3:06pm: Hotline with Dave Weekley

Trail welcomes back full-sized off roading

LOGAN, W.Va. — Enthusiasts who enjoy full sized off road vehicles have a new place to play in southern West Virginia. The Bear Wallow system of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail is now open to all four wheel drive off road riding.

“This weekend we are going to open that system up to full sized vehicles,” said Hatfield-McCoy Trail Executive Director Jeff Lusk. “The O-R-V’s, Jeeps, Hummers, modified trucks, and rail buggies, those folks will be able to enjoy almost 85 miles of trail inside that system.”

The Bear Wallow trail isn’t new. It opened in October 2000 and is one of the three original trails on the Hatfield-McCoy System. However, originally it was for ATV’s and motorcycles only. The decision was made to widen the trails and modify the terrain for full sized vehicles when the Ivy Branch Trail in Lincoln County was forced to close last year. The loss created a void for a very important user group according to Lusk.

“It’s a great user group for us,” said Lusk. “They’ve been utilizing the trail for about three years until last October, so we’re very excited about inviting them back and we’re expecting several hundred of them this weekend.”

Three major off roading clubs were instrumental in the project. More than 100 volunteers from those clubs spent the past five months helping to retrofit the Bear Wallow site according to Lusk. Bear Wallow was selected because of its severe terrain.

“It’s actually the toughest of our Hatfield-McCoy trails,” said Lusk. “It has the most Black and Double Black Diamond Trails and in a lot of instances, these guys are really looking for some extreme riding.”

While the decline of the coal industry has plagued the southern West Virginia economy in recent years, the trail has become one of the few economic brights spots in the region. Permit sales for this year are up 11 percent according to Lusk who added there is a growing market for savvy entrepreneurs in the region.

“If you ever wanted to go into business, there’s a great opportunity in southern West Virginia for putting up cabins, hotels, lodges, and campgrounds on the Hatfield-McCoy system,” said Lusk. “The demand of riders surely outpaces the supply of rooms for them to stay in on a given weekend.”

The trail will celebrate a grand opening this weekend at the trail head outside Logan.

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