Nelson County, Virginia. The Wheelin' for Hope 2016 event was held April 30-May 1 on the Oak Ridge Estate, which has 47 miles of trails covering all levels of off-road difficulty for stock to modified vehicles.
I arrived Friday morning, April 29th, to get a layout of what was going on, and the location for set up of the Quadratec tent and display. We ended up setting the tent up right beside registration.
I was super excited to be at this event for a few reasons, but first was the ability to return to a place I haven't visited in 15 years. Last time I had been on this property was 2001 and I remember it well from my camp Jeep days - having very fond memories of the trails and location.
There was always the beauty of the location deep in my memories, but I wanted to see if it was just fond Jeep memories or was it truly what I remembered.
Registration went well, with over 100 vehicles coming through just on Friday night and the main thing I noticed was Wheelin' for Hope wasn't your typical off road event that is primarily JKs. This was a welcoming mix of CJ, YJ, TJ, LJ, XJ, full size, Toyota, Nissan, stock, modified, and of course a few JKs. Everyone who attended had the event's cause close to their heart as it is a tribute and fundraiser for those whose lives have been affected in some way by cancer. All event proceeds benefit cancer research through the American Cancer Society via Relay for Life of Nelson County. Vehicles came and went as the sun went down and registration closed.
Starting at 6:30 AM Saturday, registration opened for the remainder of the event's vehicles (Wheelin' for Hope had sold out in just 24 hours earlier in the year) and most people were starting to stage in the trail lines. The excitement started to flow as the drivers' meeting neared. I really wanted to get out on these beautiful trails.
After the drivers' meeting the vehicles all trickled out. There are 47 miles of trails at the resort and they loop around, with some circling back on themselves for ease of flow. We started out going over to the 'v' notch area and this was a nice drop into an off-camber limb that led to a nice down hill section. We continued looping through different trails the entire day.
Now, this isn't your normal off-road park style of trails. These are something to experience. Not overly extreme, but a nice area full of fun challenging trails. Plus, there are some areas for the big guys to play with muddy rock ledges with climbs 3-5 feet tall.
What I really enjoyed was the quality of the trails. They were fun and non stressful with multiple challenges. There were areas where you needed lockers, some momentum, or some spotting, or all of the above.
There was no major chances of vehicle carnage, just fun off-roading that I have been missing. Things to tackle were hills, off camber, creek crossings, more hills, tight trails, rock, and trees. Oh, did I mentions hills and trees, and some small dirt road sections?
Some of the obstacles are very scenic with challenges. CJ5 hill has a stream 50-feet wide and at least 2-feet deep, then you have to climb a rock hill to get out of the stream. If you pick the right line you can make it out easily. As I found out, an inch left or right makes a huge difference.
We ended up staying out on the trails till after 5 PM because of a poor weather forecast for Sunday. Saturday night there was a nice dinner and raffle.
Come Sunday, they were certainly more trails to tackle but I saw the weather forecast for heavy downpours - and with a five-hour ride home - decided to skip trail riding and start what would be a long rainy ride home.
If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend riding these trails at Oak Ridge Estates. They are what off-roading is about. They are just fun technical trails with views and obstacles you won't get to drive through at many other places. Chris Boucher and the staff from Wheeling' for Hope are great people and know their way around well. These trails should be on your list to experience and I want to go back already. It was just that much fun.
Wheelin' for Hope is a team effort of the Woodland Wildfires of the Relay of Life for Nelson County, Virginia. The Wildfires are a community outreach of Woodland Baptist Church located in Colleen, Virginia and is made up of church & community members whose lives have been touched by cancer, either from battling the disease themselves or having had their lives touched by that awful disease through the suffering of a loved one.
We wheel in honor and memory of our loved ones who have battled cancer.