Just 30 miles
southwest of Colorado Springs is one of Colorado's toughest hardcore
rockcrawling trails. The Independence Trail system currently consists
of three patriotically named trails; Freedom Trail, Liberty Trail
and Patriot Trail. In late August, three of us decided to salute
these trails and leave a little red, white, and blue paint on the
Overacker negotiating one of the steep ledges leading to
Chris Overacker wheeled his 1995 YJ equipped with 35" Goodyears
and an Atlas II transfer case bolted to an automatic transmission.
This combo sends power to a Dana 30 locked front and Ford 8.8
locked rear end.
brought his freshly stretched 1995 YJ, sporting 39.5" Swampers
and Detroit Locker-filled Dynatrac ProRock 60s at each end.
Our 1998 TJ
was ready with 38.5" SX tires turned by a spooled D60R rear
and ARB'd Dana 44 front. A 700r4 and Tera-Low transfer case do
the initial gear reduction duties.
The Trail System
the steep ledges requires careful planning and maneuvering.
This trail system begins with three large ledges which need to be
negotiated to drop down into the canyon where Liberty and Patriot
begin. Each of these trails ends by climbing out of the canyon,
so going down the ledges is required to enter the next trail. These
obstacles demand alert spotting and careful tire placement due to
the imminent possibility of a rollover. After the ledges, a short
trip up the trail requires a choice between Liberty or Patriot trails.
Signs mark the trials and we chose to do Patriot first. On the first
obstacle into Patriot, Kevin's hubs blew, requiring a trip to Colorado
Springs for replacements. While our friend went shopping, Chris
and I wandered up this difficult, obstacle-rich trail in roughly
By the time we finished Patriot, Kevin had the
new hubs purchased and bolted on, so we tackled descending the
ledges again and took on Liberty. Liberty is longer than Patriot
but not as difficult, however, there are plenty of fun technical
After Liberty, we helped Kevin over Patriot and
then headed down the Freedom trail. This trail is a short bypass
trip with a nice ledge at the top. Freedom dropped us off at the
top of the three steep ledges entering the canyon.
Since all of the trails had been conquered and
there was plenty of sun left, we decided to try going up the ledges.
Chris sat out on this one, so Kevin and I gave them a shot. The
winch line came out for both of us on the bottom ledge, but we
climbed the remaining two unaided. The three of us had an absolute
riot on these trails.
a few line modifications, Liberty can provide a few serious
McGothlin on his side on Patriot. With the help of a strap,
Kevin was able to drive out of this predicament.
How to Get There
The Independence Trail system is located near Penrose, Colorado.
Penrose is on SR115. Just north of town SR115 curves to the east.
Watch for the sign to Brush Hollow Reservoir and turn west onto
3rd Street. After two blocks, turn right, or north, on E. Street
and follow it out into the country. After dropping into a small
valley and starting the climb out, the road crosses a cattle guard
marked with a stack of tires on both sides. This begins BLM land.
The next left is the parking lot for the trail system. It would
be difficult to miss the large metal sign marking the trail entrance.
WARNING: These trails are
very extreme and should not be tackled by the inexperienced and/or
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