Steve Meurett/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
A beach in Clark County?
Well, there aren't many and all are too small to qualify as a suitable location for a beach ride. I’ve always been a bit envious of the fatbike stories I read about riders who live close to Lake Michigan or Superior and have the opportunity to roll along for miles on end on uninterrupted sand. Ironically, Clark County is located 150 miles from the nearest great lake, but we actually have miles of uninterrupted sand as well. So what if it’s not a beach, and there is no water edge? We do have sand. The Clark County Forest ATV trails offer no shortage of motorheads churnin' up the soil, producing gobs of it.
Although the locals here call Levis Mound home, we do venture off singletrack from time to time to explore or at the very least, enjoy a change of scenery. The subject of a 'beach ride' came up over a few beverages and since fatbikes are our ride of choice, it was a perfect match.
Back in the day, we used to organize a mountain bike century, the 'Quad Quiver,' but now, ATVs have the old trails tilled up into miles of deep sand, unrideable for normal mountain bikes.
Being fairly smart, the plan was to get onto the trails early in the morning (ATV riders seem to sleep in) when traffic is low and temps cooler.
Our jumping off point being Rock Dam, north west of Neillsville and ATV central. Good friends and fatbike fans Dan and Laura happen to live there and with their Pugsleys, and after a quick dip of tires on the public beach, we headed out. It soon became apparent that even in deep powdery sand, the big treads float very well and we could make our way smoothly down the white ribbon of trail. The forestry department if often awarded ATV maintenance funds from the state gas tax, so in some parts of the forest, the 'trails' are very much like gravel highways. Here, the terrain is fairly flat, so the natural sand, a few inches below the top soil, is what makes up a majority of the riding surface. Our itinerary was to ride a 5 or 6 mile loop in the Rock Dam area to see how we felt. The wheels rolled along well, and soon we passed by our return loop and ventured further-why not, the fatties were performing great in the loose sand. Dan had ATV’d some of these trail many years earlier and there was some uncertainty as to exactly where we were. Some east and west power lines and north and south forest roads helped with dead reckoning luckily. We stumbled on what may be the only waterfall in Clark County, a little gem on the South Fork of the Eau Claire River. It was the perfect place to just relax for a while and debate where we were.
Knowing we needed to head south to return, we followed a forest road, fresh with skidder and logging truck tracks into a huge oak timber sale. The road dead-ended with no clear way out, so reluctantly we reversed course until hitting the powerline again and decided to bushwack down that. Luckily, the fatbikes handle about everything and we were able to mow down tall swamp grass and hidden ruts and make our way back to civilization, a few miles from our starting point. Riding a bit of pavement back set our tires buzzing as we rolled into Rock Dam no handed and feeling good after the three hour adventure. We had finished our first 'beach ride' and it was a success. There's nothing wrong with a little fatbike exploring and getting lost for a spell. As J. R. R. Tolkien wrote, “Not all those who wander are lost.” I couldn’t agree more.
Steve Meurett lives, works and plays in West Central Wisconsin and spends about every free moment outdoors where his passions lie. His outdoor interests take him on and off trail, pursuing mountain biking and skinny skiing, photography and hunting, while keeping an eye on wild mushrooms and the next fruit for craft wine. Steve is the Trail Director at The Levis Mound Trail System and member of the Clark County Trails Advisory Committee. He resides, teaches and is a photographer in Neillsville. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.