Trail Review: Arapaho National Forest – Grand Lake, CO

In the middle of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Highway 40 and 34 wind through the mountains and many popular ski towns. But if you pass by the ski resorts during the off-season you’ll find a small town whose lack of ski lanes makes is far less popular. In fact, its tourist season is in the summer when the warmer weather invites tourists headed to Arapaho National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Forest. Welcome to Grand Lake, Colorado.

Arapaho National Forest

Grand Lake is actually considered to be the snowmobile capital of the United States due to it’s remoteness. But during the short, summer months, the area provides some of the best ATV riding anywhere.

Arapaho National Forest

We booked our stay at the Winding River Resort just north of Grand Lake and on the outskirts of Rocky Mountain National Park. Winding River Report offers lodge rooms, cabins and camping lots for any type of camping. The resort also offers many recreational activities like a petting zoo, horseback trail rides, playgrounds and so much more. There are other hotel and lodging options in Grand Lake, but only the Winding River Resort sits directly on the North Supply Kiosk trailhead.Arapaho National Forest

Since we utilized air transportation to get to our destination, we found it necessary to rent so we could enjoy the trails. On the grounds of the Winding River Resort is also On The Trail Rentals. OTTR rents Polaris ATVs and side-by-sides during the warm months(May through September) and Ski-Doo snowmobiles during the winter. They buy all new units at the beginning of each season and maintain them meticulously. We opted for 8 hours on an RZR 570, giving us access to most of the narrow trails thanks to the 50-inch width. With a discount for staying at the resort we paid just over $300 which includes a trail map, a tank of fuel and helmets. During the 2014 riding season you can choose between a Polaris Sportsman 570, the 2-up Sportsman Touring 570, the Sportsman Ace, RZR 570 and Ranger Crew. If you bring your own OHV then you can launch from the Idleglen Staging Area nearby. The Idleglen kiosk has restroom facilities.

Arapaho National Forest

The Stillwater OHV Trail System, also known as Stillwater Pass, offers over 130 miles of trails. It’s a great mix of wide roads for beginners to moderately technical rocks climbs to narrow passes that even the RZR 570 couldn’t venture through. In all, we treked about 70 miles through the trails, discovering some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife you’ll ever see. Speaking of wildlife, if there is a moose on the trail ahead of you he owns it. Be patient!

Arapaho National Forest

About two-thirds of the 130 miles is wide dirt road with plenty of passing room in most places. But the real adventure starts on the other third, the narrower trails. Middle Supply Creek, Blizzard Pass and Camway trails were said to be too narrow for our RZR. But we had a great time on the North Supply Loop, Soda Pass and Spruce ’em Up Jack trails. Lower Gilsonite also provided some great canyon views. Be sure to pack a lunch and eat at the picnic area at the peak of the Eagle Perch trail where you can see all of Grand Lake.

Arapaho National Forest

If you are hauling your own ATVs, note that you will need to register your OHV with Colorado State Parks. Registration can be done at forest ranger offices, Colorado State Parks registration units, and many OHV dealers. You can also catch up on other state requirements and OHV laws. Outside of the registration there is no fee for riding. For more details on riding at Arapaho National Forest see the USDA site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/arp/home. For rental information see OTTR at http://www.onthetrailrentals.com/.

Arapaho National Forest

Get Directions

Trail Review: Apalachicola National Forest – Tallahassee, FL

On the south-west border of Florida’s state capital of Tallahassee sits one of the states largest National Forests, Apalachicola National Forest. Florida has always been a haven for off-roaders and Apalachicola National Forest is a prime example. It is home to 56 miles of ATV, single track and automobile trails over several types of terrain.

Apalachicola National Forest

There are three trailheads for ATV enthusiasts. Two are dirt parking lots off dirt roads. But the Silver Lake trailhead at the Silver Lake Recreational Area is a great launching point. For a $3 use fee you can pull into paved parking lots with plenty of room for trailers. Surrounding you is the swimming area of Silver Lake and a bathhouse as well as grilling areas. Riding fees are $10 per rider for a 3-day pass good for most of the National Forest trails in Florida. $75 will get you an annual trail pass.

Apalachicola National Forest

Hitting the trails you may immediately wonder if you need sand paddles. The trails start off with very soft, white sand and may concern you about getting stuck. The softness of the sand fluctuates throughout the trails but we never had any struggles from it. The trails are all clear and wide. They are also pretty clearly marked with forestry road numbers. The trails cut in and out of automobile forestry roads and each of the ORV trails are clearly marked for what types of vehicles are allowed.

Apalachicola National Forest

The trails aren’t all about sand. There are several water crossings and deep water holes. Most of the water holes have bypass trails cut around them or have a rock base. The holes were fine for even stock ATVs but we did bottom out on one and have to practice our recovery methods.

Apalachicola National Forest

While generally a flat landscape the scenery changes regularly. Patches of tall pines with a lush fern floor disappear fade to small hardwoods with thick underbrush and then to few trees with shrubbery growing in swamp like conditions.  At times you can’t even see a trail, just a submerged clearing, curving through the bushes.

Apalachicola National Forest

The trails are very easy, a great place for beginners to learn. The trails are fine for sport ATVs and dirt bikes too. UTVs are allowed and should have plenty of clearance on the trails. The only disappointment we saw was that the shower heads in the bathhouse had been removed. Not as in the were stolen, but as in they had been capped off. If you need to clean up just take a dip in Silver Lake! For more information on the ATV Trails at Apalachicola National Forest see their website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/apalachicola/recreation/ohv/recarea/?recid=75268&actid=93

Get Directions

REVIEW: Dragline Offroad SynthShackles

At WeekendATV.com we are constantly scouring the industry for products to make our offroad experience better. Sometimes we are looking to fill a void or improve a process. Other times we are just looking for unique products that you may never have heard of before. Recently, we were in need of new recovery shackles and stumbled across a product that fits all of the above: the Dragline Offroad SynthShackles.

Dragline Offroad SynthShackle

Dragline Offroad SynthShackles are made from HTS-78 Dyneema in a 12 strand open weave construction. HTS-78 Dyneema is an ultra high molecular weight polyethylene or UHMWPE. Synthetic rope has become a common winch upgrade and can even be found standard on some premium winches. HTS-78 Dyneema is a great fiber for use in off-road recovery because of it pliability and strength.

Dragline Offroad SynthShackle

The Dragline Offroad SynthShackles offer many benefits over traditional metal shackles. First, they aren’t susceptible to rust or corrosion and there’s no need to worry about seizing or binding of the pin like a traditional shackle can under pressure. If the threads on a shackle get damaged it’s trashed. It floats if you drop it in water or mud trying to get it hooked up. Ever tried digging a metal shackle out of the mud? It doesn’t get too hot or cold to handle based on the elements. And from a safety perspective, if the shackle were to break under pressure it will simply fall to the ground rather than sending dangerous shrapnel at you or your ride; just like a synthetic winchline.

Dragline Offroad SynthShackle

To test this synthetic shackle idea Dragline Offroad sent us their standard Recovery SynthShackle. The Recovery SynthShackle has a minimum breaking strength of 18,800 lbf. The shackle is incredibly easy to use. Simply push back on the slack to create a loop big enough to fit the knot through. SynthShackles are not for use on clevis mounts found on many bumpers, but they are a perfect and convenient link between your standard shackle and winchline. It also won’t scratch your paint like a metal shackle.

Dragline Offroad SynthShackle

Our Dragline Offroad SynthShackle retails for $36.99 as tested. They also have the XL Recovery SynthShackle (rated at 24,000 lbf for $79.99) and the HD Recovery SynthShackle (rated at 34,400 lbf for $54.99). Dragline Offroad also carries synthetic winchlines and a synthetic snatchblock we’ll get our hands on soon. To check out their full line and order your own see http://www.draglineoffroad.com.

Trail Review: Boggs and Boulders – Brooklyn, AL

Life Beyond the Pavement. That’s what Boggs and Boulders Off Road Adventure Park refers to itself as, and perhaps there are few truer statements. Boggs & Boulders is remotely located in the community of Brooklyn, Alabama. But when you turn off Brooklyn Road into the entrance you leave the pavement behind and enter an off-road paradise.

Boggs and Boulders

Boggs & Boulders caters to almost every conceivable type of off-road vehicle. They welcome dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs, Jeeps, mud buggies, rock crawlers and most anything else. You’re even welcome to hike or mountain climb on the rock walls. And with over 1,000 acres this playground has plenty of room for everyone. The park has main roads that get you to the various areas of the park easily. From there trails of all sizes and types go in different directions. Many trails are limited to certain vehicles types because of the trail width. Those trails are clearly marked. Our visit was the week of a very rare snow fall which had melted and made for a pretty muddy park. However, the rocky soil meant we usually had plenty of traction. If you aren’t up to testing the depth of the mud there are dry detours in most cases. With the exception of a few dedicated mud holes any stock ATV should do fine at Boggs and Boulders. We actually witnessed a young female pilot a Polaris RZR 170 impressively through very muddy trails. Whether it was her driving or the RZR itself she had no trouble guiding the little side-by-side through the thick of it. I fully expected to be pushing her out at somepoint. After seeing that you can be confident that your ride will have no problem.

Boggs and Boulders

One day is not enough to fully enjoy Boggs and Boulders. The staff is very aware of that and have set up multiple options to keep you comfortable overnight. There are several cabins, A-frame bunkhouses and campers available for groups of any size. There are also over 100 RV sites and primitive camping areas. Some of these options have restroom facilities. For the others it’s a short ride to the bathhouse which is one of the better facilities we’ve come across. Hotels are located in the nearby city of Andalusia, Alabama.

Boggs and Boulders

After a long day of riding there is a very large spring-fed swimming hole with a beach and areas to relax and play. There are also a couple of caves to explore on the acreage and a few group areas that you can reserve for your friends. The Mud Pie Cafe serves up a great selection of food from the grill with indoor and covered outdoor seating. The pavilion also has a stage and regularly hosts concerts and events; be sure to check out the events on their website. The store has hundreds of accessories and replacement parts for ATVs and UTVs as well as RV parts. There’s also a multi-station bike wash to quickly relieve your ride of any mud you collect on the trails. Boggs and Boulders

Boggs and Boulders is open for riding Friday through Sunday. Rates during our visit were $25 per ORV plus $10 per person. Perhaps the best part of Boggs and Boulders is the atmosphere. It is a very family friendly park and “Bogg Daddy” has plans to add even more enjoyment. The park rules are all very reasonable and promote good behavior. Helmets are required for youth and at some of the technical areas of the park. And while most ORVs are welcome, three-wheelers are not. To make your own plans to visit Boggs & Boulders check out their website at http://boggsandboulders.com.

Boggs and Boulders

Get Directions

Trail Review: Bonnet Carre Spillway – Norco, LA

Bonnet Carre Spillway

Louisiana is known for many things: Mardi Gras, Cajun food, alligator hunting and duck calls. It also claims the title of the Sportsman’s Paradise. When it comes to ATV riding we tend to agree. Gulf Coast parks commonly feature deep mud holes that keep snorkel manufacturers and shade-tree mechanics in business. But if the risk of sinking your ride it more than you want to take, there are still places to suit. One such destination is the Bonnet Carre Spillway in Norco, Louisiana. Best of all: it’s free.

Bonnet Carre Spillway

The Bonnet Carre Spillway is land overseen by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It serves as flood control for the Mississippi River which it borders, meaning it can be occasionally flooded. However, according to the Corps of Engineers, the Spillway has been closed less than 10 times since it opened in 1937. It also means that it’s virtually a marsh land and the Corps has made the 8,000 acres available to all sorts of Sportsmen.

Bonnet Carre Spillway

Easily accessible off Highway 90 is a gravel road leading to the staging area. The staging area is gated but open as long as the sun is up. The staging area is roomy enough for a fleet of 18-wheelers to maneuver and has several porta-potties that are kept up. Directly off the staging area are a couple of trail heads and areas designated as children’s tracks. Unfortunately the children’s tracks were not maintained at the time of our visit.

Bonnet Carre Spillway

There are two ATV areas found in Bonnet Carre Spillway. Each area is about 450 acres and each with about 20 miles of trails. Currently Area 2 is closed and in need of repair from Hurricane Issac in 2012. Area 1 is mostly south of Highway 90. The trails are formed throughout the marsh, weaving around various ponds and canals. The lower spots are pretty muddy but there is a bottom to it. In all of our riding we only had two occasions where our recovery rope was needed. If you want to get stuck you can, but you probably won’t be on the main trails. Speaking of recovery, if you like to ride alone and use a winch you’ll be out of luck here. Solid trees are few and far between. While trails twist and turn confusingly, the Highway 90 overpass, a set of elevated railroad tracks, and a few distinguishable processing plants make it easy to orient yourself. Good cell phone reception means that your smartphone can easily be used for navigation.

Bonnet Carre Spillway

One thing that is common is wildlife. During our winter ride the waterfowl were plentiful. You could hear shots from nearby hunting grounds that agreed. There were also tracks of larger game. I’m sure there are plenty of alligators in the Bonnet Carre Spillway so don’t venture too far off the trails on foot either.

Bonnet Carre Spillway

If you have interest in more than just ATV riding, the Bonnet Carre Spillway also has designated areas for fishing, crawfishing, hunting, dog training and a remote control airplane area. There are two boat ramps and camping is also an option with the proper permit. Park Rangers are on duty from the nearby Corps of Engineers office. If you’re ready to party after your ride, New Orleans in only about 15 minutes away. There are also plenty of restaurants and fuel stations close by as well. For more information about the Bonnet Carre Spillway see the Army Corp of Engineers website at http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/BonnetCarreSpillway.aspx

Bonnet Carre Spillway

Get Directions

PREVIEW: 2014 Can-Am Maverick 1000 X mr

If Can-Am has become good at anything it’s looking at what upgrades riders are adding and making them into a factory package. In the southeast United States and other parts of the world, you aren’t riding unless you are up to your seat in mud, a hobby that can require major modifications to your ride. In 2011 Can-Am introduced their X mr package for the Outlander 800R ATV. The X mr package added many commonly found aftermarket accessories including a relocated radiator, snorkels, Gorilla Axle axles and Silverback tires plus much more. As the side-by-side scene has continued to grow and even surpass ATVs, it was only a matter of time before the X mr package became a part of the Maverick line-up as the 2014 Can-Am Maverick 1000 X mr.

Can-Am Maverick 1000 X mr

Naturally, the beginnings for the ultimate Can-Am 2-person mudder is Can-Am Maverick 1000r. With it’s 976cc, 101-hp, V-Twin engine it’s the biggest power plant in Can-Am’s arsenal and led the industry altogether until very recently. With all the bouncing around of rough terrain we’ve all experienced an unintentional throttle burst. Can-Am has added Intelligent Throttle Control (ITC) to help detect accidental jolts on the throttle. Also helping to keep you in control is Can-Am’s Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering DPS. Finally, the engine’s intake, CVT intake and CVT exhaust have all been snorkeled to what Can-Am determined was the “highest as possible.” They are located at the top of the dash and behind the seats at roughly the same height. Since most aftermarket systems go well above that height, I see there still being some aftermarket upgrades.

Can-Am Maverick 1000 X mr

The Maverick X mr includes an industry first suspension system with an onboard air compressor supported FOX Air Assisted Piggyback shocks, offering real on the fly adjustments. The Air Controlled Suspension allows for 4 inches of height adjustment. Ground clearance at full height is about 15.5″, enough to put you in the bucket club (The bucket club is an elite group whose modified machines can straddle a 5 gallon bucket). The compressor also includes an auxiliary hose that can be used to inflate the 30″ Gorilla Axle Silverbacks (who would have guessed?). The Silverbacks are wrapped around 14″ cast-aluminum ITP wheels. Just in case that isn’t enough to get you through your swim hole, the Maverick X mr includes a 4,000 lbs. WARN winch.

Can-Am Maverick 1000 X mr

Of course all of this comes at a price. The MSRP of the Can-Am Maverick 1000 X mr is $21,499. It’s not a bad package of you look at the Maverick 1000 X rs and then add the upgrades. It also gets the serious mudder from showroom to mud pit without a few days of garage work. For more details on the Can-Am Maverick 1000 X mr as they emerge check back here or visit Can-Am Offroad at http://can-am.brp.com/off-road/side-by-side/maverick-1000-x-mr.html. For detail on other 2014 Can-Am Side-by-Side units released earlier this year see here.

Can-Am Maverick 1000 X mr

Trail Review: Stony Lonesome OHV Park – Bremen, AL

Attention County Commissions of North America: take note of the great efforts made by Cullman County. Cullman County is a moderately sized county between Birmingham and Huntsville, Alabama, and is perfectly divided by Interstate 65. In 2007 the County Commission sought to increase tourist revenue, wanting to hold on to visitors who were stopping for little more than fuel and food as they passed through. Enter Stony Lonesome OHV Park.

stony lonesome ohv park review

The county set 1,456 acres of land aside to become an OHV paradise. Today the park caters to ATVs, side-by-sides, Jeeps, rock crawlers, dirt bikes, horseback riding and even hikers.There are over 70 miles of trails, each rated and well-marked for difficulty, direction of travel and vehicle restrictions.

stony lonesome ohv park review

The trails themselves are incredibly scenic, climbing through the foothills of the Appalachian mountains and along the banks of Dorsey and Stony Lonesome Creeks providing for some pretty steep climbs. Trails are rated as Easiest, Advanced and Extreme. Each of the trails branch off from a couple of main roads that cut through the property. The main roads are two-way with one-way trails branching off. Most of the trails come back a few yards away. Throughout the park there are call boxes with map information. There are also a few helicopter landing zones, just in case.

stony lonesome ohv park review

There are some muddy locations and even trails marked as being muddy, but don’t mistake Stony Lonesome for a mud park. Even after heavy rain before our rides I only got water up to my foot pegs on a stock Grizzly 350 and only got stuck once when I bottomed out in ruts on an Advanced trail. The Easiest trails are nice joy rides. Advanced trails get into steeper climbs and deeper ruts, a trend that continues into the Extreme trails.

stony lonesome ohv park review

Stony Lonesome has a nice park office on a hill overlooking the entrance. Check-in and check-out is required for all riders, including those staying overnight. No riding is allowed at night, ending an hour before dark. The park is open Thursday through Monday, closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Quiet time starts at 10pm in the camping area. It’s a very social atmosphere until then.

stony lonesome ohv park review

Like any respectable park, Stony Lonesome offers several lodging options including RV hookups and cabins. For $40 per night your cabin will sleep 4 and is equipped with a 3/4 bathroom, heating and A/C units, a microwave and a refrigerator. For $95 per night you can get a two bedroom unit with a dining room and a kitchen. A bathhouse is also located at the campground. Also a bargain are the riding fees which are only $10 per day for motorized vehicles from dirt bikes to Jeeps. Additional riders are only $5 with those aged 5 and under riding for free. This makes Stony Lonesome half the price of many lesser parks! Helmets are required at all times on open motorized vehicles. They are available for sale or rent in the office. As for riding double they recommend you follow the manufacturers guidelines but there are no requirements, riding double is acceptable.

stony lonesome ohv park review

Their office has wireless Internet access and a small eating area. Cell phone coverage was impressive throughout the park. Dodge City is at the I-65 exit and has fuel and a few eating options. Another 10 minutes north you’ll find the city of Cullman with most anything you could need. Like any riding trip call before you haul: 256.287.1133. You can also visit them on the web at http://www.stonylonesomeohv.us/ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stonylonesomeohv. While you’re at it, call your county commission and tell them to check it out. If you build it, riders will come!

stony lonesome ohv park review

Get Directions

REVIEW: Bubba Rope Lil’ Bubba Recovery Rope

There are two vital lessons to off-roading that are often learned the hard way. Don’t do any serious riding alone and always, ALWAYS bring a tow rope. Over the past couple of weeks we have put the Lil’ Bubba recovery rope by Bubba Rope to the test and it is certainly one of the best ropes money can buy.

Bubba Rope tow ropes are considered “snatch ropes” because they will stretch and are designed to not just pull, but jerk a stuck vehicle free. This can be especially helpful to overcome the suction effect that mud can have. The elastic also makes the recovery effort smoother for passengers and the vehicles themselves. All Bubba Ropes are made of 100% double braided nylon with a urethane polymer coating. The large loops on both ends are commercially spliced and seized. The ends are then dipped in a high performance elastic polymer coating, a process Bubba Rope calls “Gator-ize.” This coating helps to protect the heavily used loop ends. 

The Lil’ Bubba recovery rope is 1/2″ thick and 20 feet long. It has a breaking strength of an insane 7,400 pounds! That’s way more than enough to get your ATV or side-by-side out of anything. Bubba Ropes have their capacity and other necessary information printed on a label that is attached directly to the rope. Bubba Ropes are also resistant to UV, water and abrasives that are harmful to most tow straps.

We were able to find several testing opportunities for our Lil’ Bubba. Combined with a shackle, the Lil’ Bubba was easier to use than a standard tow strap.  The kinetic energy produced from the jerking motion easily pulled our full-sized ATVs out of the muck. Clean up is as easy as rinsing it off, though don’t expect it to ever look quite as clean as new.

Bubba Ropes come with a strap and a mesh duffel bag for easy carry. MSRP on a Lil’ Bubba is $69.00. The loops, or eyes, of the rope are available in yellow by default. For an extra $20 you can get them in black, orange, green, blue or red. If you tend to get bigger objects stuck they have a rope for that too. Bubba Ropes are available in several diameters and lengths with breaking strengths up to 131,500 pounds.

We’ve all seen the remains of broken ropes and straps around mud holes. Having a Bubba Rope means you won’t have to worry about whether or not you are prepared.

For more details or to purchase see: http://www.bubbarope.com

Trail Review: Rosita Creek Flats – Amarillo, Texas

The Texas Panhandle is generally a vast cropland, except for the area carved out by the Canadian River. US Highway 87/287 runs north out of Amarillo, Texas, across this expansive flat land. As it crosses the Canadian River, a small dirt road (aptly named Canadian River Road) turns off to the east into a wide, sandy, staging area surrounded by narrow trail ruts. Welcome to Rosita Creek Flats National Park OHV Recreation Area.

Highway 87/287 crossing the Canadian River and the entrance to the Rosita Creek Flats staging area.

Rosita Creek Flats (also called Rosita Flats) is one of two OHV riding areas at the Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. The Blue Creek Bridge OHV area can be found on the north side of Lake Meredith a few remote miles away. Combined, they provide over 2,000 acres of OHV riding area, 80% of which is at the Rosita Creek location. From the top of the plateaus you can see the dirt playground stretch for miles.

Rosita offers a little of everything in regards to terrain and difficulty. There are wide open roads and sand banks, steep hills, rock climbs and even mud. In fact, you can ride right out into the river itself. Fording the Canadian River is usually easy. It is a dam controlled river that never seemed more than a foot deep and has a pretty solid bottom to it. You can, however, get into some tread-clogging, southern-style mud on the banks and we got a chance to test our winching abilities there.

Rosita offers primitive camping but there are no restrooms or picnic tables as a result of repeat issues with vandalism. There have been threats to close the park, but thanks to the Texas Off-Roaders Association that hasn’t happened yet. TORA works hard with the legislators and corporate sponsors to keep the Canadian River parks available to riders. They also host events like sand drags to help raise funds and awareness.

Park officials do enforce the use of helmets and eye protection and Texas requires an OHV decal while riding on public lands such as this. The decals are $16 and are good through August 31st of the purchase year. When you consider most parks are about $20 per vehicle per day, $16 for a year is great with the many public riding areas offered by Texas. The decal fees are put back into the states OHV program. Decals can be purchased in advance from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or from retailers throughout the state. We found B&R Motorsports to be the closest retailer and easily obtained our decals there for a same day ride. They also had plenty of riding gear and accessories to serve your needs.

If you are going to be in the Amarillo area and are looking for a place to ride, Rosita Creek Flats is a great stop. You’ll probably never be alone there and we met several local riders on our weekday evening ride. Weekends are even more popular, especially on TORA’s event weekends.

Rosita Creek Flats ORV Area – www.nps.gov/lamr/planyourvisit/ohv-off-highway-vehicles.htm

Texas Off Highway Vehicle Program – www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/ohv/index.phtml

Texas Off-Roaders Association – www.texasoffroaders.com

B&R Motorsports – www.brgokarts.com

Get Directions

Trail Review: Sand Hill ATV – Perkinston, MS

Sand Hill ATV Park is no longer open to the public. Check back here for updates.

Most people probably think that with beaches so close there must be a lot of good sand riding around the Gulf Coast. Truth is, there’s very little ridable sand in the South. In fact, the only beach that is open to public riding is Daytona Beach in Florida, which strictly abides by a 10 mph speed limit. So when the staff at WeekendATV.com found out there was a little piece of the West Coast not far away, we planned a weekend long excursion for the entire crew and their families.

A favorite: the spillway

Our destination was Sand Hill ATV Park, located in Perkinston, Mississippi, an hour north of Gulfport and two hours south of Jackson. The park is in close proximity to Desoto National Forest. Riding starts at 9am and goes till dark on the weekends and holidays. Campers generally arrive on Fridays, but the park will open any day of the week for large groups or those staying overnight. Park prices are $20 per off-road vehicle, $10 for those under 100cc’s. Additional days are half price. There is no charge for passengers.  Chances are likely that you will be greeted and briefed by the park manager upon check-in.  He or another staff member will review the rules, explain the layout of the land, and fill you in on “must see” hot spots in the park.  A complete list of rules can be found at http://sandhillatv.com/Rules.html.

The drag strip

Accommodations

Sand Hill ATV has several options for overnight stay. There’s plenty of room for primitive camping as well as many 30AMP RV locations. In addition, Sand Hill has several cabins equipped to sleep 6 people each. These cabins are basic, but include shower and bathroom facilities, a small kitchenette, linens and towels.  If you are traveling with a larger group, you may wish to stay in the “Big House” which is also located on site.  Despite being a rustic older home, it fits in well with a destination dedicated to getting dirty.  The “Big House” features two bedrooms, one bathroom, sitting and dining rooms, full kitchen, washer and dryer, linens and towels, and a private above-ground pool. Whether camping or simply visiting for the day, everyone has access to the bathhouse that houses multiples showers and a washer/dryer.  There’s also a separate above-ground pool for all campers. Food is available onsite at The Oasis, where the Sand Hill staff prepares a variety of burgers, hot dogs, and snacks. Restaurants, fuel and other stores are 7 miles away in nearby Wiggins.

On with the ride!

Sand Hill ATV truly has a riding environment for every kind of rider on its 350+ acres. There are wide open meadows and dirt roads perfect for young riders. There is mud almost deep enough to necessitate the use of a snorkel, as well as tightly wooded trails. But most abundant of all, there is sand, and lots of it.

This isn't even THE sand hill.

The park is setup with several different riding areas all connected by roads and trails. The park centers around an old sand and gravel pit. Center stage of the park is a massive sand hill, and assuming your ATV can make it to the top, you’ll enjoy a great view of the park. The hill is surrounded by sand dunes and Arizona-esque drop-offs. Faint tread marks run up some hillsides where brave pioneers have ventured up (or down) paths less traveled. Other areas of the park have steep bluffs of soft sand that will also challenge most machines, especially those without sand tires. The trails are wide enough to accommodate almost everything from a sport quad to a dune buggy or side by side.

trails at Sand Hill

Just down from the staging area you see one of the park’s highlights: a 300′ drag strip. The drag strip is a great place to play around and there are usually a few sport ATVs there to put on a show. Helmets are required on the strip and it is groomed regularly. Throughout the park are various springs, creeks and spillways running between the ponds and beyond. They are navigable enough to be used as trails themselves in several places, though be prepared for the occasional pocket of shallow quicksand that can make for some excitement. On the other hand, the pond is quite deep and can facilitate a great show by those brave enough to attempt skimming across it.  If you like mud, Sand Hill has that too, just make sure your ride has aggressive treads and probably a tow rope or winch.

Overall, Sand Hill ATV Park offers the setting for excellent family riding and beautiful scenery rarely found in the Southeast. If you find yourself anywhere near it this is a must visit park. Even if you don’t have sand tires you will still have a great time. To find out more information call Jeff at 601-528-4284 or email management@sandhillatv.com. Their website is available at http://www.sandhillatv.com.

Get Directions