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Hatfield-McCoy trailhead welcome center to feature merchandise, more


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BRAMWELL, W.Va.  — The new welcome center for the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System trailhead near Bramwell is well on its way to completion.

“The exterior of the building is already up,” said Jeff Lusk, executive director of the trail authority. “It’s about 60 percent complete now.”

When the 1,700-square-foot building is finished, it will feature a shop for Hatfield-McCoy Trail related merchandise, tourist information as well as restrooms, he said.

Work continues on a new 1,200-square-foot center for the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System trailhead near Bramwell. The center is planned to feature merchandise, tourist information and restrooms for visitors.
(Photo by Eric DiNovo)

“It will be our southern welcome center,” he said, referring to the Mercer County trailhead that begins the trail system. “It will be the first official welcome facility the folks coming up from the south will come to. You will be able to buy permits (to ride on the trail) there too.”

The welcome center will also have a 1 and 1/2 acre paved parking lot.

“It will be a facility where they can park their truck and trailer and unload (their ATVs) to ride the trail,” he said.

Lusk said the riders who stay overnight at lodges or cabins hit the trail from accesses near where they stay, but the “daytrippers” who are there just for the day will have plenty of room to park.

“It’s going to be a real showplace for that area of Mercer County,” he said. “It will used by visitors to the area in general, for people to stop and get information.”

Lusk said the welcome center will be open 362 days a year and have three part-time employees.

The cost of the building, land, excavation and paving will total almost $400,000, he said, money made available through a recreational trails grant administered by the West Virginia Department of Highways.

Lusk said the facility should be open by Oct. 1.

A plan is also in place for a private company to build some cabins on land in front of the center, he added.

The Hatfield-McCoy Trail has seen a busy year.

“We were up 12.2 percent in permit sales from the last 12 months,” he said. “We are having a great year, and a lot of growth (permit sales) is coming out of Mercer and McDowell counties.”

During calendar year 2016, 39,350 permits were sold, he said, and 83 percent of those were out-of-state riders.

“We are up for the first six months of this year,” he said. “We are on track to top 45,000 annual permits.”

Those permits cost $26.50 for residents and $50 for non-residents. Each driver as well as passenger must have one.

Lusk said some ongoing issues hinder even more growth.

“We don’t have the capacity (for lodging),” he said. “We need more investment for cabins and definitely a campground on the Pocahontas Trail system. We desperately need someone to invest in a campground. It’s holding us back.”

The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System covers hundreds of miles of off-road trails in six counties in Southern West Virginia. All of the trail systems are open 365 days a year to ATVs, dirt bikes, and utility vehicles (UTVs).

The trail systems are Rockhouse, Buffalo Mountain, Bearwallow, Devil Anse, Indian Ridge, Pocahontas and Pinnacle Creek.

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