Keeping the trails hot for ATV Riders

images1ATV rider
Through the mud…

Adam Trump, 26, of Montcalm is shown here spinning his ATV through a pond at the Buffalo Trail Resort in Bluewell. Trump works as a groundsman and on the cabin construction crew at the resort, but enjoys the fringe benefit of getting out on the resort’s trails to tend to the herd of buffalo when called upon to do so.

BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

 

BLUEWELL — The streets of Bluefield were alive on Saturday morning as pickup trucks and recreational vehicles hauling all-terrain vehicles meandered through town looking for the nearest ATV trail.

The traditional fanfare that would typically herald the start of a tourist season — the newspapers, radios and television stations — are not in play. Old fashioned methods like word-of-mouth advertising as well as an explosion of chatter on social media alert riders to the best places to stay and the best trails available.

“Bluefield is really in a great place to take advantage of the growth in ATV ridership,” Jeffrey Lusk said. Lusk is the executive director of the Hatfield McCoy Authority that operates the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System. “It’s the southernmost point of access to our trail system. It is the first stop that all of the riders who are coming from the south get to.”

Lusk is passionate about the system and closely tracks the riders. “What really surprised me this year was that the number of permits we sold in the first quarter of this calendar year actually grew by three percent,” he said. “That may not seem like much until you consider the kind of weather we had in February and March. With that in mind, I think it was a great quarter and the largest growth is right there in the Mercer County area.”

Lusk said that the profile of the ATV-riding public is going through an evolution with older riders, married couples and families joining the fun. “We still have the late-teen to 23-year-old daredevils riding the trails, but we have a lot more families and older adults riding.

“The technology of the great American manufacturing sector is producing machines that are more family friendly,” he said. “The side-by-sides with a steering wheel along with brake and accelerator pedals are set up more like the vehicles on the road now. This evolution of machinery has changed the face of our riders.”

Bo Williams, property manager of Buffalo Trail Resort on Lorton Lick Road in Bluewell agreed with Lusk that the technology of the available machines is changing quickly.

“An RV came in (recently) that had two, one-seater ATVs on a trailer,” Williams said on a ride to one of the fields where the buffalo actually roam. Williams was cautious not to get too close to Jabba, a 3,000-pound bull who apparently doesn’t take too kindly to visitors getting too close to the cows and calves that he roams with.

Both of them had roll bars to protect the rider, a steering wheel and throttle and brake pedals,” he said. “To me, that represents a huge development in the state of the equipment out here.”