Activities

Sesquicentennial trips in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina
Region is steeped in blue and gray Civil War history
Explore North Carolina parks
Remember what fresh air really tastes like in North Carolina's parks
Explore Georgia parks
The state boasts many large, historic parks in close proximity
Get a Grip: four-wheelers in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina
Rocks, rivers and woods offer plenty of thrills for four-wheelers
More Bang for Your Buck - Hunting in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina
Ample hunting opportunities make the region a target for hunters tracking down all types of game

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Get a Grip: four-wheelers in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina

Steep hills and a revving engine can bring a whole new meaning to the words "rock 'n' roll."

Four-wheeling is a sport for rough riders, played to the music of roaring engines and screaming tires.

Trail riders, mudders and rock crawlers can all find places to play in the four-state region -- some on national park land, some leased from private owners.

What's your poison?

There are as many ways to four-wheel as there are vehicles to do it in:

• Trail riding is popular for ATVs and side-by-sides -- think four-wheel- drive golf cart with big tires and a roll cage -- on trails ranging from manicured to minimal.

• Rock crawling is partly about giant tires and high suspensions, partly about engine power and a lot about smart, careful steering.

• Rock racing or "rock bouncing"?

NASCAR with boulders. 'Nuff said.

Source: Alan Shirley, trip coordinator with Scenic City 4WD

Big wheels turnin'

Four-wheeling's a social sport -- you need that gang of buddies to help when you hang up on a rock or find that mud puddle's deeper than you thought. Some clubs are oriented around a single make of vehicle; others are open to everyone. Here are three to get you started:

East Tennessee 4WD Club at http://et4wd.org.

Scenic City 4WD, www.sceniccity4wd.com.

Southern Four-Wheel Drive Association, http://sfwda.org.

Gotta have it

If you get stuck, you're gonna have to get yourself out. If you don't have the right equipment, don't go. Here's a partial list from one club's website (some other sites' lists are much, much longer):

• Mud tires

• Fire extinguisher

• Spare tire, jack and lug wrench

• Front and rear tow hooks

(for vehicle attachment points)

• Snatch strap

• Garbage bags (your own trash and

possibly a little trail cleanup)

• First-aid kit

• Seatbelts for everyone

• Battery bolted down (no bungee cords)

• Legal exhaust system

• Flashlight, tools and spare parts; all interior items tied down or secured

• Leather gloves, appropriate clothes

• Food and water

• Winch

Source: East Tennessee 4WD Club

Oh, the places you'll go

Try these sites first, for a great all-around experience.

• Royal Blue, LaFollette, Tenn.

• Gray Rock, Mount Olive, Ala.

• Houston Valley, Ga.

• Beasley Knob, Blairsville, Ga.,

• Uwharrie National Forest, N.C.

Rocket City Rockcrawlers has a longer list covering several states: www.rocketcityrockcrawlers.com/where_to_go_wheelin.htm.

-- By Staff Writer Judy Walton