Continuing on the epic adventure of tackling East Coast Jeep Badge of Honor Trails. Be sure to check out PART 1 for great information on the Jeep BoH East Coast trail program!
Windrock Park is extremely large system, easy to extremely difficult trails, private, moderately priced) is next to Oak Ridge which is just west of Knoxville. Windrock is enormous – 73,000 acres, over 300 miles of trails of every level of difficulty, along with three BoH trails.
Trails #26 and #51 are moderate while #16 is difficult with the highest off camber sections of any east coast BoH trail. Felt like I was going to tip over on a few spots. You can do #16 in a stock Rubicon (33” tires with lockers for the mud), but you will risk trail damage and plow plenty of mud with your differentials heading through gnarly rutted out off camber chutes. Lots of rocks and even more mud and water. The mud makes everything extremely slick. The slick off camber sections will have you sliding into mud walls. I was fortunate to have turned in my mirrors, but damaged my stock plastic rear bumper and fenders. Good excuse to upgrade and live the JEEP acronym – just empty every pocket!
You could easily spend three days at Windrock. I stayed at a hotel in Oak Ridge, but they have plenty of cabins and a nice main office. For a few extra bucks, you can download their very accurate map app. Oh, and make sure you have a winch!
Dickey Bell Trail (large system, easy to difficult trails, public, cheap) is located in Uwharrie National Forest roughly fifty miles east of Charlotte.
This is my favorite east coast BoH trail system and the best bang for the buck at $5 for a daily permit. Dickey Bell or Trail #91 is one of many trails located in Uwharrie. It has an amazingly steep rock garden that reminded me of a hard Colorado or Utah trail. A good rule of thumb is the trails here starting with the letter D (Daniel, Dickey Bell, Dutch John) are difficult.
Much like Windrock, the trails become much harder when it rains. While you can complete all the trails in one day, I regret not camping overnight in this gorgeous mountain country and wheeling them all twice. Recommend having a map app such as Gaia GPS to keep from getting lost.
Stock Wrangler can handle the non D letter trails.
Gulches Off Road Vehicle Park is a small system, easy to extremely difficult trails, private, moderately priced. It is roughly 50 miles south of Greenville.
This is the smallest private park on the list, more geared towards buggies / side by sides, and where I received my slick mud baptism. East coast clay mud is so slick and you feel hopeless sliding in the direction of gravity.
I wish I would have spent more time here practicing in the mud while experimenting with momentum and lockers, but gave me a good baseline for the others on this list. Everyone I met on my adventures was great, but Gulches staff was the most friendly. Recommend a stock Rubicon so you’ll have lockers. Winch not necessary as the park is small enough they’ll come rescue you if you get stuck.
Beasley Knob OHV is a medium system, easy to extremely difficult trails, public and cheap. It is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest which is about 100 miles east of Chattanooga and 120 miles north of Hotlanta. It is the most remote east coast BoH and closed during the winter and often when it rains.
Beasley Knob can be a difficult badge to earn, very steep, muddy, and rocky but less off camber than Windrock. All trails are moderate to difficult (stock Rubicon recommended) with the exception of 93B.
I ran into a hardcore Jeep club of four members with 40” tires and watched them complete the first rock garden on 93B before I headed off to hit the rest of the trails. Despite the 93B trail being less than a mile long, it took them TWELVE HOURS to finish. My words cannot describe how harrowing this trail is so here’s a screen capture of my texts with their group leader. Again, recommend a map app as the online National Forest Service map ain’t great as there is a trail below 93G that isn’t shown. Also, 93G is extremely steep, muddy, and rutted out.
Recommend traveling it from west to east – see the second picture. I stumbled upon a family of side by sides who were surprised by the Jeep’s capability to follow them. This is a one day trail and not as extensive as Uwharrie.
[This guest post was written by our good Jeep buddy and future partner Christian Mahler.]