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
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