We first heard about Brushy Mountain Motorsports Park one cold winter in Roseau, Minnesota. One of the Polaris test engineers was speechless and excited when he told us about this riding park in North Carolina that he had visited the previous fall. He kept telling stories of one way trails, climbs, jumps, mud, hard terrain, loose rocks, beautiful views. He kept talking about the park.
the opportunity arrives
The first thing I noticed was the nice building at the beginning of the trail. Inside the building there were clean showers and toilets. There was a hawker truck parked next to the building serving hotdogs, hamburgers, and anything else a weary cyclist might need. On the other side of the building was a place to hose down dirty ATVs, a plus in my book.
I was greeted by Richard Mull, one of the co-owners of the park and the main architect of the park. 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; he rides a Yamaha BearTracker. Together we disappeared into the hills to explore the land nestled in the Brushy Mountains. The first trail we came across wound 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 grading system similar to that of snow slopes. A green circle means the trail is easy and can be hiked by beginners. A blue square is for intermediate riders. And the black diamond is for advanced riders only. At the moment, we wander along a green path. The trail was wide and had several lines, including those around the obstacles.
On the green trails, the hill climbs were slight and there were several detours, most of them marked with blue squares and black diamonds. I indicated that maybe it was time to up 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 lots of steep elevation changes and nice mud holes. Mull said some of the trails hold water for most of the year, while others can dry out. The trails were sticky from the rain from the previous week, so traction was excellent. Even when things are bone dry, Mull said trails deep in the woods retain moisture well. Some of the climbs were a bit extreme for the “intermediate” state, which made me wonder what to expect on a black diamond trail.
The blue trails were muddier and narrower than the green trails. Much tighter. If you’re looking for twists, drops, and turns, these are the trails for you. But everything must come to an end, and we had to find at least a trace of black diamond. Even on his BearTracker, Mull was happy to hit the toughest trails. He wasn’t kidding, these are black diamond trails indeed. Imagine climbs where there is no choice but to finish. 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 indicated, 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 appreciated about the BMMS trails was their one-way nature, so there was no risk of going around a corner and meeting another rider head-on. This contributes to safety and allowed us to drive at a faster pace 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 his idea elsewhere. After some more searching, he found another property and started over. Citizens near the second site (near Hickory, NC) were happy to have Mull and the park from him.
“I started this because I could ride my bike everywhere as a kid,” says Mull. “Now, I want my kids to be able to ride their bikes in a good area, too.” He also wanted to provide bikers with trails and facilities that he believes are missing in North Carolina. “There aren’t many horseback riding areas in North Carolina,” he explains. “And where there is riding, the areas are overcrowded with too many cyclists.”
Thus opened BMMS.
If you go, there are some rules you must follow. First of all, there are the age guidelines. BMMS strictly adheres to the manufacturer’s guidelines on motor sizes. That means no child under the age of 16 can ride a machine larger than 90cc. Children ages 12-16 must stay on machines 90cc and under. And those between the ages of 6 and 11 can ride on machines 70cc and under. 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 limit of 99 dB at 3500 rpm applies and all mufflers must have a USFS approved spark arrestor.
These rules are necessary in this age of litigation. Mull says that to keep insurance in the park and not expose yourself to a financially devastating lawsuit, the rules are strictly enforced. He also said that he is not afraid to turn away customers if they don’t follow park rules. In short, he calls before you go to make sure you follow the rules.
The rules are in place for everyone’s safety and, in my opinion, enhance the riding experience because you know everyone is serious about having fun on these beautiful trails.