Ride Report: Nicholson-Ford OHV – Dec. 26th, 2014

Nicholson-Ford GoPro screen cap

Nicholson-Ford OHV Area, Marshalltown, Iowa

Nicholson-Ford OHV Google Map
Click For Nicholson-Ford OHV Driving Directions

First Impressions: Nicholson-Ford OHV area is located just northeast of Marshalltown Iowa. The drive up to the Nicholson-Ford OHV area was FLAT, so I knew I wouldn’t be finding any hills to climb.  The park is also located on the wrong side of a levy. I knew muddy ruts were going to be an issue.

Property Type: Nicholson-Ford OHV area is managed by the Iowa DNR, so tags are required.

Time There: Friday, December 26th

Location: Nicholson-Ford sits beside a small river, on the wrong side of the levy.

Elevation: 880 feet

Inside Nicholson-Ford OHV Park Iowa

Trail Type: Nicholson-Ford OHV area offers wide trails to accommodate dirt bikes, ATV and SxS.  The open trails and wide-open view allow for fast riding with a reduced risk of crashing into another rider.

Terrain:  The terrain at Nicholson-Ford OHV area consists of BLACK dirt, and some gravel on the main road.  The black dirt found in central Iowa is excellent for agriculture and great for riding when it’s dry. As soon as it gets wet (as you will see in my Ride through of Nicholson-Ford), the dirt becomes a greasy, muddy sludge. It can get the better of you if you’re not paying attention!

Type of Riding: Nicholson-Ford OHV area is the ideal place to learn,  There are very few sections that will give you a hard time, and the wide-open dirt trails won’t mess with your balance.  This park can also be extremely fun, as you can ride fast without worrying about crashing into other riders or catching a stray rock or rut.

Outstanding Features: Nicholson-Ford OHV offers fast trails, is a great place to learn, and has a few hidden play areas I was not expecting.  There is an old spillway deeper into the park with steep concrete walls and broken bits to play around on.

Weather: I was riding the day after Christmas, so I wasn’t expecting to be very warm.  The wind was minimal, and the sun was out occasionally.  Once I got into the woods, the breeze was knocked down considerably.

Related: What exactly makes tires dry rot. Wait, what is dry rot anyway?

Good For A Fun Weekend!

Facilities: Vault toilets at the staging area.

Camping: No

Length of Stay: 1 day

Other Riders: The few times I have been to Nicholson-Ford OHV the other riders were considerate on the trails.

Final Word: The Nicholson-Ford OHV area is NOT a destination ride, but if you are passing through, it’s a fun stop just to play around.  As a learning park, I haven’t found anything better.  The wide-open and level trails of the Nicholson-Ford OHV area allow for the whole family to have fun without worrying about crashing or getting stuck.

Nicholson-Ford OHVMarshalltown, Iowa
Property Type:County, DNR managed
Trail length:Over 20 miles
Trail Type:All Dirt and Hard Pack
WeatherSeasonally Predictable for the Region, no Big Surprises.
Elevation:880 Feet
Riding Fees:Iowa OHV Sticker - $20ish
Camping Fees:No camping
Nearest Gas:Marshalltown, IA
RV Hookups:No
On Site Facilities:Vault Toilets
Primitive Camping Available:No
Primitive Camping Locations:None
Vehicles Permitted:Motorcycle
Safe to Ride Alone?Yes
Dirt Bike Exclusive Trails?Few
Bring a Camera?No
Bring a Lunch?Yes
Recommended Stay1 Day
Family Friendly?Very
Other Activities?None
Alcohol Permitted?No


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