By Marcus Constantino, Four Wheeler Heaven
Ask any ATV rider, and they’ll tell you why spring, summer or fall is their favorite season to hit the trails. But winter on the Hatfield-McCoy Trails brings a fun and unique experience that you can likely enjoy for much cheaper than the same trip in the summer!
Unlike some other trail systems, the Hatfield-McCoy Trails are open year-round. That means you can bundle up and trek through southern West Virginia’s mountains in the snow! Before you go, though, it’s important to know how to prepare you and your machine for the trek into a winter wonderland of trails.
The first and most obvious bit of advice is, prepare to be cold! Wear multiple layers, with an outer layer of waterproof clothing, gloves, goggles and boots. Frostbite can happen very quickly if you have exposed skin, or if any of your clothing is not waterproof and gets wet! Even if you have a heated, enclosed side-by- side, make sure you’re wearing thermal, waterproof clothing, and ALWAYS make sure you have your first aid kit and emergency supplies.
Though it’s fun to slip and slide around in the snow, remember to respect the trails and the weather conditions! Traction will be more limited around turns and on steep hills, so you may want to skip the most difficult trails in the snow. Snow can conceal hazards on the trail, such as small trees or frozen-over mud holes. Iced-over water can be especially dangerous; even thick ice can break under hundreds of pounds of weight. That could cause your machine to get damaged by broken ice, and could cause you to go for an icy swim!
The most important thing to know about riding in the snow is knowing when not to go. Check the weather forecast multiple times in the days before your ride. If heavy snow is in the forecast, or if the snow already on the ground comes up to your ATV’s undercarriage, it’s best to try again another time.
Not all lodging and restaurants that cater to ATV riders are open during the winter season, but many of the lodging companies that stay open through the winter offer significant discounts during the winter months! Check out Visit Mercer County’s lodging page to find local places to stay, and enjoy the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in a whole new way!