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Wilkenson's Gulches Park - Carolina Calisthenics

Posted in Events on September 1, 2008
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Samuel Joines demonstrated the proper technique for ascending the Hunters Uh-Oh! obstacle in his fuel-injected, 3.4L-powered buggy. This obstacle was named for a guy named Hunter who almost had a near-spectacular crash on this obstacle while trying to descend it shortly after it was built. Further, this site was actually the scene of the park's first rollover (backwards, no less).

Skip and Lydia Wilkenson like to wheel. Wait, let's rephrase that. Skip and Lydia Wilkenson really, really like to wheel. As a matter of fact, they like to wheel so much that in 2006 they took a huge leap and purchased 80 acres of land in Laurens County, South Carolina, for the purpose of creating an off-road park.

The land they purchased didn't look much like a park. It was densely covered in trees of all types, it had an elevation change of 450 feet in a very short distance, and it was filled with gnarly gulches of all shapes and sizes. In other words, it had potential. The Wilkensons put the word out that they had purchased the land and would soon be opening a park to the general public, aptly named Gulches. Immediately, a flood of volunteers came out of the woodwork to help build trails. Club members from Twisted Intentions, Trick'n'Traction, Clemson 4x4, Palmetto Krawlers, Renegade 4x4, the Carolina Jeepsters, and others all showed up ready to work. Over the course of several weekends, there were more than 50 volunteers at any given time armed with bow saws, chainsaws, and nippers carving trails out of the brutal terrain. Due to this united effort, the park opened with 21 trails after only 29 days.

That was a couple of years ago, and nowadays the park's trail count has grown to 37 well-marked and rated trails that encompass something for every skill level. There are trails ranging from easy to evil. The trail system was designed to ensure that the easy and intermediate trails would carry lesser-built or stock rigs to all the extreme obstacles. This gives everyone the ability to go anywhere in the park. In addition to trails, the park offers eight four-wheel-drive-accessible primitive campsites strategically located on the riverbank along the scenic Reedy River. Three minutes from the campsites at the main office are restroom facilities with hot showers and a kitchen area with a large sink, microwave, coffeemaker, and freezer for storing ice. Also at the main office is an air compressor so you can air up your tires after a day of wheeling or run air tools if things didn't go so well. The Gulches also has miscellaneous tools and a MIG welder you can borrow.

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We recently spent a day at The Gulches running the trails and seeing what the park has to offer. We think everyone involved did a great job capitalizing on the natural terrain to create a park that offers a wide range of challenges. We found the ambience of the park, and the people, to be warm and friendly and very family-oriented. Alcohol is forbidden, but pets are welcome as long as they're on a leash. The park is kind of out in the "sticks," so it's a good idea to bring a lunch. Or, if you're there on a Saturday, ankle on up to the main office and purchase a burger or hot dog straight from the grille. Like we said, the park is very family-oriented.

For more information about Gulches, including fees and operating schedule, visit their Web site at or give 'em a call at 864/449-5698.

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