Windrock Trip Report (December 2020)
Updated: Jan 28
For so long I resisted going to an off-road park. I pictured it as a big, open area with man-made obstacles, almost like a Six Flags or Disney World for off-roaders. I'm more of a National Park and National Forest kind of guy. I really like to explore the land and feel like I'm alone, in the middle of nowhere. The last thing I wanted was to be around a bunch of guys in trucks and jeeps waiting in a line to climb a pile of tires or crawl over some culverts.
Then ATR (Appalachian Toyota Roundup) happened. I found out about it at the last minute and decided to go. That's where I was introduced to Windrock Park and I fell in love. Windrock consists of nearly 80k acres in the mountains of east Tennessee. It reminds me a lot of a National Forest, but with clearly marked trails and 3 difficulty levels. Windrock offers very nice, large paper maps of the park and they also have a GPS-enabled app that works without a cell signal, to help navigate the huge park. I find that the paper map is great for planning the day's trails and then the app comes into play once on the trail and riding. I ended up going to ATR and then GSMTR (Great Smokey Mountain Trail Ride) a month later. I purchased an annual pass to Windrock and decided I would go as much as I could.
My most recent trip to Windrock was December 11-13. I met a few buddies on Friday morning and then another buddy was coming up for Saturday. The guys running Friday were in a 100 Series Land Cruiser and a Tacoma. Both had sliders and aftermarket bumpers. My buddy coming up for Saturday had a 100 with only AT tires, no armor, and still on factory AHC (adjustable height control) suspension. Then there was me with my 200.
We decided to run Trail #30 first thing Friday morning. This was the one trail on our list that we knew sliders would be needed on. Since our slider-less friend wasn't going to arrive until Friday night, we figured we would go ahead and knock it out. So we aired down and hit the trail.
#30 is my favorite trail at Windrock. It's short, but it keeps you busy. I recommend it for any 100 or 200 as long as you have sliders. #30 isn't too much of a challenge for 80s or Jeeps but it's about all an IFS Land Cruiser wants. There are several rock gardens, a few off camber spots, and one or two obstacles that will keep you interested.
One of the more challenging spots involves a tree that looms large on the passenger side as your front wheels spin, cresting a ridge. It's an interesting little obstacle for 200s and 100s. To get over it, you have to smash the skinny pedal and commit. Any hesitation will result in pulling cable.
After finishing #30, we decided to head over to #22 and give it a run. The first half of #22 ended up being very mild but the 2nd half got interesting. We ran into some very picturesque spots with a few small rock gardens and some water crossings.
A little further up the trail we found an obstacle that we couldn't get passed. We sent the Tacoma in to give it a try but ended up having to backtrack to a green trail that allowed us to bypass the obstacle. I'm not sure how an IFS Cruiser could do it without body damage. I'd like to see it one day though.
At the end of #22 there is a muddy, rocky, uphill section that was a lot of fun. It was a nice way to end the day. All in all, I didn't really care too much for #22; it was a bit boring for 90% of the trail. I'm glad I got it under my belt though.
After meeting up with our slider-less buddy and getting a good nights sleep, we decided to do trail #11 the next morning on our way to trail #51. #11 is a short loop with a fun little dippy/washed out section and two rock gardens.
The two rock gardens are after the washed out section. These two little rock gardens are a ton of fun and can be run without sliders, as long as you're careful. The easier line is passenger while the tougher line is driver. It's nice to have options for all builds and skill levels on this trail.
After #11, we went forward to the famed "Panther Rock" trail, #51. It had really started raining at this point and things were getting SLICK. The actual spur off of #51 leading to Panther Rock was a tight, nasty, downhill section. We all made it down and I got out on the rock. It took some clever spotting and wheel placement to get out there but it was definitely worth it.
Getting back uphill from Panther Rock proved to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. The trees were tight and the trail itself was off camber and REALLY slick. I ended up getting my rear axle hung up on a stump and had to pull cable. The section was so slick and off camber we had to attach a line to the rear of my truck to keep me off the trees as I winched forward. I can't really say it was fun, but it was definitely interesting.
Once we got back on the main trail, one more obstacle remained. We knew that our slider-less friend couldn't make it so we sent him up the bypass. Unfortunately it was so slick he couldn't make it up the slope! So we pulled cable again. I can honestly say I did have fun on this pull!
Once we got our buddy winched up the bypass, we took the last obstacle. It was a little gnarlier than expected due to the rain, but we all made it up and out. Good spotting and plenty of skinny pedal made the difference. We headed back to camp feeling like we just conquered the world!
It was a great weekend and we escaped with only minor damage (scrapes, bent control arms, and a few CV axles). If you've never been to Windrock, I highly recommend it. Even though it's a 7-hour drive, I go every chance I get. Nothing beats great wheeling with good friends! I hope to see you there soon😎