Katemcy Rocks, Texas
Story and photos by Nolen "Rock Midget" Grogan
October 25, 2008
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"Old Texas" is still alive and well at Katemcy Rocks, in the heart of the Lonestar State. Situated in the western reaches of the hill country in northern Mason County, Katemcy (pop. 90), swells to nearly 500 when the "Jeeps" roll into town once a month. Traveling 650 miles from Mississippi to Katemcy, you see just about every terrain the South has to offer, but nothing can prepare a first-time visitor for their initial glance of the pink granite of Katemcy Rocks.
Operated by the Kruse family and Shain Chapman, Katemcy Rocks has been offering a unique off-road experience for Texans for nearly 10 years. This past weekend was Cypress OffRoad's annual run, as well as the last run of the season at Katemcy Rocks. After stopping off for some legit Texas brisket at Hard 8 BBQ in Brady, we got ourselves unloaded and prepped for a long day of trails on Saturday.
The crowd was getting pretty big at the park on Saturday morning, with rigs continually pulling in. We decided to get an early start on the trails. Our group was small so we were able to move fast. Jumping right into the fray, we decided to dive in on Loony Tunes trail, just behind the campground. Looney Tunes consists of a few different sections of steep downhill rocks and a near vertical exit.
Slipping over the back side of Looney Tunes, we were there to see the sun crest the granite and begin to warm up the sticky rocks.
Nothing gets the blood flowing like the Baer Path section of Klunatic trail. This section is a sweeping climb with tons of pea sized gravel on it that makes the vehicle slip and slide with a 50' drop off the passenger side.
Klunatic Trail is an old favorite of mine. It starts with a nice wedge and drop-off and then twists and turns down the side of a ridge to Katemcy Creek and then back up on top of the granite. Here David Quirin stands his nimble buggy on its nose coming down the "loop."
The uphill portion takes you over the roots of this ancient tree and the polished roots can really give a rig fits.
One of the cool things about Katemcy is the fact that you can go where you like and try any climb that you feel is a challenge. After a quick trip around the Turtle Hump trail (or Looney Tunes 2), we did a nice climb up to the top.
We jumped up on the Aggie Highway and cruised over to Bronco Alley. This trail kicked my ass in my last buggy, and I had a score to settle. It seems the 18 months that have passed since my last trip to Katemcy have been kind to this trail as it was not as bad as it had been in the past. Our group walked it without slipping a tire, but Carl gave us a scare as he did a nice "see-saw" on the big center rock and almost laid it over.
Jim Alexander gave us all an excellent show with his rear-steer, rear-dig action. It is really cool to watch a talented rear-steer operator at work.
Bronco Alley dumps you out on the top of the Backbreaker Trail. From there, it was nearing lunchtime, but I wanted to sneak in Kate's Blacksheep (Wine and Cheese) and Baby Huey's Crack. Kate's is a trail that I cut quite a few years back, and it has gotten worse over the years. I floundered around on the entrance until I had had enough and David just walked up and spanked it on the first try. After he showed us the line, we all went up with barely a problem.
Once you make the gatekeeper, you basically just pick-your-poison on the exit. Carl decided to try something different and ended up in a tight spot!
Playing on the boulders is one of the best parts of a trip to Katemcy.
Baby Huey's Crack is always a riot.
After lunch we nosed off into the newest trail at Katemcy Rocks, "To Hell and Back." This trail was cut by Lee Novakoff from San Antonio. Lee drives that wicked pink Fat City Bronco and he really knows how to cut a trail. As you guys know, I have traveled all over the US and have wheeled most of the top spots in the country. I can say for sure that Lee N and crew have cut one of the sickest trails around.
The gatekeeper rocks are plenty to keep all but the best equipped rigs out. Caution! If you struggle on this part of the trail, use the access road and get out. It only gets worse.
The boulders just past the gatekeeper proved to be some of the trickiest on the trail.
Serious suspension travel is needed to make the next section. I had to winch on the steep climb out when I ended up getting too far off the line and just could not overcome or drive out. The rest of the gang made it through without any help. 2 hours later, we emerged from this fantastic trail!
Before calling it a day, we took a ride up to the most unique place at Katemcy. The Cotton Bales. These gigantic boulders garnered their name over a century ago as they resemble a haphazard pile of cotton bales piled up on the slab.
The following day we got another early start with a trip up and down the Waterfall Trail. This is one of the coolest sections of Katemcy Rocks as there is generally water on the trail. Testimony to the insane traction, even wet, the buggies would pull near vertical climbs without slipping a tire.
Slipping into this crack can be hazardous to your paint!
The trip down the Waterfall Trail was followed by Rollin Joe's and Turtle Hump. These trails are in the very back of the property and don't get a lot of traffic so we decided to run Rollin Joe's backwards as well.
Turtle Hump is a cool climb that has a very nice altitude gain as well as some off-camber crawling in the middle.
From there we headed to the competition area to play on The Wall, Eugene's Balls and the other climbs.
There we ran into some of the Cypress guys and Pirate guys "Fool Injected" and "Soundguy". Fool Injected's TJ is one of the nicest rigs I have ever seen. His seat cover was even nicer :D
Heading for camp, we saw some Jeeps giving To Hell and Back a whirl. This D60 joint has seen better days.
We ended up running Turtle Hump, Klunatic and Loony Tunes on the way to camp all backwards to give us a different look at the rocks.
Baer Path backwards will get your hair up!
Needless to say, this is one of the best wheeling spots in the country. Add the excellent host that run the park, the kick-ass BBQ and the great Heart of Texas weather and you have a guaranteed good time. Located just 3 hours west of San Antonio and Austin and just 4 hours south of the DFW metroplex, Katemcy Rocks is easy to access and well worth the trip.
The Kruse's and Chapman's take a break hosting four wheelers during the winter, but they will be back strong with a schedule for 2009 in February. Check out www.katemcyrocks.com and book a weekend. Until next time, enjoy the entire photo album here.
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