Oakland County Parks hosts first public off-road vehicle event

Off-road enthusiasts can test drive a 35-acre demonstration course in Groveland Township at the Dixie Gully Run ORV event November 1 and 2.

The course includes a rock crawl, hill climb, scramble area, trail ride, moguls, stair step and extreme gully. The event is open only to 4 x 4 and side-by-side vehicles with rollover protection. Motorcycles and ATVs are not permitted.

The course was constructed by Oakland County Parks and Recreation, in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, to test the potential operation of an ORV site in southeastern Michigan. The course was built at an active gravel mine owned by Groveland Township and leased to Bedrock Express.

“The MDNR has made it one of their priorities to establish an off-road vehicle park in Southeast Michigan. Its strategic land management plan focuses on collaboration with local government to expand recreational opportunities, which is also a directive by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder,” Executive Officer Dan Stencil said.            

According to Stencil, the MDNR manages more than 29,000 acres in Oakland County, but there is no legal public ORV riding.

“That’s an impactful statement when you learn that more than half of Michigan’s ORV owners live in southern Michigan,” Stencil said. “For years we’ve had ORV enthusiasts telling us they would rather spend their recreation dollars close to home where it can benefit the communities in which they live and work.”

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund will announce grant awards in early December. 

“If a grant is awarded to the MDNR for the acquisition of property, OCPR will work with the DNR to develop a long-term lease to operate the property as an Oakland County Park,” Supervisor of Planning & Resource Development Melissa Prowse said. “The MDNR grant is for the acquisition of 312 acres.  Additional property leases or use agreements could mean an eventual park build out of 450 acres which would bring OCPR’s total acreage up to nearly 7,500 acres.”

The potential ORV site, located about a half mile from Groveland Oaks County Park, could feature adventure recreation opportunities like zip lining and mountain biking. Groveland Oaks offers camping, boating, fishing and more.

Proximity to I-75 would provide easy access to riders from across the state. For a one-day test event in August, riders came from as far away as Traverse City and Sault Ste. Marie to participate.

“We’re thankful for the cooperation of Groveland Township which granted us authorization for the test events,” Stencil said. “Their officials understand what an economic impact a regional recreation facility like this could have on the area.”   

Parks staff surveyed attendees at the August event and found that 34% patronized local restaurants, 54% made purchases at local gas stations and 22% spent money at other local businesses.

“Staff also gained valuable knowledge and experience about designing, constructing, maintaining and operating an ORV park,” Prowse said. “We measured noise levels and discovered they were not greater than ambient levels. Oakland County Parks and Recreation strives to be a good neighbor in communities where our 13 parks and golf courses are located.”

For the November event, riders can select from a 9 a.m. or noon entry time and stay until 4 p.m. Each day is limited to 200 vehicles; pre-registration is mandatory. The cost is $20/vehicle. Limited trailer parking is available. Red Wood Grill will be on site with concessions. No alcohol is permitted.

Spectators can pay $5/person (ages 2 and under free) to park at Groveland Oaks County Park and catch a shuttle to the ORV site starting at 9 a.m. The last shuttle back to Groveland Oaks will be at 3:30 p.m. There will be no ORV rides available to spectators.

Camping will be available at Groveland Oaks County Park for individual sites, group sites and six-person cabins on Friday and Saturday.

Download the registration form at DestinationOakland.com. All participant vehicles must be pre-registered for the event. Completed forms can be emailed to orv@oakgov.com. Questions about the Dixie Gully Run can be directed to248.858.0916.

The Dixie Gully Run ORV event site is located at 14300 Shields Road, Holly. Groveland Oaks County Park is located at 14555 Dixie Highway, Holly.

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