Oct. 9th and 10th
Every year for the last 15 years, off-road enthusiasts have made the pilgrimage to the West Virginia Hatfield and McCoy trail system for the annual event known as Trail Fest. Started in Logan, WV in 2000 and now held in the town of Gilbert, Trail Fest has become one of the nation’s premier events due to the availability of the expansive trail system and the warm reception from the town of Gilbert. When considering a UTV event to attend, Trail Fest often rates among the highest of events, that if given the chance, most enthusiasts would jump at the chance to attend.
This year the town of Gilbert took on the sizable task of managing all aspects of the Trail Fest event. Due to recent changes in WV state policy, Hatfield and McCoy could no longer be the Trail Fest managing entity which gave the town of Gilbert the opportunity to step in and take full ownership. Long time Hatfield and McCoy employee and the person who started Trail Fest, Mike Pinkerton had to step back into a consulting position allowing Gilbert to continue to build on the success he nurtured.
One of the main reasons Trail Fest is a success is directly related to the close proximity of the infamous Hatfield and McCoy trail system. The Hatfield and McCoy system includes over 700 miles of mild to rugged trails and those who are familiar with the system say it includes some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the country. The trail system connects the counties of Mingo, Logan, Boone, Wyoming and McDowell. Around 40,000 trail permits are sold every year with around 5,000 of those being sold during the Trail Fest event weekend alone.
The Hatfield and McCoy trails are still under development, estimates of the completed trail system are expected to include nearly 2000 miles of trail once completed. The trails are maintained by dedicated Hatfield and McCoy personnel and are clearly marked by difficulty level. The system has also been professionally mapped and includes up to date maps at each trail head showing any new changes to the route.
The town of Gilbert is fortunate to have the Larry Joe Harless community building available which makes for the perfect Trail Fest base camp location. Having a nice area to host off trail activities is essential for any event. Vendors are a large part of the Trail Fest experience, bringing in OEM manufacturers like Polaris, John Deere and Suzuki, all of which were on hand demoing their latest machines. Many aftermarket parts and accessories manufacturers were also on hand selling their goods and services.
Any good event requires activities to keep attendees entertained, Trail Fest always had something going on. There was live music, a mud pit, drag strip, a zip line, small train rides for the kids as well as local vendors with arts, crafts and food. There was a poker run and dice run for cash as well as a poker night. Saturday was the annual parade through the town that brought in a huge crowd; after dark was a nice fireworks display.
Many of the citizens that reside in Gilbert really put their hearts into making Trail Fest a special event. With the coal mining industry on the decline, it has become important to maximize the tourism industry in West Virginia. Trail Fest brings in thousands of tourists and has a good economic impact on the area. Gilbert considers themselves to be “the best ATV/UTV friendly town” in the nation, allowing riders to drive their machines throughout the town which really adds to the experience.
If you are a serious UTV enthusiast then make sure you add Trail Fest to your “must do” list. Just be aware that camping and lodging are on a first come first serve basis and often sell out many months prior to the event. It is also important to research the permitting and safety requirements prior to attending as there are several requirements that are enforced.
For more information about 2016 Trail Fest click here. (add the link to “click here” http://www.trailsheaven.com/National-Trail-Fest/Home.aspx
For more information about the Hatfield and McCoy Trail System click here. (add the link to the “click here” http://www.trailsheaven.com )