We first heard of Brushy Mountain Motorsports Park in a cold winter in Roseau, Minnesota. One of the Polaris test engineers got excited and excited to tell us about this riding park in North Carolina that he had visited the previous fall. He continued to tell stories of one way trails, hill climbs, jumps, mud, dry land, loose rocks, beautiful views. He kept talking about the park.
The opportunity arrives
The first thing I noticed was the nice building at the trailhead. Inside the building there were clean showers and toilets. There was a vending truck parked next to the building to serve hot dogs, hamburgers, and whatever else a weary cyclist might need. On the other side of the building was a place to wash dirty ATVs, a plus in my opinion.
I was greeted by Richard Mull, one of the park’s co-owners and the park’s chief architect. He was happy to show me around.
Time to find out
Mull let me ride one of his own ATVs. It was an old Yamaha Big Bear 400; traveled to Yamaha BearTracker. Together we disappeared into the hills to explore the land nestled in the Brushy Mountains. The first trail we came across turned around a ridge and led to a clearing with a great view of the valley below. Moving on, I was surprised by the amount of elevation change. He first took me on the “beginner” trails to get a feel for the land and its variety. All trails are clearly marked and use a classification system similar to that of snow slopes. A green circle means that the trail is easy and can be covered by beginners. A blue square is for intermediate riders. And the black diamond is only for advanced riders. At the moment, we wander down a green path. The trail was wide and had multiple lines, including those around obstacles.
On the green trails, the hill climbs were gentle and there were several sprouts, most of them marked with blue squares and black diamonds. I hinted that maybe it was time to improve the trail skill level so Mull took me to the more difficult trails. The blue trails were much more difficult than the green trails; they had a lot of steep elevation changes and nice mud holes. Mull said some of the trails retain water for most of the year, while others can dry out. Trails were sticky from the rain the week before so traction was excellent. Even when things are completely dry, Mull said trails deep in the forest retain moisture well. Some of the hill climbs were a bit extreme for the “in between” state, making me wonder what awaited me on a black diamond trail!
The blue trails were muddier and narrower than the green trails. Much tighter. If you are looking for twists and turns, these are the trails for you. But all things must come to an end, and we had to find at least one black diamond trail. Even on his BearTracker, Mull was happy to traverse the most difficult of trails. I wasn’t kidding, these are black diamond trails indeed. Imagine hill climbs where there is no choice but to finish it. These are the kind of trails that can catch unsuspecting cyclists off guard. Therefore, it is imperative that everyone in your riding group is an advanced cyclist before hitting these ATV trails.
As stated, the trails are marked for difficulty, but they are also numbered. A map shows all the trails and also their difficulty, and the trails are well marked throughout the system. Also, if you need to get back to the main office, most trails have signs directing you so you don’t have to check the map. One thing I did appreciate on the BMMS trails was their one-way nature, so there was no risk of flying around a corner and meeting another rider head-on. This contributes to safety and allowed us to travel at a faster rate than normal.
Mull started this project years ago. The project originally started in an adjacent county, but was derailed when local environmental groups complained to the county board. After problems at a meeting one night, Mull thanked everyone for coming and said he would take their money and idea elsewhere. After searching a bit more, he found another property and started over. Citizens near the second site (near Hickory, North Carolina) were happy to have Mull and his park.
“I started with this because I could ride my bike everywhere as a kid,” says Mull. “Now, I want my children to be able to ride in a good area as well.” He also wanted to give cyclists the trails and facilities that he believes are missing in North Carolina. “There are not many driving areas in North Carolina,” he explains. “And where you ride, the areas are overcrowded with too many cyclists.”
Thus opened BMMS.
If you go, there are some rules you must follow. First, there are the age guidelines. BMMS strictly adheres to the manufacturer’s guidelines for motor sizes. That means that no child under the age of 16 can drive a machine over 90cc. Children 12-16 years old must stay on machines 90cc or less. And those 6 to 11 years old can use machines of 70 cc or less. Safety equipment is also strictly enforced and double riding is not allowed.
Mull is strictly enforcing a sound limit for all machines on the trails. A 99 dB limit applies at 3500 rpm and all mufflers must have a USFS approved spark arrester.
These rules are necessary in this age of litigation. Mull says that to keep the park safe and not expose itself to financially devastating lawsuits, the rules are strictly enforced. He also said that he is not afraid to turn customers away if they don’t follow park rules. In short, call before you go to make sure you are following the rules.
The rules are in place for everyone’s safety and in my opinion they enhance the driving experience because you know everyone is serious about having fun on these beautiful trails.