Off-Road Travel: Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area

Jul. 19, 2011 By Jeff M. Vanasdal Photography by: Alfonse Palaima, Video by Chris Blanchette
We explored the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area with Kawasaki on its new 2012 Brute Force ATVs.

Writing for some of the biggest off-road and ATV publications has its advantages. One of these advantages is getting to ride the latest and greatest ATVs at some of the best places on earth to off-road. Kawasaki invited to ride at a “top secret” riding location in Pennsylvania to test out the 2012 Brute Force Utility ATV lineup, and it was certainly a memorable trip.

After arriving at the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, airport we were greeted by two Kawasaki representatives. As we waited for other members of the press to arrive, we chatted about what to expect at this “top secret” ride location. Kawasaki stated that the ride area was located on abandoned coal mines that offered a variety terrain and was best described as a “diamond in the rough.” Being that I have raced the Maxxis 12 hour at Rausch Creek MX located only 45 min south of the ride location, I had some idea of what to expect along the trail – rough and rocky terrain with lots of coal silt.

The off-road area is on reclaimed coal land, and it offers a variety of different terrain.

Once our crew all arrived we headed to our hotel in Danville, which we were told was just a 30-minute drive from our ride site. We all headed out as a group to dinner that evening at one of the local restaurants called BJ’s Steak & Rib House. There we not only indulged ourselves with great steaks and ribs, but also in some local delicacies like Frickles (fried pickles), and Bongo Bongo dip, which can be best described a spinach like dip with melted cheese and sour cream. We also wet out tongues with a locally brewed beer called Yuengling, which is crafted about 40 minutes away from our ride site in Pottsville. After we finished up dinner, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest for what would be a long day of riding.

We left our hotel at about 8:00 a.m. and headed to our “top secret” ride location in Shamokin. The weather was perfect on the relaxing scenic drive. Upon arriving at our ride location we were briefed on what to expect. Kawasaki introduced Kathy Jeremiah to explain the location, as she is the project planner for our ride site – Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area. The adventure area is still in its planning stages and organizers are trying to gather feedback from the press about the park. The hope is to finish the planning stages by the end of 2011 and begin an action plan to open the area up to the public shortly afterwards.

The area will consist of just over 6,000 acres that will be dedicated to off-road enthusiasts. The area will not only be welcome to ATV & UTV riders but will also be accessible for hiking, biking, 4x4 trucks, horseback riding, hunting and camping.

We even rode right through a small lake at the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area.

About 200 miles of trails have already been cut for both ATVs and UTVs in the area, and more trails are in works for the near future. The terrain consists of many scenic elevation changes, old mining roads, tight wooded trails, creek crossings, and mud holes. ATV riders would be hard-pressed not to have a good time here.

Being that I am more of a Sport ATV guy, Utility ATVs are still a work in progress for me. That being said, the Kawasaki Brute Force ATVs performed awesome out on the trails. The four-wheel drive V-Twin motor came in handy time and time again as we crossed many deep mud holes and even went through part of a lake! There were also many rock beds and down trees that tested both the rider and the machine. It was the first chance I had to test out Kawasaki’s differential lock. The handlebar-mounted differential lock lever and reverse override button was just what I needed to get out of a few tight situations. The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area was a perfect testing ground to assess the performance of both me and the 2012 Kawasaki Brute Force Utility ATVs.

We stopped to take a break with Kawasaki’s Jon Rall, who helped organize the ride at Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area.

The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area gets its name from the Anthracite coal that used to be mined in the area. Along the trail you can still see the remains of coal silt, mine machinery, and even some abandoned mine shafts along the trail! The trails remind me a little of the Hatfield McCoy Trail system in West Virginia. One minute you will be riding down a rocky trail section, the next up a hill and you’re in a wide-open section that allows you to see for miles.

The area is filled with scenic overlooks and natural beauty, including one of the most popular stops along the trail called the Whale’s Back. The Whale’s Back was formed over millions of years of the earth’s crust moving and sliding to form a geographic formation that has been studied by many universities.

The Whaleback is a popular stop along the trail.

The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area is not only an off-road park, as project planners also want it to be a travel destination for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. The adventure area is just a short drive from the city with all the amenities you’d expect like lodging, restaurants, and gas stations.

To learn more about the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area and keep up with the latest news, visit

Also, check out another ride we did with Kawasaki at Mine Made Adventure Park in Kentucky.

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