Off-road driving is an activity that many local residents and visitors to Chattanooga enjoy, and there are several areas available for a day on the trails.
As with mountain biking and other activities, it is important to confirm that off-road vehicles are allowed at various sites to avoid trouble with landowners or law enforcement. And proper safety equipment and common sense should be used at all times to avoid injury. The sites in this story are all open to off-roading.
Prentice Cooper State Forest is about 10 miles from downtown Chattanooga in Marion County, Tenn., and offers lots of outdoor activities, including four-wheeling on roads in the forest. In addition to off-road driving, hunting (at designated times), target shooting, hiking, horseback riding and camping are allowed in the forest.
• Prentice Cooper includes 24,686 acres of land along the Tennessee River Gorge just downriver from downtown.
• There are more than 100 miles of dirt roads and trails to explore, ranging from easy to difficult.
• Motorized vehicles are allowed only on roads marked with a Jeep symbol, and there can be road closures at different times of the year.
• The area is open to off-road vehicles from sunrise to sunset.
Source: www.atvtrails.org, Tennessee Department of Agriculture
There are lots of ATV options in Alabama on public and private land for four-wheeling adventures.
• Bankhead National Forest near Double Springs, Ala., has 16 miles of light-use trails for motorcycles and ATV use. There is a $3 fee to access the trail, which is open year-round.
• Boggs and Boulders in Andalusia, Ala., is a riding park on 850 acres of land with several types of trails of varying difficulty. The park has camping, a swimming pool and a pavilion when not out on the trails.
• Choccolocco Mountain Off Road Vehicle Park has 450 acres of rugged mountain terrain near Jacksonville, Ala. Trails are rated 1-5 to indicated difficulty. Camping is avialable. For info on the park, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: National Forrest Service, www.BoggsandBoulders.com
The Peach State has several Off-Highway Vehicle trail systems in the state's national forests.
• Beasley Knob OHV Trail Sytem is a 10-mile section of Union County in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The terrain is difficult and only recommended for experienced riders. A $5 permit is required to use the trails.
• Just west of Dalton, the Houston Valley OHV Trails are the largest Forest Service off-road trail system in the state. The system is reserved for motorbikes and ATVs and has trails of varying difficulty.
• In Middle Georgia, the Oconee National Forest has two trail systems - the Town Creek OHV Trails and the Roverts Bike Camp OHV Trails. Both systems are near the town of Greensboro, Ga., and are for ATVs and motorcycles as well as mountain biking.
Source: USDA Forest Service, www.fs.usda.gov/activity/conf/recreation/ohv
The Scenic City 4WD Club is a local club affiliated with the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association, and its purpose is to promote off-road riding in a family friendly and responsible manner.
• The group promotes "tread lightly" principles and works to preserve the outdoors for years of use.
• According to the group's website (www.sceniccity4wd.com), the club meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Rib and Loin restaurant at 5435 Highway 153. Anyone interested is invited to attend.
Source: Scenic City 4WD Club
Just about an hour from Chattanooga, the Trials Training Center in Sequatchie County, Tenn., is a full-service motorcycle resort with a campground and everything needed for an off-road adventure.
• The TTC is a 650-acre mountain property with multiple trails and camping facilities and cabins.
• The facility features a training staff to introduce rookies to the sport and help current riders improve their skills. One- and two-day training packages are available, along with private instruction.
• The center hosts a family youth camp in July along with the Youth Nationals (East) and the U.S. Women's Open Championship.
• In addition to off-road riding, the center also offers dual sport and street bike training. The roads of the Sequatchie Valley are perfect for sightseeing on motorcycle, and the TTC staff knows the most-scenic routes.
• The Trials Training Center also sells bikes in addition to offering rental bikes for training or exploring the center's property.