It's spring break time and that meant Margaret was out of school for a week! It also meant we wanted to do something fun! That led us to Hot Springs ORV Park in Arkansas!
The last time North Texas Jeep Club went there we were unable to make it. That was disappointing because they ran all 3 Badge of Honor trails. We missed out. So we decided to do some solo wheeling at the park and see what happens!
The park was great, and quite empty. That surprised us because of it being the first weekend of spring break. While rolling along trails we hardly ever saw another vehicle. There were no lines for trails, no waiting, it was just go go go without hindrance the entire time.
While signing in and filling out the damage waivers we talked with the park manager about the Badge of Honor trails difficulty levels. She began asking the questions about our rig that always sticks us in that stock category again. What size tires? What size lift? Do you have a wench? Do you have lockers? Ugh. After answering she said "so you have a stock jeep".
I am grateful she was upfront about our Jeep build though. She said The Snake would be fine but kind of turned her head sideways as she told us we might be able to complete Fun Run. As for Rubicon Ridge, she said definitely not. Due to the previous rain, not having lockers, a wench, and at least 35" tires we wouldn't make it. She said once you go down the first hill your committed and recovery is difficult. So Rubicon Ridge was out for us.
Snake- Badge of Honor Trail
We ran some 2 diamond trails the park manager recommended that she drew on the map for us. The route would take us through most areas of the park and allow us to run The Snake and Fun Run along the way. We really like the trails and the scenery. There were some small challenges but nothing we couldn't handle. The Snake was nice, great scenery for the winter time. Interesting trail too. It was very tight to the point we often had to watch our mirrors to fit between trees. And as its name implies, the trail weaved back and forth a lot. Overall it wasn't that much of a challenge until close to the end where we encountered a steep rocky incline with some obstacles. We managed without too much difficulty though and felt a bit of victory upon completion.
Fun Run- Badge of Honor Trail
That was pleasing because we didn't know what to expect and we didn't have a group for support. Shortly thereafter we hit Fun Run. At this point things changed for us. This was a 3 diamond trail. We had only put the Mudbug through one 3 diamond trail since we've had it and that was the previous weekend with NTJC at Barnwell Recreation Park. Where this might be of no concern to regular wheeler's or beefed up rigs, it was for us. I won't say it was easy, it wasn't, at least not for my driving and our rig. The first obstacle was a large rock slab on a very steep incline. We took it easy and surprisingly just kind of crawled right up it without issue. The second slab incline was a different story though. Not only did it incline quite steep, it had obstacles halfway up you had to overcome. As I wrote last week about the lockers, they would have helped quite a bit. We got through it though. It was a bit rough. We didn't just roll right through it making it look like a Sunday drive. It was exciting though.
After this we ran some more trails that were newer to the park. They weren't as well marked and we took a couple of wrong trails due to lack of signage. One of them was a 3 diamond and was a very extreme hill climb with a drop off on the top unless you turned right away. We made it though and had a good time doing so.
Hot Springs ORV Park is a place we will be returning to so we can get our Rubicon Ridge Badge. It was also the park that secured in our minds some upgrades for the Mudbug. The Jeep is now at a local shop, Redemption Offroad, having some upgrades done to it that I am unable to perform because I do not have the proper tools to do the work correctly. Redemption Offroad is in the Fort Worth, TX area, their work is excellent, and that makes us proud to support local business. The next post will cover the upgrades along with some issues that were found during the tear down.