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By: Claude Taylor

Real Mountain Trail Riding!

Yes, this is the real McCoy. I have ridden the Hatfield McCoy Trail System five times, and it was better each time. It is really amazing how they have put this all together. The fact that we can ride in the town as well as ride miles and miles of well-marked scenic trails says "welcome to our trails." I go with three other friends twice a year, in April and October. Being of the senior ages with young enthusiasm an as we haven't grown-up yet, this is what we do. Living in south Florida we go from flatlanders to mountaineers in fifteen hours. It's a long trip, but worth every minute of it. There is something new added each time we go. There is a new KOA Campground in Ashland, West Virginia. That is where the newest trail is--Indian Ridge Trails.

We have ridden Indian Ridge Trails twice, once in the cold and wet rain in April and once in a dry and dusty ride in October. Indian Ridge is a good trail for the first-time easy riders. It doesn't have as many exciting blue trails as some of the others. The green trails are long and sometimes road-like, but it's still trail riding at its best.

Browning Fork Tunnel
Browning Fork Tunnel

Our all-time favorite is Buffalo Mountain Trails in Matewan, West Virginia, on the Kentucky border. The trails are very rough, tight, and many steep climbs with many horseshoe turns. This is a very physical ride. Some of the greens we rode should be classified as blues. The trails always change due to weather and use. We have ridden the same trails more than once, and they were different each time. Riding the opposite direction is a much different ride because of the up and down hills. There are some narrow edges of the mountain riding so you can see how far down it is. It is the most scenic ride, and there is an underground coal fire burning on that mountain, something to smell and see.

The always fun ride is on Browning Fork Tails. We ride from the town of Gilbert, leaving early morning riding the trails to the town of Man and have lunch. The greatest place to have lunch is the "Hillbilly Fire Pit." On the way up there are a few blue trails or I should say dark blue, which should be classified black. One is a steep rocky climb with big rocks and loose rocks in the climb and in three stages making it three really rough and breath-taking climbs. There are two full days of riding in the Browning Fork Trails and things to see are Rockhouse Rock and some of the old coal mines and very scenic trails.

We like staying in Gilbert, West Virginia because it is a central location for three trail systems: Browning Fork and thirty minutes away, each direction, are Buffalo Mountain Trails and Dingess Rum Trails or better known as Bear Wallow. You will find that every trail system has more than one name, some known by their trailhead name. Gilbert has everything you need, Mountain Breeze Motel, an ATV parts and repair shop, and at the end of the trail a much needed liquor store.

Dingess Rum Trails are our second favorite trail ride. They are very technical and ever changing and mostly all blue, more difficult, lots of fun. The trailhead is in the town of Logan. This trail system has a lot of trail closings at times due to the coal mining activity and blasting. I have to say it; those trails are a real blast to ride! There is a new section open on the other side of Highway 17, and they are all blues and blacks and I mean dark blues and midnight blacks.

We do all of the riding with two-wheel drive sport ATVs and one 4-wheel drive utility that is very helpful at times for us two-wheelers. Our rides are a 650 DS Bombardier, 350 Yamaha Warrior, 250 Suzuki Quadrunner, and a 400 Suzuki Eiger. We think anybody can ride these trails with four-wheel drive but, it takes a real good rider to do it with two-wheel drive ATVs.

Well, there are two trail systems we haven't ridden yet, Little Coal River and Pinnacle Creek--maybe next time.

Happy trails!


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