Head To The “Show-Me” State

The Chadwick OHV Trail System in Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest provides technical riding challenges seen in few other places in the Midwest.

Story by Corey Monahan

Last spring, a few members of the South Metro ATV Club took advantage of the 70 miles of trails that wind through sharp hollows with loose rock and large sections of hard rock, crisscrossing numerous creeks that wander within its 12 square miles of oak, hickory, pine, and red cedar forest, for a true Ozark riding experience.

DSC 0039It’s hard to see in this photo, but some steep sidehills are best tackled as a teamWhile many trails are suitable for riders of any skill level, several have extremely technical portions beyond the comfort of many experienced riders, requiring ground guides and quick-acting spotters to successfully traverse them. A couple trails feature small cliffs to challenge a rider’s ability to traverse stair steps or improve those winching skills, and can require several hours to cover just a few miles. Not all maps identify which trails are “Most Difficult” but the park’s brochure does provide the guidance to “ride at your own comfort and level and don’t hesitate to turn around, remember safety first!”

Width Restriction

There is a strict 50-inch width restriction enforced by numerous barricades and tight trails snaking between trees and large rocks. The Riding Area requires ATVs be “straddled,” helmets are required by those under 18, and those under 16 must be directly supervised by a parent. Trails are shared with motorcycles and mountain bikes, and the northeast corner of the Riding Area is dedicated to motorcycle-only trails and a trials bike areaDSC 0048 Choose your line and maneuver down one hard-rock stair step at a time.

Trail Pass & Parking

For those staying within the Riding Area, a day or annual trail pass is available directly from the National Forest Service, Casey’s General Store in Sparta, or Kay’s Country Store in Chadwick. To operate on the county roads outside the Riding Area an additional Christian County ATV permit is available from Christian County Clerk’s Office

There are three trailheads. Cobb Ridge Trailhead is located right off County Road H and has a paved parking lot. The KC Pavilion is located on Forest Road 171 just past Camp Ridge Campground, and features a large gravel parking lot. Both have information boards, toilets, and picnic areas. Oak Creek Trailhead is a smaller, primitive parking area on the south end, also right off County Road H. See the information boards at each for current parking fees.

What to Wear

VIRB0199Stream crossings are common on this ATV adventure in the Ozarks.

With the numerous creek crossings, waterproof footwear is recommended as is a pair of work gloves to work with winch cables. Normal riding attire appropriate for the time of year is adequate, however those riding the “Most Difficult” trails may want to be more prepared as those trails can be difficult to quickly exit and return to the parking area

Worth the work

The Chadwick OHV Trail System, 30 miles south of Springfield, Missouri, may not interest all riders. But for those finding themselves and their machines in the area, a memorable day of technical riding can be found, as well as some unbelievable Ozark scenery.

Geo-referenced maps of the Chadwick trails are available on the Avenza and Ride Command apps. For more information on permits, camping and directions, see the Mark Twain National Forest website page at this link: www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd967562.pdf