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vehicles to drive up old logging roads on wnc forested mountain land

 
Posts: 3
Location: Marshall, NC
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Hi! We have 40 acres in madison county, nc. We are just beginning our journey of building our first house, We are building at the bottom, a small building that will be a living space/ studio for me and my business until we can get the road and well built up further into the property to begin our forever house. There are logging roads all over the property that are really in decent shape that with a few links could get us all the way to the top, no gravel down  though. We have been looking into 4wheelers to be able to get around and start doing work up at the other homesite. A side by side would be ideal. Those are pretty expensive, and lately I have been obsessed with the idea of getting a suzuki samurai or a geo tracker, as they are often cheaper (not to mention cool af) my husband isnt totally on board due to them being heavier and more likely to screw the road up in wet weather. Curious if anyone has driven one of these vehicles around on ungraveled logging roads. a lot of the roads are not that steep (by mountain folk standards) and some are steeper.

Thanks in advance!
 
pollinator
Posts: 218
40
cattle forest garden trees
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I have a John Deere gator, got it 5 years ago and don’t regret it one bit.  It’s an 825.  

We use it on the farm for everything from hauling to pulling vehicles out of mud to mowing (have a pull behind mower) to moving pig/chicken tractors to just getting from upper part of the property to the lower (no gravel roads on the hill)

We have some crazy hills and the gator is very confident on them and I even mow some parts of the hill

The low center of gravity keeps it sure footed, I would not want a normal truck to try to do what I do with it.  I mow places my friend won’t with his 4wd tractor

Make sure whatever you have gets a roll cage just in case, sometimes bad luck happens.

Having the dump bed option is very good and adding lights in front, rear and inside will come in very handy
 
master steward
Posts: 4348
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1323
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We really like our Kawasaki mule.  It goes anywhere we want without any problems.

We also have a tractor that will go anywhere the mule goes.  The thing about tractors is that you can get a lot more additional equipment to go with them. We got ours with the front end loader which we use for a lot of hauling of brush, feed, building supplies, lifting to get up higher, etc.  The box blade is great for working on roads and grading.

We also have a Club Car golf cart that will almost go anywhere as long as it is not too steep though I have seen it climb some really rocky mountains. The golf cart also has a trailer to haul stuff.

I second the roll cage and dump bed on the mule.  

 
gardener
Posts: 858
Location: Piedmont 7a
298
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You are right, Chloe, those UTVs are definitely spendy - can approach the price of a car at $18,000!

An ATV is significantly less expensive -say $7k for a Honda Rancher or equivalent. It will go anywhere, but not as convenient for two people to go together. But, can tow a trailer or mower easily enough.

Even an ATV will create some ruts if driven in wet conditions, but it is definitely correlated to weight - the heavier the vehicle the deeper the ruts.

My guess is you will end up with more than one - but do you start with the ATV and wait on the UTV?  I did the ATV first, and haven’t found a need for the more expensive option (tho it would be nice to have heat and A/C at times!)
 
M Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 218
40
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Pricing has gone up on UTVs in the past few years as they have added features.  The same version of mine is several thousands more than just 5 years ago.

You can get one used but you don’t know how they treated it.  But you can get a deal that way.  Sometimes they are cheap enough to warrant the risk of not knowing history.

I highly suggest a winch too.  We use it all the time, and I got one that can be put on the front or back (electric plug on both places and receiver in front and back)

My key accessories:
Roof (for rain and shade)
Windshield (when it’s cold to not freeze due to windchill and rain)
Winch (must have)
Lights front back inside(must have)
Front brush guard (for pushing things and avoiding damage
Rear headache rack (protection from loads hitting you in the head and also gives you something to bungee cord loads to)

Don’t buy without 4wd
Tires count, get medium to aggressive off-road tread
I don’t care about doors since they get in my way getting in and out but heat would be nice (I don’t have that and then you need a sealed cab)

5 years ago, I have about $14k with all the above accessories and a warn winch, with me doing the installation on lights, winch, radio and speakers. It goes 45mph and I’ve towed 2500 pounds with it. It’s a beast.

My friend just got a ranger with cab, air conditioning and heat, windshield wiper but no radio and manual dump bed.  It was $25k.  Wow, that’s like buying a truck. But it is nice.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 205
Location: WNC 6b
46
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Hi Chloe, welcome to Madison county. We've been here about 4yrs. We love it. We are just outside of hot springs.

Anyways, our neighbors have a gator and it's awesome.  We are considering one once we have the funding.

Currently we use our toyota fj cruiser. It's a boss. Thick mud, sides of hills, hauling logs around. Snow, no problem. We've pulled out a few stuck vehicles out with it.  It was about 11k 5 years ago. The interior is mostly rubber and hard plastic for the flooring. Makes the yearly bath easier. Haha.
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Posts: 74
15
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When building, we had a steep long gravel driveway. Knowing how to drive on a loose gravel road is far more important than vehicle choice. Had to put trucks in 4x4 because the rear ends were light. My dad did fine getting up there in a fwd small car, he kept his momentum up and was easy on the throttle in the looser spots. Others in cars/trucks would trash the road. Had to hang a chain so the road would not get trashed on a daily/weekly basis and need repairs due to the curious. Ended up paying the excavator to cut the slopes to be less steep, luckily heavy clay packed well. Friends/relatives who were welcome would still trash the road, people would go slow and when they would start to spin they would hit the gas= hours raking the road. When the concrete trucks kept coming that packed the road down like you wouldn't believe. Torrential rains would still mess up the gravels, even when packed.

For an extra vehicle, I would recommend a 96-00 Toyota 4Runner 4x4. We have two they are small but capable, decent MPG, reasonably low cost of ownership, and especially useful for pulling a trailer (up to 5k towing). Bonus points if you can find ones with a manual transmission and/or a factory rear differential locker.
 
master gardener
Posts: 2424
Location: southern Illinois.
628
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Each person's needs and wants differ.  I dont see 40 acres  requiring any specialized vehicles.  If you want one for fun, that is another issue. A few loads of gravel in the right places will be far less expensive than a specialized vehicle.  If I was to select a vehicle from what you identified, an older Geo would seem to have the most versatility.
 
M Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 218
40
cattle forest garden trees
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I definitly understand that comment, just from experience for us, the gator made us both WAY more productive and able to expand what we could do (move animal tractors, mow crazy areas to keep clear of brush for pasture, haul materials from place to place, go see the cattle over the hill quickly etc)

It al depends on budget too.  Fuel and repairs aren’t free either. (Parts still cost even if you do your own work)

At first I didn’t have one and everything was much more difficult and there were things we just didn’t do.  

Id buy one first thing now that I have experience with it, I’d be much further along now.


 
pollinator
Posts: 392
Location: Beavercreek, OR
105
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I also have 40 acres.  My electric carts are down for maintenance ... I miss them!

On 40 acres, you don't need to go very far so speed isn't an issue.  That means most high HP solutions aren't necessary, nor is a high-range gearbox. Like their larger brethren there has been a trend to move "utility" vehicles up to "sport" or even "vanity" status.  At a glance the quick rule would be "if they think you should wear a helmet while operating it its the wrong vehicle.  The electric cart travails at Wheaton Labs, if I may, point to the problems of using a "sport" vehicle instead of a "work" vehicle - fancy suspensions aren't required and you don't need to have your camo clothes match your camo vehicle.

I second the nomination of OLD style JD Gators - the ones designated TS or TX with a small bed, 6x4 float tires (they now have a Gator XUV ... sporty, not utility).  Add a bar and windscreen, and wear your seatbelt.  Those big tires leave a small footprint behind, assure all kinds of traction, and the bed that is open and low on three sides is realy handy for carrying the day's tools and supplies.  They come in gas, diesel and even electric (apparently supplied by ClubCar).

Another fun option are the Kei Trucks.  "Kei" is a designation in Japan for a set of rules for small vehicles, and they have all sorts of little trucks.  Old ones get imported - often with shockingly low use - and I think Daihatsu sells new ones as property maintenance vehicles too. Local availability varies - in the PNW they're all over thanks to Japan's proximity..  They might be road-legal, although the cab construction is paper thin and I wouldn't want a dust up with anything more than a  tandem bicycle.  They are otherwise tough, simple and reliable, using a small 600cc (~ish) motorycle motor.  In Japan they are used for delivery, roadworks, fire truck (seriously), farms.  I have one - it has a manual tranny with hi-lo and 4wd. And AC! It doesn't care.  Only problem is I'm 6'4" and getting in and out is a human origami project!
 
pollinator
Posts: 380
Location: the mountains of western nc
91
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another neighborly welcome from me! we’ve been living in a very accessible ditch off little pine in marshall for 5+ years, but before that were staying awhile up a very gnarly road near the tn border. some of the logging roads in the area are definitely next-level driving, for which something extra is definitely required, some combination of 4wd, high clearance, and decently low center of gravity. part of the question is how much stuff, i.e. building materials etc are you going to be trying to lug up there, that may inform your decision as far as vehicle size or capacity goes.
 
pollinator
Posts: 161
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
34
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This solution might be too large but you can't beat the price. My neighbor has a "property rig", a late 90's Ford Ranger that he bought for $400 in no longer street legal condition. It approaches Toyota Pickup levels of traction and utility but yes, it will tear up roads worse than a quad. Although a quad or side by side with an always-locked rear diff damages roads at a way higher level than it's size or weight would suggest.

For me, I have a 2WD Honda quad and a little dump trailer. It sucks but it's better than a wheelbarrow.
 
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Older trucks 70s-80s have more basic parts and can make good "Wood Trucks" but it is a gamble if you can still get parts and what parts might go out. We have been using a 80s Dodge that has been running on almost no maintenance for about 10-15 years.
 
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