Piston’s Wild Motorsports was established in February 2007 with a primary objective of building local, legal 4×4 trails in the nearby state forest, the Yacolt Burn. At that time, we were just 3 members strong with lofty goals and impossible dreams.
It has been a long and winding journey to get to where we are today, but we are pleased to announce that we now have 40 active family memberships, 10 honorary members and an ever-increasing influx of applicants in the process of becoming active club members. We are honored to mention that we also have some of the best partner clubs and industry sponsors that a club could possibly hope for; we could not accomplish any of our projects without their unwavering support. With all of that in our corner, our club goals have become accomplishments and our dreams have morphed into reality.
Since the official introduction of these trails to the public in 2015, Piston’s Wild Motorsports has had the honor of overseeing the wellbeing of the trail system with yearly maintenance and assessments. Relentless dedication to these trails helps ensure they remain open for years to come.
We choose to present ourselves as a new breed of club, not just interested in 4×4’s, dirt bikes, ATV’s or snowmobiles, but that we love all forms of motorsports equally and strive for involvement with a well-rounded schedule of activities for all of their members and guests to enjoy. This part of the country is a long way from Detroit or even Indianapolis, but our love of piston driven power is a strong as anywhere!
The club motto is: “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming . . . “WOW – What a Wild Ride!”
What we look for in potential new members, are like-minded folks, who enjoy spending their free time in the motor-sports world. Activities could include:
– Off-road trips on the mountain, in the woods or at the beach
– Participating in various competitive events
– Attending motor sports events as spectators
– Promoting motor sports events for others to attend
– Attending social gatherings with fellow motor heads
Piston’s Wild Motorsports Club hosts an annual Poker Run in the Tillamook State Forest when the trail building and maintenance schedules allow. Events like these raise funds to assist with trail maintenance and construction. Piston’s Wild members participate in work parties with other local clubs and even have race teams participating in the King of the Hammers with race vehicles built, owned, and operated by various club members.
Early Valiant Efforts
From the very beginning, our club members have worked closely with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources – Pacific Cascade Region, in regard to opening 4×4 trails in the Yacolt Burn State Forest, as well as improving the overall recreation experience for all motorized sports enthusiasts. Due to the cooperation between the club, the agency and the local ATV/Dirt Bike club, Jones Creek Trail Riders, there are now 10[NS1] 4×4 trails open and available the public in the Yacolt Burn. Many new ATV and dirt bike trails have also been added to the system. Great strides are being made towards the Yacolt Burn becoming a “destination of choice” for 4-wheeler’s as well as ATV and dirt bike enthusiasts.
In the first steps of the “building new trails” process, starting in 2008. The club reached out and organized members of the 4×4 community to attend in force at the DNR Planning Process Kick-Off meeting for the Yacolt Burn. The 4×4 community flooded the room with over 60 active, engaged, and informed 4×4 enthusiasts in attendance. This was a remarkable effort by all of the 4×4 users in the area and made a tremendous impact on all of the user group participants. A small group of those participants at that meeting were being secretly pre-selected by DNR staff to be on the planning committee for the western half of the Yacolt Burn, a process expected to be completed in 2009. Due to the overwhelming 4×4 attendance at the kick-off meeting, the 4-wheel drive community was the only user group that was awarded two positions on the committee, and with extreme pride, those were both Piston’s Wild members.
In the early years, club members attended many agency meetings and hosted multiple trail rides with DNR representatives in the Yacolt Burn discussing potential opportunities for new 4×4 trails. The real success of the process began with Piston’s Wild hosting DNR, general staff to upper management, on a trail ride to one of the best active 4×4 multi-use areas in the region, the Tillamook State Forest. Oregon Department of Forestry staff participated in this event and began to share existing best practices with WA DNR staff, demonstrating how to successfully manage an OHV area that not only includes 4×4’s, but embraces and benefits from their participation. This was an effort to show them that the 4-wheel drive community had more potential than simply recreating, but becoming assets to the management agency responsible for the stewardship of the land.
Even though there were no legal 4×4 trails in the Yacolt Burn state forest until 2015, the club, along with hundreds of local 4×4 volunteers, spent thousands of hours removing abandoned vehicles from the forest, hosting clean-up events and building positive relationships with the agency. Trail planning, while painfully slow, was still moving in a forward direction. In 2010, after the new trail plan had been released for public comment, new trail progress all but came to a sudden halt. A Portland, Oregon resident, with a vacation home in the Yacolt Burn state forest, backed by local environmental groups, filed a judicial challenge against the DNR for the motorized trail project. They were objecting to the proximity of one of the trails to their property and to the non-motorized trails. From the club’s point of view, the agency used this challenge as an opportunity to “give up” on expanding the motorized trails in the Yacolt Burn and DNR was already well on their way of making the motions to scrub the project.
Unbeknownst to the club, a fellow off-roader, Tod Ockert, whom the club had never met, had read the club story on the internet about the trails and the struggles we were facing and had nominated Piston’s Wild for the BFG Outstanding Trails program, which they were awarded later in 2010. By leveraging the financial support and recognition of BF Goodrich, a company known world-wide, that gift to the club arrived at just the right time in order to lean on upper level DNR management to get back in the game. Shortly after that, DNR settled the judicial challenge with a small re-route of the trail in question and motorized trails were back in business.
After many years of political shenanigans and wading through red tape, we began construction in May 2014 of what will be 75+ miles of motorized recreation trails in the Yacolt Burn State Forest. We feel confident that progress will continue towards the effort of the Yacolt Burn ORV Trails becoming a destination of choice for 4-wheeler’s as well as ATV and dirt bike enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest. WA DNR continues to create financial opportunities for the planned and approved Yacolt Burn motorized trail system by applying for state grants through the RCO, supported with matching funds from the regional budget.
While trail construction began in 2014, DNR did not have available staff to do the work. Piston’s Wild Motorsports signed cooperative agreements (essentially volunteer construction agreements) for reimbursement of expenses and performed ALL of the new 4×4 construction in 2014 & 2015, creating 3 new 4×4 trails which opened to the public in 2016. In 2016, DNR added staff to begin constructing trails for the next two years. DNR completed three more new trails while Pistons’ Wild signed on again to take the lead on the construction on a new trail with play areas, switchbacks and hill climbs, aka Old Ugly. These 4 new trails opened to the public in 2018. In 2018 and 2019 DNR constructed 2 new trails while Piston’s Wild assisted with features on one DNR built trail and also took the lead on constructing their first major incline rock crawl feature, Tumble Creek. These 3 new trails opened to the public in 2020.
Piston’s Wild received a second BF Goodrich award in 2016, and the club continues to partner with Jones Creek Trail Riders in acquiring state grants to support their joint efforts to construct and maintain motorized trails for all in the Yacolt Burn.
While Piston’s Wild calls the Yacolt Burn home, we have also built a solid history of trails stewardship in the Tillamook State Forest of Northwest Oregon with adoption of the University Firepower trail. Every year, members of PWMC visit the Tillamook State Forest to provide trail maintenance on University Firepower, as well as funding, fabricating and installing gatekeepers to protect the integrity of the trail during the most extreme of winter months. These gates free up the ODF staff from having to block the trail with logs and stumps by use of heavy equipment twice a year. With these additions, only a key is required to re-open the trail in the Spring when the weather allows, freeing up the limited resources of the local management agency. A partnership with the Oregon Department of Forestry also allows us to host our “Life is a Journey” 4×4 Poker Run event held annually in late June.
Late in 2023, Piston’s Wild Motorsports formed a new land access project team and are actively working with local ATV, UTV and dirt bike groups to pursue new motorized recreation opportunities in the Gifford Pinchot. 1.3 million acres of national forest in the heart of Washington State, which includes some of the most spectacular scenic areas in the Pacific Northwest including Mt. Adams, the infamous Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, and many more. Motorized recreation is currently only open to dirt bikes and street legal vehicles on gravel roads. We have high hopes for gaining access for OHV travel on gravel roads and maybe, just maybe, some new 4×4, UTV, and ATV trails for everyone to enjoy in the future. Our club consistently looks to find new avenues to help in fueling our main goal, which is not only creating and expanding our local trail systems but maintaining them as well. Enjoying public lands is only part of the story, with the other half being a combination of maintenance and protection, helping to ensure that everyone can enjoy the great outdoors by form of motorized recreation for many years to come.