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By: Tim Donaldson

Hatfield-McCoy Trails – Rock House

Hatfield-McCoy Trails – Rock House
(Part of’s Feature Coverage of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails)


In 1989, a vision was established to build a premier trail system.  Likened to a “field of dreams”, developers of the concept wondered whether people would support the project.  After years of study, legislative research, and land development – the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System was born.  With the trails first opening in 2000, the trail system has grown to include 500+ miles of trails that span southern West Virginia.  Through continued expansion efforts, future plans include the networking of additional trails with an estimated escalation to over 2000 miles of trails.

Over the past year, has had the opportunity to investigate the 6 trails systems that make up the Hatfield-McCoy Trails.  Consisting of Little Coal River, Indian Ridge, Bearwallow, Buffalo Mountain, Pinnacle Creek, and Rockhouse – each trail system has distinguishing features that makes each one unique in their own right.   Little Coal River is the family-friendly venue with a variety of recreational activities nearby and easier trails.  Indian Ridge is the place to escape, providing a sense of remote isolation.  Challenge-seekers and the less faint-of-heart can tackle the extreme, rocky terrain at Bearwallow.  Centered in the middle of a historic district and taking a step back in time is Buffalo Mountain, and Pinnacle Creek is full of stunning scenery and breathtaking views.

With such diversity, yet conformance to the world-class standards which separate the Hatfield-McCoy Trails from any other trail system, it is only fitting that we’ve completed our journey with the Rockhouse Trail System – the place where it all started.  Located centrally to all of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, it is a hub of activities, and the two local community connectors, Man and Gilbert, make for great base camps when visiting the other trail systems.  It is just a short journey through either town to lodging, food, fuel, attractions, and other convenient amenities.  Gilbert is especially notable, boasting the self-proclaimed title of most ATV-friendly community in the U.S. and host to Hatfield-McCoy’s National Trail Fest.

While there is plenty to do in both towns, it’s all about the trails for ATV enthusiasts.  The Rockhouse Trail System features the most mileage of any of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails.  Showcasing 92+ miles of trails – there are family-friendly easy trails, pulse-pounding difficult trails, and plenty of scenic overlooks.  Trail breakdowns include 53% greenest (easiest), 22% blue (more difficult), 13% black (most difficult), 5% red/black (extreme difficult), and 7% orange (single-track only).  The Rockhouse Trail System is really the culmination of all of the other Hatfield-McCoy Trails, combining all the individual distinctiveness of the other trail systems into one.

After 9 years, visionaries of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails can be sure that the trail system has been a hit.  2009 is turning into a record year for permit sales, reflecting the efforts of the Trail’s management, administrative, and support staff.  Though the end of the year is quickly approaching, fall is one most scenic times to visit the Hatfield-McCoy Trails.  A 2009 Hatfield-McCoy Trail Permit costs $26.50 (WV residents) and $50.00 (non-WV residents) and are good for the balance of the year.  Make the Rockhouse Trail System your central stop when visiting each of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails.

A special thank you goes to Bill Reed, one of the original trailblazers of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, for being my personal guide while visiting the trails.  When in Gilbert, be sure to check out Bill’s Mountain Breeze Motel ( – a place where you can sit around a campfire in the parking lot talking about the day, learning about the local lore, or just hanging out with newfound friends.  It’s just another day at the office, for these guys!

For more information about the Rockhouse Trail System, local amenities, and other information about the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, visit

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