the closest trail complex to Denver/Boulder and I've lost count of how many times I've been up there. Lots of fun trails but also a lot of drunk college kids shooting guns so it's a mixed bag. This trail system has been closed since massive flooding in the area in Sep. 2013. Hoping it reopens by summer 2015.
Loch Lomond - Short and moderate trail to a beautiful lake.
Longwater Gulch - One of the three gulches in the area (Metberry, Longwater, and Hackett). This one is honestly kind of boring and gives the same views as Metberry, without the payoff of the Platte River at the end. Easily passable by a stock FJ.
Medano Pass - Ran this one in mid June 2011 about a week after the high water point for the season on Medano Creek - the deepest crossings were still around 2 feet deep at the time. This was my first trail towing the trailer and it did excellent. Deep sand on the Great Sand Dunes side which was fun and pretty unique for Colorado.
Metberry Gulch - Scenic trail near the Hayman Burn area. Not very difficult, although there is one large obstacle (with a bypass) that could be impassable if it's wet.
Middle St. Vrain - Very fun and scenic trail. Enough of a challenge to keep things from being boring, but probably doable in a stock FJC.
Mill Creek - Did this as a connector between Red Elephant and Bill Moore Lake. There's a really cool public cabin along the trail and some fun water crossings.
Miller Rock - Picked up a ton of pinstripes on this overgrown trail. Fun run with an interesting exit - you have to call ahead to the private camp at the end of the trail to unlock the gate so you can go out the far side.
Mineral Creek - Easy but fun entrance to Poughkeepsie Gulch area.
Miner’s Gulch - Ran with Yankee Hill and Cumberland Gulch.
Missouri Gulch - Easy trail in the Rainbow Falls area.
Moody Hill - Fun but not very difficult trail. Has a challenging play area named "The Quarry" with some fun lines. TallTodd was able to complete both the lower and upper quarry walls in his stock FJC, so maybe not quite as difficult as it looks. We did see one Jeep lose an axle/wheel on the lower quarry obstacle and another (Rubicon) that needed to be winched off the upper.
Mosquito Pass - Highest pass in Colorado. Easy and crowded trail since it's only snow-free for a couple of months.
No Name Gulch - An easy trail ran in combination with Wurts Ditch and Slide Lake. This trail could be categorized as a rough dirt road.
Ophir Pass - Easy return trip from Imogene Pass.
Peru Creek - Easy trail near Keystone.
Phantom Canyon - Scenic dirt road that's a fun way back from the Canon City/Royal Gorge area.
Poughkeepsie Gulch - The only challenging trail in the Ouray area that I've been on. Lost my passenger rear bumper wing on this one.
Radical Hill - Fun climb from the bottom of Webster Pass to the top of the mesa directly across from Red Cone. One rocky area in particular will cause problems (and may be impossible when wet) for stock FJCs. Awesome view at the top!
Rampart Range Rd. - Dirt road that connects to a bunch of other trails in the area.
Red Cone - Fun and moderate trail over 13K foot peak. The drive down off of the summit is fun for its steepness/pucker factor.
Red Elephant Hill - Very steep and narrow trail with one challenging obstacle. UPDATE: Recently ran this trail again and the main obstacle has become much more dug out and difficult. I would no longer recommend this trail for a stock FJC.
Shrine Pass - Easy dirt road used as a short cut to get back to I-70 after Holy Cross. Sometimes these things don't work out to be shorter, time-wise, but this one was.
Slaughterhouse Gulch - Easy trail with one steep, rutted out hill that is kind of fun.
Slide Lake - A moderately easy trail ran with Wurts Ditch and No Name Gulch. The lake at the top is about a 500 yard hike in and worth it.
Spring Creek - Challenging trail pretty close to Denver. EDIT 8/5/2012: The trail has gotten worse since I last ran it. Most of our group on this trip had to winch through obstacle #3 . I would probably avoid this trail if you do not have a winch (or a friend with one in front of you) and full armor.
T-33A Plane Crash - Surprisingly challenging, although not too bad. Would not recommend this for a stock FJC.
Tincup Pass - Easy and crowded trail. Crowded with ATVs - the worst kind of crowd.
Twin Cone - Moderate trail that has been made much easier in the past year due to grading/boulder removal. There are still a couple of play areas on the way up and the last hill above timberline hasn't been graded and may cause problems for a stock FJC.
Webster Pass - Took this from Montezuma out to 285. Pretty easy trail that you might not even need four wheel drive on. It was very wet when I ran it and I didn't have any traction issues.
Wheeler Lake - Challenging and very fun trail. The picture at the top of my thread is from and obstacle on this trail named "Flopper". Lost a valve stem near the top. Almost every time I've run this, someone in my group has needed to change a tire (either due to valve stem breakage or sidewall damage). Always seems to happen on the last push toward the top.
Wurts Ditch - Very easy dirt road between Slide Lake and No Name Gulch. Most of the road is very narrow and would be difficult to pass someone on as it's effectively the top of an 11-mile dam for a diversion ditch.
Yankee Boy Basin - Moderate and very scenic trail in Ouray area.
Yankee Hill - Moderate trail close to Blackhawk.

Utah and California can now be found here:

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10,073 Posts
^^. The important list ^^.

Build threads are one thing, and good start. Trail threads are another, and you're smoking the vast majority of us here.
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· Premium Member
5,504 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
The trails page became too long for the forum, so continuing here:

Fins ‘n Things - I was expecting more "fins" than "things". Fun trail but honestly kind of a letdown after Hell's Revenge. Still a nice challenge with the steepest slickrock sections I encountered on this trip.
Hell’s Revenge - My favorite trail! Not very technically challenging, but *very* high pucker factor and breathtaking scenery. Driving on slickrock is a ton of fun and this trail is almost all slickrock.
Poison Spider Mesa - Fun trail with some nice obstacles.
Tower Arch Trail - Mostly a dirt/sand road with some ledgy stuff in places.
Kokopelli's Trail - Unforgettable adventure with Volhoo, skersfan, Akosfj, FJeep, and Ace Brown (for about 1/2 the trip). First hardcore trip with the trailer. Had some route finding trouble in Cisco Wash, Dome Plateau, and along the beginning of Rose Garden Hill. Made the trip more memorable though!
Dome Plateau - Easy and scenic trail. Did this the opposite way than how it is described in the Wells' book as part of Kokopelli's. We weren't actually supposed to do the whole thing as part of Kokopelli's but didn't realize this until we got to camp and talked to Ace.
Top Of The World - Very ledgy trail and somewhat difficult. Trailer made the round trip. Extremely scenic and highly recommended!
Rose Garden Hill - We followed signs to Kokopelli's Trail at the very beginning and ended up doing a difficult and dangerous bypass. It was a fun bypass in my book. We went down the actual Rose Garden Hill obstacle...fairly difficult with a trailer. I high-centered on a tall ledge, jack knifed my trailer and almost got pushed over side ways by it and down the hill. Learned that I need trailer brakes before attempting anything like that in the future.

Rubicon Trail - By far the toughest and most relentless trail I've run! Extremely beautiful. We did this as a two-day run from Loon Lake to Buck Island to Tahoe with Mile High Jeep Club Patrol 2. It rained the second day and made things more difficult. Picked up some moderate (but cosmetic) body damage on Cadillac Hill on the way out. Wasn't a particularly difficult obstacle, but slipped off my line due to rain-slicked granite.
Buck Lake Trail - Moderate and little-used (guessing from the amount of overgrowth) trail off of the end of the Rubicon. Runs to gorgeous and secluded lake about 3/4 of the way up before connecting to Ellis Peak trail at the top. Some of the best views of Lake Tahoe and the Rubicon area of the whole trip.
Ellis Peak - Easy trail that's moderate in a few spots. Doesn't go all the way to the top of the peak, but gets you close. There are also a couple of lakes along the way, one of which had a canoe at it that we played around in. The hike up to the summit of Ellis Peak from the end of the trail is moderate/difficult. Very steep and requires some rock scrambling at the top.
Barker Pass - Ran this trail from Tahoe City back around to the end of the Rubicon Trail. Very easy dirt road type thing until it joins back up with the Rubicon, where it becomes more rocky in spots.

Box Canyon - Easy but fun trail near Florence. Ran south to north through the canyon, up to Martinez Mine (to the closure), up over Granny's Pass and out Cottonwood. The waterfall was the biggest obstacle and was quite a bit more dug out, according to the regulars I ran it with. Still, a stock Jeep with open diffs made it through without issue. Gorgeous scenery and tons of Saguaros - highly recommended trail.

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5,504 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Fantastic start and a very envious list of trails completed. Looking forward to see you putting the DeMello 3-stage sliders to good use. :cheers:
Thank you! I can't wait to scratch them up. :devil:

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5,504 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That's the spirit. I vote for keeping the trails completed list here. BTW, I'm on my second pair of sliders; the OEMs didn't hold up as well as the DO hybrids. Kokopelli trail should be a lot of fun in the spring. :rocker:
Thanks again. I thought the trails might give some context to the "build". :)

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5,271 Posts
Holy crap have you been keeping track of those all along, or did you just rattle off the list from memory? That's impressive...and helpful, should I ever try to write down my own list :)

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5,504 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Holy crap have you been keeping track of those all along, or did you just rattle off the list from memory? That's impressive...and helpful, should I ever try to write down my own list :)
I haven't been keeping track but have a much easier time remembering trails than mods. :lol: I may have forgotten a couple...just added Tower Arch to the Utah trails.

· Premium Member
1,504 Posts
Jess, I think that I have some pics from when we did Rainbow falls the first time I met you. I love your wheelin style. You go where most with 35's don't dare. Can't wait till you get a set. And the good thing is that I will be home when the trail season starts next year so we can hit up some hard trails.
Love the FJ and really like the trailer.

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2,046 Posts
All i have to say is WOW , I LOVE the trail listing great work, good information.

· Registered
1,831 Posts
All I have to say is, CAN I JUST FOLLOW YOU AROUND????:cheers:
I just hope my trail list will be just part of what you have already done!!:rocker:
Good loooking rig, Jess..................:clap::clap:

· Premium Member
14,937 Posts
Yea!! Finally she builds it and they all come to see it! Nice job FJess and that trail list is incredible! I think you and your FJ have logged more trails than most of the Members Build threads put together.

Love the progression and the pics. Keep it up girl- looks great! :bigthumb:


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