Flat Nasty

Story & Photos by Allen Merritt
A Flat Nasty Off-Road Adventure in the Ozarks. From Mild to Wild - It Ain't Flat, But it Sure is Nasty!

Ron Maximoff, a retired combat, commercial, and aerobatic pilot, competes professionally in

off-road competitions all over the country. In 2004, Ron racked up enough points to compete

in the Super Crawl at St. James, Utah. Ron also serves on his son’s motocross team at

numerous race courses. While visiting off-road parks, Ron analyzes the best features and

trails; dreaming about developing his own off-road park.

In 2005, his dream came true; Ron and his wife, Sheila, bought 850 pristine acres of rugged

forestland in the Ozarks. About 15 miles southwest of Salem, Missouri, the property is

surrounded by the Mark Twain National Forest, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, and

Montauk State Park, a nationally known trout park at the spring-fed headwaters of the Current


Flat Nasty’s entrance is well marked when coming from Salem, but you may miss it coming

from the Huston direction, so if you reach Jadwin Canoe Rental, turn around and go back a


Ron said, “Most off-road parks use old logging and mining roads which follow the easiest

route over the terrain. However, this property hasn’t been logged in many years, so there were

no logging roads. That allowed me to layout trails that offer the most off-road adventure per

mile of trail.” Ron did lots of bulldozer work on the main road to the camping area, shop, guest

cabin, and in the big mud pit; but there is little evidence of dozerwork on most trails. He

removed trees as needed, using them as firewood. Trails look very natural as they traverse the

ridges, valleys, and streams. The hills are steep; typically about 200-foot elevation change

from top to bottom. The Ozark terrain is extremely rocky, and the hill climbs often include

rock ledges.

When we visited Flat Nasty, it rained most of the weekend, nevertheless, several of Missouri’s

Capital City Crawlers were up for an off-road adventure. Because the trails were wet and slick,

the intermediate trails offered adequate adventures. However, a few brave souls tried to climb

Get-It-Billy Hill on Trail 11. The hill has become so notorious and seldom conquered; Ron put

a bounty on it. You can try your luck on the hill anytime; but if you put $5 in the kitty and

make it up the hill within the rules, you win the pot. At this writing, the pot is worth over

$1,000 in cash and merchandise.

Ron mapped and rated the many miles of trails in Flat Nasty. The scenic and intermediate

trails have bypasses around the difficult obstacles, but the hardcore challenges are as tough

as South Dakota’s Black Hills trails or North Carolina’s Tellico trails. However, Flat Nasty is

very spectator friendly, stock 4x4s can drive to within easy walking distance of the high

adventure challenges. When you check in, you get a color-coded map of the park, showing

scenic/easy, intermediate, and difficult trails. The map shows that some of the trails are

one-way, and some are reserved for motocross bikes and ATVs. For visitors who comply with

park rules, the park is open 24/7.

First time visitors please note: To find Salem on the map, look about 30 miles south of Rolla.

We discovered, after getting lost on county roads while trying to find Flat Nasty, that the map

on Jadwin Canoe Rental’s webpage is better than most road maps, Flat Nasty is less than a

mile north of the canoe outfitter. John Lloyd of John’s 4x4 & More, near Springfield pointed out

that if you’re coming from the west and don’t mind a couple of miles of wash-board gravel, you

can save 40 miles by taking county road B to ZZ east from Houston.

The park is remote (15 miles to Wal- Mart), beautiful and rustic. The camping area is primitive

with portapotties, fire pits, and free firewood. Cell phones only work on Top Knot Hill. Flat

Nasty offers no RV hookups, but a nearby dude ranch has cabins and hookups The Jadwin

Canoe Rental outfit, just a mile up the road, has RV hookups and an old-fashioned

convenience store; they will pickup Flat Nasty guests for canoe float trips. The Current River,

with its many springs, crystal clear water and towering bluffs, is one of the most scenic canoe

rivers in America. And rainbow trout fishing is excellent! Ron protects the abundant wildlife, so

keep your camera handy.

John Lloyd, who won Missouri Rockcrawling & Off-road Completion’s Spring Forest Race ’06

at Flat Nasty and helped layout several OHV parks said, “Flat Nasty goes from mild to wild.

It’s not flat, but it’s sure nasty. It’s a great place to spend a weekend or a week.”

Just getting into starting position to Get-It-Billy Hill on Trail 11 is difficult. Participants who put

$5 into the pot can try their luck at climbing the hill. Winner takes all; at this writing the kitty

is worth over $1000 in cash and prizes.

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