Having traveled through Kentucky a number of times over the years to reach popular 'wheeling destinations located in neighboring states, the area often piqued our interest as we scanned the terrain along the highway side and spied potential 'crawling locales on the map. We knew there were trails out there -- we just didn't know where.
Upon a chance meeting with a few members of the Kentucky Krawlers Off Road Club last summer at an event in Pennsylvania, we posed the question of where to find such trails in the club's home state. Before we heard an answer, an invitation was extended for us to come see the trails for ourselves. Always eager to explore new areas and add another state to our trail repertoire, we jumped at the opportunity and quickly scheduled a weekend to hit the local trails with the club.
Currently, the Kentucky Krawlers hosts member trail rides on a monthly basis (weather permitting) and a number of smaller rides as often as members can get together. The run that we tagged along on, however, was a first of its kind for the new club. Dubbed Droopy's Big Ride after the club's illustrious and out-spoken president, Nathaniel "Droopy" Sears, who organized the event, talk had already emerged of establishing the run as an annual club event. About 25 rigs came out to try the trails, which traveled through a variety of terrain ranging from creek crossings and mud bogs to steep, rocky climbs and narrow, wooded trails.
Located within minutes of Kentucky's Natural Bridge State Park, the Torrent Falls Resort [(606) 668-6441, www.torrentfalls.com] served as our home base, providing ample parking, log cabin accommodations, and a home-cooked breakfast each morning. The area also offers a number of campgrounds and other accommodations, in addition to myriad hiking trails and rock-climbing opportunities. For more information about the Kentucky Krawlers Off Road Club and 'wheeling in the Bluegrass State, contact: www.kentuckykrawlers.org.
Although many of the trails reside within the Natural Bridge State Park, some travel through private property owned by Charles Booth of Beattyville, Kentucky. Charles grew up in the Slade, Kentucky, area during the oil-boom era and offered a wealth of knowledge about the region. In addition to guiding the Kentucky Krawlers through the many trails that lead through his property, Charles also provided a history lesson about the area, which included stops at abandoned oil wells and pump houses, and photographs of bygone boomtowns that once peppered the landscape. Charles also offers his land and trail-guide service to other clubs and groups. For more information, contact: Tour My Backyard Trail Guides, (606) 464-3860.
The Trail Keepers Foundation
Many members of the Kentucky Krawlers Off Road Club are also active in an organization called the Trail Keepers Foundation. Dedicated to preserving multiuse trails on public and private lands, the Trail Keepers is a non-profit group that works with private land owners and public land managers by assisting in trail maintenance, educating trail users, and controlling illegal activities. The group also raises money through membership, fundraisers, donations, and government grants to go toward keeping trails open and acquiring private and public land to be used for vehicular recreation. The Trail Keepers works closely with UROC/ERoCC, providing and organizing a volunteer force to assist at events and also host annual trail-cleanup activities and member trail rides. For more information about the Trail Keepers Foundation, contact: (513) 469-2412, www.trailkeepers.org.