Do not under any circumstances visit the Chadwick Motorcycle and ATV area. That is unless you want to have an absolute blast exploring the nearly 80 miles of pristine trails as they wind through the southern Missouri highlands. Per the name, this area is located just a few miles from the small community of Chadwick which is approximately 34 miles southeast of Springfield.
Chadwick OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) area consists of roughly 12 square miles within the Mark Twain National Forest. This area boasts many spring fed streams, giant rock outcroppings, and a plethora of wildlife. While it may be a lot of fun to see deer grazing, squirrels playing, and the occasional black bear lumbering through the woods, this area is also home to a particular snake with a distinct rattle and a venomous bite. Don’t worry, just be aware.
The Cobb Ridge Campground is clean and well maintained, complete with flush toilets and a shower house. You will find it convenient that all trails can be accessed on site. Tent camping here is very reasonably priced at $10.00 per night. For those of you who need a little more room they offer RV sites with full hookups for water and power. The larger sites still only cost $15.00 per night. Want to attack the trails with a large group of friends or family? There are groups sites available for $45.00 per night.
Riding Permits are required and can be purchased through the Forest Service website or from several quality vendors in the area such as Casey’s General Store in Sparta or Kay’s Country Store in Chadwick. A one day pass costs less than $10.00. Maps are available at these locations and I highly recommend you pick one up simply due to the large number of trails.
Riding the Trails:
The great thing about staying on site is that you can easily access all the OHV trails directly from your campsite. The first thing you'll notice about the Chadwick trails is how much work goes into them. Most of the sloping or irregular trails have been shaped and cinder blocked to keep them from eroding and to keep spinning tires from cutting deep ruts into the hillsides. Even though parts of the trail require ongoing maintenance, there are plenty of sections where the natural elements haven’t been touched. You can navigate your way through tight drainages, up and down stair stepped rock features, and across some of the clearest streams you will ever see. A word of caution: some of the creek crossings are quite deep and many areas require some skill to complete.
There is something here for everyone. If you are a new rider or a family with small children, there is a Family Play Area appropriate for beginners. For the clinically insane, there is a single track trials bike area boasting some of the states most technical riding. Of course if you fall somewhere in the middle, Chadwick is perfectly suited for you too. All of the trails can be enjoyed on foot and you may discover pleasant cascading waterfalls, mysterious shallow caves, and plenty of interesting vegetation. The “lodgepole” pine trees rise up straight and tall above the ridge tops and massive oak trees dot the valleys. This is a very beautiful place indeed! Bring your camera because you may spend just as much time off your cycle or ATV as you will on it.
In order for a place to become “yours" you have to feel like you have ownership of it. You can make Chadwick Motorcycle and ATV your own by getting involved with their conservation efforts through volunteering. People are constantly needed to clear trails, update campsites, and help manage erosion and drainage issues. There are a few groups who have committed personal time in the past years to these projects. Ongoing help is necessary however if you would like Chadwick to remain a premier OHV recreation destination in the Midwest.
An average of 7100 permits are sold each year, so you can imagine the impact that has on the area. Consider getting involved. Make it yours. Make it personal.
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