Our loyal readers will know that the Kawasaki Teryx and Teryx 4-seater UTVs have been popular vehicles in the MotoUSA garage over the past few years and the trend continues for 2012. We’ve driven the Teryx at Brimstone Recreation Area in Tennesse, the high deserts of Utah, the woods of Oregon and Southern California sand dunes, so we are no strangers to these versatile family-friendly UTVs. This time around we didn’t have to travel far from home for a tour of the popular Nor-Cal riding area known as the Chappie-Shasta OHV Area outside of Redding, CA. Named after U.S. Congressman and member of the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, Eugene Chappie.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Chappie was instrumental in numerous campaigns to establish OHV friendly government policies. Foremost was one of the nation’s first OHV programs, which dispersed fuel tax funds to fund OHV programs in the state. Chappie fought valiantly to maintain access rights in an era where most of the laws that reduced accessible areas were being passed. He played a role in the establishment of key OHV Areas including Pismo Beach, Glamis, Gorman, Hollister, Ocotillio and Chappie-Shasta.
Looking to the east from one of the many scenic overlooks on the Chappie-Shasta OHV trail system, you are rewarded with spectacular views of Lake Shasta. If you ride on the street you can keep heading east on Highway 44 and visit another hidden gem of Northern California – Lassen National Park.
The picturesque terrain of Chappie-Shasta could have been lost back in 1970s as an OHV site, but since its inception has developed into a venue that’s open all year long. It features a network of over 200 miles of improved roads and trails cut through 55,000 acres within the Shasta National Forest. While the roads are both challenging and fun, the heart of this tour is, without a doubt, the scenery. Spectacular views of Shasta Lake dominate the vistas along the eastern edge of the OHV area, with Mount Shasta looking resplendent on clear days. Supernatural vistas of Shasta-Trinity Alps command the horizon to the west in this off-road paradise.
Everyone in our group was a part of the ATV industry or the OHV community, including our personal guest test rider Stephen Anderson from On The Trail TV. We also enjoyed a rare appearance from the man who makes it his personal mission to make sure we all have a place to ride, Blue Ribbon Coalition Western Representative, the Quiet Warrior himself, Don Amador.
Chappie-Shasta has a special place in Amador’s heart, so he volunteered to serve as our tour guide. His colleague Sky Zaffarano, the local BLM OHV program manager, joined us as well. Zaffarano made us all a little jealous as he navigated the single track connecting all the OHV and Jeep trails we were stuck on, from the seat of his KX250 2-stroke. Lucky Dog!
Don Amador is the heart of the Blue Ribbon Coalition. The man known as the Silent Warrior has earned recent right-to-ride victories on the West Coast that include maintaining the access to the Oregon Dunes and the Winchester Bay riding area despite the best effort of regional environmentalists to close the area based on the presence of non-indigenous saw grass. Amador wages endless battles with government agencies over land access, allocation of OHV funds and much, much more. If you enjoy your rights as an OHV user, we encourage you to get involved with Blue Ribbon Coalition.
Although the OHV area features over 200 miles of single- and two-track trails suitable for motorcycles and ATVs alike, we were navigating the park by Teryx4 so we stuck to the more UTV-friendly two-track during our tour. Sky teased us by darting on and off the roads along the many single-track trailheads. Back onboard the fleet of Kawasaki’s RUV machines we experienced loads of hillclimbs, steep descents and a variety of creek crossings were prominent throughout the tour.
Weather and riding conditions could not have been better as the last winter snow had melted off the week prior. The 100-degree temperatures had thawed it all out, creating the optimal mix of traction, without any sign of dust. We were literally riding in the best possible day to date in 2012. Isn’t it great when a plan comes together?
If you’re into challenging rides, the Chappie-Shasta area has plenty to offer. The terrain is rugged and Sky makes it a point to maintain trails from the seat of his KX250, so you can rest assured there is no lack of hillclimbs and single track on tap. For the ATV/UTV and 4WD crowd it’s the scenery that steals the show but the excitement of the ride is still there. The mining and logging history of this region is apparent throughout the ride. Selective logging and reforestation is evident to the keen eye. The remnants of the 2008 Shasta forest fire can still be seen as charred black pine trees that still stand on the ridges. A lightning strike started the blaze which consumed thousands of acres, and is just one of the more notable wild fires that this region faces annually.
On a lighter note, Chappie-Shasta OHV is situated along the legendary Lake Shasta Dam, so any east-facing overlook offers breathtaking views of the lake and its nearly 400 miles of shoreline. To the west are the Trinity Alps whose sheer elevation defies its West Coast location. Snow-capped almost year-round, Shasta-Trinity offers an endless array of National Forest Land which you can ride on as well, if you are daring and prepared enough to make the trek from Lake Shasta to Trinity Lake.
That is a OHV experience which requires more time than we had on our brief tour. We focused our attention on the rocky, hard terrain which you can tell will get dusty in the dry months. These well-used routes all seem to connect on a virtual roller coaster of mountain ridges that climb as high as 5000 feet above the valley floor. Evergreen forests make for a stark contrast against the blue skies and the red-tan dirt roads etched through them look like a road map to off-road fun and adventure.
Every guest rider on the tour longed for additional time to explore this place but in the end we had to call it a day at some point. We begrudgingly returned to camp and had an opportunity to talk with Amador and Zaffarano about the allure of this location and how it fits in with the local community. It turns out this is a huge tourist draw, despite being somewhat under the radar.
Scenery like this is hard to come by. When this is your back yard it’s easy to take for granted and we are guilty as charged. Despite growing up in the Pacific Northwest and spending countless hours boating on Shasta Lake, this is the first time I’ve been to Chappie-Shasta. It will not be the last.
What Chappie-Shasta offers is a unique opportunity for motorsport and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Starting with an OHV destination that is open year-round for camping, hiking, RVs and OHV riding, it offers maintained facilities and access to both Shasta Lake and the Sacramento River. With the lake just a few minutes away there’s opportunity to ride off-road on one day and get your boat, Jet Ski or do some fishing and swimming the next day. It truly is the best of both worlds and Kawasaki is well aware of its potential.
As Amador and Kawasaki Media Relations Specialist Jon Rall are keen to point out, the Shasta area is one of the few places where you can experience such opportunity for multi-faceted outdoor adventurers. Chappie-Shasta is also one of the few riding areas embraced by the local community. So, if your family likes getting dirty and is looking for a West Coast OHV destination, we highly recommend Chappie-Shasta OHV. If you’re blessed with a pair of Jet Skis or a boat as well, then daisy chain it to the back of your toy-hauler and drag it along too. Who knows, we may see you out there this summer!