Trail Review: Clear Creek OHV Trails – Milton, FL

Things are looking up for ATV riders in the Sunshine state. The State of Florida has been working on adding new riding facilities at all ends of the state to compliment the current state trails found in central Florida. This past January, after a 10 year effort, Clear Creek OHV Trails opened as an extension of the Blackwater River State Forest thanks in part to grants from Yamaha and Polaris. The 346 acre tract has 27 miles of trails for area riders.

Clear Creek OHV

Pulling into the park, there is a large staging area with ample parking on a gravel parking lot. There is a bathhouse with an outdoor shower. The small store where you sign in and pay your riding fees also has a selection of snacks and drinks and a few items you might need or have forgotten. Though the park is owned by the state it is operated by a private company. There is no camping at this time but future plans include it. More on that later. There is a small kids track for the youngest of riders to ride on. One note is the lack of shade around the staging area. You won’t find much of an escape from the Florida heat until you press the throttle and create a breeze. Clear Creek OHVLike many of the parks in northwest Florida, Clear Creek OHV is popular for dirt bikes. During our visit no other ATVs were seen but several bikes were around. While all 27 miles of trails are open to them, about 8 miles is single track trails for dirt bikes only. Currently the width limit is 50″ for the ATV trails keeping most side by sides out. With some of the tight weaving between trees we found this limit to be an accurate measurement. Another advantage for dirt bikes is the complete lack of anything mud related. Despite being named Clear Creek OHV, there is no creek, clear or otherwise on the property. Our visit was at the end of a week of heavy rains but the trails were dry though not overly dusty. Clear Creek OHVMost of the trails run through an area that was obviously clear cut for timber a few years ago. These trails are especially sunny and dryer. The outer trails run through more tree coverage and are also the tighter trails. With no mud there aren’t many ruts. The trails are also not particularly technical. While it may not be challenging this does make the park incredibly family friendly and a great choice for young or inexperienced riders. The trails are all clearly marked and color coded. All trails are one way, with road signs limiting speed and warning of trail crossings. Clear Creek OHVThe state also acquired another 350 acres across the street. Grants are in progress to expand there including trails for side-by-sides and camping areas. Riding fees are very reasonable at $15 for adults, $10 for youth (14 and under), seniors and military. Annual passes are in the works as well. The park is only open Friday through Sunday from 8am-5pm, weather permitting. Helmets are required for all riders. Youth riders also need eye protection and boots that cover the ankles. Riders under age 16 are also required to take an approved ATV safety course. An approved online version of the course can be taken at http://www.atvsafety.org/. Noise is strictly rated to 96dB and every vehicle is checked before it hits the trails. For more details the Clear Creek OHV website is http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Recreation/New-OHV-Trails-at-Blackwater-River-State-Forest. They are also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ClearCreekOHV.

Get Directions

Gorilla Whips LED Whip Giveaway!

Gorilla Whip giveaway

It’s the season of giving and we’re going all in. We’ve teamed up with Gorilla Whips to give away, not 1, but 2 of their wireless LED whips! This comes on the heels of our recent review of the Gorilla Whips LED Xtreme Whips found here. The new wireless LED whips do away with the inline controls for changeing colors, pattern, etc. and trade up to a multifunction remote that puts each option at your finger tips much easier. Check out Gorilla Whips for more infomation about their awesome whips at http://www.gorillawhips.com. To enter our giveaway to win a Gorilla Whips LED Xtreme wireless Whip, visit our contest page and enter your email address. Bonus entries for liking WeekendATV.com and Gorilla Whips on Facebook. Happy Holidays!

ENTER HERE

Trail Review: Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park – Chipley, FL

Like hopefully each of you were, we spent the days leading up to Labor Day looking for a place to ride. We try to avoid doing trail reviews during an event or ‘Fest as that won’t truly represent a normal weekend. So that and severe thunderstorms to the west sent us into the Florida panhandle and into the area of Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park. Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park is located not far off Interstate 10 near Chipley, Florida.

Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park is primarily a dirt bike park. There are about 50 miles of trails dedicated to them, which means you’ll see more NO ATV signs then anything else. We were told there were about 20 miles of ATV and UTV trails, but we only clocked 12 miles and that included some repeating. It is very likely that we missed a few trails. I would love to see more trail markers telling us where we can go instead of so much where we can’t go.

Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park

The trails are all one way except the main strips which have a speed limit and signs telling you to stay to the right. Helmets are required and boots are recommended. Both are available for rent if you come unprepared. The park is very family friendly and their safety and alcohol rules help keep it that way. There are also beginner trails and pee-wee tracks to satisfy the younger riders.

Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park

The clubhouse has drinks and snacks as well as covered seating. A bathhouse offers a couple of flush toilets and showers which beat many off road parks. They also have a nice wash rack to clean off your machines. It’s elevated off the ground so your ride istn’t stading in a puddle of the dirt and mud you are washing off. There is plenty of parking space with the ability to pull through. Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park also offers RV hookups and tent camping options if you want to stay overnight. Something we love to see are loading/unloading areas; dirt berms designed to safely and conveniently load/unload your ride from the back of a truck without needing ramps. The dirt ramp can’t slide out from under you!

Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park

Riding rates are reasonable at $20 per day/per rider for adults, $30 for the weekend. Riders ages 5-12 are $15 per day or $20 for the weekend. Non-riders are $10 a day and those under 5 are free. The park is only open on the weekends from 8-5, but groups of 8 or more can get access during the week by reservation.

Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park

Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park is clearly designed with our two-wheeled cousins in mind. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just good to know in advance. If you’re in the area it’s a fun stop, probably even better after a rain. Some of the ATV trails were as small as single track trails and made for tight navigation. If you are on a full size side-by-side I would scout the trails before going down them.

Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park

The park as many plans for the future including more tracks for the sport quads and an R/C track for remote controlled toys. We’d love to see them expand the ATV trails into more of their unused land. Of course, expansions like that can only be funded by visits from riders like you! For more information check out the Hard Labor Creek Off Road Park website at http://www.hardlaborcreekoffroadpark.com.

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.

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