Some people say it’s the mud, while other folks say it’s the speed, but most off-roaders agree that they enjoy the challenge of safely driving off road because it takes them to places that they otherwise wouldn’t visit. I recently traveled into the Tillamook State Forest, a popular destination for off road riders to learn the basics of safe trail riding.

It’s a cool and cloudy winter morning at Roger’s Camp in the Tillamook State Forest; key staging area for folks who like to travel “off-road.” I’ve traveled into the heart of the forest at the invitation of a familiar face and avid off-roader: my brother, Mark McOmie.

My brother’s off-road recreation is more than a hobby – it’s a passion that has shaped much his outdoor travel and recreation plans. It’s also been something that he’s shared with his entire family for nearly twenty years. Several of his friends joined him for a ride across designated trails in the state forest.

Jahmaal Rebb, ATV Specialist with Oregon Department of Forestry, said that there are more than 130 miles of trails across the Tillamook State Forest. Rebb manages the trails and the riders who travel in the forest and he noted that there’s a “dedicated following” of riders who come to play on the state forestland.

There are three primary OHV riding areas available on the forest including Browns Camp, Jordan Creek and Diamond Mill.

A wide variety of trails provide access into some of the more remote and scenic parts of the forest and provide challenge and excitement for both beginners and experts.

So, what it’s like to climb aboard and grab on to the steering of a powerful ATV four wheel-drive quad? In a word – amazing! They are quick to respond, easy to steer and operate and they are surprisingly comfortable too. It is also recreation where risk and danger wait at every turn, so safety and common sense and controlling your speed are critical.

That’s where recently adopted rules come in. For example, young riders must carry an “ATV Safety Education” card – that shows the rider has passed a mandatory on-line test. The Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation manages the “ATV On-Line Safety Education Course” and John Lane, OPRD ATV Safety Program Manager, said that by 2014, every ATV rider in Oregon most pass the test and carry the card.

There are more changes coming to enhance the safety aspects of Oregon’s off-road riding: a new “Hands On ATV Training Class” will be required for all riders aged 15 and under in 2012.

Editor’s Note: Grant’s Getaways is a production of Travel Oregon brought to you in association with Oregon State Parks, Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and Oregon State Marine Board. Episodes air Fridays and Saturdays on KGW Newschannel 8 and Saturdays on Northwest Cable News Network.

about author Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

In this Grant’s Getaway

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