Black Oak Trail

Instead of continuing to update separate links on this page, all new photos are now accessible from our Gallery page, located here.
The links below still have photos but will no longer be updated on a yearly basis and are replaced by the photos in the Gallery.

Here are links to photos and stories about Back Oak along with some history.

Back in 1992, Durrell & Syndy took one look at Pike County and they were immediately hooked. Their introduction to the area came through a chance encounter with Tom Wombles at a Jamboree in Kentucky. He told them that he was thinking of starting a Jeep Club in Illinois and wondered if they were interested in joining. As they say, the rest is history.

Durrell and Syndy lived in Wheaton, IL with their two sons, Emory and Devin. They began traveling the 250 miles to Pike County to attend trailbuilding weekends back when they were still called 'work' weekends 'cause that's all we did! They quickly decided that they needed a piece of property in the area to call their own. With two growing teenage boys, living in the city didn't offer much room to play so Tom Wombles started looking around and after a couple scouting trips, in February 1995, he introduced them to what is now called TNT Farm nestled in the midst of a growing Amish community. It may have been the beauty of the property with it's rolling hills, natural springs, Indian mounds and 6 Mile Creek, but rumor has it that the deal was done when Durrell (an avid hunter) saw a Pope & Young deer jump up in front of them on that first visit.

When they first purchased the farm, it had been vacant for over 20 years with the exception of hogs. There was an old homestead on the hill in front of the bunkhouse that was so decrepit the rats, coons and snakes had long since taken over. Garbage was abundant with scrap vehicles, farming equipment and trash strewn everywhere. The first year saw a transformation from garbage dump to what is now the pristine environment that they frequent nearly every weekend.

It didn't take long before trailbuilding began with the original trail ride in March of 1995. Durrell & Syndy, the original 'Tough Nuts', out with Moonbuggy, Rooster, and a couple others in tow. They blazed around the north hill following the property line through the woods and across obstacles now known as the Roller Coaster and Ball Breaker. The trails around the south end of the property were next. Up and around the Loop-d-loop, through the Dippy Doo, back to Winch Hill, over the Indian Mounds, and down Tucker Hill before traversing the creek to the Washouts. Early on, the Washouts were run from south to north until they washed out so bad a Jeep got too sideways and rolled over. Nowadays, the trail is run in the opposite direction to ensure no more tip-overs and the mud bogg on the opposite end is always a treat for those with cameras. The trail over the Cabin Hill and down into the little creek that runs parallel with the driveway was added later. During a particularly ambitious spring trailbuilding weekend, Rooster coordinated a crew to build the telephone pole bridge now know as Rooster's Crossing. 6 Mile Creek divides TNT Farm in half and it has more than a few challenges of it's own. Mud bogs, sand bars and trees are forever moving with each heavy rain that hits the area. Every trip up the creek is a new experience and often times more precarious than expected. More than a few Jeeps have gone for a swim in waters deeper than intended. The west side of 6 Mile Creek is home to Thunder Run. This trail was built three years ago when Tough Nuts and Rooster went out looking for a new challenge.

While they still call Wheaton their 'home', Durrell and Syndy are often seen travelling the country pulling a custom built Jeep Scrambler behind their motorhome to experience other wheeling opportunities. Both their sons are still actively involved in Jeeping with rigs of their own. Emory is now married and has a baby to ride shotgun in his red YJ, and Devin's green TJ is definitely at 'chick magnet' at the high school where he will be a Junior next year.

After 6 years of guiding Black Oak Run, Durrell and Syndy have officially handed the reigns over to Bob Mikrut (Rooster) and Mike Keller (Mikey). While they are ever-present on their trail, Durrell and Syndy prefer the role of 'tour guide' rather than 'trail guide' these days. There are still plenty of challenging areas on their 280 acre farm to build additional trails and the Tough Nuts Team has a few ideas in mind. Anyone wishing to tackle the trailblazing task is welcome to give them a call to coordinate a 'work' weekend!

Created: 02/16/00