The obstacles on our last trail run sounded like a visit to the doctor’s office might be in order! Nonetheless, I found the Heart Attack Hill challenge to be aptly named when, halfway through the steep boulder-y terrain my hands were shaking and my heart was nearly pounding out of my chest as my rig crawled up the steep and loose rock piles.
Kelly Flats (Larimer County, Colorado) is a classic northern Colorado trail, and one that I’ve wanted to run for quite some time. On Saturday, July 30, I finally got my chance as friends E and M and I (and my husband, son, and dogs) headed out to try our luck on the trail. From trail descriptions we decided up front that we’d run Heart Attack Hill, but not the other major obstacle – The Chutes – which is said to often result in body damage to anyone who gives it a go. (I’m all for a little trail damage as a side effect of a challenging run, but I don’t want to mess up my ride on purpose).
At the Kelly Flats trailhead we saw three other Jeeps airing down, as well as Rangers who said they were hosting quad/OHV training on the trail. Surprisingly, we saw no one else out on the trail that day – which was awesome!
The Kelly Flats trail immediately began with a bit of rock crawling fun and in just over half a mile the toughest portion of the 10.6-mile trek loomed in front of us – Heart Attack Hill. For those less inclined to tackle the steep and large boulders of Heart Attack Hill, there is a bypass where a bit of fun can still be had on Aneurysm Hill. Stock Jeeps might want to choose the bypass option.
My husband spotted me through the toughest portions of Heart Attack Hill and was too busy freaking out on my behalf to take photos or videos of the hardest spots. This terrain required the use of my lockers (which I absolutely LOVE!) and at times I had to three-wheel it, tipping over to the next boulder on the way up. Cool, but definitely scary.
Both Jeeps in our party made it to the top of Heart Attack Hill without incident, where the view was amazing. Whew – the worst was over, so we stopped for a break.
We continued on Kelly Flats trail, then, which became very easy and for much of the way didn’t even require four-wheel drive. The end of Kelly Flats is said to be a “mud bog,” which for us was dry and dusty given the recent lack of rain in the area. This portion of the trail would be much tougher (and fun!) if muddy. Along the way we bypassed The Chutes obstacle but we pulled over to take a look at the extremely narrow path through high boulders. Yep, there was no way to make it through without at least some damage to a vehicle, especially a four-door with a longer wheel base.
On this trail run my goal (besides completing it safely of course) was to work on wheeling slow and steady, with less "choppiness" on the brakes. I think I did pretty well. Heart Attack Hill was the toughest portion of trail I’ve wheeled so far and I’m so glad for the experience! In addition, I led this trail run and managed not to get lost thanks to the Guide to Northern Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails, my favorite part of which is the detailed odometer log that identifies various trail markers to help one stay on track. These books plus a free Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) from your local ranger station are invaluable trail tools.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Trails!