Our weekend visit to Windrock Park, just outside of Oliver Springs, TN, began on a warm, sunny day with anticipation of an exciting time ahead. It was the kind of day great for trail riding. Rain from the night before would make the trails dust-free and maybe even a little muddy in spots. The scent of the wet leaves and wild flowers was all around us as we rode to the park office, camp sites and cabins, and towards the trail head. We were there for a guided full tour, including a trip to the top of the mountain where we would get up close and personal with a wind mill farm by standing underneath the towers as the giant blades swept by. With 72,000 acres and over 350 miles of trails to explore, it was going to be a great day. Windrock (formerly known as Coal Creek) is the LARGEST privately owned recreational park in the country and we couldn’t wait to get on the trail!
Windrock offers much more than great trails for your ATV or Side x Side. The enormous expanse of territory they have offers unlimited venues not only for off road fun and great trail riding, but also a comfortable place to plan a family vacation, with beautiful cabins offering your choice of deluxe accommodations for a group of nine, or smaller cabins for a couple or small family of four. Since camping and riding go hand in hand, Windrock also offers over 75 tent sites for the rough and rugged, and 39 RV sites which include water, sewer connection, electricity, concrete patios, picnic tables, fire rings and access to a bath house. There is also a fenced Storage Facility located in Windrock Park across from the office. Leave your camper, trailer, RV or vehicles on site for next weekend! They also have a newly opened General Store with plenty of supplies for you and your machine, a weekend food vendor, and now they can even rent you a machine. Recently Windrock invested in a fleet of new Kawasaki Teryx Side x Sides that can be rented for $200 for a day, and the rental also includes helmets. Good choice! The Teryx is tough as nails, runs forever, and is nimble in the woods!
We’ve explored the Windrock riding area several times in the past, and there is a wide variety of trails, from open gravel roads to challenging hill climbs with plenty of rocks. We also found several mud pits to play in and found out the hard way some can be deep! Creek crossings are generally over a trail bridge, and all trails are marked with a trail number, the degree of difficulty, and the vehicles allowed on the trail. Some trails are restricted to ATV and motorcycle use only. One of the best things about Windrock, though, is the scenery. It’s spectacular! Climb higher and enjoy the awesome views. Every vehicle on the trails will need a trail permit, and maps are available at the trail head and general store. Even if you ride all weekend, you’ll likely never see the same trail twice unless you want to. Towering over everything, though, are the windmills that dot the top of the mountain.
The Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm is comprised of eighteen windmills, and riding up to them turned into a quest for us. The windmills have a way of captivating one’s attention. We rode to the base of one of the giant towers, and when standing directly UNDER them, with the WOOSH sound overhead and the ground vibrating, they can even be a bit intimidating. From a distance they look big, but when standing next to them, you truly get a feel for their enormous size. Each windmill has a 256 foot tower with 139 foot blades and spans 395 feet. Permits for vehicles going to view the windmills are available at the General Store and one permit covers up to 6 people. For safety reasons, the permit only allows access up to the “US Government Restricted Area” gate. There is no admittance beyond this gate. Viewing the windmills up close was a cool experience!
Windrock offers trails for mountain bikers as well! The park has a downhill mountain bike course and some amazing cross-country trails. We were told the downhill trails and cross-country trails are aggressive and rated difficult to extreme and geared towards expert riders. They consist of steep, rocky, and technical descents with many trail features such as natural and man-made drops and jumps not for the faint of heart. Strap on your GoPro and make a YouTube memory!
For those seeking a different type of “out of this world” adventure, Windrock also covers part of what is known as the Devil’s Triangle. Although part of the Devil’s Triangle is actually a very twisty, challenging road that motorcycle and sports car owners love, it is also rumored to be haunted in places. Surprisingly, part of the twisty, tire-shredding course is also open to ATVs and Side x Sides. Take your helmet and your handlebar mounted Saint Christopher medal for a hairpin and hair-raising good time! (Not for the faint of heart or foolish!)
We found Windrock to be clean, well maintained and neat. There are plenty of places to play, ride wide open, or challenge yourself on the trail. The cabins were beautiful inside and out, and park security is impressive and helpful as well. It’s a great place for family fun, and throughout the year Windrock Parks hosts events so the kids (or mom and dad) will NEVER be bored. Their events include ATV Rodeo, Windrock Wide Open (3-lap races), Drag Races, Windrock Challenge Obstacle Course, Mud Drag and Poker Runs. DO NOT miss the scenic overlook on trails 24 and G1! We loved it and hope we can get back again soon!
If you’re not camping, there are several restaurants close by, or within 5 miles from the park. A few of our favorites are:
Lincoln’s Sports Bar & Grill - great live music, entertainment, and great menu.
Colie's Café - 7073 Knoxville Hwy, Oliver Springs, TN 37840 - We had the All You Can Eat Catfish and for dessert the Hummingbird Cake. The owner is a pastry chef previously from Long Island, NY. LOVED IT!
There are also several grocery stores located in Oak Ridge as well such as:
Food City, Kroger and several gas/fuel options in the town of Oliver Springs.
(865) 435-3492 www.windrockpark.com
Windrock Park Campground
(865) 435-1251 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Windrock Park Trailhead
981 Windrock Road, Oliver Springs, TN 37840
Windrock Park General Store
912 Windrock Road, Oliver Springs, TN 37840
The Coal Creek Company
Windrock Properties, LLC
800 S. Gay Street, Suite 2250
Knoxville, TN 37929
"Special thanks to Coni Wadley (General Store manager) and Vicki Dagley (Campground manager); C.E. Gerrity, security and tour guide; Mark Hensley, tour guide; and Kira Ludwig, Marketing Manager for working with us to make this article all possible!"