Jeep trails proposed for Kanawha County area

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Officials for the Hatfield-McCoy trail system want to build an off-road trail facility for full-sized vehicles within a few miles of Charleston.The proposed off-road vehicle park will be discussed at a Kanawha County Commission meeting on Thursday. Hatfield-McCoy Trails Executive Director Jeffrey Lusk is expected to outline the project, said Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy.Kanawha County officials have been talking about expanding The Hatfield-McCoy Trails system into Kanawha County for several years, Hardy said. The system is made up of more than 500 miles of trails for all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes, hikers and horseback riding in nine southern West Virginia counties.But Lusk said none of the existing trails are big enough to accommodate full-sized vehicles like Jeeps and Hummers. He said trail system planners think off-roaders are the next untapped resource of trail users, and predicts thousands of people a year will come to West Virginia just to use the trails."We just believe there's a big market for that," he said.Lusk said the facility would need to be located within 20 miles of Charleston, because off-roaders will want to stay in area hotels and take advantage of area restaurants and shopping.Lusk said the biggest obstacle to building the park would be finding enough land in the area.
"The closer you get to Charleston, the more scarce it gets," he said. "You've got to have anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 contiguous acres."There's only a half-dozen sites [in the area] you could possibly look at," Lusk said.Lusk said the most promising sites would be along Corridor G in the Alum Creek area, and along U.S. 60 and W.Va. 61 in the eastern part of the county. He said planners hope to pick a site, nail down funding and have the facility up and running within a year."It's the next project on the list for us," he said.Lusk expects the park to cost between $150,000 and $200,000 to build.The Hatfield-McCoy Trails system is currently the second-largest trail system in the country. Planners hope to eventually expand the system to include about 2,000 miles of trails.Reach Rusty Marks at or 304-348-1215.
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