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Wheeling in the Bluegrass State

Posted in Features on June 17, 2004
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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.

My Backyard
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.

President of the Kentucky Krawlers and organizer of the event, Nathaniel "Droopy" Sears, was allowed to pilot his '95 Rio Grande- edition YJ through most of the obstacles. The rest of the time, however, his fiancee Kim Morton took the helm and showed him how it was done. President of the Kentucky Krawlers and organizer of the event, Nathaniel "Droopy" Sears, was allowed to pilot his '95 Rio Grande- edition YJ through most of the obstacles. The rest of the time, however, his fiancee Kim Morton took the helm and showed him how it was done.
Greg White maneuvers his Suzuki Samurai with ease through one of the many creek crossings. Greg's Sami features an M.I.G. Off Road rollcage, a spring-over suspension, and 31-inch Boggers. Greg White maneuvers his Suzuki Samurai with ease through one of the many creek crossings. Greg's Sami features an M.I.G. Off Road rollcage, a spring-over suspension, and 31-inch Boggers.
Tina Kakaras of London, Kentucky, leads the group past the Lover's Leap canyon wall. Tina's '03 Tomb Raider-edition Jeep Rubicon is outfit with a 4-inch lift, a 1-inch body, 35-inch Pro Comp Xterrains, Warn front and rear bumpers, and a Warn winch. Tina Kakaras of London, Kentucky, leads the group past the Lover's Leap canyon wall. Tina's '03 Tomb Raider-edition Jeep Rubicon is outfit with a 4-inch lift, a 1-inch body, 35-inch Pro Comp Xterrains, Warn front and rear bumpers, and a Warn winch.
Owner of M.I.G. Off Road in Lexington, Kentucky, Conn Wilson served as our personal driver for much of the weekend. Conn's '95 Jeep YJ is equipped with a four-cylinder engine, 5.29 gears, a spring-over axle suspension setup, and 35-inch BFG Krawlers. Conn himself is equipped with a cowboy hat. Owner of M.I.G. Off Road in Lexington, Kentucky, Conn Wilson served as our personal driver for much of the weekend. Conn's '95 Jeep YJ is equipped with a four-cylinder engine, 5.29 gears, a spring-over axle suspension setup, and 35-inch BFG Krawlers. Conn himself is equipped with a cowboy hat.
Providing comic relief throughout the weekend, C.W. "Snapper" Dotson tried his best to beat his '95 Jeep YJ into submission with every obstacle in his path. Snapper's rig sits on varied widths of 38-inch Swampers and uses Dana 60 axles with Ford outers and Chevy inners. Providing comic relief throughout the weekend, C.W. "Snapper" Dotson tried his best to beat his '95 Jeep YJ into submission with every obstacle in his path. Snapper's rig sits on varied widths of 38-inch Swampers and uses Dana 60 axles with Ford outers and Chevy inners.
Breaking the stock front track-bar axle mount on his '99 TJ twice, After Hours Fab Shop owner Ryan Ball of Lexington, Kentucky, performed quick fixes both times and continued on the trail. Breaking the stock front track-bar axle mount on his '99 TJ twice, After Hours Fab Shop owner Ryan Ball of Lexington, Kentucky, performed quick fixes both times and continued on the trail.
04084wd 13z+Jeep+Front Passenger Side View Cars Down Rocks
Still rolling the factory Goodyear rubber on his '03 Jeep Rubicon, Russell Gindling of Louisville, Kentucky, attacked the trails as if his rig was sitting on 35s with fatty axles. The mighty stocker put on a great show, taking nearly every feat it attempted. Still rolling the factory Goodyear rubber on his '03 Jeep Rubicon, Russell Gindling of Louisville, Kentucky, attacked the trails as if his rig was sitting on 35s with fatty axles. The mighty stocker put on a great show, taking nearly every feat it attempted.
Larkin Lair of Lexington, Kentucky, took to the trails with ease in his flatfender '94 Jeep YJ. The rig sports 35-inch Goodyear MT/Rs, 1-ton axles, and a custom rollcage by M.I.G. Off Road. Larkin Lair of Lexington, Kentucky, took to the trails with ease in his flatfender '94 Jeep YJ. The rig sports 35-inch Goodyear MT/Rs, 1-ton axles, and a custom rollcage by M.I.G. Off Road.
After pretzeling his factory tie rod worse than we'd ever seen, John "Flash" Combs of Planet Flash Extreme Video Productions "assisted" his fellow Krawlers in repairs that involved straightening the rod, then sleeving it using a Hi-Lift Jack handle. After pretzeling his factory tie rod worse than we'd ever seen, John "Flash" Combs of Planet Flash Extreme Video Productions "assisted" his fellow Krawlers in repairs that involved straightening the rod, then sleeving it using a Hi-Lift Jack handle.
John Ryan of Chicago leads the group up the Widow Maker trail located within Natural Bridge State Park. John's '03 rock buggy was built by Roark Fabworks and features a 4.3L Vortec V-6, a turbo 350 transmission, an Atlas II transfer case, and 37-inch Goodyear MT/R tires. John Ryan of Chicago leads the group up the Widow Maker trail located within Natural Bridge State Park. John's '03 rock buggy was built by Roark Fabworks and features a 4.3L Vortec V-6, a turbo 350 transmission, an Atlas II transfer case, and 37-inch Goodyear MT/R tires.
In his first off-road excursion, Mike Young of Bowling Green, Kentucky, piloted his '88 Suzuki Samurai to great results. As owner of M&L Automotive  Specialists, Mike built the capable rig himself performing a rear-to-front spring swap, along with installing a 4.5-inch spring-over kit and missing link shackles. In his first off-road excursion, Mike Young of Bowling Green, Kentucky, piloted his '88 Suzuki Samurai to great results. As owner of M&L Automotive Specialists, Mike built the capable rig himself performing a rear-to-front spring swap, along with installing a 4.5-inch spring-over kit and missing link shackles.
Chris  Corum, one of the club's founding fathers, was more than eager to twist up his '93 Jeep YJ for the camera. Chris' rig features a BDS suspension system; a 1-inch body lift; 35-inch Goodyear MT/Rs; and a Dana 44 front and Dana 60 rear axle, with Lockrights in both. Chris Corum, one of the club's founding fathers, was more than eager to twist up his '93 Jeep YJ for the camera. Chris' rig features a BDS suspension system; a 1-inch body lift; 35-inch Goodyear MT/Rs; and a Dana 44 front and Dana 60 rear axle, with Lockrights in both.
Brent Ward of Richmond, Kentucky, flexes his customized Comanche pickup through the Widow Maker trail. Brent's rig sports an ARB-stuffed Dana 44 up front and a Detroit-equipped Dana 60 in back, while using a 4.3L Vortec V-6 to motivate the 37-inch Goodyear M/TR meats. Brent Ward of Richmond, Kentucky, flexes his customized Comanche pickup through the Widow Maker trail. Brent's rig sports an ARB-stuffed Dana 44 up front and a Detroit-equipped Dana 60 in back, while using a 4.3L Vortec V-6 to motivate the 37-inch Goodyear M/TR meats.
When he's not running his shop, Rock Logic Off Road in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Darren Casada takes to the trails in his well-equipped Jeep YJ. Here Darren slides through an obstacle called Hairpin, barely eking by without a scratch. When he's not running his shop, Rock Logic Off Road in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Darren Casada takes to the trails in his well-equipped Jeep YJ. Here Darren slides through an obstacle called Hairpin, barely eking by without a scratch.

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