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Destination Recreation: Mettowee Off-Road Extreme Park - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Destination Recreation: Mettowee Off-Road Extreme Park

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WHITEHALL, N.Y. -

If you want to go off-roading in Vermont and you are not on an ATV, you have to do it on private property. But just over the border in Whitehall, New York is a park designed specifically for off-roading with any type of vehicle.

Sue Miller-Norton has been off-roading for about 30 years.

"I know it's going to sound funny, but I began with my grandmother's 1972 Ford Pinto in the Pine Barrens down in New Jersey," she says.

And her journey only gets more exciting each year.

This Jeep junkie from Middletown Springs now has her own online persona in the off-roading world as Vermont Jeepgirl. She's recruiting more women to the sport and plans to launch a women's off-roading magazine this fall. Her rig -- Old Blue, a 1993 YJ.

"You know every nut, every bolt," she says. "I can tell you there is only a few things on this Jeep that are original and that includes the broken windshield, the seats, and the dashboard. Everything else has been changed over the years."

These rigs take lots of time and money. She has 15 Jeeps and often works on parts in her living room. The vehicles she catches on their way to the scrapyard are fondly known as "rescues".

"You have an instant connection when you do meet someone because you don't ask how the weather is, you ask what are you running in your gears? What are you running in your Jeep? How long have you had the Jeep?" she says.

And the Mettowee Offroad Extreme Park in Whitehall, New York is like a second home to her. There are 200 acres of trails maintained specifically for off-roaders of all kinds. She offers to show us around.

There are a couple important rules about off-roading. The first is to stay on the trails and to know them well enough to go out. The second of course is to stay in a group so you can be helped if you need it, and be prepared for whatever might come your way..

"There's all types of obstacles out here to try," she says. "There's the RTI ramp, there's the mud trenches up here, different trails, the park is geared towards the more beginner and the advanced."

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: "What do you like about it?"

Miller-Norton: "Everything. I tell you, you can have a bad day and just want to get away from everything, you just hop into your vehicle you get into the woods, and I call it Jeep Therapy."

But being out here means knowing your ride and your own limits -- and your terrain. The trails take a beating each season, and when rocks move or trails wash out, that changes the drivers' approach.

"Picking the right line is really important when you're off-roading," Miller-Norton says. "Picking the wrong line could be devastating. Not only for your vehicle but for your safety too."

And that's why they travel in teams, because if you do get caught in a bind, you'll need your friends to tow you back upright.

And out on these trails, owners tell us you can meet people from as far away as Brazil or Japan and from every walk of life.

"There hasn't been a person who has left this place who hasn't had a smile on their face of some sort," says Mettowee Off-Road Extreme Park co-owner Clare Jameson. "Even if it's a dent on the vehicle or whatnot they want a big band-aid for it and then they go right back on out."

A sport that's off the beaten path.

The park is open on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They also do contests the first weekend of every month. For more information, you can visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mettowee-Off-Road-Extreme-Park/142756169097329

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