LYBURN, W.Va. — Riders on the Hatfield McCoy Trails in southern West Virginia have two new options. The Ivy Branch and Cabwaylingo Trail systems are now open to the public.
The Ivy Branch System was formerly part of the trails, but was forced to close when the landowner sold the property. Since then, the trail system actually purchased the land and will own it for good. It’s the only property actually owned by the trail system and Executive Director Jeff Lusk said they put added effort into making it right.
“We have redeveloped the property and put a great density of trails. For those with the full sized vehicles they are going to love what we’ve done. We’ve created a lot more areas for those folks to ride,” Lusk explained.
Trail riders aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the off road area at Ivy Branch, part of the redevelopment included creation of a parking lot and walk-down boat launching area on the Little Coal River. The area is expected to be a big draw for kayak enthusiasts riding the Little Coal River.
The second new trail now open is another unique venture for the Hatfield McCoy Trails. The Cabwaylingo Trail is situated on the Cabwaylingo State Forest. It’s the first of the systems trails to be located on public land. The change was facilitated by a bill approved by the Legislature in 2020 and signed by Governor Jim Justice.
“We partnered with the DNR and Division of Forestry. We’ve built a great system there which will be an 80 mile system and maybe 100 miles when we finally get it all completed,” Lusk said.
According to Lusk, location is everything. The two systems are located just minutes from two of the state’s largest population centers, Charleston and Huntington. He thinks the proximity will make both among the more popular trail systems in the years to come.
“Ivy Branch, when it was open, sold a lot of permits and was full every weekend. We think Cabwaylingo will meet with equal success. Having those anchor facilities in the Capital City and the state’s second largest city will be a big draw to each,” he explained.
The Governor’s Covid 19 policies in 2020 closed the trails for more than two months. Lusk anticipated it would cause a severe blow to their numbers. He admitted he was wrong and the sales of permits actually set a new record of nearly 65,000 riders.
“It was because of Covid, everybody was wanting to get outside and finally do something,” Lusk explained.
He anticipated the two new riding opportunities would also go a long way toward increasing ridership in the months and years to come. The two new trails also put the available trails to ride at more than 900 miles, which makes the Hatfield McCoy Trails the largest regulated off-road trail system in the world.