Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia’s Hatfield-McCoy Trails

February 4th, 2013 by John Coyle

 
 
P

lead-banner
It was just before five PM on highway 17 in Logan West Virginia. I had the throttle pinned on Kawasaki’s 750 Brute Force quad, the speedo was flipping between 69 and 71, and there was a cop behind me. Fortunately, the policeman was there to escort all the riders on Kawasaki’s press junket and not to throw me in the slammer for ripping down the highway on a quad. I’d spent the day riding the Hatfield-McCoy trails, and let me tell you, it was some of the most fun I’d had all year.

Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails  Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails  Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails

There are 600 miles of trails on the Hatfield-McCoy system—making it one of the world’s largest—and West Virginia goes out of its way to make riders welcome. Logan is an ATV-friendly town, which means you can legally ride dirt bikes, quads, and UTVs on the city streets. I didn’t do it, but you can even hit up the drive through if you want! How cool is that? It makes sense for the cities to be so accommodating,  as the tourism provided by ATV riders is a huge boon to the local economies.

Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails  Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails  Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails

I’d never been to West Virginia before, and it’s probably the hilliest place I’ve ever seen. One of the guides working with our group mentioned that if you were to flatten the state out, it would be bigger than Texas. We were in the heart of coal mining country, and while we were driving to and from the trails, I saw a bunch of trucks catering to the guys who work down in the mines. In Los Angeles, these would be selling tacos, but there they stocked jump suits with reflective strips and miners lights. Since I find the idea of going down in a mine terrifying, I was pretty happy we were going to spend all of our time above ground.

Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails

While the weather had been wet in the days before my visit, the skies were clear when we hit the trails, and it couldn’t have made for better riding conditions. The rains kept the dust from being overwhelming, and there were still plenty of puddles to splash through. After all, what ATV rider doesn’t like playing in mud puddles? Earlier in the year, I’d gone on another trip with Kawasaki—this one up to Mount Shasta in California—where I’d gotten to experience the Teryx 4, but I was even more excited to get some seat time on the Brute Force quad, and the big Kawi didn’t disappoint.

Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails

The 750 V-Twin provides plenty of torque, and it comes on immediately. I’m a speed freak, and while we were bombing through the woods, I never felt that I needed more power—I was too concerned with keeping my ass out the rough off to the sides of the trail. My background comes from evaluating cars, and one of the things that’s been so impressive about the Kawasaki products I’ve experienced is how well the company has handled implementing technologies which automakers have generally missed on.

Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails Almost Heaven: Riding West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trails

For example, most cars with CVTs— continuously variable transmissions—are horrible to drive. They always sound like they’re hunting for gears, and from a performance standpoint, generally feel like they’ve taken cars back 20 or 30 years. But just as it did in the Teryx, the unit in the Brute Force performed fantastically, never missing a beat despite the constantly changing terrain and my often erratic application of the throttle. And while assisted steering is another area where car makers often drop the ball, the machine’s electric power steering was excellent as well. While the 700 pound quad hardly felt like a paperclip, the EPS made it surprisingly easy to control, and let me focus on the trail and obstacles as opposed to aching shoulders.

If you haven’t been to the Hatfield-McCoy trail system, you should definitely schedule a trip down to experience the gorgeous trails and Southern hospitality. Thanks so much to Kawasaki to letting me experience this amazing adventure! Check out some more pics below!

 
 
P