While street cycling and urban scootering can offer thrills of their own in Downtown Columbus, you have to head about an hour southbound if you want to experience something a bit more “off road”. That’s just what we found at the “Hocking Hills Nature Trails” ATV rental and trail riding destination.
Owner Karry Gemmell has created this new venture to be the first safety-and-family-oriented ATV rental and training facility in the entire country. A wide variety of courses provides riders of all skill-levels something that they can feel comfortable with.
Typically, ATV rentals do not sound like your standard family entertainment, but Karry and company are more than happy to accommodate. We were set up with a Polaris Ranger RZR, which more closely resembles a beefed-up golf cart than it does a typical ATV. The RZR seats two people side-by-side and has extra safety features including a roll cage, seat belts, and side harnesses. We were able to bring Desi along with us for the ride, safely in Anne’s lap. We weren’t sure if he would enjoy the ride, but he ended up loving every minute of it.
As previously mentioned, safety comes first at Hocking Hills Nature Trails. We started off in the instructional course pictured below. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve really ridden an ATV, and I still felt fairly comfortable behind the wheel, but a few laps around the practice course is required to make sure that the instructors also feel comfortable before taking anyone out onto the trails.
Next up, Karry led the way and took us out onto some of their easier beginner trails. These paths snaked through the woods and contained very few hills at first. They want you to get comfortable with the vehicle before making the ride too difficult. There are a couple of intentionally sharp turns that require you to put the ATV in reverse and get accustomed to changing gears and backing up.
Some of the more intermediate trails contain some steeper hills to climb, and wind all through the wooded hillside. Many of the creek-bed crossings contain narrow bridges, which pose the challenge of making sure your ATV is lined up properly to cross them. Below is a photo of their “over-under” bridge that has clearance to ride underneath as well as over top.
As we rode and toured the Hocking Hills Nature Trails, Karry stopped to tell us about some of the projects they are still working on. Upon our arrival they had only been open to the public for two weeks, but have enough additions planned to keep people coming back for more. There is a large pond under construction near the front of the property, and a few arch bridges (pictured below) to challenge beginner riders. On a nearby hillside, they’ve begun work at clearing out an area and pouring the foundation for a pavilion with a view, where riders can park, rest, and even grab a bite to eat.
Karry led us to an open field where they currently have more trails cut and a mud bog (pictured below) for anyone looking to get a little dirty. He described his plans to construct a giant “hedgemaze” type of labyrinth in this area for riders to explore.
At the end of the ride, the three of us were exhausted, but extremely thrilled that we had taken the time to check this place out. The base rate for rentals and tours run at $90 for 90 minutes for ATVs and $115 for 90 minutes on a RZR, but rates can vary for groups and other needs.
Hocking Hills Nature Trails is located at 15155 Sauerkraut Rd. in Logan, OH. More information can be found online at HockingHillsNatureTrails.com.