01 Apr Travel Stories | Spring Break ATV Trail Riding Trip
I know I may have mentioned it a time or two (or three, or four…), but our family loves to travel! We’re not talking all-out, round-the-world excursions. We’re too busy (and too poor!) for that. Road trips are our favorite. We pile in the car, put on a good audio book, jam out to music, or just have silly, family conversations for the hours that we’re on the road. Then, we soak up the adventure that always awaits us at our destination! This year, our Spring Break ATV trip was FULL of adventure. And stories. And it’s the stories I want to concentrate on today.
We are a sentimental family, and all six of us value our quirky traditions. We love making memories, but we love telling stories even more. Each memory has a story, and each is just as important as the next. It’s these little stories that make our family ours. As photographers, we’re lucky that we almost always have a picture or two for each of our stories.
Every year, we make sure we go ATV riding in the mountains at least once. I’ll admit, I used to think this was a bit, well, redneck. While it still may be true, I no longer look at it that way. The way we do it, it’s more of a sightseeing adventure. A way to cover more ground than hiking. A way to see things and go places you never thought you would. And we love it! We all love it. My brother is our trip instigator and coordinator, and together with his family and our parents, there was a total of 12 family members on 5 ATVs making their way through the Arkansas Ouachita Mountains.
We all agree that this year was our favorite trip so far! We rented two cabins in Mena, Arkansas that were connected by a gravel driveway. We stayed for a total of 3 nights and 4 days, but it still didn’t seem long enough. I took my “big camera,” but only used it around camp, as I’m too chicken to pack it onto the ATV! So this is a mix of SLR photos and iPhone photos.
Our first day was arrival day, and more of a lazy day to unload, set up camp, make ourselves comfortable, and settle in. We don’t do tents. We learned that the hard way. We prefer nice cabins with electricity, running water, beds, and full kitchens. The area is quiet and private. It felt like we were the only ones in the mountains!
Our particular cabin was still decorated with string lights that we instantly dubbed “party lights.” And yes, we turned them on.
This was the first year that Alex was brave enough to ride on his own. He and his cousin rode around camp and made paths through the trees as we unpacked and got ready to grill up some burgers.
My brother is the fire-making expert and grillmaster. We were thrilled to find large fire pits and plenty of Adirondack chairs!
Ed and Jessie kept busy with poker…
We got up early the next morning for a full day of riding. We were worried about the weather, as it looked like it would rain the entire time we were there. We packed plenty of rain ponchos, but it turned out that we never had to use them! It only rained at night, so our trail riding days stayed dry. Our cabins were within a 5 minute ride to the Wolf Pen Gap ATV trails. However, because the area had gotten so much rain during the winter and early Spring, the Wolf Pen trails were closed.
Luckily, my brother and I had prepared for the closures, and we had a backup plan. We decided to ride the Fourche Mountain Trails instead. This required a 30-minute drive (and trailering the ATVs), but it was so worth it! This was our first time riding these trails, but we loved them even more than Wolf Pen (which we have ridden before. We were able to ride some of the easier trails there the next day).
My brother and I live for stream crossings! It must be in our blood. There’s just something about a cool, fresh, mountain stream, and the infinite little waterfalls as it travels over rocks and roots. The Fourche trails had so many stream crossings that I lost count. I think I had to take a picture of each one! We stopped several times to go wading, our feet staying dry in our mud boots.
The view from the top of the trail was pretty good too.
One thing our family knows how to do well is eat! We don’t live off off boring sandwiches and trail mix when we ride the trails. My brother has a mini charcoal grill, and we all pack coolers. As I said before, we are not good at roughing it! We’re here to have fun! My favorite thing about trail riding (other than the stream crossings!) is stopping for lunch.
We find a good, picturesque spot to pull over (usually next to a stream!), and take a break. The kids roam and through rocks in the water, and my brother gets the grill going. We pull out drinks and chips, and throw hot dogs and sausages on to cook. Now, I’m not a huge hot dog fan. I probably only eat them a couple times a year. But I love my brother’s trail dogs! They just taste different when you’re out in the mountains, next to a stream, surrounded by your family. I told him, “I never know I want a hot dog until we have trail dogs. Then I want three!”
We usually ride until close to sunset. Then we had back to camp to start a fire and begin preparing for dinner. While there’s a little light left, whoever is not in charge of dinner (each family cooks dinner one night), usually hops back on an ATV to explore the area. There is a trail across the street from our cabins that we have dubbed “The Summit.” It’s not an official trail (that we know of), but it is one of our favorites. It has the best sunset view at the top!
Since it was just across the street, I took my camera with me for one of these trips.
You can almost see our little cluster of cabins below.
These two always let me take photos of them!
My favorites!! I love the story these tell!
Alex’s “model pose.” He wore this bandana to keep dust and wind out of his face while we’re riding, since he’s on the very front with Ed and me. We called him our little bandit!
Jessie, still covered in splashed of mud from the day’s adventures.
We always find something new when we go exploring (an iPhone pano shot).
Then, back to camp for dinner and campfire stories! There’s no cell service anywhere other than the Summit, for which I am always grateful! We all have nothing to keep us away from each other, and we soak up the togetherness.
Some of my Instagram favorites (when I could post them)!
To put everything into perspective, I put together this (iPhone only!) video summary of all the amazingness we experienced. Enjoy!
We’re already planning our next trip. Until then….