Mud Pit Ready

The Mud Pit in Deering is seen ahead of the reopening of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail. Riders are expected to return this Memorial Day weekend.

BLUEWELL — After more than 60 days of inactivity and vanishing revenue, the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail and the businesses fueled by ATV tourism are getting ready for the return of the riders.

The trails which run through southern West Virginia’s counties were closed March 20 to help contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but Gov. Jim Justice announced recently that the trail system was reopening on May 21.

“We are beyond excited about that,” Jeffrey Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority. “We have been down for 62 days, March 20 to May 21. (Reopening) is an absolute blessing and we so appreciate the governor working with us to salvage Memorial Day Weekend.”

Last year, the trail system sold approximately 55,000 permits to use the trails and about 85 percent of those permits were sold to out-of-state. Many of these permits are sold during Memorial Day.

“It is a huge weekend for the trail system as are all the three-day weekends, but Memorial Day Weekend is a huge kick off to our summer riding season,” Lusk said. “We are going to get open this coming Thursday and it’s going to be great for our lodging providers.”

Justice emphasized when he announced the reopening that ATV businesses and tourists have to follow guidelines to help keep everyone safe while the pandemic continues.

“It’s really important that all of our Hatfield-McCoy businesses follow the state guidelines,” Lusk said. “If we want to continue to operate and stay in business, we have to do our part and follow the guidelines. We can’t stress that enough. We have to make sure we don’t have a flare up.”

Local ATV resorts started receiving phone calls and messages soon after Justice announced that the reopening date. The trails have been closed since midnight on March 20.

“The phones just rang nonstop,” said Donna Lowe, who owns the Mud Pit ATV Resort near Montcalm with her husband, Brian. “They had questions about the trails opening and making reservations for their trips. It’s been a very positive response and everybody seems eager to get back on the trails and do what southern West Virginia is known for, getting out on the trails.”

Justice said when he announced the reopening date that businesses and ATV tourists would need to observe social distancing guidelines and exercise other precautions.

Lowe said their resort was already giving their cabins a through “spring cleaning” every time guests checked out. Employees wear gloves while cleaning and sanitizing cabins for new guests.

“The masks are something new,” she stated. “We are doing that now for the cleaning of the cabins. We’ve just always done the things they’re requesting us to do, so not much has changed for us in the preparation of our cabins.”

The last two years have had their hard periods for ATV businesses. There was a problem during the fall of 2019 when part of the trail closed, and then again this year when the pandemic brought about a shutdown. Knowing that the trail will reopen has been a help.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

Recommended for you