One of the most exciting things about moving to an entirely new area is the wheeling! it isn’t every day you get to truly explore and discover new trails and terrains.
I recently joined my friend Tyler and his family (with a beautiful LS-powered FJ60 Land Cruiser) in Pickett State Park here in Tennessee.
After making the journey through Big South Fork and up Black House Mountain Road, we aired down in the big staging area. Our plan for the evening was to hopefully find one of the legendary Cumberland lookouts to call camp for the night.
But the State Forest roads had another plan for us.
Not too long after leaving the staging area and heading up Black House Mtn Road, we came to an amazingly severe series of washouts. The tank traps were also incredibly deep and slick. So either you attempted that, or you ended up off camber and possibly rolling on the ruts. Tyler was pulling a trailer, and even though he gave it a good effort, I ended up winching him back out of the muck.
Even the bypass to our right proved too tight for the Land Cruisers.
So we called it a night and backed into an epic camping spot among the pines and the stars.
Day two began with a hot coffee and a renewed commitment to beating this surprisingly challenging bit of track.
Maybe it was the caffeine, or the sleep, but we were finally able to make the bypass work for us, as we weaved among the pines.
The unmaintained trails had some pretty burly washouts to contend with. After some careful tire placement and solid spotting, we were through, even though the Land Cruisers had a new relationship with a bush.
After a nice drive through the forest to an overlook, we turned back, hoping to check out Mineral Pond as a possible camp spot for the night. But this short bit of trail proved to be some of the toughest stuff I had wheeled in since the Rubicon.
It wasn’t long until the slick Tennessee mud had us both bogged, and the winch was whining.
After a series of winches and mud bogs we were finally on the downhill to the pond itself. After, of course, yet another washed out V-Notch.
Mineral Pond was a welcome sight, with its deep blue hues. After wheeling for 2 days in Tennessee Summer heat and no A/C, everyone was ready for a therapeutic swim.
After filling up on lunch, cold drinks, and an amazing swim, we were back in the rigs, and facing a ledge right away.
After some careful lines, we were up and over the ledge quickly.
But the Mineral Pond trail was not yet done with us.
A steep, rutted hill lay ahead with very high sides that looked like they could swallow a semi trailer. While Tyler’s V8 and working 4WD got him right up (my CDL is having issues), I ended up winching up the slick hill.
That night we ended up camping back at the State Park, after a swim at the lake. Pickett State Park has amazing cabins and camping facilities.