BEAR WALLOW BUFFALO MOUNTAIN
October there is the Hatfield-McCoy
National TrailFest in Gilbert, West
Virginia. This year it is held on
October 10–14, and it attracts thousands of riders, but most of us vacation
in the summer, which is still a great
time to hit the Hatfield-McCoy trails.
If you have never been to the area,
you may not understand that Hatfield-
McCoy is not some huge open area
with trails running willy-nilly. You
don’t just grab a compass and head
out. Hatfield-McCoy is a state-spon-
sored program that opens riding
areas. Much of the land is private
property, and the trails program
works with landowners to make trails
available. At the moment, there are
eight separate and distinct riding
areas. Each has a name and at least
one trailhead with parking, bath-
rooms and permits for sale. Most have
a small building with a few items for
sale, plus permits and maps. If the
system doesn’t have a building, it will
soon. It says a lot about the trail sys-
tem that the trails are opened first and
then they worry about the building.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Each trail system has marked and
color-coded trails. On the maps and
the trail markers, green means the
easiest routes, blue is more difficult,
black is difficult and black/red is ugly.
The trails are shared with dirt bikes,
but the slick and rocky conditions
favor ATVs, so there is little chance of
encountering high-speed riders. A
small portion of the total trail mileage
is singletrack for motorcycles only.
There is no chance that you will mistake it for an ATV trail.
Historically, West Virginia is coal
country, and anywhere there is mining, there are dirt roads and trails.
These days, mining is as rigorously
controlled as any other industry, but
in the early days of coal or any other
mining, the normal activities make
any sort of motorsport look like a
“Green” hobby. The state and certainly the towns that are linked or
partnered with the trail systems are
incredibly welcoming to off-roaders.
Welcome signs are everywhere, and
the highway signs include “ATV
Crossing,” in addition to signs directing riders to staging areas.
WAVE AT THE POLICE
Many of the towns have provided
legal routes of access into town, and
in the most welcoming areas, you
can unload your off-road vehicles
and keep the transportation vehicle
parked for the duration of your stay. It
is really cool to ride ATVs in the fast-food drive-through, or park next to