Tag

Clayton

Browsing

The thirteenth annual Clayton Lake Dual Sport Ride is in the books, and what a great weekend.  The weather was darn near perfect except for the dust from dry conditions. Mornings were cool, afternoons were warm, and the skies offered enough clouds to keep the late afternoon sun at bay.

Friday Day 1

Kay and I showed up late Thursday afternoon and set up camp. Several folks were already there and had already been out for a ride. Friday morning we hit the trails around 11 am, riding a very nice loop south out of Nashoba, crossing the Little River at a bridge that has been washed out for years, then looping east and then north for about a 45 mile fun ride. I was on my good friend Bill Dragoo’s Beta 525, since I had left the key of my DRZ-400 in the on position overnight and had drained the battery. Luckily Bill had loaned me his Beta as a backup so I plugged my much loved DRZ into a charger and jumped on Bill’s much more nimble and powerful “Red Devil”. We headed out with Kay on her Honda CRF230L, me on the Beta, our daughter Emily Mathews on her Honda CRF-250L, Connie Hamilton on her Kawasaki KLX-130, and Jim Finley on his Suzuki DR-650.

On our Friday ride We encountered two water crossings. On the first crossing our friend Jim took his girlfriend Connie Hamilton’s Kawasaki KLX-130 through the deep part of the crossing. The water washed over the seat and the bike died mid-stream, filling Jim’s boots with water for the remainder of the day. He pushed the little Kawi out of the water and we proceeded to drain the exhaust pipe and intake. Luckily no water had made it into the cylinder or engine cases so after 30 minutes of trailside work we had Connie’s bike running again.

Jim Finley drained the water from Connie Hamilton's Kawasaki after it went underwater during a creek crossing south of Nashoba.
Jim Finley drained the water from Connie Hamilton’s Kawasaki after it went underwater during a creek crossing south of Nashoba.
My wife Kay Pratt crossing the bridge out over a creek just north of Nashoba while Jim Finley stands by to help if needed.
My wife Kay Pratt crossing the bridge out over a creek just south of Nashoba while Jim Finley stands by to help if needed.

Once across the small bridge out just south of Nashoba, we meandered south and east into the Honobia wildlife management area. This requires a permit ($10 for 3 days for in-state riders, $80 for an annual pass for out-of-state riders). This area is the size of Rhode Island and crisscrossed with logging trails. Since southeast Oklahoma had been dry since July, I decided to try crossing the Little River at what is termed the “bridge out” waypoint. Little River is a pretty major river that divides this riding area and several bridges span the river. This bridge has been washed out since at least 2002 and probably longer, but during late summers with low water, the river can be crossed – with a bit of difficulty. Riders must travel downstream along the banks of the river, then cross the actual riverbed which is strewn with large boulders. Top level riders on light weight dirt bikes can make the crossing generally without putting a foot down, but it is a challenge. Most riders end up stalling their bike in the boulders or even falling over and need help getting across. This day we all got across with a bit of pushing, shoving, lifting and sweating.

This bridge over the Little River south of Nashoba has been out for years. During low water in the late summer/early fall we can cross the river here.
This bridge over the Little River south of Nashoba has been out for years. During low water in the late summer/early fall we can cross the river here.
I went first on Bill Dragoo's Beta 525 - made it without putting a foot down - not an easy task. We actually cross downstream about 100 yards.
I went first on Bill Dragoo’s Beta 525 – made it without putting a foot down – not an easy task. We actually cross downstream about 100 yards.
This is a picture from Day 2 crossing the Little River. You can see part of the boulder-strewn river bottom, although I didn't get the most difficult part in this picture. Only a handful of riders make it across without at least a foot down. I was 1 for 2 on my crossings, putting my foot down a few times on my DRZ.
This is a picture from Day 2 crossing the Little River. You can see part of the boulder-strewn river bottom, although I didn’t get the most difficult part in this picture. Only a handful of riders make it across without at least a foot down. I was 1 for 2 on my crossings, putting my foot down a few times on my DRZ.

The remainder of our Day 1 ride was fairly easy compared to the river crossing. We hit some great trails that had seen very little traffic so the trail was not ground into dust. Some of the trails were very rough and rocky but fun as we dodged tree limbs and clambered up and down craggy washed-out trails. Late in the day we ran across a small pony and his mule sidekick. The pony, which we promptly named “Rusty” was fond of our peanut butter crackers, while his mule friend watched warily from a distance.

My daughter Emily Mathews feeding our new friend "Rusty" who we found along a trail way back in the woods.
My daughter Emily Mathews feeding our new friend “Rusty” who we found along a trail way back in the woods.

Towards the end of our ride we got back on pavement to cross Little River again, this time westbound. The fall colors were just beginning to show and the river crossing was stunningly beautiful. While taking a few pictures a lady in an SUV with a couple of girls stopped to say “hi”. Her girls were interested in riding and we let the sit on our bikes.

The fall colors were just beginning to show along the Little River south of Nashoba.
The fall colors were just beginning to show along the Little River south of Nashoba.
We stopped for pictures over the Little River. From left - Kay Pratt (wife), Connie Hamilton (friend) and Emily Mathews (daughter).
We stopped for pictures over the Little River. From left – Kay Pratt (wife), Connie Hamilton (friend) and Emily Mathews (daughter).
Our good friends Jim Finley and Connie Hamilton were along for the ride.
Our good friends Jim Finley and Connie Hamilton were along for the ride.
I was getting a little sugar from my wife as a reward for leading the day's ride.
I was getting a little sugar from my wife as a reward for leading the day’s ride.
My two favorite gals - Emily Mathews and Kay Pratt.
My two favorite gals – Emily Mathews and Kay Pratt.
A lady with two little girls stopped to chat with us while we were taking pictures. Her girls were excited to see women on motorcycles. Emily put them up on Connie's little Kawasaki for a picture.
A lady with two little girls stopped to chat with us while we were taking pictures. Her girls were excited to see women on motorcycles. Emily put them up on Connie’s little Kawasaki for a picture.

Below is a GPX file of our route. You can download this route and load it into your own GPS and follow our trip.

Nashoba River Run loop

Saturday Day 2

Quite a few people joined us for our second ride of the weekend. After charging overnight, my Suzuki DRZ-400 was ready to roll. Once again we pulled out around 11 am with about 15 riders in the group. Since we had such a fun ride the first day, our plan was to start with our Friday route and see how things ended up. We made the creek crossing at Nashoba without incident and the river crossing at Little River without anyone hurt. In fact we rolled up on another group of riders from camp at the river crossing and we all joined in to get the bikes across.

During a stop on the trail we talked about control position - brakes in particular. Phil Templeton adjusted the rear brake lever on several motorcycles to make it easier to apply the rear brake while standing.
During a stop on the trail we talked about control position – brakes in particular. Phil Templeton adjusted the rear brake lever on several motorcycles to make it easier to apply the rear brake while standing. Here he is straightening Kay’s gear shift lever after it had been bent in the river crossing.
One of the riders in our group crossing the Little River stream bed. The damaged bridge is in the background.
One of the riders in our group crossing the Little River stream bed. The damaged bridge is in the background.

Later in the day we stopped at Battiest for lunch and gas. There we met a 14 year old young man on his Honda C-70 moped who joined us in the shade of the store. He inherited his C-70 from his grandpa and used it as transportation around the farm and to town. Connie made friends and asked plenty of questions, which he was willing and eager to answer.

A local 14 year old stopped by to get gas for his Honda C-70 and stopped to talk to us while we ate lunch.
A local 14 year old stopped by to get gas for his Honda C-70 and stopped to talk to us while we ate lunch.
Connie Hamilton makes friends with our Honda C-70 visitor.
Connie Hamilton makes friends with our Honda C-70 visitor.

Kay and I split off on the ride home. I wanted to find a quicker way home from Battiest, since we often end up there late in the day and need a fun yet quick way back to Clayton.

Clayton to Battiest Loop 2015

Day 3 – Clayton to Choctaw Nation Capitol

On Sunday most riders left early. Kay, Emily, her husband Dirk and I decided to take a short dual sport ride north of Clayton to the Choctaw Nation Capitol in Tuskahoma. Most of our route was paved, with one easy and optional river crossing thrown in. It was interesting to visit the Choctaw Nation Capitol, where they feature a replica Choctaw town from before the Removal.

Dirk Mathews rides his Suzuki DRZ-400 through a nearby river north of Tuskahoma.
Dirk Mathews rides his Suzuki DRZ-400 through a nearby river north of Tuskahoma.
We stopped and explored the Choctaw Nation Capitol on the last day of our ride.
We stopped and explored the Choctaw Nation Capitol on the last day of our ride.

Clayton to Choctaw Nation Capitol Loop

This is a challenging dual sport ride that includes part of the famous (or infamous, depending on your off-road skill level) K-Trail. If you haven’t ridden the K-Trail out of Clayton to Mena, AR, you should be aware that it can be quite challenging on a big dual sport. KLR’s can make it but they are a lot of work unless you are an expert rider. This loop is best done on a good dual sported dirt bike like a Suzuki DRZ, KTM, or Yamaha WR. Most of the trail is great dual sport riding, but the west end of the K-Trail coming out of Clayton can be quite a challenge on anything bigger than a 450cc dual sport. I have seen expert riders on BMW GS’s make the ride, but most people will not want to take a big bike on the K-Trail.

This loop is 178 miles long. You MIGHT make it in a day but plan for at least two days. There are two great primitive campgrounds nearby, or you can stay at our favorite motorcycle campsite, Clayton Lake State Park.

The K-Trail winds across the spine of the Ouachita Mountains from Clayton, OK to Mena, AR. Many dual sport riders call it the dirt version of the Talimena Drive. While most of the trail is fairly easy, some parts are quite a challenge on anything bigger than a dirt bike.
The K-Trail winds across the spine of the Ouachita Mountains from Clayton, OK to Mena, AR. Many dual sport riders call it the dirt version of the Talimena Drive. While most of the trail is fairly easy, some parts are quite a challenge on anything bigger than a dirt bike.
The K-trail is made up of rocks, big water puddles (not mud, just deep puddles) and more rocks. Most of the K-Trail can be ridden on a KLR but it can be work when fully loaded. We have seen BMW GS's ride the K-trail but you should be an expert rider before tackling parts of the K-Trail on a big dual sport. It is great fun on a 450cc and smaller dirt bike.
The K-trail is made up of rocks, big water puddles (not mud, just deep puddles) and more rocks. Most of the K-Trail can be ridden on a KLR but it can be work when fully loaded. We have seen BMW GS’s ride the K-trail but you should be an expert rider before tackling parts of the K-Trail on a big dual sport. It is great fun on a 450cc and smaller dirt bike.

Here is a nice easy dual sport ride from McAlester down to one of our favorite places, Clayton, Oklahoma. Grab lunch at a cafe just southeast of town (skip the Kiamichi Kitchen) or at Simple Simon’s Pizza in town, then take a different route back home to McAlester. If you are looking to camp overnight, be sure and stay at Clayton Lake State Park. As soon as you turn off into the park, make an immediate left down to the lower campgrounds – stay just east of the ranger station, going downhill. Great camping and good pay showers. This is one of our favorite campgrounds in the USA.

Click on the download link below the map to download the GPX tracks for this ride.

Great motorcycle camping is available at Clayton Lake State Park, 5 miles southeast of Clayton.
Great motorcycle camping is available at Clayton Lake State Park, 5 miles southeast of Clayton.

This year we are moving the Clayton weeekend up to Oct 11-14. The park accidentally booked another event in on our normal weekend so this is what we got.

This ride has been going on for some time now. You can bring any type of off-road bike and enjoy the riding in SE Oklahoma mountains – anything from big adventure bikes to skinny 2 stroke race bikes. This is a “non-event” in that it is not organized, not sponsored. Just a bunch of guys and gals show up around the same time each year, camp out, and have a great time riding the rocky, rugged mountains of southeast Oklahoma. Each year we have around 70-100 riders. We typically form up into small groups of 6-10 riders to keep the dust under control, and go out and explore the hundreds of miles of jeep trails, two track and even rugged single track riding available.

There is no direct cost or fee for the event, but it is suggested you purchase a land access fee from the State of Oklahoma. If you are on a street legal dirt bike and sticking to the graded gravel roads you probably don’t need the permit. There is also some excellent single track trails about 20 miles away that don’t require the land access fee. But if you want to ride your skinny bike in the Weyerhaeuser land you probably need to get the permit. It is $15 for a 3 day pass for native Oklahoman’s, but unfortunately out of state riders it costs $80 for an annual permit.

Camping is $8 per night per tent. Showers and toilets are available on-site. Hotels are available in town, but then we classify you as a wussy and you miss all the fun of hanging around a campfire late at night swapping tall tales about how fast you used to be.

Come on out and have some fun riding some of the best trails in Oklahoma. If you want tight technical single track, you can find it in spades. If you prefer two track jeep trails, there are plenty of those. Or if you prefer pavement, there is plenty of excellent asphalt in SE Oklahoma and Arkansas.

WHERE: Clayton Lake State Park – 5 miles SE of Clayton, OK
WHEN: October 11-14, 2012
WHAT: Awesome adventure, dual sport and single track riding with your buddies
WHO: Women, children, men, whoever likes to ride.