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Tellico ROCKS!!!


Elite Explorer
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February 13, 1999
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Tampa, FL
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Chief GPS'um and Still Lost Native Texan
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'99 EB 4x4 "Herc" RIP
:cool: Tellico “Pre-PreRun” Report :bounce:

By Gerald Jarrett with Paul Sabin.

In preparation for the upcoming Explorer Tellico pre-run in April, we had the opportunity to meet for a scouting recon on the weekend of February 22 – 24, 2002. Our rationale for a “Pre-PreRun” was based on the fact that we had never been to Tellico before, and it seemed that the overwhelming response from the pre-run thread could have included close to a dozen vehicles - - perhaps too much/too soon for a place that few of us have been to. As we met Friday in Murphy NC, the sky sparkled bright and clear, beckoning us with the expectation of perfect weather conditions for the upcoming adventure. The goal was to enjoy what trails we could and also to determine which ones a stock Explorer could go on. Our two similarly equipped Explorers would have an easier time traversing the trails that Tellico offers in order to get an insight as to what would be expected during both the PreRun and this summers event.

With Paul leading the way, we headed north from town and made it to the south entrance around 1:30pm. We would have gotten there sooner but Paul got us lost before we even arrived at the trailhead. I promised I wouldn’t mention that though so never mind ;) :D

Web sites like give fairly detailed instructions on getting to the entrance gates but you need to still pay attention on the way out of Murphy. The Tellico ORV area is a fee use area, and the cost is $5.00 per day. For those of you who live closer and plan on frequenting Tellico often, an annual pass is available for $30.00. This is money well spent, because it is used for trail maintenance and keeps these dwindling four wheeling havens open for our use.

Friday afternoon was spent Exploring Tellico. Neither of us took time for many photos (we were having too much fun!), but the promised weather stayed perfect as we ran Trails 4, 5, 6, and 7 (up to the ledge). I stupidly high-centered Herc on a log there, but Paul promised not to mention that if I wouldn’t mention that bit about him getting us lost earlier, so never mind ;) :D

Trail 4 was mostly dry and we discussed the possibility of stock Explorers traversing the entire trail and going down Trail 6 at the end of Trail 4. One problematic area for unmodified vehicles is at Fain’s Ford on Trail 4.
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This photo shows a rarity at Tellico: stacked rocks. When we returned on Saturday, not only was the rock ramp missing; but the rocks were totally removed, which we surmised was an effort to keep rock stacking to a minimum. One thing about Tellico, there is not a lot of room to pull off to the side of an obstacle and stack rocks or spend time figuring out how to get over it. The trucks we saw were hard core, seemed indifferent to body damage, and didn’t enjoy being held up for less capable vehicles in their way. We both made it up this ledge without rock stacking, but it will be an issue for vehicles with open differentials and/or all terrain tires.

Behind Paul is the next obstacle on Trail 4 and is the only one we found all weekend that had a bypass. Once you start a trail here, you are committed.

Trail 5 has a great little campground on a river. It is accessible by stock vehicles since the trail doesn’t get serious until it goes across the river and above the campground. Once past the river crossing, Trail 5 gets down to business. Plenty of rocks to play on and Herc got some body damage on the left rear quarterpanel by sliding sideways into a wall while climbing up a slick “bobsled run” chute.
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What makes Trail 5 and many of the other trails so challenging is that mountain run-off or natural springs feed water into the trail and you approach all the obstacles with wet tires, usually packed with mud. Mud treads are the tire of choice in Tellico, and body damage is the norm.

Saturday morning exploded crisp and cold, revealing that while we had slept, God had been at work painting Tellico’s mountaintop trees with a stunning layer of white frost. Sometimes I think He just enjoys showing off every once in awhile, and this was one of those mornings that I was glad that I owned a 4wd Explorer that was capable of taking me out to see The Show.
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Each time you visit Tellico, it is different. We learned that in just one day. When we showed up Saturday morning, snowmelt had turned Trail 4 into a muddy quagmire. Weekend 44" tire traffic had torn up the trail, exposing the rocks much higher and surrounding them with mud pits. While stock vehicles might have had a chance on Trail 4 the day before, they wouldn’t have had a prayer on Saturday. In addition, the stacked rocks at Fain’s Ford had been removed, turning it into a genuine 30” ledge at the river crossing.

We started the day by passing through a large group of Toyotas at the north staging area on the Tennessee border and then going up the same Trail 6 that we had gone down the previous day before. What a difference the direction makes. Trail 6 is a very fun rockgarden climb going up and proved to be just the right amount of an enjoyable challenge all the way.
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Entrance to Trail 6
It only gets better as the trail goes on:
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Approaching Trail 7’s ledge from the other side by going on the Trail 8 loop, we watched a group climbing the ledge. The group was very capable, including a fullsize Chevy with 48” Swampers. All of them had to take the winch on this "moderate" trail. The fact that a fullsize with 48" tires locked front and rear couldn't complete 7's obstacle without using a winch should give you an idea what "moderate" means in the Tellico dictionary.

Trail 8 is also a lot of fun.
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We parked at the upper junction of Trail 9 and walked down to the famous “Slickrock” obstacle and watched a large group working their way up it. Unlike the incorrectly labeled “slickrock” in Moab, “Slickrock” here at Tellico is definitely slick. No sand-papered traction aiding surface here - - just smooth granite with a nice coating of water and mud that will take a heavy toll on those who attempt to climb it. A heavily modified Jeep with a 350 and Dana 60’s blew both driveshafts within ten minutes while we watched. We wrote this trail off for the Explorers, unless we get a couple of severely built rigs in attendance whose owners don’t mind body carnage. Tellico is not for the faint of heart.

Exploring Trail 3 revealed it to be a great trail for stock vehicles with rockgardens and ledges that are big enough to require careful tire placement and spotting skills, but not so large as to be a major threat of body damage. However, 3 can only be accessed by approaching via the tougher Trail 4. Realistically, Tellico is no place for a stock vehicle. Expect body damage. The smallest tire size we saw all weekend were the 33” tires we had. Almost every single vehicle had 35” – 44” tires, lockers, a winch, and significant body damage.

As mentioned before in another thread, cosmetic nerf bars and running boards will be destroyed by Tellico; if you like them on your vehicle, remove them before arriving. Pin striping is guaranteed, so expect to mar the finish of your paint.

Tellico is a jungle. We came in winter and were still surrounded in foliage. Come springtime expect even more “trail pinstriping”
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As dusk began to bleed the mountaintops into a shimmering red glow, we left the park satisfied after a full day of some of the best wheelin’ ever. What a blast. Tellico Rocks!

An early Sunday start provided Paul with the chance to attempt the Peckerwood ledge on Trail 7 before the crowds started. It is a tough obstacle, but since he had just purchased a winch, we might as well try it out. No hood ornament here! Why buy it if you don’t plan on using it?!?! Just getting to the ledge proved difficult since the obstacles directly below it ain’t no picnic either. Once again, water at the base of these obstacles increases the difficulty of this climb.
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In the end, Paul got to try out his new winch but he did make it up the ledge. From the bridge crossing at the bottom, through the obstacles below the ledge, and winching up and over the ledge, it took one and a half hours of tough extreme 4x4 action to travel less than 200 yards. This was fourwheeling at its best.
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Tellico is arguably one of the best areas available for fourwheeling in the entire USA. If your rig is capable and you live in the eastern US, it should be at the top of your wishlist to go to. We purposely avoided Trails 2, 9, 11, and 12 which are listed as the most difficult trails in Tellico. One of the write-ups for these trails we saw stated to have at least a winch, lockers front and rear and minimum 35” tires and “expect body damage”. We still had a great time on the challenging “moderate” trails. The trails are tough, they are fun, and the scenery is gorgeous. We plan to try the the next level of trails this Spring.

Nestled in mountains near the Chattahoochie wilderness and the Great Smoky Mountains, most of the trails include switchbacks in steep mountain terrain, many creek crossings, and countless quaint bridges under small waterfalls.
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Hope to see you there!

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Sounds like a very cool place to wheel. Hopefully someday I'll make it out that way.

MAN I CAN"T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!! excellent write-up ......:bounce: :bounce: :bounce:

Mental note to self: Get to Tellico!!! Oh yeah, and get a winch :D

Very nice write up Gerald!

Can't wait until April

GO TELLICO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gerald - since this is a pre-prerun, does that mean there is still a chance for a big summer get-together? Us Florida boys would love to get there - but we need a bunch of notice to get the time off work (lots of driving you know!)

Great job!


Soooooo. . . . . why aren't we all back there this weekend ??

Great write-up Gerald, should have thrown in a few more photos of Herc !!

'91 Sport

Jon, after they check out the trails on the prerun, I am hoping that the ECX members schedule a summer run. I'll be glad to help the ECX in any way that I can, once they decide on when and if they are interested in doing it. The only thing for me is that I hope they don't schedule the run around Memorial Day, since the next week I will be going to Moab.

Now that we have discovered how tough Tellico really is, there may not be enough capable vehicles to schedule a "big" summer run like we originally talked about, but will have to get a smaller more capable group together whenever we can work it out. Except for the Moab weekend, I would enjoy joining anybody that wants to go up there as long as we have enough notice. I'm only three hours away. By then I'll be locked in the front too and hope to have 35's, so it won't matter.

35's eh ?? Guess the gauntlet has been thrown down . . .

Great write-up (as always) Gerald. Looks like the two of you had fun.

Strange thing: when I had to drive old beaters some years back, I hated them! Now I think it would be nice having an old beater for trail duties.

Beaters !

Michael - -

You are right. We talked quite a bit about having a couple of trail rigs we could just thrash and not care about. . .

Know some guys don't mind banging up their rigs, but I still cringe when I hit something on the underside of my Explorer - - and it's a '91!! But, since it is my daily driver, it still has to look good. . .

Matter of fact, spent this past weekend Herculining my roof rack, rocker panels, fender flares, rock sliders, trailer hitch and a few skid plates - - really pleased with how they came out.

I like the idea of buying a 88-94 Ranger - - bobbing the bed, throwing in lockers, lift, and 35s, and wheeling the pee out of it - - but I'm too far gone with the Explorer now. . .


P.S. Get a chance to choke down those MREs yet??

Tell me about the water crossings.

How deep were they?

Not too deep

Jason -

There were only a few stream crossings, and the water was not even hub deep. It had not rained there for about a week before we showed up, so I would imagine if you go after some significant rain fall if could be an issue.

The larger concern is the mud and the absence of traction. From what I've heard and read rainy conditions (or wheeling right after it rains) makes the easiest trails into ones you can expect to get body damage on.

If you look at the photos on this thread, almost every picture shows the Explorers with wet tires, either water or mud. I own a pressure washer and I am still hosing out chunks of mud from my undercarriage.

If your reason for posting centered on a concern with the issue of lengthening your differential, tranny, and transfer case vent tubes, I'd recommend doing it, but it most likely won't be an issue at Tellico.

'91 Sport

So, when are we going?

The Marshmallow now has a front locker! Man, that was a job. As I told Gerald and Paul, it's a story best told over a few cold ones. I will say this; the way the LockRight had to go in the only way it will come out is to destroy it! :hammer:

Anyway, I had to beat the hell out of a u-joint in the front drive shaft to get it out (its been in there for 10 years, so no complaints). I still have to replace the joint and put the shaft back in.

But really, when are we going?


Keep us FL buys in mind when you plan a summer run at Tellico...

Marsh - I know what you mean about the locker - what a pain! How did you get the c-clip in on the passenger side? I couldn't get mine to go - the solution was a valve spring in the slip yoke to force the axle shaft into the pumpkin (I hope it works!)


We had to modified the "cup" (for lack of a better name) that goes on the right side so we could get the "C" clip on the axle. We cut out a notch to slip the clip through. I thought I may have received the wrong unit from Central 4X4, but we went online to Lock Right and it was the same listing.

The biggest concern I have now is that I don't see anyway to get the thing apart without completely destroying it. By that, I mean to get to the "C" clip the center pin has to come out, to get it out a small roll pin has to be driven out, to get the roll pin out the carrier has to come out, but the to get the carrier out the axle has to come out. So as you can see it’s a circle. :(

Any word on when we are going?????:D