bramwell — Day one of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail’s reopening saw four-wheeler tourists arriving after long drives, but having extra travel days should give the Memorial Day weekend visitors three full days to enjoy the trails, one promoter of the trail system said Thursday.
Gov. Jim Justice announced last week that the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail, which was closed in March due to the pandemic, could reopen Thursday. The area’s ATV resorts were expecting an influx of guests.
“It’s going to be a great weekend,” said Executive Director Jeffrey Lusk of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail Authority. “Everybody we’ve talked to is full, so they’re rolling in today.”
The fact Justice set the reopening day for Thursday helps ATV tourists make the most of their Memorial Day weekend and makes a trip into southern West Virginia more appealing, Lusk said. Riders could spend all of Friday, Saturday and today exploring the trails without having to worry about driving for hours later to get home.
“It’s a huge opening today,” he said. “It allows folks a travel day to get here. That gives them three full days of riding over the weekend, and that makes it a true three-day weekend. They can ride Friday, Saturday and Sunday and have a leisurely trip back Monday. Our folks seem to be full for the weekend, which is just great.”
ATV resorts started getting telephone calls and emails about reservations as soon as Justice announced the trails were reopening. Owner Bruce Sizemore of Black Oak ATV Resort in Rock said he lost a lot of reservations in March when the trail system closed.
“I’ve gotten quite a bit of them back, but I still haven’t gotten back all of the ones that were committed already to come,” he estimated. “I’m probably back about 70 percent to what it was before the virus. I don’t think I’ll know the true impact for quite a while. I went through two months with no income, no rentals and no advertising.”
Sizemore said he expected to see more riders later in the season. One reservation was canceled because of a family emergency, but he was speaking with other potential guests. Having a definite reopening date was good, but it was still short notice for some riders.
“I think we’ll actually see a bit of a surge for the next several weeks,” he said. “I think it’s going to get to a good steady pace and stay that way.”
Typically in the middle of the summer when it’s dry and dusty, ATV resorts see a little slowdown, but this year could be different with many people wanting to get back to riding the trails, Sizemore said.
Restaurants and other businesses were preparing Thursday for the return of ATV tourists. Manager Mandy Fink of The Corner Shop in Bramwell said they had seen small groups of people coming into the restaurant the first day the trails were open.
“We’ve pretty much seen people talking about coming this weekend and a lot of posts about coming this weekend but haven’t seen a whole lot of traffic yet,” she said.
Like other businesses, The Corner Shop was preparing for the Memorial Day weekend and the coming weeks.
“We will be open and we’ve actually extended our hours from 11 (a.m.) to 7 (p.m.) Monday through Thursday, and 11 (a.m.) to 9 (p.m.) Friday and Saturday,” Fink said. “We’ve got a bunch of additional tables and umbrellas for dining outdoors, and we’re building a patio right now out back to seat more.”