SHR Run to Superlift Off-Road Vehicle Park    
By
Ken Womack

The Superlift Off-Road Park is located just outside Hot Springs Arkansas.  It has been open for about a year now, and is a fine place to run 4WD vehicles, ATV’s and dirt bikes.  Our run left Thursday, Oct.  24th about 7:30am from New Caney, our meeting place. 

There was Jason and Pam Sybert and their boys, Jay Albrecht, Lee and Deborah Miller and my wife Evelyn and I (Ken Womack).  Buddy and “The Boys” (Buddy and Linda Overstreet, Darin and April Overstreet with their two sons, Todd Craig, his wife Shelly and son, Frank Barnett and Mr. Ed) left about 6 am.  They were camping and needed an earlier start.  There were some more SHR members that planned on going, but ran into mechanical problems and couldn’t go, so we wound up with 5 SHR members and 4 guests. 

The ride up went very well as we arrived in Hot Springs about 3:00 pm.  Jason and Pam had reserved us rooms at a motel run by Hot Springs Vacation Resorts.  This place was right on Lake Hamilton and was really nice, and affordable, too! Jason and a large part of his Family came up too, His Mom and Dad, brother Troy and wife Tracy, and their families, and Troy’s friend Eric and wife Terrie.  They even invited their Pastor from their hometown in Missouri to come down.  There was a large crew of folks; we had nearly every room in this small lakeside retreat!  It was really nice!  Thanks Jason and Pam!  

Buddy and “The Boys” were setup at the park, had a good night’s rest and were ready to go that morning.  Robert Kornegay gave us a quick tour of the Superlift Park, and highlighted some of the best trails.  This along with my memory of the area from past runs gave us a good indication of the fun that was about to begin.   

The Superlift Park is a 1254-acre off-road park owned by The Hot Springs 12, a group of local investors, including Richard Robilio and Superlift.  These trails encompass many of the famous trails run by folks for 20 years in this area.  Richard Robilio’s runs, as well as Superlift, Rosser Events, and Jeep Jamboree have been run here.  There’s lots of 4-wheeling history here.  Many more trails have been cut, mapped and signed, and they make an excellent place to run, from stock vehicles to the wild hard-core rock buggies and everything between, plus ATV’s and dirt bikes. 

  Our group of 9 rigs left out about 9:15 after airing down to run some old favorites: The Gorge and The Ravine.  I led our group because I had been there the most and remembered many of the trails there.  The Gorge starts out fairly tough from the get go going through a rock-strewn gorge climbing up and down before coming to a steep rocky hill. 

This hill has some ledges, loose rock, and was a little wet from previous heavy rains.  It took me 3 tries to make it up before catching enough traction.  Lee and Deb were behind me in their new Jeep, a 93 YJ with Dana 44’s front and rear.  Lee’s Jeep is open for now with 3.54 gears and he was at a disadvantage, but he still made it up, using momentum and driver skill.   Buddy, Darrin and Todd were next, all making it fairly easy as well as Frank.  Mr. Ed had to make 3 tries, but scrambled up anyway. 

We had a wide variety of rigs on our run, from little tires to big tires, from locked and geared to open and not.  Jay Albrecht had just finished his latest mods to his awesome 2000 TJ, and was anxious to try it.  He did really well, but was finding out he still needed some mods to his steering; the steering radius wasn’t what he needed.  But all the rest were working extremely well.  Dana 60 axles, lockers, low gears, an Atlas 2 transfer case, 38” tires with bead locks and much more.  Jay made this hill easily.  Lee Miller just got his new Jeep only a week before, and was getting used to it on some fine trails; a 93 YJ with Dana 44’s front and rear, 33 in. tires, a Ramsey Pro 9000 winch, hardtop, and many extras.  But the best thing is the pristine condition of this red Wrangler.  He just needs lower gears, larger tires and a bigger brake master cylinder and booster.  He was uncomfortable with the downhill braking power, part of it being the high gearing in the axles.  But he still did remarkably well all day. 

Jason hadn’t been on a run for a long time, and was really ready for this one.  His yellow 2000 TJ has a Skyjacker 6” lift, 35 in” BFG Mud Terrains, 4 to 1 Tera Low transfer case, 4.56 gears, lockers, and more.  He and his family really loved this trip, and his driving skill continues to grow.   

Buddy O’s  “General Lee” is a 78 CJ-7 with a 401 AMC engine, auto trans, Dana 18 trans. case, Dana 44’s front and read, EZ locker up front and a spool in the back with 5.89 gears.  His Jeep runs a carburetor and never died out or ran bad on any hill up or down.  A mechanic by trade, he does all his own work, and the results work very well.   

Darin O’s Jeep is also a CJ-7 with a 360 AMC engine, auto trans Dana 44’s, 5:89 gears, lock-rite up front and mini spool in the back.  Both Darin and his Dad run 37 X 13 TSL Boggers and they work very well.  Darin had his wife and two sons with him; Dylan is 1 ½ old and is getting his trail experience early. 

Todd Craig wanted a full size, so he bought a Wagoneer, and he and Buddy O. put basically the same treatment to Todd’s as Buddy’s and Darin’s; a Superlift lift kit and 37” Boggers round out the package.  This heavy rig does amazingly well considering the size and weight.  He has wrecker lights on top, and when he conquers an obstacle he turns them on, and lets out a hoop and holler! 

Frank Barnett races dirt stock cars and runs Jeeps as a side hobby.  His buddy Mr. Ed is a truck driver by trade, and he was the driver for Frank’s 18- wheeler with sleeper rig and large lowboy enclosed trailer complete with air compressor, welding equipment and a host of tools, anything needed for racing or Jeeping.  

His little purple Jeep just runs a 4-cyl. and stock everything except for air snorkel, rollbar, high exhaust, and Ditch Witch wheels and tires! These wide tractor-like tires are really soft, and grab and pull this “little rig that could” most anywhere.  I have seen this Jeep and driver do hills and obstacles that even some of the Big Boys could not do and make it look easy.  But, here at the Superlift Park, he found some stuff that he could not do, but only because of the small 31” tires and lack of clearance.  Frank is a McGuyver-like guy who can make things work and never gives up.  He even patched up one of Mr. Ed’s tires with rubber cement and a piece of rubber bungee cord.  Sounds crazy, but it worked!  

Mr. Ed, another SHR guest for the weekend has a CJ-5 with 31” tires, home made lift, swapped in 4.3 Chevy V-6, and stock axles and open, stock (high) gears.  He did very well, though he had to make several attempts at obstacles and took the strap a few times.  But, he still made everything, and had a great time. 

My Jeep, the “Red Rocker” is a 91 red Wrangler with a 4.0 liter 6, Tera Low 4 to 1 transfer case gears, Dana 30 with lock rite and 4.56 gears in front and Warn axles and manual hubs.  It also has a Dana 44 and 4.56’s with lock rite in the back, with a Rubicon Express 4½” lift kit.  We did pretty well, though the larger rocks were not conquered as well as the larger tires did.   

Our group finished the Ravine, then set out to do The Slammer, a really fine 4 rated trail with huge rocks in a tight obstacle ¼ the way in.  This one has a rock ledge on the left and a giant boulder on the right with another ledge you must avoid to get through.  Last year Richard Robilio led us through and we broke 3 Jeeps, before turning around.  This time we forged ahead, though we had to move some rocks to make it doable for the smaller Jeeps.  I finally got up after “we made a superhighway out of it” as Buddy O. said.  Up and over, and around the giant boulder.... 

Jay was next and just powered right over it with little problem.  Lee was next and made several attempt before finally winching over this tough obstacle.  Buddy O. powered right over with the 401 roaring away, next was Darin and Todd with not too much trouble, Frank had some clearance issues and finally winched over, as well as Mr. Ed.   

Next was a boulder-infested ravine and an awesome steep rocky climb that didn’t really have any good lines, Jay A. spotted for me while Lee was taking the pictures.  The trail was still wet and after 2 tries, I finally ambled up.  Once again Jay’s TJ made it easy, then turned around to winch folks if needed.  Lee made several tries then winched, no problem, no need to roll over trying.  Jason nearly made it on 4 tries, but the hill had gotten plenty slick by them, so he winched too.  Buddy made it on the 2nd try; Todd made it easy, the Wagoner’s wheelbase helping out.  Darin had some problems, and got close to tipping over, but finally made it.  Frank worked hard, and then finally got a winch cable, as well as Ed.  The hill was really slick by then.  We eased on out using the exit trail, and went back to camp for lunch.  A group of us went to The Overlook trail to eat our picnic lunch, a very pretty spot to rest and munch.

After lunch we got back to camp to meet Buddy and “The Boys”.  A quick look at the map indicated a 4-rated trail named Donnie’s Hill.  It was a long, steep hill with 2 obstacles, and tree root on the left, and a large 2-foot ledge ¾ way up.  One by one we took our turns and were all thrilled by this awesome hill. 

Then we gathered up to do the Buckhorn Trail, a long trail going through dense woods on the edge of the property.  There are several steep, short hills and much of it is off-camber.  Todd’s Wagoneer was having tranny problems, which turned out to be the tranny filter.  Buddy and Darin used the Bent Pipe trail as an escape route, what an escape route!  Back to camp for a new filter, and back to put it in.  Buddy had told us to go on, as they would catch up, and they did finding us as we were on the last ¼ of Buckhorn.  This was one of the prettiest trails with many 4 and 5 rated side hill climbs to do.  These are real tough hills, and you need a stout rig to do them.  After this one Jay and Jason decided to head back to town, while some of the rest of us tried a long steep hill, Frank broke a Ditch Witch rim, so I loaned him my spare to get back to camp.  It was dark, so we stopped until the next morning. 

We rested up that night, and were back to run about 9:00.  We headed out for the Twin Hills area.   

Here we took turns climbing the 2 famous hills.  Afterwards, we found A-19, a long run through the woods.  It was like the SHR trail Spider Ravine at BMRA, but much longer.  It took us 3 hours to do this trail.  It had many short, steep hills and ran right in a ravine with steep banks on both sides.  It was cool and pretty! Lots’ of off-camber leaning had us uncomfortable for about a ¼ miles stretch.  Lee took turns riding with Jay or myself, spotting and taking pictures.  The brakes on his Jeep weren’t up to muster enough for him to run safely, so he left it at camp.  This was a good trail for a Sunday morning, just hard enough to be fun, but not too hard that it seemed like work to get through it.  This trail took us all the way to lunchtime, where we returned to camp to eat

Four of our wives decided to go to town to try out The Buckstaff Bath House, an old and famous Bath House (there were 3 or 4) that they had used before.  The $38.00 special included a mineral water bath, sitz bath, steam bath, paraffin wax treatment and a Swedish massage.  Quite a good deal for the money.  Our fine Ladies were all refreshed and relaxed.  They took in the shops, and ate lunch, too.   

After lunch the 4-wheelin’ continued on the other side of the road.  Since I hadn’t been on that side, I asked if someone else might want to lead us.  Todd took map in hand and led

us across the road to another part of the Park.  We ran several interesting short trails before Jay Albrecht found a very difficult trail Lee dubbed, Jay’s trail.   

It has a GIANT boulder right in the middle, no way to avoid this one, His first attempt had him nearly dent in his door, but the second had him climbing over, then scrambling up the other part, which was hard, too.  He let out a Yee-Hah you could hear all the way back to TX.  Jay was REALLY having fun.  

Todd and Frank were the only ones who tried after Jay, and they both broke axles.  Todd broke a front axle and Frank broke a rear Dana 35c.  Jay winched Todd out, while Frank got strapped backwards to level ground.  Mr. Ed took Frank back to his trailer for spare axles, while Jay got Todd’s Jeep back to camp.  After repairs were made, it was late, so we split up to go back to town. 

It was a really fine trip! All of wished we had another day to run, but we were pleased with the Superlift Park, it’s manager, and the fun we had.  Those who missed this run missed a great one.  But The Park is open year round and we can go anytime.  It’s really nice to have another place to go to compliment our other fine places like Barnwell Mountain and Katemcy Rocks. 

Hot Springs is a unique area, a resort area that’s relatively inexpensive compared to many spots, with lots to do after ‘wheeling.  Lake Hamilton and Lake Ouachita are there to fish and swim in (weather permitting).  There is lot’s of nightlife if you so desire.  Several fine restaurants and even a dinner dance cruise on the lake.  You can camp at Superlift Park, at many other fine campgrounds or stay in motels.  There is something for everyone here and I plan to go at least 2 times next year.   

Many thanks to Lee Miller for setting up the run and Jason and Pam for arranging accommodations...they did marvelous and we all had a blast! See ya’ll next time.  Happy trails to you! 

Ken Womack…