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Hatfield-McCoy Turns Ten


The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System in southern West Virginia marks its 10th anniversary this weekend.  The event is celebrated with "Trail Days" in Gilbert.   The tiny Mingo County trail-town with a population of 400 will host more than 2,000 ATV and dirt bike riders from across the United States for the three day event.

"The Hatfield-McCoy Trails is the largest ATV-UTV-Motorcycle riding area in the eastern United States and the second largest in the country," said Trail General Manger Jeff Lusk. 

The idea of the trail system was hatched more than a decade ago and presented to the West Virginia legislature as a possible post-mining use of vast tracts of property in southern West Virginia.  Although there was resistance at first, Lusk feels like the success has been borne out in the results.

"I would call it a re-use," said Lusk. "The resources extraction has gone on and it’s still going on and we’ve found a reuse for these mountains that’s sustainable.   I always argue this is the biggest economic development project in West Virginia."

The trail systems spans five counties and includes more than a half-Million acres of private property.  More than 44 new businesses have been created in the last decade centered almost exclusively on trail riders. 

"There’s not a month that goes by that we don’t get a call of somebody doesn’t want to go into business around the trail system," Lusk said. "This year we expect to bring in 35-thousand riders to the trail system, of those more than 90-percent are non-West Virginia residents."

Lusk admits that’s a number they’d like to improve, but locals and even West Virginians who have among the highest rate of ATV ownership in the nation, haven’t caught onto the idea.

"For whatever reason we haven’t got a lot of legs when it comes to that West Virginia ridership," he said.

Lusk believes the trail is still the fastest growing tourist attraction in West Virginia and draws in more and more riders every year.  Surrounding states have also expressed interest in copying the West Virginia model to create their own trail-riding destinations.   The ideas are all based on the plan laid out initially for the Hatfield-McCoy Trails.

"This is a great sport and West Virginia is uniquely positioned to be a leader in this sport," Lusk said.


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