I don’t know how these things happen – in all the years that I’ve been dual sport riding I have never actually ridden the K Trail. I can’t even claim that I didn’t know about it. I’ve read the ride reports and seen the pictures. But, for unknown reason, never actually got around to riding it. Well, on Memorial Day weekend 2013 I decided it was time to right that wrong.
I recruited some buddies and we spent 2 days riding the K Trail and the Ouachita Mountains of southeast Oklahoma and southwest Arkansas. It was quite the experience and we had a great time except for discovering the Road to Certain Death, which claimed one of our group. This is our story.
Let’s start with introductions.
JT – fast, mechanically inclined, never met a trail he didn’t want to explore
Taylor – the young lion, riding fast on a KTM 640 Adventure, supplier of Coors Lite beer
Smiley – always chompin’ at the bit to ride more & stop less, laughs at class 4. We let the air out of his tires just to try and slow him down.
Iceman Jack – pretends to be an old man but he rides like a wildman, drinks like a fish, and charms the ladies like a young man
Milton – world’s foremost adventure dentist, smart, seasoned, and has the heart of a true adventure rider
Me (on the left) – slowest guy in the group, panics at the sight of class 4, they only let me tag along because I tell a few jokes
The Cliff Notes Guide to the K Trail
The Kiamichi Mountains are a mountain range in southeast Oklahoma and are a subrange of the Ouachita Mountains that extend from Oklahoma into southwest Arkansas. The K Trail runs along the spine of the Kiamichi Mountains, from Clayton, OK to Mena, AR. Technically, the entire 90 mile distance is not the K Trail – the western end is the Clayton Trail and the eastern end is National Forest (NF) road 6025. But, everyone just calls it the K trail, which is what we will do too.
The K Trail is 2-track or forest service road for its entire length; there are no single track areas. The entire trail is rocky but the western end, in particular, is quite rugged, with numerous washed-out, rutted areas.
Riding west-to-east, the first 12-15 miles are mostly class 2, with numerous class 3 sections, and one class 4 section. This section appears to be non-maintained. Road conditions improve noticeably as you ride east, eventually becoming class 1 the last 30 miles or so.
Vegetation is not being cut back along most of the trail so there are lots of branches and plants intruding into the trail. A good set of bark busters will be appreciated.
To access the trail, start at the intersection of Hwy 271 and 9 Pine Road, a few miles south of Clayton, OK. Ride north on 9 Pine Road for about 2.5 miles and you are there. This part of the trail is actually the Clayton Trail and intersects with the K Trail a few miles to the east.
Here’s what the western terminus of the trail looks like. It’s sort of like Jurassic Park – at first it looks easy and fun but then shortly there’s terror and screaming.
Day 0 – driving to Clayton
We began our journey by trailering to the Clayton Country Inn, a 9 room bed-and-breakfast about a mile south of Clayton. It was a rustic place in a rustic country. Clean but not fancy. I would stay here again.
I would note, however, the limited “breakfast” choices. We had muffins (freshly baked and very good) and a small selection of cold cereal, milk, juice, and coffee. The cook was nice enough to make some toast for us on request. If you like a more substantial breakfast, or want more choices, then plan on eating at a restaurant in town (I think there are 2 restaurants in Clayton but am not completely sure).
On the other hand I think they serve a full supper meal (at an additional cost) though I was never here early enough any evening to find out for sure.