WILDCAT OHV Review
So on Saturday a few of us loaded up our daughters in the Jeeps and headed down to the new Wildcat OHV Park near the old Cromers Ridge. I have ridden that country a few times in my RZR so I thought I knew what I was expecting.
The park is currently open but still not 100% functional. They will have a really nice building to check in and buy your daily permits(still under construction), campground with RV hook ups, bathrooms, etc. Currently the daily per head rate is $12.00 per person but I have heard reports that it will go up to $20 a head after the park is complete.
Upon checking in, the friendly staff stated that they had 70 miles of trails. I was reluctant as the most I have ever rode back in there was about 28 miles on the RZR and about 8-10 of that was riding blacktop to get to the back entrance of Callohan Falls from Hazel Patch. They stated that the CSX train tracks and the Vision RV junkyard were the park bounds but didn't say anything about tresspassing across the tracks to the Callohan Falls side.
Since the park is not 100% open, the signage is sub-par at best. Outside of the main check in building we were first confused as to which way the trails were located as there was a new gravel road going in both directions. We took a gamble and headed south of the check in building. We encountered a sign that said trail access but no other markings. As of now, only 1 trail (Trail #1) is marked and it isn't marked very well. 99% of the trails that we rode on that day were freshly bulldozed trails. Almost all were wide enough for full width axles but there were several switch backs cut into the side of the hills that were not designed for full size vehicles in mind. A couple were really sketchy to try to get my Jeep turned around and took 2-3 point turns. I suspect it took Will and Ken in their XJs a bit more to make the turns. Riding on the rim of the park next to the CSX tracks between tunnels 7 and 8 we were riding on a trail that was on the map but if we were reading the signs that were posted correctly, we were off park. I didn't care for this too much. Looking over, a train was on the tracks and there were several ATVs chasing the train on the gravel right of way. Stopping to wait for the group, I noticed that the majority of the traffic was not in the park but across the tracks on private property riding the Callohan Falls side.
About 1:30PM or 3 or so hours into the ride my GPS stated that we went 3.4 miles and had a good portion of the length of the park and maybe 25% of the trails on the map. With that we decided to cross over East Bernstadt Road and do a final loop before heading back. We once again started down trail 1 to loop up by the RV Junk Yard and come back around on freshly graded trails. Towards the end of the loop we had to drop down a small valley, cross a creek, and climb back out. Well decending the hill I knew something wasn't good when I started to slide down the hill. The dirt was dry on top but mud underneath. Since I didn't have anywhere to go, I decided to cross the creek and climb back out the other side. This turned out to be a bad idea. I suppose that during the drier period the bull dozer operator decided to make a earthen bridge over the creek. With the recent rain, this solid looking earthen bridge turned out to be a muddy nightmare. I am running 35" tires, locked front and rear, and 9000 lbs Warn winch. I instantly sank in mud up to my rockers and could only see about 2" of my tires. Using my winch, a snatch block, 4WD locked in and the skinny pedal, it took me over 1 hour to get out of the mud infested creek crossing. I crossed the creek only to find out that I would have to cross the creek in another section to get back to the trail that was on the map. Once again, I slide down a ravine and into about 12" of mud. I tired several times, while hitting the rev limiter to climb the other side with no avail due to the freshly bulldozed trail.
Coming back to the first creek crossing, Ken Taylor in his XJ, slide down the same hill while trying to get past that turn off to come winch me up the second creek crossing since the thick mud burnt up my Warn XD9000i winch motor. While doing so he slide down the hill towards the muddy creek. Will Barnett and myself had to winch him 180 degrees to face back up the hill and then winch him back up the hill. Surprisingly his new 10,000lbs Engo winch did great. After winching him back up he then came to pull me up out of the creek only to find that the trial looped back around. 3+ hours later we were back on our way and covered in mud.
After returning back to the main check in building I checked my GPS and the whole day we ran 6.7 miles. With that, I feel safe in saying that there is not 70 miles of trails in this 1,100 acre park. On a long shot, there maybe 70 miles of trails if you included the Callohan Falls side but that might still be close. A full day of riding on the park and we didn't see any rocks at all and 99% of what we did could have been done in 2WD (minus the muddy creek crossing).
In closing, Wildcat is not another Cromers Ridge with the fun and challenging obstacles that we have all came to love. This may change over time after some of the dirt gets washed away and exposes bedrock but this may take some time. Sadly, since I didn't notice very many sediment traps on the trails, I feel that either the EPA or CSX Rail Road may help the demise of the park before it gets off of the ground. I do hope this doesn't happen as it is great to have another area to ride that is local and my report is based of a single trip down there. I plan to make it back down there possibly this next weekend but I will be leaving the Jeep at home and will take the RZR so I can cover more ground and see if there is any other areas that we missed that might appeal to full size that is on the park (Not Callohan Side).
All-in-all a good day in the woods with our daughters. Well except for all the winching around some muddy creek bottoms.
I'll be heading back down there this weekend in the RZR to cover the complete park if anyone wants to go.