Mud Pit Labor Day

Visitors from Ohio pull out of the Mud Pit ATV resort Friday to begin their Labor Day holiday weekend on the Hatfield-McCoy Trails.

BRAMWELL — Despite losing months of ATV traffic due to COVID-19, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail has seen a resurgence of ridership ever since the trail reopened for riders last May.

Gov. Jim Justice closed the Hatfield-McCoy Trail and all lodges at state parks on March 20 to help reduce the number of positive coronavirus (COVID-19) appearing in West Virginia. At that time, every positive case of the virus had been linked to out-of-state travel. 

The governor reopened the ATV trail system on May 21, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend. Out-of-state pickup trucks hauling trailers loaded with ATVS and UTVs quickly became common sights in Mercer County and McDowell County again while lodgers dealt with phone calls and text messages from potential guests wanting reservations and more information.

Visitors returning to the Hatfield-McCoy Trail are given guidelines to help them avoid COVID-19 exposure while enjoying the trails. Tourists coming back to the region have said that maintaining social distancing is easier when riding the trails than it is at other vacation venues such as beaches.

“Since our May 21 reopening, we’ve recovered over 80 percent of our revenue losses from the closure,” said Jeffrey Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority. “We’ve had the best June and the best July and the best August in the history of the trail system. We’re hoping to end this year, if everything continues like this – fingers crossed – with the same sales as last year, which would mean we had a huge recovery. That’s our optimistic outlook, so we’re really hoping to get to where we were last year. That would prove that we had a very successful reopening.”

Last year, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail sold at total of 56,258 trail permits.

“If we end up selling the same amount we sold last year, that would be a success story under the pandemic conditions,” Lusk stated.

The trail authority counts the number of permits sold from mid-November to mid-November. The Labor Day weekend, one of the busiest times of the year, saw plenty of ATV tourists making the trip to southern West Virginia.

“We’ve got until Nov. 14,” he replied when asked how long the trail system had to meet last year’s figure. The 2020 trail permit will be sold until Nov. 14, and the new 2021 trail permit will go on sale Nov. 15.

“It really exceeded all our expectations,” Lusk said. “We anticipated a strong opening, but we never thought it would be as strong as what it was.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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