The Hatfield-McCoy Trail is rolling toward a new milestone.

Tickets for the 2020 riding season are now sale, and the new year will mark the 20th anniversary of the off-road ATV trail system.

Wow! Has it already been 20 years?

Jeff Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail Authority, said the first southern West Virginia ATV trail was opened in October of the year 2000. Since that time, the trail system has experienced 20 years of tourism growth with more than 53,000 riding permits sold in the year 2019 alone.

“For us, it’s huge,” Lusk said of the looming 20th anniversary celebration. “If you look at the first year, it was certainly a pilot project. Nobody knew if a single person would come there to ride. You don’t know.”

But those out-of-town visitors did make the long trek to southern West Virginia, and in the first year of the trail system’s operation, more than 5,000 riding permits were sold. That was a good number for the first year of operation.

“We knew just because of the initial interest that we really had something successful and we’ve built off of that success,” Lusk said.

Today, it is a common sight to see out-of-state vehicles hauling their ATVs into the region each week. Many of those out-of-town visitors are coming from the Interstate 77 and Interstate 81 corridors. And a large number of those tourists make the ATV trail system in Mercer County the first stop on their off-road riding adventure.

The success of the Hatfield-McCoy system speaks to the longevity of the region’s ATV tourism engine. It’s now one the area’s largest selling points to out-of-town visitors.

Today, our region has become a destination for ATV tourists across the country. Already, riders from all 50 states have enjoyed the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system in Mercer County alone, and thousands more are traveling to ride the ATV trails in neighboring McDowell, Wyoming, Logan and Mingo counties.

We expect these ridership numbers will continue to increase in the months and years ahead.

But for now, we look forward to the 20th anniversary celebration of the Hatfield-McCoy system.

Twenty years is a milestone certainly worthy of celebration.

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