Since we are going again, here is my write up from my run on this trail (first time) last November.
The Metberry Gulch Trail was just opened back up this summer, after a five year closure because of the Hayman Fire. Whoever went in and cleaned it up, THANK YOU!
The trail is below 8500 feet, I was looking for a place to wheel below timberline, and I have not been to this area before. Lots of burnt trees. We got some directions online, consulted Charles's book, grabbed the atlas and headed out. Of course we got lost. The Gazetteer has issues with posting county roads. We found the trail head by accident at around 230pm.
Our trail report said the road was relatively smooth to the trail. Actually, from the turn-off from County Road 68 to the trailhead, it is sixteen miles of run-off ruts and sharp pointy trees. The good people had cut back the branches and so there were sticks ranging in heigth from Sidewall Pokers to Roof Rack Tangles, and Side Panel Scratchers in between.
The trail is 8.6 miles round trip. It is essentially a chute with moguls. 1.9 miles in is the first obstacle where spotting is quite useful. One one side is a ditch, on the other is a water rut with a log. Where you drive are off center rocks that look like someone spilled cement out of the back of their truck. On all sides of said rock piles are depressions filled with mud, water, and gravel. Ideal for traction issues and undercarriage damage. Being lazy, I had not aired down either. I scraped the skid on the down hill, and made loud ugly noises and dragged a mounting bracket on the way back up. I had it locked and had a hell of a time getting my front passenger and rear driver tires in the correct position to just scrape what I considered auxilliary parts- the skid. I didn't even get to bash the skids, just the mount. That the sun had set didn't really add to the spotting attempts. After four or five tries and much cursing, we succeeded.
Another fun spot is three miles in where the trail makes a 90 degree turn. My Gatemonkey didn't like that part because the FJ leaned 20 degrees towards a large granite face, on his side. I did it on the way back to test the lean and I saw his point.
The best is what is called the Rock Slab or Chicken Scratch Hill. I chose the route to the right for the downhill, opting to climb the left fork, which is a sandy rock slab leading into a nice four foot dirt berm. Lose traction and you will not turn. Instead you would be seeking a new bumper and hoping your headlights worked. My downhill trail was uneven and led to the same berm, but with a bit more turning room. If you look at my corresponding Metberry picture album here, you will see I made my turn too soon. The climb up the Rock Slab on the way out was anticlimactic- no problems. My FJ is a mountain goat.
I have never driven off a trail in the dark. My headlights work pretty well so long as I don't get complacent and miss a nice, deep rut parallel to my tires. Making contact with such an inverted obstacle causes unintentional side leaps. Amazing what a five inch trench can do to 3500 pounds of steel and cheap plastic.
It is a fun trail, I recommend it. Here are some mileage specifics coming back. I don't have them for the way in because I am directionally challenged and we missed at least one turn off so I tried to modify.
Trail itself is a 8.6 round trip. The trailhead on the right on a small fork off main road (FR 340)…yellow metal sign that announces trail head
16.0 to seasonal gate from trailhead
16.1 to Start of turn off onto FR 340 where the 4x4 Hi clearance vehicles only sign (rt turn when coming south from Stump Road- CR 68)
CR 68/Stump Rd to ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Westlake Road (rt turn when coming from Deckers) -18.5
To turn off of 67 towards Deckers- 19.3 (rt turn coming in)
27.7 to paved part of 67 Intersection towards 285