The Lake Hughes Truck Trail : Off Roading Adventure 90 Min From LA

I would bet a fair amount of money that we have the record for the largest vehicle even taken on the Lake Hughes Truck trail.

On our last 50 Campfires Field Trip to Los Angeles, we spent a lot of time in the Angeles National Forest. At over 700,000 acres, it’s full of rugged hiking, camping, backpacking, and even a few off-road OHV trails for the adventurous. GMC hooked us up with a Yukon Denali XL on this trip, so we figured “why not?” We headed toward the Lake Hughes Truck Trail to at least take a look.

The start of the trail is inconspicuous and looks like a small gravel pit, but the sign did indeed say “Lake Hughes Truck Trail” so we started up a steep incline. The trail is rugged, but it is well maintained so we figured we’d give it a mile or so and see how we felt. After a few twists and turns, we pulled over to make a game plan. We grabbed a few sodas and needed to decide if we had enough time to make it all the way through.

dometic cfx 35w plb40On this trip, we were traveling with the Dometic CFX 35W cooler and the PLB-40, which made everything easier. The PLB-40 is a new lithium iron battery (not lithium ion), that can power the cooler for two days off the grid. The battery was hooked up in-line from the 12V socket on the back of the Denali, which worked great. When we were driving, the vehicle both kept the cooler cold and charged the battery. When we stopped, the cooler switched over to battery power. It couldn’t have been easier.

So – our concern was two-fold: 1) Did we want to risk navigating the trail in the dark, and 2) Should we be out here with an XL SUV in the first place? I’ll tell you right now – the only reason I even considered it is because the GMC Yukon Denali XL felt so capable all week. I’m not a truck guy by any means, but I know what power sounds like, and it was easy to turn heads in this thing. It has a growl to it that you don’t expect from a vehicle that is probably being used to take kids to soccer practice. That’s all good and well, but I wanted to see what else it could do. It turns out that the Lake Hughes Truck Trail was no match at all for the Yukon Denali.

There were a few technical spots with gulches that were washed out from the rain, but with a slow approach, we climbed up everything with ease. We only saw two other vehicles in the three hours we were out there, which was a good thing (both were jacked up 4x4s). On 99% of the trail, there is no way anyone could have passed us, and I wasn’t going to go in reverse down the hill – not in something that big. This was my main concern. After a few miles, I was pretty sure that the GMC Yukon Denali was going to make it out alive, which it did.

If you’re looking for an adventurous afternoon in your SUV give the Lake Hughes Truck Trail a try. It’s only 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, and we had a blast. Plan on spending a few hours on the trail, and make sure you bring snacks. There aren’t very many spots to pull over and take a break, so if you see one, take advantage of it. The elevation gain is 3000 ft so it could get a little chilly in the Spring or Fall. Surprisingly, we had snow at the top of the trail, which only made for a more memorable trip. We were beginners to off-roading, and this is a beginner trail. Take your time, and you’ll have a blast.

By the way – here’s exactly where you’ll start in Google Maps. 

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