By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A new 80-mile segment of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system is expected to bring ATV riders and economic development to three McDowell County municipalities.
Jeff Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail Authority, said trail officials are working with the town of War and the McDowell County Commission on a new 80-mile segment of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system, Lusk said.
“We are working on a system that will be developed in the town of War,” he said. “It will have 80 miles of trail and connect the towns of War, Gary and the city of Welch. It will be a stand-alone system the day it opens but we eventually hope to connect it to our Indian Ridge system, which runs outside the town of Northfork.”
Lusk said town and county officials approached the trail authority with the idea of building the new trail system.
“We were actually approached by the city of War — and citizens there as well — and the county commission to develop a system in that area to help promote economic development in and around the town,” Lusk said. “The support we have received from the town of War and county commission has been fantastic. They are both a great help in getting this project done.”
Trails already in place will make construction of the new system easier, Lusk said.
“There is really nice land mass there to do it on,” he said. “There are a lot of existing trails there, so we won’t have to spend as much time building those. There is very little building we have to do.”
So far, Lusk said the trail authority has begun working on attaining grant funds and right-of-way agreements in preparation for construction.
“We have also been successful in getting grants to improve the system,” he said. “We have to get landowner agreements signed and a notice to proceed with our grants, but we are optimistic we will be able to develop it. This will be a great system. We haven’t chosen a name yet, but it will have a unique name for that trail system. Naming the system is one of the last things we do and it will make it readily recognizable for that geographic area.”
McDowell County will not be the first of the nine counties in the Hatfield-McCoy system to have multiple trails.
“We have two trail systems in Logan County and two in Mingo,” Lusk said. “The more communities you connect through the trail system the more opportunities there are for expansion and entrepreneurs. This will help the overall health of the trail system.”
Having a second trail could also attract more riders, Lusk said.
“This will enhance the ridership on trails already there,” he said. “Riders will want to come to that area because they will have multiple options. Once they are interconnected it will make a huge difference. It will allow people a multi-day adventure in that system.”
The Indian Ridge Trail system in McDowell County opened in 2007 and has approximately 63 miles of trail. The Indian Ridge system also connects with both the Pocahontas Trail system in Mercer County and the Pinnacle Creek Trail system in Wyoming County.
— Contact Kate Coil at email@example.com