There are several iconic off-road events and off-road trails around the country. We’ve all heard of Easter Jeep Safari and Moab. There’s the Rubicon trail and the Jeep and Jeepers Jamborees. Another long-running off-road classic is Tierra Del Sol’s Desert Safari near the Salton Sea, often just called TDS (which, oddly, is short for the club name and not the event). Another iconic off-road pairing that we have had the pleasure of attending once or twice is the Sierra Trek on the fabled Fordyce Trail in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains. Sierra Trek has been going on for over half a century, with this year’s Trek marking the 55th time this family-friendly off-road adventure has taken place during the first full weekend of August. We at Four Wheeler are happy to announce this event, and although we are sure it will sell out, we recommend making the trip. It’s a legitimate trail that will keep even the most experienced off-roader’s attention, with five separate winch hills and several potentially deep water-crossings. Read on for some of the history of the Trek, and for the details of this year’s event directly from its host, the California Four Wheel Drive Association.
“The morning sun streamed through tall stands of fir and pine, taking the edge off the alpine chill and illuminating a dusty two-track that disappeared into the forest. Ed Dunkley poured a cuppa joe and glanced down the row of Jeeps, Broncos, and Scouts before him. They were lined up for a new trail ride event, a 13-mile traverse of an old mining road to the Gold Rush boomtown of Summit City. After a short driver’s meeting he loaded up, turned the key, and led his small posse into the next chapter of the region’s storied chronicle.
The year was 1967, and the California Four Wheel Drive Association had been keen to create a family-oriented excursion similar to the Jeepers Jamboree on the Rubicon. It would thread a path along Fordyce Creek, passing abandoned stamp mills and boilers of the Excelsior and Carlisle mines, culminating on the alpine shores of Meadow Lake with a barbeque and campfire. Placed high in the northern Sierra Nevada, it was only fitting that the event be deemed Sierra Trek.
Through the 1970s and 1980s, the event grew in popularity and expanded to three days with multiple trail options. Clubs volunteered to staff the new raffle, in-camp games, and prepare meals for participants. It became a gala event, an annual vacation for thousands of adventure-seeking families. Although Ed and most of his crew have long passed, their vision continues. Flash forward to 2022, and Sierra Trek is celebrating its 55th birthday. While that might have been the call for an easy chair and slippers back in the day, Trek is charging into the future like a youthful 20-something. They have pulled all the stops for the upcoming event, which will span four days and include more than a dozen trail rides ranging from the challenging Fordyce route to UTV runs and narrated tours of the Gold Country. A volunteer staff will be resurrecting Summit City, replete with a chuck wagon-style camp kitchen, a vendor and 4×4 show, and a massive raffle. When the sun sets, a live band will take the stage and Trekkies can cut a rug on the 50-foot dance floor, warm up around the bonfire, or belly up to the wooden bar in the Mountain Goat Saloon.