Clayton Fall 2021 Ride Report

What a fun time once again riding the Kiamichi Mountains of southeast Oklahoma. To those who say the area around Clayton is all fenced and gated and difficult to ride, I say “bull tweet”. You just gotta know where to ride. My group did loops on Friday and Saturday that consisted of pavement, gravel, dirt roads, logging trails, lots of rough two-track, and some trails that a billy goat would find challenging. There is all types of riding on the Honobia and Three Rivers wildlife management area, you just gotta know how to find it.

Friday October 8 – Day 1

Kay and I got a late start on Thursday so didn’t get to ride until Friday morning. We pulled out of Clayton Lake State Park around 9:30 am with a group of eight “skinny bike” riders. Scott Hobbs led a group about the same size with bigger bikes such as KLR’s, Versys 300, and even a Moto Guzzi 750 adventure bike.

Loaded up and ready to head to southeast Oklahoma for some dual sport motorcycle riding.

My plan was to find the “bridge out” over the Little River, but I got sidetracked with some awesome trails. At one point we found a seldom-used, rocky, overgrown trail that had once been two-track logging roads, but had eventually turned into some gnarly downhill rock garden. It proved challenging and our entire group was winded and tired by the time we made it a mile to the bottom. That was our only really tough terrain of the day. The rest was mostly two track logging roads that were scenic. Some were overgrown and rough, others had only recently been cut and were in decent shape.

Our campsite at Clayton Lake State Park in SE Oklahoma.

GPS Route on Google Maps

Below is a map showing our route for the day. Most of our ride could be done on most any adventure bike with a skilled rider, there is a one-mile section not far from the bridge crossing over Little River that I would classify as “skinny bike only” and even then, you need to be a pretty darn good rider. It was a real challenge for everyone that day. You can easily bypass this and the tough section is easy to identify because the trail is very poorly maintained and it gets rough and overgrown really quick.

We found these old chairs along the trail and stopped for a picture on Day 1.
Kay Pratt was the only woman rider for the weekend.
Kay and her brother David Blankenship on the trail. I would normally lead, Kay would follow me, and David would keep an eye on her by following. But she is a great rider so didn’t need much help.
After lunch at Battiest, we tried to cross the Glover River at a bridge out. We made it across, but had to turn around and cross again because of a fence a quarter mile down the road.
Kay made it look easy crossing the Glover River on her Honda CRF-230L.
Kay’s brother David Blankenship tried a different route across the Glover River.
Kay on her Honda CRF-230L. She has been riding dirt bikes for over 41 years.
Kay and I have been riding dirt bikes together since we were married in 1980.
After leaving Battiest, we were told by a local about a “swimming hole” on the Glover River near town.
The ride home from Battiest was scenic and fun. We were able to see nearly to Broken Bow from this mountain top vista.
Kay’s brother David Blankenship and his wife Lynn rented the cabin next to ours. Kay and David’s mother Barbara stayed in this cabin, while David and Lynn camped in the tent outside.

Saturday October 9

Once again I led a group of seven “skinny bike” riders, including our only women rider all weekend, my wife Kay on her Honda CRF-230L. This time our destination was the “bridge out” and I found it after a couple of tries. The trail to this long-unused bridge is pretty overgrown since it hasn’t been used in at least 25 years. The water in Little River was low, so me and a couple of others decided to ride across the river. It was very, very challenging and after making it across, the rest of our group decided they were NOT going to cross, so we had to ride back across this really difficult route. It felt like the Erzburg Hard Enduro! Slick, moss-covered rocks all the way across.

Waking up at Clayton Lake State Park reminds me of camping in Colorado.
David cooked breakfast. My job was to eat breakfast. Kay and David’s mother Barbara joined us for the weekend.
We had about 30 riders join our group over the weekend.

Google GPS Map Day 2

Below is a Google Map with GPS coordinates for our ride on Day 2

We tried to find this bridge out over the Little River on Day One, but I got sidetracked with all the fun trails. So we made it a point to find this first thing on Day 2. It took me a few tries but eventually we made it. This bridge has been out for well over 25 years. During high water the water is nearly over the roadway. During low water – like this day – we can cross downstream to the right, although the trail is very difficult.
I have been riding this DRZ since I bought it new in 2002. It has over 25,000 miles and 19 years old and still runs strong.
Three of us decided to cross the Little River at the “bridge out”. It was quite the challenge and took a while. After seeing the difficulties we had, the rest of our group, and most importantly Kay, said “no way” so we had to turn around and return. Two crossings was tough.
After our fun at the “bridge out” we decided to find Medicine Springs. It is an old springs built in 1929 right before the depression. It was supposed to be a “healing springs” but bad timing meant it never caught on. Now it is on private property but the owners were very friendly and gave us a tour.
Our Saturday group was made up primarily of “skinny bikes” with on KLR in the mix.
Water is piped from the nearby mountain into Medicine Springs. It tastes like iron. The ground nearby is so hard a dozer with scraper teeth just made dust and could not penetrate the rock.
A view inside Medicine Springs in the Kiamichi Mountains of southeast Oklahoma.
The landowner’s son talking about the history of Medicine Springs.

Lunch at the Bent Tree Grill

After our experience at “bridge out” and Medicine Springs, we hit the dirt roads for lunch at the Bent Tree Grill near Cloudy, Oklahoma. This small restaurant on a dirt road near Devil’s Backbone is only open Thursday through Sunday, but provides great food and service – but no gas.

The Bent Tree Grill is about 4 miles east of Cloudy on a dirt road. It is the best food for miles around. Well, partly because it is the ONLY food for miles around.
Three small Honda CRF-250’s were parked at Bent Tree Grill when we rode up. I didn’t recognize them from our group at Clayton. Low and behold, my long-time friend Eldon was leading a dual sport ride out of Cedar Lake and just happened to be at the Bent Tree as the same time as our ride. I had not seen Eldon in nearly 3 years. He is 82-years old and still riding dual sport motorcycles in the Kiamichi Mountains.
After lunch at the Bent Tree Grill, we rode to the nearby Little River overlook at Devil’s Backbone in the Kiamichi Mountains of SE Oklahoma.
We wound our way through the forest roads and two-track north and eventually crossed the Little River again just south of Nashoba.

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