Off-roading alone is rarely a good idea, and that’s especially true when you’re driving somewhere outside your comfort zone. With no one to yank you from a rut or, worse yet, pull you out of your rig if things get tippy, you’re asking for trouble. It looks like a California Jeeper learned this for themselves sometime in the past few days as their mostly stock Wrangler now sits abandoned atop a highline hiking trail.
Damning photos of the four-door Jeep were posted to the Hemet Eye News Facebook group and almost immediately shared a thousand times over. There’s little context to go off of, but it’s clear to see the—ahem—adventurous wheelman decided they’d had enough of the narrow trail. With a steep dropoff looming no matter what route they took and the passenger side hanging toward a rocky ravine, giving up was definitely the best choice they made that day.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the Jeep is, though I think we’ve done it. A member of the SoCal Off-Roaders SOS group recognized the spot, saying it looked to be along the West Ridge trail outside the town of Loma Linda. Surveying the area on Google Earth turned up a 3D view that looks extremely similar—the two small forks on either side of the trail line up, and that looks like the San Bernardino Valley in the distance.
While this area is considered public land, it most certainly isn’t open to motor vehicles. It’s impossible to say where the Jeep driver started from, but they likely drove around a blockade or simply weren’t paying attention as the trail got smaller.
Now, California has designated off-road parks, some of which are even run by the state. If you’re looking for a path less traveled then you can also visit forest service stations for gate codes to passable fire roads. Needless to say, this area is neither of those and the owner—if they’re ever tracked down—is going to have to pay.
As for recovering the Jeep, it obviously won’t be an easy task. It’s pretty much guaranteed that no off-road towing company would even attempt the bike trail, nor would they be allowed to. The same is likely true for local recovery groups. California has a massive network of four-wheeling fans and while we’ve seen team efforts pay off in the past, this situation seems especially treacherous. Outside of that, it’ll likely be up to a helicopter…or a strong gust of wind.
Despite this being on another level of foolish bravery, it’s far from the first time a four-wheeler has gotten themselves in such a predicament. Whether it’s an ill-advised river crossing or a muddy, sticky playa in the Utah desert, there will always be drivers who think they and their rig are too capable to get stuck. If you fall into that category, just know…you’re not.
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