Dust billows in the air like a fog lifting in the morning sunlight. The sounds of grinding metal and rock echo through the hillside. Adrenaline is high as the Hill Toppers traverse their way into the back country along the Dusy-Ershim OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range.
Loud and slow. The 4-wheel drive club members methodically navigate the placement of their tires among the boulders that create the trail. Destination Ershim Lake. The Hill Hoppers Central Valley 4 Wheelers is among a select few clubs that get early access from the U.S. Forest Service-Sierra National Forest to help clear trail corridors, conduct volunteer trail patrols, and organize work parties to help with specific projects.
Partnerships like these have been instrumental in the maintenance and improvement of the many recreational opportunities in the Sierra National Forest. Such teamwork has been essential, not only in providing thousands of hours of help each year to maintain trails, but also in leveraging and acquiring additional funding for trail improvement projects.
On a recent trip, the Hill Hoppers with the Fresno 4WD Club to maintain the upper section of the Dusy-Ershim Trail. Volunteering hundreds of man-hours, they cleared 200-plus fallen trees, repaired washouts, maintained campsites, and located and categorized an endangered toad for local biologists.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Hill Hoppers or how you can join their efforts in maintaining local OHV trails, visit them on Facebook at Hill Hoppers Central Valley 4 Wheelers or www.fs.usda.gov.