ETHEL, W.Va. — Enthusiasts of four-wheel drive vehicles of all manners gathered at the Hatfield and McCoy Tail System’s Bearwallow trailhead Friday, March 25 to commemorate the opening of the trail to full-sized SUVs and trucks.
Jeeps of all shapes and sizes joined with ATVs and side-by-side vehicles on a tour of some of southern West Virginia’s finest rugged mountain passes.
Thick, sludge-like clay, steep ascents and narrow spaces challenged locals, drivers from the Jeep of WV Club and tourists from as far as New York.
West Virginia legislator Mark Maynard brought his own modified 1998 Jeep Cherokee to the opening and provided a ride through the hills for members of the press.
Maynard noted he has driven Jeeps on trails as far away as Moab, Utah adding he was excited about the prospects for tourism surrounding full-sized vehicles on the trail.
Glenn Yost, president of the Hatfield & McCoy Trails board of directors, noted the opening of the Bearwallow Trail to full-sized vehicles was the first time such vehicles were allowed on the trail system since a trail in Boone County was forced to close.
In his remarks to the crowd, West Virginia state senator Art Kirkendoll commented land owners Greg Wooten and Yost made the idea of the trails possible by allowing access to their land.
Kirkendoll also noted he positive on the outlook for the future of the trail system and tourism in the area saying, “I think the next five years is the next step we take. I want to work with our enhanced board…and expand trails in all these counties and get things where they need to be.”
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]