WHERE TO RIDE: THE BEST PLACES TO RIDE IN TENNESSEE
Live your own country music song By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Tennessee offers some of the best and most famous ATV riding in the U.S. The wooded and technical riding environment has motivated the formation of three great ATV and UTV riding areas in one general area. By road, the parks look like a horseshoe on a Tennessee map, with Brimstone and Ride Royal Blue close together. Windrock Park is the farthest south and about the same distance from the other two parks. As the crow flies, they lie closer together than by road. Unlike West Virginia’s famed Hatfield-McCoy trail system, the three parks don’t link with designated routes.
The area between the parks is spider-webbed with dirt roads and trails, and many of those are open (with the correct permit) to OHVs. This area is a mix of private property and lands administered by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). The TWRA “consists of more than 600 professionals dedicated to the preservation, conservation and enhancement of Tennessee’s fish and wildlife for the enjoyment of all Tennesseans and our visitors.” The TWRA Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) program is funded by federal grants. The source of the grants is the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The RTP is funded by a percentage of the tax on each gallon of gas sold across the country. The agency is responsible for a 20 percent cash match. The source of matching funds is TWRA’s wildlife and/or wetland fund, or fees charged by TWRA for use of the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area (WMA) trails. It makes the cost of the fees less annoying when you see a direct result of more or better maintained trails.
To ride between the parks, you will need the TWRA permit for the TWRA and Ride Royal Blue trails. For the TWRA trails, riders under 13 are free, residents are $15.50 a day and non-residents are $37.50. There are yearly and multi-day options too. Check out the TWRA website at www.tn.gov/twra/ for all the information and maps.
Those three major destinations and the TWRA trails are not the only options. We have information on these large areas and some smaller ones that are not all located in the same portion of the state.
TENNESSEE RIDE SPOTS
Aetna Mountain Adventure Off-Road Park
Aetna Mountain is an adventure off-road park located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is open year round, and it has over 700 acres of trails and forest atop beautiful Aetna Mountain.
All daily riders must ride with a registered member. One-year memberships start at $300. Helmets must be worn while riding open-air vehicles (quads, dirt bikes, side-by-sides, etc.), regardless of age. All riders must sign a waiver before riding.
CONTACT: (423) 933-2198 Ext. 404
319 West Hills Drive,
Chattanooga, TN 37419
E-mail: [email protected]
BIKINI BOTTOMS OFF-ROAD PARK
This off-road park with the interesting name is designed for great off-road fun for the entire family. It is a place to get away and enjoy your off-road 4×4, UTV, ATV, motorcycle or other trail rig. It has many acres of trails from easy fun riding to the most extreme. Some areas of the park are just dirt trails, but they have an area dedicated to mud riding also.
Event weekends feature live concerts, mud racing, UTV racing, hill climbing and other family entertainment.
CONTACT: (731) 676-0402
300 Burntmill Road,
Dyersburg, TN, 38024
Brimstone Recreation manages and promotes the recreational use of over 19,196 acres, with over 300 miles of OHV trails and roads, plus hunting, fishing and river sports like kayaking and canoing. There are a number of cabins that sleep up to 10 people, and RV spots in 30- or 50-amp service, plus water and some have sewer. There is a shower unit in the campground, as well as tent camping. The campground has direct access to many of Brimstone’s ATV trails. Wi-Fi is available upon request. There are area hotels and off-site cabins available as well.
Brimstone is home to some crazily popular ATV and UTV events. The trail system ranges from easy logging and gravel roads to moderate challenges with ruts, washouts, steep climbs and deep mud. The difficult trails are for riders looking to be challenged. If you tire of the 300 miles of trail (not likely), then the 140,000 acres of North Cumberland WMA—the largest such parcel of contiguous public property in Tennessee outside the Cherokee National Forest—is just down the road or trail.
Brimstone permits are $15 for riders under 18 and $28 for adults. Passengers have to have permits as well. Prices drop significantly for multi-day or yearly passes. If you venture onto the WMA, you will need the WMA permit as well.
CONTACT: (800) BRIMSTONE, (423) 663-4868
2860 Baker Hwy, Huntsville, TN 37756
E-mail: [email protected]
CIRCLE E GUEST RANCH
Circle E offers 120 miles of mapped, marked trails and a free trail map. The trails are divided by Hwy 16, so at times you can ride one or the other side. Please read the Rules and Policies! See the Rates page for riding fees and lodging for some great places here to stay. Circle E has cabins, cabarns, campsites and stalls for rent. Circle E offers their Log Cabin Lodge for weddings, reunions and opens it during special events. To book please call (931) 962-1790.
They host special events for equestrians, OHV, bluegrass festival, archery and Jeeps!
CONTACT: (931) 962-1790
50 Circle E LN
Belvidere, TN 37306
DOE MOUNTAIN RECREATION AREA
Located in northeast Tennessee’s beautiful Johnson County, Doe Mountain Recreation Area features 8,600 acres of protected mountain terrain and trails perfect for four season OHV wilderness adventures. Bring your own off-highway vehicle or rent from nearby providers, then escape into stunning, rugged natural scenery for an unforgettable expedition. Start your weekend getaway here to take in all the area has to offer, including Gentry Creek Falls, Watauga Lake and the Virginia Creeper trail. Whether you prefer a brief outing into the wild before dining and shopping in downtown Mountain City, or if you want to enjoy a full day of family fun experiencing nature, Doe Mountain is the place.
The Doe Mountain Adventure Center, located at the Harbin Hill Trailhead, serves as the base camp for all mountain activities. It is also the Trail Information Center, where you can purchase user permits and obtain trail maps and books.
Johnson County, Tennessee, is known as the Jewel of the Appalachian High Country. Local services include comfortable accommodations, enjoyable camping venues, good food, nearby gas stations and unique shopping opportunities.
It is a great place to spend a day on the trails, with everything from wide and easy to tight and technical. It’s not a huge place, but fun. The area has 8600 acres and 60 miles of trails.
CONTACT: (423) 460-1295
1203 Harbin Hill Road
Mountain City, TN 37683
E-mail: [email protected]
NORTH CUMBERLAND OHV RIDING AREA
North Cumberland WMA Sundquist Unit Riding Area is a multi-use trail system. The area is open 24 hours a day, and camping is allowed. At least one occupant of a vehicle must possess a valid annual hunting license along with a WMA permit or a North Cumberland Special Use Permit is required. License and permits may be purchased locally at license agents or online. The area-wide speed limit is 25 mph. Organized competition events are prohibited. Reckless operation of motorized and non-motorized vehicles is prohibited. A maximum noise limit of 86 dB for all motorized vehicles measured at 50 feet from the exhaust.
Trails are named and numbered with signs at trailheads and confidence markers placed at half-mile intervals. Trailhead signs have symbols indicating trail difficulty level and user types allowed. Be aware of logging and mining activities as you travel the trails and primitive roads.
CONTACT: Rusty Dunn’s e-mail: [email protected]
RIDE ROYAL BLUE
Ride Royal Blue is the farthest north of the three famous Tennessee parks. It differs from the others. A family-run operation owns the Royal Blue Campground, and it leases the property that the trails are on. Ride Royal Blue (RRB) ATV Guest Ranch connects to the Tennessee WMA called Royal Blue and Sundquist, so the total trail miles available are 600-plus! When you check in with RRB, they let you know which of the trails in the TWRA OHV area you can ride with the RRB permit.
RRB’s Jessica Westray says of the ATV ranch, “My fondest memories are of growing up riding ATVs in the mountains with my brother and cousins. Nothing compares to the riding that the Cumberland Mountains has to offer. As a family, we never had problems having a blast with our ATVs—we only ran into obstacles when it came to finding places to stay and to park our machines.
“The idea of an ATV ranch was born, and Ride Royal Blue Resort got its humble beginnings. We wanted to create a safe haven for ATV enthusiasts and their vehicles. RideRoyalBlue.com is designed entirely for the all-terrain vehicle enthusiast. Our cabins are even designed so that the riders can drive their ATVs directly up to their cabin.”
RRB’s campground has over 30 cabins (two-day minimum), over 30 RV sites (some with just water and electric and some with full hook-ups) and many tent sites. In total, the campground can hold 400 guests. There is a restaurant, general store and a pro shop that sells gear, supplies and parts.
There is a large log lodge that has a breakfast buffet on weekends and can arrange for dinner buffets. Food and beverages are also available at the general store. RRB has trails to suit riders of all skill levels. RRB can accommodate ATVs, UTVs, trail bikes, 4WD trucks, buggies, jeeps and mountain bikes. The trail system is open 24/7 and night riding is allowed. If you don’t have a way to get your machines to RRB, there are ATVs and UTVs available for rent.
Riding fees are assessed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and not by Ride Royal Blue. TWRA permits can be purchased in advance at any Tennessee Walmart, sporting goods outlet or the Pilot Truck Stop at Exit 141 off I-75. Tennessee residents can purchase their permits online at www.tnwildlife.org.
CONTACT: (423) 784-9445
6307 Stinking Creek Road
Pioneer, TN 37847
Windrock Park’s 72,000 acres makes it the largest privately owned riding area in the country. The trails are suitable for everything from mountain bikes to full-size 4WD trucks, though the majority of users are ATVs and UTVs. By coincidence, the riding area’s extreme mountain terrain touches four Tennessee counties. You will find 315 miles of managed OHV roads and trails. In addition to the general riding, Windrock Park is open 365 days a year, and there is a huge range of events for all sorts of vehicles.
Land-use permits may be purchased at the Windrock Park General Store ( 435-3492), the Windrock Park Campground Office ( 435-1251), Ginger’s Market & Deli on Hwy. 116 in Briceville, and Shell Food Fun at 557 Tri-County Boulevard in Oliver Springs.
Windrock Park’s campground is located on 259 acres and equipped with seven fully furnished cabins with two bedrooms, two baths, a living area, a kitchen and a covered deck overlooking the mountains; 10 smaller cabins with double bunk beds, a bathroom with shower and kitchenette; and 39 RV sites with full hook-ups (sewer and electrical accommodating 30, 50 amps and 110). There are also 100-plus primitive camping sites available. All RV sites and primitive campsites have a fire ring and picnic table. There are two bathhouses inside the park—one in the RV area and the other in the primitive camping area.
CONTACT: (865) 435-1251
Windrock Park General Store
912 Windrock Rd.
Oliver Springs, TN 37840
WOOLY’S OFF ROAD CLUB, INC
Wooly’s Off Road Club, Inc. wants to provide safe yet fun area to ride while not offending their neighbors. Every person entering the property must sign a liability release form. Stop by the building before unloading to check in. When you leave, stop by and check out. Visitors under 18 years old will need the signature of a parent or guardian. You are welcome to print this form get it signed and bring it with you.
They open at 8 am and close at dark. They only allow riding after dark on special night ride events. Helmets are required on ATV and dirt bikes. Seat belts should be worn at all times in other vehicles. Mooresville Road and Coyle Road are public roads running through the property. Do not ride on the road. Crossing the road in front of Wooly’s is okay, but riding up and down the road is dangerous, illegal and aggravates the neighbors. Please stop and look both directions before entering any road. Please obey traffic laws and treat the property owners along the road with respect.
Camping is included with the purchase of two days riding. Keep it slow and quiet in the parking lots (the field around Wooly’s building and across the road). This will reduce the noise around neighboring houses, and it is much safer. There are lots of parked vehicles and people walking around. Do not ride in the creek. Only cross the creek on the provided culverts. A complete muffler including the baffle is required. Stay on existing trails. They are open Saturdays and Sundays 8 a.m. to dark. Prices are $15 per person, but passengers under 10 ride free. Wooly’s is located in southern middle Tennessee between Nashville and Alabama.
CONTACT: Vic Wolaver’s cell: (931) 703-3129
2003 Mooresville Road
Lynnville, TN 38472
E-mail: [email protected]