Elbe Hills ORV Area
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Pass Needed: Yes, Washington State Discover Pass
Elbe Hills ORV Area has a reputation that precedes it. It is well known as an area where you can really put your winch to the test. After our first visit, we have to say that Elbe lives up to it's reputation as a nasty, metal bending, muddy, tight and sloppy mess. We had the opportunity to tag along with the Bonney Lake Amphibious Swamp Thangs (B.L.A.S.T.) Jeep club for a little wheeling fun.
The conditions were wet, very wet. We woke up Saturday morning to falling snow and got out onto the trails by about noon. The first trail was tight but uneventful. The second trail started out well and we were feeling confident, but things soon got much worse. Elbe has the reputation for being very tight in trees. As most of the group was running 36" tires and we were only running 33s, there were a few places that took some trying to get through. At one spot, the others were able to stick to the deeper part of the trail and we had to take a go around, however this was not any easier as we soon found ourselves getting wedged between two trees and looking for a better way around.
By the second half of the trail we were all doing a lot of winching. The trail was almost completely off camber and steering where you wanted to go was pointless, the mud and the off-camber conditions were shoving us into every tree along the trail. The sounds of cracking fiberglass told me that my hardtop was about done for but I gave into it and winched on. We spent the last hour and a half winching in the dark, what a pain!
We have no plans to map the trail system here any time soon.
If you are serious about visiting the Elbe ORV Area these are our suggestions.
1. Minimum 4" lift and 33" tires, more lift and bigger tires are a plus.
2. A good winch is an absolute MUST!
3. Leave the hard top at home.
4. DO NOT GO ALONE!!! (this is a cardinal rule of off-roading at any time)
5. THIS IS NOT A PLACE FOR FULL SIZE VEHICLES!
As I was not to concerned about getting a lot of pictures on this trip and because we were trying to get used to our new video camera. Below is a short video from our trip.
From Elbe, drive east on Hwy 706 6.15 miles and turn left immediately after crossing the railroad tracks. The road will bear to the left after .5 miles, continue to the first fork in the road and keep to the right, proceeding up hill. At the second fork in the road, keep right again, and continue up hill. At 3.07 mile from the main road will be another fork, keep to the left here and you can access several of the trail off of this road, however explore the area as there are many trails around here. From the last fork if you drive about .1 mile then turn left, then immediately right you will be at the entrance of the campground. There is a nice covered meeting area in the campground with a large stone fireplace.