by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
What’s in them?
Shakespeare wanted to know. Companies spend a ton of money trying to find the right one. And your parents, well, they made the decision to saddle you with a moniker that will last a lifetime.
A name can make you. Define you.
And for one off-road trail at Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area in Eastern Pennsylvania, it could also give you full-on bragging rights.
Assuming, of course, you can finish the thing before anyone else.
They call it, well, they don’t call it anything right now as the whole spot is just a lot of open space, dirt, rocks and the remnants of a popular swimming pond getting covered over.
That’s where you come into the picture.
Because when this whole trail is finished in about 30 months, it just may become the most difficult 6,600 feet of off-road track on the East Coast—littered with boulders, crevices and angles designed to intimidate even the most hardcore of 4x4 enthusiasts.
Whoever is first to traverse the thing unscathed, or at least without having to get pulled off, gets to choose its name, according to AOAA Director of Operations Dave Porzi.
”Those are the rules,” Porzi said. “Whoever is the first to finish, gets to name the trail.”
The entire project is a $10.5 million undertaking that is currently in progress on the Bear Valley part of AOAA’s Western Reserve in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.
Work began in back in August and involves using about 2.8 million cubic yards of spoil material to backfill nearly 5,000 feet of a 30- to 170-foot exposed rock highwall, as well as a once-popular swimming hole called ‘the caves'. Brush will also be distributed around the site to help create wildlife, as will a mix of new grass and trees.
The project’s fill, which includes dirt and rocks of all sizes, is coming from a pile that formed when the nearby ‘Whaleback’ rock formation was created, Porzi said.
Dirt is being packed down first to form the trail, which will then be strategically broken up and strewn with thousands of boulders—making the trek extremely difficult for nearly any off-road vehicle.
“The minimum size (rock) is going to be like a dishwasher in your house. Some will be as big as a school bus,” said Porzi. “Machines are going to break. This is going to be extreme.”
Porzi said he hopes this new location, whatever it is eventually named, develops into a destination spot similar to California’s legendary Rubicon Trail. Something that provides a serious test for those looking to push both themselves and their vehicles.
“We want it to be a location that brings a West Coast taste to the East Coast—to give people a real challenge,” Porzi said.
Aside from this new hardcore trail, AOAA is also having another 4,370 feet of easy (green) off-road trails, plus a 2,000-foot mud pit, installed nearby so people can enjoy the park while also watching the carnage on the as-yet-unnamed trail.
Additional features in the area include a new parking location and emergency helipad.
The project’s funding comes from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, which seeks to target abandoned mine projects linked to community and economic development. AOAA’s grant was one of seven sites selected from across the state.
The AOAA is located mostly in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania on more than 8,000 acres of forest and reclaimed coal land.
The ongoing construction will not affect any other areas of the park, Porzi said.
So, headed out to AOAA—or any other four-wheeling location anytime soon? Check out our full line of recovery products and make sure you bring along for the ride.