On Saturday, August 23, 2003, the Mid Atlantic Four Wheel Drive Association held their annual clubs’ run at Rausch Creek Off Road Park near the town of Tremont, PA.
CORE was represented in three vehicles by CORE members:
- Mike Vincenty and Donna Edwards (90 YJ),
- Keith Holman (99 BlaZeR2) and
- guest, Dave Dorrin (03 Rubicon).
Although we’d heard much about the new park, this was a first visit for us.
“Dave put the lockers into use and walked the Rubi up one side to see that the downhill side required a sharp off camber turn on the sandy soil to avoid the trees.”
Rausch Creek is located just off of I-81 at exit 107. There are two main parts to the park, one adjacent to the exit is devoted to motocross and ATV riders. This part has been open longer and is the location where you sign in and pay your fees. After you sign the waivers, pay your money and get your wrist band, you travel along Route 209 to the 4 wheel drive part of the park.
A couple of logistical notes for the park and Tremont. The only open gas station we found was on the east side of Tremont in a grocery store (with a sandwich counter). The place had no public restrooms, sold diesel as well as gasoline and had a coin operated air pump. Fifty cents was about enough to air four tires back to street presssure. Cell phone signals were the rule rather than the exception. Groups of 3 vehicles are the minimum. Trails and maps are sufficiently marked and detailed to allow the travel without needing a guide even though this was a first visit for us. Only a couple of times during the day were we in any doubt as to which turn to take or what trail we were on. There are concession stands sellng food at the pay station and ATV area of the park. The ATVs and MXs tended to load the place up shortly after 9:00.
Right now, the staging area is an equipment lot where the size of the earth movers will make your vehicle take on a certain low-rider quality. Talk about a lesson in humility. The view from here to the northeast is gorgeous across the mountains.
On this particular day, we split into groups here with the 3 CORE vehicles going together for the stocker route. As we turned off the main road, the troubles began as the BlaZeR2 decided not to engage the front axle. A little exercising of the vacuum bellows seemed to address the issue and we were off on Trail 2. Trail 2 borders the eastern part of the park and wound through the trees and over several stumps from trail clearing and a few rocky areas.
As the trail began to turn back toward the west, we saw signs indicating that spectator parking for the adjacent trail was ahead. At the corner of the property, we found the first bypass of the day. The main trail snaked uphill steeply and across several larger rocks with jsut enough loose dirt surrounding them to make it tricky, especially so if it had been wet. The signs indicated a winch was in order. Having none, we elected to take the bypass which was trickiest right where it rejoined the main trail. The tight turn back onto the trail did not yield the best line for the rocks there which extracted a few large scrapes to our undercarriages. Dave was reminded of the “Gil Effect” (that tendency of a front-locked vehicle to defy your desires to turn).
The trail yielded a bit more entertainment in the form of crossed up ditches/low spots crossing the trail and we drove past one VERY large hole that had obviously been the site for several attempts at ripping the skidplates out from other vehicles. We were aware of the adjacent trail because we could see the tape markers through the trees. We passed a few areas that had been used as dumps for household trash over the years but we were assured that cleanup of these areas are on the list for future workdays.
After we hit the main 2wd road, we saw another of the MAFWDA groups off to our left and decided to walk over and see what they were up to. As the pictures show, one Cherokee was on top of a rock (or what had at one time been one rock) which truly dwarfed the vehicle. One of the advantages of being in a private park, instead of public forest, was evident when the extraction effort included a chain saw to clear a path for forward motion since reversing was no longer an option.
We continued on in search of Trail 3, another stocker possible path which included several lengthy runs of rock garden (with bypasses). Keith and Dave drove through the first one with the differences afforded by the Rubi’s lockers and higher clearances readily apparent. Mike and Donna chose to bypass this one but found the bypass was not a piece of flat level ground. A hairpin turn took us to the next rock garden, this one longer and rougher than the first. We all decided a bypass was in order.
The next major bypass was around a short but very steep hill that was extremely reminiscent of the one that ate the front diff in my 4 door last spring. We walked it but it appeared the two best lines were either over a stump to stay out of the ruts or in the ruts which required pretty good clearance. Dave put the lockers into use and walked the Rubi up one side to see that the downhill side required a sharp off camber turn on the sandy soil to avoid the trees. The lockers were more of a help coming up than going down! As he sat at the top, it became apparent that his best bet was to roll the wheels as any attempts at braking would likely contribute to breaking traction and a wild ride down. The pictures from this are from his camera and are worth seeing. We rolled on and decided to take a detour to Camp Area C which is just a clearing where a set of concrete steps indicate a house once stood.
While poking around here, my front axle decided to give up entirely. We spent an hour messing with that and eating lunch. The front axle finally was kept engaged by routing a line from directly from manifold vaccum to the actuator bellows with the creative use of various fittings, a stick, a trash bag and some aluminum foil replacing other parts and on the YJ which were scavenged for the BlaZeR2.
Afterwards, we meandered over to the western part of the park, seeing a large turkey on the way. I believe he was as tall as the hood on my truck!
When we got into the western section (again, the roads were well-marked) we discovered our friends from the morning in an area called Rock Creek where they were just completing the repairs on a TJ that had broken an axle at the wheel end. Not a pretty sight! Walkng over to where they were working was an experience in itself. The broken axle was saved for later inclusion in a collage of broken pieces for Park Art.
We spent the afternoon riding trail 11 which circles the western section of the park. Not quite as challenging as the morning trails but with several interesting side trails of various levels to be taken. We decided to call it a day around 4:00 and headed out to the pay stand to reattach and air up. My portable compressor was on the fritz so we drove on into Tremont to the station where we had gassed up that morning.
All aired back up, we hit the road towards home south down Interstate 81, stopping for dinner at Exit 72 where our dusty attire and muddy trucks caught a few glances of incredulity and a tad of jealousy even? At any rate, a hearty meal and some good conversation followed. After dinner, we headed south again with Dave taking I-81 through Harrisburg towards Baltimore and Mike, Donna and I headed on down I-81 where we picked up 581 headed east ot US 15.
A couple of personal opinions and observations on Rausch Creek:
Compared to other pay-for-play locations:
Cost wise: Annual membership is required for all drivers and passengers at $10 annually plus a $25 per day vehicle fee. Compare to Paragon’s $35 per day vehicle (inlcudes driver) plus $5 for each passenger per visit. Gore (Big Dogs) is $35 per person for the weekend plus $80 per vehicle for a 3 day weekend and includes activites such as the band on Saturday and camping.
Guides: Included in fees at Big Dogs. Available at extra charge at Paragon but not required. Not required at Rausch Creek, available at extra charge (I think).
Scenery and trails: Paragon is generally less wooded. Similar Gore and Rausch Creek.
In town facilities: Paragon’s proximity to Hazleton wins this category. Gore is 20 miles or so to Winchester. Tremont had no motels that I saw unless you headed 15-20 miles on the interstate.
As always, a day on the trail beats a day at work and good company just makes it that much better.
Trail report written by Keith Holman. Pictures courtesy of Keith Holman and Dave Dorrin.