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As ATV tourism grows, more cabins needed

Bluefield Daily Telegram file photo  An ATV rider rides down the Pocahontas Trail, the branch of the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail that extends into Mercer County. Bramwell, Bluewell, and other parts of the county have been seeing more visitors and economic growth since the new trail opened.
Bluefield Daily Telegram file photo
An ATV rider rides down the Pocahontas Trail, the branch of the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail that extends into Mercer County. Bramwell, Bluewell, and other parts of the county have been seeing more visitors and economic growth since the new trail opened.

BRAMWELL, W.Va. – Intersecting ATV trail systems across southern West Virginia are seeing growing revenue and more economic development for local communities as more riders from across the country come to explore the Hatfield-McCoy Trail.

Two branches of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system — the Indian Ridge Trail in McDowell County and the Pocahontas Trail in neighboring Mercer County — have spurred economic development and the opening of new businesses, said Jeffrey Lusk, the trail system’s executive director.

“The Mercer and McDowell county systems have been very successful,” Lusk said. “We’ve seen lots of investments along the trail systems and lots of permit growth.”

The trails in Mercer and McDowell counties, and other parts of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System, are unique, and offer a lot of variety for ATV riders that make the trails appealing, he added.

“It’s the largest publicly-managed trail system in the eastern United States,” Lusk explained. “I think that has a lot to do with it, and it’s centrally located in the eastern U.S. There’s a great ease of access. That means a lot.”

Many of the nation’s population centers are within 500 miles of West Virginia. This means ATV tourists can drive to the Hatfield-McCoy Trail within a reasonable amount of time.

The eight trail systems include Rockhouse, Buffalo Mountain, Bearwallow, Indian Ridge, Little Coal, Pocahontas, Pinnacle Creek and Ivy Branch. Covering much of southern West Virginia, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system includes Mercer, McDowell, Logan, Boone, Mingo, Wyoming, and Lincoln counties.

Many of these counties are seeing ATV riders from beyond West Virginia. For example, in 2013, the entire Hatfield-McCoy Trail system sold 35,990 permits, Lusk said. Out of this figure, 29,092 permits were purchased by out-of-state visitors. The remaining 6,898 permits were sold to area residents.

The economic benefits are generated by providing the facilities, goods and services the vacationing ATV riders need when they arrive in the region. In order to get the most economic development from the trail, entrepreneurs must take advantage of the opportunities, Lusk said.

“There has to be a steady flow of investments as we grow,” he said. “When you look at trail riders, their number one expenditure is lodging. Cabins are the trail riders’ number one preference. They want to stay in a cabin, so we need investments all over the system for more cabins…

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