- Choose the Right Vehicle for Your Excursions
- Make Sure Your Vehicle is Properly Maintained
- Avoid Off-Roading Alone
- Know What Weather to Expect
Especially regarding weather in our area, the best trails are those that challenge our ability, even when conditions are prime. When the weather changes suddenly, it can make some trails impassable. It is important to make sure you and your group are weather-aware when you are on the trail.
Here are the next six things you need to know about off-roading in Asheville:
5) Be Prepared with the Appropriate Emergency and Maintenance Items
One key to a successful off-roading trip is to be prepared for emergencies and mechanical failures. Before you depart, make sure you have at least these items handy:
- A full tool box for repairs
- A spare tire (preferably full size), a tire iron, and a good jack
- GPS and trail maps
- First aid kit
- Cell phone and charger
- Tow Rope
- A shovel
- Plenty of water, spare food, and blankets
- Kitty litter (if you are driving in the snow)
- Fire extinguisher
It is always a good idea to check with veteran off-road drivers for ideas of what to bring with you.
6) How to Ford a Creek
When you are off-roading in western North Carolina, your trails will likely cross active, flowing creeks. Fording a creek is an important skill for your four-wheel drive experience. The best practice is to practice with veteran off-road drivers, but here are a few tips:
- Know your vehicle’s ground-clearance.
- Get out and examine the creek’s depth and bottom. Know whether you will drive over and sediment or rocks.
- Examine the speed of the water as well.
- Watch another driver cross the creek.
- Remain aware of rain, rising water, and potential flash flooding.
- If you are not sure, turn around.
7) Choose the Right Tire
Choosing the right tire is vital to having a good off-roading experience. Trusted off-road tire brands include BF Goodrich, Goodyear, Michelin, Kuhmo, among others.
- Check with your trusted auto mechanic, vehicle maintenance shop. They will likely be familiar with various brands and types of tires.
- Check your vehicle’s manual.
- Check with veteran drivers and driving groups.
- Check what brands and tire types work best for the terrain you will drive the most.
8) Know the Difference Between 4H and 4L
Four-wheel drive vehicles often have two settings, high and low, referring to gear ratio. Some newer vehicles may automatically choose high or low based on the situation. 4H is usually going to be your preferred choice, as the gear ratio does not differ from two-wheel drive. This will provide the most familiar driving experience. However, in slow driving scenarios like rock crawling or attempting to remove yourself from a situation in which you are stuck, 4L may be preferred.
9) Know in Advance How Your Vehicle Will Handle on Various Terrain
Study how your specific vehicle and model handle various off-road situations and scenarios such as:
- Snow and ice
- Mud holes
- High water
- Silt and sand
- Rock crawling
- Hill climbs
- Slick descents
The mountains provide inherent beauty as well as risk. If possible, practice driving in various terrain in low-risk situations. The more you can predict or know how your vehicle will respond in every situation, the more confidently you can navigate your off-road experience.
10) Where to Go Off-Roading in Asheville
We live close to numerous off-road trail systems. A few of our favorites include:
- Brown Mountain: Near Morgantan
- Durhamtown Tellico: Near Murphy
- The Rock Garden: Near Lincolnton, invite only
- Pisgah National Forest: Near Morgnaton
- Natahala National Forest: Near Bryson City
In a future post, we will review some of these trail systems. In the meantime, make sure your vehicle is well maintained – oil change, tire balance and rotation, brakes replaced and fluid filled, transmission serviced, etc. – and enjoy Asheville’s off-road opportunities.