With summer temperatures dropping and October right around the corner, we had the opportunity to join some friends from Omix-ADA in northern Georgia for a few days of fun. The idea was to hit one of the local trails for a day of Jeeping. As an added treat, we decided to stop at Tank Town in Morganton, Georgia, because, well, they have tanks you can drive. In our group were two Wrangler JLs, three JKs, and one LJ Wrangler with plans to do some red Georgia clay trails at Beasley Knob. However, lots of rain had turned those trails into unnavigable rivers of mud. A quick change of direction, and we were soon headed to a backup trail: Charlie’s Creek near Hiawassee, just a few miles south of the Georgia/North Carolina state line.
The creek and the nearby trail are named after Charles R. Hicks, the Second Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. With more rain clouds moving across the sky, we quickly followed the two-lane blacktop winding through green Georgian hills. Eventually, the road became ever narrower as we entered the trees where the pavement ended. The trail wound through the Chattahoochee National Forest, and it was a fun run through the forest with multiple water crossings, a few steep hills, and an occasional mudhole to play in. At the end there was a wide, shallow river crossing that led us to a campground for a lunch stop.
We reversed direction and drove the trail back out the way we had come in. From there, we followed backroads, climbing to an elevation of some 3,400 feet above sea level to Bell Mountain. As we stood admiring the landscape stretched out before us, a slow-moving fog rose up the mountainside, immersing us in mist; then it passed, allowing us another awesome view of Lake Chatuge below. We’re not sure which was more thrilling, the steep descent down the asphalt road back toward Hiawassee or driving a tank. No matter—all agreed it had been a good day of wheelin’ Jeeps and tanks in the woods.
It was the third day of fall and temperatures were nearly perfect in the Chattahoochee National Forest. We had half a dozen Jeeps on the trail, including this 2007 JK Wrangler Unlimited turning 37-inch Krawler T/A tires under a 4-inch Alloy USA lift.
With a break in the clouds, those riding in the JL Wrangler Unlimited Sahara were quick to drop the soft top and enjoy some open-air wheeling. This one was lifted 2 1/2 inches to better fit 35-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires, and it was equipped with the new Rugged Ridge Spartan bumpers and nerf bars.
They call this fully equipped 2013 Rubicon model Kilroy. We had the opportunity to try a nice handful of Jeeps, each a different model and/or upgraded a bit differently.
Mango is a four-door 2011 Wrangler. It stands out with color-matched Rugged Ridge Spartacus bumpers, with a winch tucked inside the front one. A set of 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires holds it from sliding down this slick hill.
With all the recent rain, we found a handful of water crossings, though none were very deep. Ryan, an Omix-ADA employee, brought his own 2006 LJ Wrangler Unlimited along for the trail run. He runs a long-arm suspension and 35-inch rubber.
One very special stop we made was at Tank Town USA in Morganton. Here they offer enthusiasts the chance to ride in or drive one of its FV432 British armored personnel carriers. The 15-ton beasts can easily slog through mud or crawl over cars. Power comes from a Rolls-Royce two-stroke multi-fuel engine.
We wandered around Tank Town a bit looking over some of the various military vehicles, and we found they had a handful of vintage Jeeps on the property. These two 1 1/4-ton M-715 trucks looked liked they had served interesting lives.
We also had the opportunity to drive a few vintage Jeeps from the Omix-ADA collection. Two of the stunning models are this 1959 FC-150 Forward Control and 1964 Willys CJ-3B. Both are equipped with Hurricane four-cylinder engines, T90 three-speed transmissions, and Dana 18 transfer cases. Driving them was truly a memorable experience. The Omix-ADA Jeep Collection is housed at the company’s headquarters in Suwannee, Georgia. Complimentary private tours of the Jeep Collection are available to the public by appointment during business hours on weekdays. Contact Omix-ADA directly at JeepCollection@Omix-ADA.com or 770/614-6101.