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By Clint Hood

Off Road Heaven: Southern Style

Back in January of 2001, ATV Source made its readers aware of a new multi-use land area available to ATV and other types of riding in east Tennessee. Since then, the Coal Creek OHV area has become one of the premier riding destinations in the southeast with over 40,000 people visiting last year. Located just west of Knoxville, Tennessee in a small town known as Oliver Springs, the Coal Creek OHV area consists of over 160 miles of trails open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The trails are clearly marked and range from gravel roads to extreme mountainous terrain.

The OHV area is open to most types of off road vehicles including ATVs, motorcycles, Jeeps, trucks, and rail buggies. However, some trails are restricted to ATV and motorcycle use only. To obtain access to the OHV area, each person must obtain a “Land Use Permit.” The permits are required for every person entering the area, regardless of age or activity. Permit fees are as follows: 1 day permit $15, 2 day permit $30, 3 day permit $40, 4 day permit $50, and a yearly permit for $80. Permits can be purchased online at or at the trail head. Trail maps can also be purchased at the trail head for $5 with all proceeds going to the continued maintenance of the trail system.

Among the favorite destinations for new riders are the 18 windmills atop Buffalo Mountain. The windmills are approximately 300 feet tall and generate 27 megawatts of power, enough to serve between 10,000 and 15,000 homes under normal conditions. The windmills are part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s “Green Power Switch Program,” This program asks power users voluntarily pay slightly higher power bills to support TVA’s efforts to generate power from sources such as windmills, solar panels and methane gas produced by landfills and wastewater treatment plants. The windmills are an awe inspiring site and many riders enjoy viewing the structures from as close as possible.

The Coal Creek OHV area has a licensing agreement with the Windrock ATV Club to manage and maintain the OHV area. The club does a lot to keep the area open and in good condition. They map each trail and mark them according to difficulty. Trails marked “easy” consist of gravel roads and hard packed clay trails with few challenges. Trails marked “moderate” contain mud, small rocks, and small hills. Trails marked “difficult” should only be attempted by experienced riders and contain off cambers, steeper hill climbs, rocks, and mud.

The ATV club also holds monthly meetings to discuss and plan events, club rides, and their monthly work days. The purpose of the work days is to insure the trails are usable and meet environmental standards. The work days are usually attended by 10 to 15 people and their time is spent clearing trails, maintaining trail markers, and looking for ways to improve the trail system in general.

The club holds two large ATV events a year. There is a “Spring Jamboree” each April and a “Fall Ride” in October. The ATV club hosts several competitions at each event such as a mud bog, drag race, sled pull, and rock crawl among others. In addition to the competitions, there will be numerous venders on hand including factory big rigs and demos from Yamaha, Polaris, and Arctic Cat. This year the “Spring Jamboree” is scheduled to take place on April 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23.

A new campground and rental cabins are currently under construction near the trail head and primitive camping is permitted in designated areas within the OHV area. An additional campground known as the Windrock Campground is located approximately two miles from the trail head with electrical hookups and water available. Hotel lodging, restaurants, and other amenities can also be found in nearby Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Make your reservations now!

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