hittin’ the trails in West Virginia

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Ashland ATV Resort Campsite

Ashland ATV Campground on the Hatfield McCoy Trails

The Hatfield McCoy Trail System is one of the largest off-road trail networks in the world, with more than 700 miles of trails in southern West Virginia. Scott has seen it featured on a couple of ATV shows over the years, so we decided to check it out while we were in this part of the country.

The project was established in 2000 to provide economic development opportunities in seven economically distressed counties. It’s grown to include eight professionally managed trail systems that attract thousands of OHV enthusiasts each year, providing much-needed jobs and income. (Read the economic impact study; the results are impressive.)

Hatfield McCoy Trail Ride

Hatfield McCoy Trail Ride

We chose the Ashland ATV Resort  in Northfork as our base camp. It’s the largest campground in the trail system and has big-rig-friendly, full-hookup sites and cabins. Expect Southern hospitality; I was called “darlin’” and “honey” within moments of our arrival. (It’s important to note that while the resort is specifically designed to accommodate the large toy haulers that are popular with the off-roading crowd, the road leading to it is not. Be prepared for a narrow, winding road with no shoulders and limited visibility. I’m glad we arrived well before dark.)

Northfork is near Bluefield, right on the Virginia border. The whole region is beautiful in the fall, with rolling, wooded hills. We were here the last week in October, a little past the peak for the foliage, but there were still lots of rich yellows, reds and greens to be seen. The Ashland Resort is on the Indian Ridge trail, which provides easy access to the Pocahontas and Pinnacle trails.  The weather has been a little disagreeable — we woke up to snow a couple of mornings — so we haven’t ridden quite as much as we’d like.

Coke float at the Corner Shop Diner in Bramwell

Coke float at the Corner Shop Diner in Bramwell

We made friends with a very nice couple camped next to us, which made riding a lot more fun. We rode to Bramwell for lunch and had a great time together. Bramwell, on the Pocahontas trail, was once considered the richest town in the U.S. for its size, with as many as 14 millionaires living there in the early 20th century. The mansions are well-preserved and it’s worth a stroll through town to enjoy. You can ride ATVs right up to, but not on, Main Street. There are big banners welcoming riders and plenty of parking.

The Corner Shop Diner was just what you hope to find in a historic town, complete with a soda fountain that dates back to 1915. I had the Elvis burger, topped with bacon, bar-be-cue sauce and an onion ring, and a Coke float. That sure hit the spot!

We each give a thumbs up to the Hatfield McCoy Trails. There’s a good mix of trails and they’re marked like ski runs: green, blue and black, plus orange/black for the most difficult and red for single track. We look forward to coming back again someday and exploring more of the area.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more Tales From the Empty Nest!

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