Hatfield-McCoy Trail sees increase in ATV riders despite COVID numbers

LOGAN COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Despite the uptick in COVID-19 numbers throughout the state, the ATV business is as busy as ever.

Trails throughout the state were shut down on March 21. Ahead of the most profitable time of the year, there was no telling what that would mean for the business going forward.

“It was devastating for us, because we are a tourist attraction,” said Hatfield-McCoy Executive Director Jeffrey Lusk. “The spring is a huge time our our ridership. We understand it was necessary that it was done, but it is devastating to our lodging providers, to the trail system and to all of the folks that depend on our visitors to come here.”

On May 8, it was announced that trails would be allowed to re-open on May 21. There was uncertainty if riders would come back. However, with attainable social distancing, riders from all over were excited to get back on the trails.

“You can’t get any more social distancing than this,” said trail rider Dave Palmatier. “You’ve got mountains between us. There are chances you won’t see anyone for hours. You’re outdoors. You’re not touching anything, so not really worried about germs of any sort. Here, it’s open, it’s free. Not many setbacks down here.”

The distancing afforded to ATV riders has resulted in a surge over the course of the summer. The Hatfield-McCoy Trail has almost recovered all of its losses from the two month shutdown.

“We may actually have a slight increase this year as folks look towards the trails as an alternative to the beach vacation,” Lusk said. “As an alternative to that cruise vacation. Some place that they can safely bring their families. There’s all of the potential in the world, if we’re not shut down this fall, that we could actually see numbers that exceed our numbers last year. People are really looking at the trails as a vacation they can take that’s a safe vacation for their family.”

The Hatfield-McCoy Trail is optimistic that exposure to ATV riding due to COVID could lead to consistent growth in coming years.