If you have read Jp magazine for any length of time, areas such as Moab and the Rubicon are likely to be familiar names to you. There are, however, excellent wheeling locations to be found all over the country. No, really! Take for example Clayton, Oklahoma. We recently headed to Clayton to spend the weekend with the friendly folks from the Jeeps of East Texas.
Located in the Kiamichi Mountains, the quaint little town of Clayton is home to some of the best rockcrawling in the region. Trails were originally developed near Clayton nearly a decade ago on public lands. When that land was sold back in 2002, access was lost. Clayton is only three hours north from the million people living in the Dallas metropolitan area, so it did not take long before dedicated Jeepers from the Fort Worth Dallas-Four Wheel Drive club (FWD-FWD) started looking for alternatives to the land that had been sold. Weldon Frieling opened an off-road park north of town that offers moderate wheeling over a variety of terrain.
Mike Green later secured a deal with a local land owner to develop an area catering to the hardcore crowd, accurately enough dubbed Green Acres. This area is home to some of the hardest trails around, and new trails are being developed all the time. Since this is private property, any club or individual who wants to develop a new trail merely has to provide the sweat-equity and they not only get a new trail, they get naming rights as well! During our visit with the Jeeps of East Texas, we had no problem finding challenges. Copious amounts of rainfall turned easy trails into hard trails and hard trails into running rivers of oozy, goozy muck.
Just The Facts Where: Clayton, in southeast Oklahoma. Approximately three hours from Dallas, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City.
Jeep Requirements: Trails for everything from stock to fully built. Recommend all-terrain or more aggressive tires and rock sliders.
Camping: Clayton Lake State Park (918/569-7981) and the Clayton Country Inn (918/569-4165) both have everything from tent camping, to RV hookups, to cabins for rent.
Weather: Mild temperatures year round; wet and slippery conditions in the winter and spring.
Supplies and Fuel: Clayton Country Store (918/569-4129) and Kwik Chek (918/569-4129) are both located on Hwy 271 right in town; they are easy to find and close to the trails.
Permits: $20 per vehicle per day to access the trails at Green Acres, the area that we visited. More trails can be found locally at Frieling's Off Road Park ($10 per day) and Southside ($15 per day).