Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


August 23, 2012

Still growing

Hatfield-McCoy permit sales climb

— — The five-county Hatfield-McCoy Trail system in southern West Virginia is still growing despite a troubled national economy.

Permit sales along the five-county trail system are up 10 percent from this time last year, according to Hatfield-McCoy Trails Executive Director Jeff Lusk. That includes more than 1,000 permits that have already been sold for the new Pocahontas Trails in Mercer County.

The jump in permit sales is an encouraging sign, particularly considering that the permanent trailhead site won’t be operational until 2013. It is planned at the site of the old Bluestone School in Bramwell.

The trail business is proving to be good business for the small town of Bramwell, which is quickly becoming a new destination for off-road riders across the nation.

The town has already seen visitors from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Kentucky, according to Mayor Louise Stoker.

The recent airing of a segment of “Fisher’s ATV World” that focused on the town, and the new Pocahontas Trails segment of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail, has certainly helped to increase awareness of the trail system. And more national publicity is on the way.

Mike Pinkerton, marketing director for the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, said the Kawasaki company is planning additional national media rides for Tuesday, Aug. 28, and Wednesday, Aug. 29, in Bramwell to help draw additional attention to the Hatfield-McCoy system.

“It’s going to be their media guests from various television and ATV outlets across the country,” Pinkerton said. “They are going to be coming in and doing TV stories. So you will have about seven or eight big media outlets coming in there to ride.”

While the nation’s tourism industry has not been immune to the troubled national economy, the southern West Virginia-based trail system is still growing. And that’s a powerful testament to the unique drawing power of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system.

It’s also good news for the five counties that operate the trail system, including Mercer and McDowell.

But additional housing, including hotels, motels, ATV resorts and bed and breakfast facilities, are still needed in the five counties, according to Lusk. Lusk considers the lack of additional beds as the biggest stumbling block to further trail growth.

“We just don’t have enough capacity to accommodate the number of people who want to come in,” Lusk said last week. “It’s just a matter of getting those entrepreneurs excited about coming in.”

Local entrepreneurs who have been holding back on the development of additional hotels, motels, camp grounds, bed and breakfast facilities and other attractions near the trail system are urged to take advantage of this great tourism attraction for southern West Virginia.

And with the new Spearhead Trails being developed in neighboring Southwest Virginia, the sky could be the limit for ATV tourism growth in our region in the coming years.

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