28hrs, 4 states, 2 time zones, and a great time: GSMTR preliminary

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Supporting Vendor
Mar 6, 2005
Mauldin, SC
Yesterday I packed my stuff and the dog in my wife’s car and headed north to Asheville on my way to Golden Mountain Off-Road Park in Sparta, TN. The weather was great and her car had XM Radio. Some great tunes were heard on the way up. Unfortunately, I knew my trip was going to be longer than it should have. With I-40 West out up near the NC/ TN border, the only way around was up I- 26 to Hwy 81 in TN and then back down. This tacked on at least an hour to my trip. Luckily for those of you who are in NC and SC, I-40 will be back open at the end of the month.

I've never traveled in TN other than flying into Memphis for a few days for business. My perception of what TN was and what I saw were two totally different views. The mountains in East TN are just as breathtaking as the NC mountains. With views for miles. The trip up to Kingsport was really cool. The trip back down was even better. Just past Knoxville, the road starts to slowly rise. Just like the roads in NC that basically wind up the mountain, this was a long, slow, upward climb until I finally come around a corner, looked to my left and saw how far I had really gone up. Below me was the TN Valley I've heard so much about. Amazing views. Had I not had to be in Sparta that day, I think I would have just set camp up right there. I travelled over two more mountain ranges before hitting Cookeville and started heading south to Golden Mountain in Sparta.

Within minutes I was pulling off the highway and onto a country road. In front of me was a mountain. A couple more miles of farmlands, and I was at the entrance of Golden Mountain. Large rock pillars and heavy gates stood in front. As I pulled in, I could see a gate house at the end of this road. There, the caretaker met me and let me know the rest of my group had already arrived. I paid my $10 fee for camping that night and headed on up.

The first thing I saw was the circle track. It was a lot bigger than I expected with concrete bleachers large enough to hold thousands of people. Standing right beside the track were the bath houses - two showers for the men and two for the women. They weren’t yet painted as they’re brand new, but I was told they would be by GSMTR.


On the other side of the circle track were the bunk houses – in a brand new two-story building. Five small hotel-size rooms line the top story, and each room was equipped with a bunk bed that had a full- or queen-size mattress on the bottom and a single bunk on top. There were also a small refrigerator and microwave oven in each room in addition to a nice bathroom with stand up shower. Downstairs, there were three large rooms that are yet to be furnished, but I was told the large center one would have a large flat-screen TV and possibly a pool table. Another room was going to be furnished with bunk beds in it, and all are currently being wired for flat screen TVs. Oh yeah, and the entire building has the comforts of central air.

After my tour, I got back in the car and drove up the paved driveway to the top of the mountain. Along the way, on both sides of the road, you could see trails and rocks everywhere. After about 300 to 400 yards, I came to the top of the mountain. There in front of me was a sight I have never seen at an ORV park - a fully landscaped sports complex.


I drove and parked beside the main cabana – the main hub for GSMTR.


This is where we’ll be holding the dinners, raffle, music and other events. It's large with men’s and women’s bathrooms on one side and a very large rock fireplace and kitchen on the other. Edit. They have since painted the main cabana. It looks brand new.



In the middle of this cabana is a large elevated stage overlooking the pond below.


The pond was the first feature my golden retriever Jessie found, and it kept her allegiance pretty much the entire time.


The pond is at least three acres, and from what I could tell, it wasn't more than approximately six feet deep with most of it only being three or so feet. One thing I noticed as I walked around the boardwalk that wraps around the entire lake was that it’s full of fish.


Brim and bass. Big bass – some looked to be at least a couple pounds. There were several bridges that crossed the pond to give an easy cast into the water. I'm looking forward to casting a pumpkin seed worm and trying to hook up with a bass. I think my four-year-old will have fun with her Barbie rod.


Walking past the pond, you come up to what used to be a giant sand pit. With three volley ball courts complete with lights. The nets have long vanished, and the sand has been overtaken by dirt, but I'm working on something we can use this area for. If I can find a net and a ball I might convince the owner of the park to till up the dirt laced sand and have a softer surface for us to land in.


Past that the volleyball courts is a baseball field.


It's complete with a dugout for each team, benches and stadium lighting for night games. The grass has just been recently mowed and it looks ready to play. I think it might be fun to get a softball game up between some of the clubs that will be coming to GSMTR. I just need to find someone who’s willing to put it together - it would be a great way of getting to know new friends and having a great time with the family. Beside the baseball field is a full court basketball court. I kid you not.


After walking the bases I saw a building behind the field that I believe used to be a clubhouse for the park. Looking through the windows I could see a very nice - but empty - big room with a kitchen in the back.
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While I was walking around the building, I came upon something odd. I have to say here that what I found out in those woods I have told everyone I’ve seen so far. As I walked up to some odd structures in the woods. I saw a sign sticking up out of the ground that had the number one painted on it. Standing about 75 feet away, I could make out the number 18 painted on another sign. I knew what it was but couldn't believe it until I took my foot and swept the leaves out of the way to reveal green astro turf. Yep, add to the list of amenities an 18-hole putt-putt course. I walked all 18 holes. It's not just a flat course, it has all the features that any average course would have. It's missing some carpet in spots, but other than that, it just has a layer of autumn leaves and pine needles on it. Thirty minutes with a leaf blower, and it will be ready to play. I’ll work on having some putters and balls ready for play. Looking forward to drinking some beer and playing a few rounds after a long day on the trail. Plus it might just be something my wife and kids would like to play.



Speaking of kids – there’s a huge castle playground right beside the main cabana that could keep them busy for hours. We’ll have some fun competitions for them throughout the week. I'm bringing a battery-powered jeep and a land cruiser that will be available all week.


Also, if your kid is into go-carts, bring one. There’s a go-cart track down by the entrance. We’ll also have a couple sets of horseshoes available at the dedicated field. Seriously, they have a place right beside the pond just made for horseshoes. Another idea I have - if I can find the equipment - is outdoor bowling. They have two shuffleboard courts right beside the horseshoe pits. If I can locate some pins and a few bowling balls we might have something.



Beside the main cabana is the RV parking area with water and power hookups.


These are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are extra to the registration fee. Beside that is the main camping area. It overlooks the valley and mountains down below. Since the campground and main cabana is on top of the mountain, there’s a nice breeze blowing just about all the time. Most of the camp sites have fire rings and have designated camping spots. We’re working on a plan on camping in case the main camping spot fills up.



Scattered around the ponds, there are a half-dozen or so small cabanas. We’ve yet to figure out a plan for these but they could be used to keep things out of the weather in case of rain. We do know we’ll be using one as a vehicle repair area complete with jacks and jack stands and possibly some other basic tools. If you have something you’d like to loan to the cause, let me or Rick know.


And then, there are the trails and the trail events. I'm going to let Rick, Todd S. and the guys from ACC tell you about those since I spent the day planning out the day’s events and throwing the stick out in the water for the dog. Plus, I don't think a minivan would do very well on the trails though the thought did cross my mind.

That night, I, Todd Shirley from STLCA, Rick, Cat, and Brian and Michael from ACC sat around a campfire discussing GSMTR and Todd’s broken birf. Great night, cold beer and some really good friends. This morning I woke up and watched the sunrise over the cabana and then headed home. This time I went south toward Atlanta. This shaved almost an hour off my trip. I took HWY 111 to HWY 127 - which was an awesome drive through the mountains. If you’re coming from the south, I’d recommend coming this way.

I'm looking forward to June. Having rented the entire park for the week we will have the entire park to ourselves. We plan on giving as many options as we can for everyone. Considering this is a new venue for us some of those options may work and some may not. We don't want GSMTR to be just another date to go wheeling. We want you to think of this as an experience for you and your family. With 18 years and counting we are looking to add a new chapter in the history of GSMTR and keep it the biggest TLCA event this side of the Mississippi. With our great list of growing sponsors and your help we can make that come true again this year.
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As Marshall said, its a beautiful park with a wide variety of trails and lots of potential for the other activities. I've got almost 2 hrs worth of trail video that I'll post up as soon as I can. For those with stock-ish vehicles, not to worry. There is plenty of areas and loops that you can do with out scratching your rig. I'd recommend at least 31" All-terrain tires.

We also ran over to Burgess Falls State Park and it's amazing! Spectacular falls and a very nice hike (shady and cool). Best part is that its free and only 15 minutes from GMP! The pictures I posted before of the falls don't do it justice. The big falls are about 200 ft tall, which is hard to tell from the photo.

Pics and video will soon follow...
uh... WOW! This park apparently has something for EVERYONE! Marshall, please post pics of the movie theatre... cause that appears to be the ONLY thing missing!
Nice write up thanks :cheers:
Hate I missed ya...FYI the tires with 1/2 to 5/8 tread theat I went to look at were down to the wear bars !@#$@#$
uh... WOW! This park apparently has something for EVERYONE! Marshall, please post pics of the movie theatre... cause that appears to be the ONLY thing missing!

Nah we have that already. We should have a 12ft screen somewhere in the park. Currently working on getting various runs filmed and then replayed that night. We were trying not to put everyone in a state of shock.
This is going to be such a great event! Can't wait to see you all there!
Trails were a lot of fun and there is a great variety of difficulty for everyone. Lots of videos of the crazy wild stuff are easily found on YT, so I decided to record some of the milder trails. Here are a couple videos of trail 1, which is the main loop connecting all of the other trails. Its not a walk in the park, and will require some attention to what you are doing.
Part one of trail 1, starting at the main entrance and going up the mountain.

Part two of trail 1 near the top and going back to the start. You'll notice the MX trails off to the right as we are coming down the last leg.

And this is starting at Trail 12 (near top of 34) and rolling into Trail 11, a fun rocky climb.
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One of the harder trails we went up is Trail 32. What's nice is that trail 34 runs parallel to it so you can bail off the rocks if needed. We only went up the first obstacle, and by we, I mean I winched over this hump and Brian eventually wheeled over it. Then we hopped on Trail 34 for a steep climb to the top.

If I wasn't going already I would be sold now, looks to be a lot of fun.
Subscribing, can't make GSMTR, but the 4runner Jamboree is there in November.
Dangit...won't be able to make it this year...Grandmother's suprise 80th birthday is same weekend, so y'all have a good time!! I'll see everyone on the flip flop...
Jay this event is all week. From Monday to Sunday. You don't have to be there on the weekend to have a good time. There will be plenty of people at the event camping all week. Some look at GSMTR as a vacation not just another wheeling event.
LOL...Brian says, "Oops..."

Thanks for the vids Rick! Definately something for everyone!
Some look at GSMTR as a vacation not just another wheeling event.

ain't that the truth! I've done the entire week before, it's awesome. being at this location having all the amenities will be even better.
OK, this video picks up where we last left our intrepid explorers in post #10 above...

...At the bottom of trail 32. We hopped over onto trail 34 and bounced our way up this steep climb. I didn't even see that last stump we rolled over near the top, it's that steep. I gotta figure out a way to have my camera hooked up to a monitor inside the cabin, so I can see what's down there in front of me! :)
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Cool job guys, great idea to scout ahead and see all the great amenities Golden Mtn has to offer in addition to the wheeling.

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