Barnwell Mountain Work Run
by Michael Ecord

January’s Work Run began under a partly cloudy sky and the hint of rain to the north. As I headed towards Splendora to meet the other members that wanted to convoy to Gilmer, I wonder what type of turnout we would have over Superbowl weekend.  But I had not been off road for two months, except for one failed attempt at the last work run and I was determined to have some fun regardless of the Superbowl or rain. Well, I was the last to arrive in Splendora.  Ken Womack along with Buddy & Darren Overstreet were waiting with Dan Neuss and Ray Barth. 

Everyone helped attached my tow bar to the jeep and quickly connected it up to Ray’s truck.  The drive to Gilmer was a relatively uneventful trip except Ken once again questioned every ones speedometer J and Buddy had some CB problems.  We all kept an eye on the potentially threatening clouds. The clouds seemed to break up as we reached Gilmer.

The group decided to meet at BMRA to have a short run before dark. Dan, Ray, and I stopped at the Ramada to drop our Gear off before heading to BMRA.  Ken, Buddy and Darren headed on to BMRA to set up their camp before we arrived.  The weather was great for 4wheeling, partly cloudy and cool.  After all the jeeps were ready we hit the trails.

                I took a moment out to show Dan and Ray the top of the Houston Trail.  


This trail is a short loop that has a rock ledge that must be conquered to exit the trail with out taking the by pass.  This trail is only one of three 4Diamond trails at BMRA right now.  There are several spots where other 4’s can be built and of course a by pass can be put around all tough obstacles.

                Twilight was approaching so we decide to try a couple of trails near camp.  

 Noname” was the first trail we hit. This trail was made with a bulldozer.  It is a short loop with some nice climbs.  The climbs are smooth and only rated a 2 on a 1 to 4 scale.  It appears these climbs will become more difficult with time and wet conditions. The exit of this trail points you south towards JP’s Expressway. 


The Expressway is another bulldozer made trail.  It is a fun trail that weaves through the forest with some nice climbs and a mild off camber turn.  The expressway climbs out of the forest and ends near the beginning of Horseshoe trail.

Horseshoe trail was the third run of the evening.  This is another trail full of assents and dissents along with a couple of off camber turns.  There is a chance to find a little mud and water with a short drop into a creek bed. All three of these trails are enjoyable and we ran them each twice before the weekend was over.

The last trail of the evening was one known as Fun Country.  


Fun Country is one of the first trails that were built on the property.  It is a tight, twisting trail with several routes to choose from.  Buddy Overstreet took the lead on this trail after I chose the easier of the two routes on the first climb.  Near the end of this trail there are a couple of tight turns that gave the CJ’s a little problem.  As dark fell, we almost missed the last climb because so many people were taking the by pass.  I had to back down the by-pass to attempt the rocks on the other route.  Dan was first in line and decided to take the bypass after getting caught on the rock ledge.  In Dan’s behalf, it was about dark on a trail he didn’t know.  Having been down this trail before I drove over the ledge.  Ken was the last out and we all decided it was dinnertime.  We agreed to meet at the camp around 9 am Saturday morning.


Saturday morning we headed out to do a little trail maintenance and run Spider Ravine & Venom.  The first incident of the day happened at the fork to Venom.  A 4-wheeler from Dallas had asked to run trails with us.  Little did any of us imagine how short of a run it would be.  When making the turn to Venom his CJ’s steering box ripped from the frame.  Despite attempt to use the winch cable to hold his gearbox to the frame, it took a good hour to get him to the top of the trail and on a dirt road.  


This PR on our part has four more people signing up for the Texas Trail Rides.  Not to be completely out done, I decided to rearrange my front bumper on a rock while finishing Venom Loop. 


                 Just to the right of the exit of Venom is a trail called DeWoody.  This is a 4Diamond hill climb that Dan made look like a Sunday drive. 


I decided to pass after the new bodywork. The rest of the Bunch was game, and all gave it a valiant try.  But each had to be winched or strapped.  Take a look at the pictures, some of the jeeps wound up in interesting predicaments. 



                We headed back to the office for some a good barbeque lunch.  On the way we met Swede and Doug.  They had lunch with us before we all hit the trail again.  Swede brought his jeep but had to put it back on the trailer, his trans-mission mount was broke.  We spent the rest of the day familiarizing ourselves with the other trails and the property. 


                One of the first ones we hit was Shake, Rattle, and Roll.  This is another trail with a little bit of everything. Including a mud hole named Tank Trap by our own Zack Brinks.  If you start this trail on the south end there is a nice hill climb on the way out that slowed a few of our group down. I ended up using the chain saw to remove a stump in the middle of the trail after it got in the way a few times.

I did decide to give the Houston trail another try sense I winched out of it last time.  I led the group with Dan, Ken, Buddy and Darren following in that order.  I chose a different line this time and made it with little difficulty.  Every one followed the same line and with a little spotting help from Ray, we all drove out of the Houston trail.

                However, it was not long before I managed to get myself in a little spot.  I popped a bead on a creek crossing that is not even part of the BMRA trail system.   


Thanks to Doug, there is plenty of photographic evidence.  I can honestly say I have never popped a bead in a bigger mess.  Notice the bent bumper and fender compliments of The Venom Loop.  

Got  mud!?

It is real nice to have friends with air tools.  (Thanks, Dan)  The winch cable is supporting the jeep while I jacked it up.  With everyone’s help, we were back on the road in no time.

                Dan, Swede and Doug had to go back to Houston so we saw them off and headed back out to the trails. This time we headed to the southeast end of the property.  There are some interesting trails in this area including a deceiving ravine.  This ravine swallowed Ken, Darren, & myself.  I am proud to say my “car” made it further then the CJ7 with a 360 and boggers. J

 We drove about 90% of the trails on the BMRA property.  There is a lot done, but we still have a lot to do.  This is a great place with something for everyone and any type of vehicle. Come join us for the next run.  You will have fun.

 - Michael Ecord