By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
When the Pocahontas Trail section of the Hatfield-McCoy Trial opened last May, the buzz word among trail officials was that once the trail was open “just add water” and the riders will come. Sunday proved to be a perfect day for four-wheeler riding — wet and cool — certainly worthy of the recent designation by National Geographic Traveler as one of the Best Spring Trips of 2013 destinations.
“This is our first down here, but we’re going to tell all our friends back home and try to get a big group to come back down with us,” John Ande of Jersey Shore, N.J. said as he and his son, Sean Ande, ate lunch at the picnic tables beside the Riverside Grill in Bramwell. “It was a little steeper than we thought it would be, but it’s great. We’ll probably be back in about a month or so when we can all get some time off.”
Jeff Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails said that the Easter weekend tends to be a busy weekend on the trail. “Easter is a great week for us,” Lusk said. “People love that Pocahontas Trail system. It connects with 300 miles of trails in the area.”
Lusk said he was thrilled by the National Geographic Traveler designation. “It is a big deal for us,” he said. “That’s like, we made it! The National Geographic doesn’t just write an article about everything. We’re humbled to be included in the group of Best Spring Trips for 2013. It’s an honor.”
Along with National Geographic Traveler’s designation, Lusk said the Hatfield-McCoy Trails has earned high rankings from Dirt Wheels magazine and Fisher’s ATV World. “We really appreciate the recognition we have received,” he said. “With more than 600 miles of trails available for riders, there are plenty of places to go.”
Rodney Doss of Pelham, N.C., said that he has been coming up to West Virginia to ride the so-called “outlaw trails” for 10 years or more, but added, “this is the first time I’ve been here on this trail,” he said. “It’s good.”
Lusk said that 98.6 percent of Hatfield-McCoy Trail riders say they will come back. However, he said that there is a need for additional lodging in the area of the trail head at the old Bluestone School in Bramwell.
“Lodging infrastructure is where we are not where we need to be,” Lusk said. “We have a lot of riders coming here, and we need to improve that.” For example, John and Sean Ande said they “tented it” on this trip.
“The lodging providers we have are getting good volumes,” Lusk said. “We have 600 beds with 40 lodging providers. We’re seeing entrepreneurial efforts on a micro-scale, and that’s good, but the supply-and-demand curve is really off right now. We need some big investors to put in a facility with a couple hundred beds. There are some available properties on U.S. Route 52 that could serve a site like that.”
Lusk continues to be impressed with the people who ride the Hatfield-McCoy Trails. “Our riders are great folks,” he said.
“The bigger day down here was on Saturday,” Don Langley of Reedsville, N.C., said. “We saw some big groups out on the trails. One group had about 50 riders all riding together. That was an impressive site.”
— Contact Bill Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org