More information on the new WV ATV law, Pocahontas – Indian Ridge connector

Despite the new trail maps just released, riders should know that Windmill Gap Road (formerly Trail 15) remains open to traffic, and can legally be used to travel between the Pocahontas and Indian Ridge trail systems!

Windmill Gap Road (County Road 52/1) is a public road, and therefore it must remain open even as surrounding areas are closed off due to an active mining operation. If you visit Hatfield-McCoy Trails’ website, get a printed trail map, or visit the roadway yourself, you’ll notice a trail post noting that the road is no longer a trail. However, West Virginia Code §17F-1-1 reads, in full (emphasis added)…

(b) An all-terrain vehicle may be operated upon the shoulder, or as far to the right on the pavement as possible when there is not enough shoulder to safely operate, on any road, street or highway referred to in subdivision (2), subsection (a) of this section other than an interstate highway for a distance not to exceed ten miles to travel between a residence or lodging and off-road trails, fields and areas of operation, including stops for food, fuel, supplies and restrooms, if:

(1) The vehicle is operated at speeds of twenty-five miles per hour or less; and

(2) The vehicle is operated at any time from sunset to sunrise the all-terrain vehicle must be equipped with headlights and taillights which must be illuminated.

Therefore, Windmill Gap Road will remain passable to all traffic between the current Pocahontas Trailhead in Coaldale and Wrong Turn Pizza on Windmill Gap. However, we urge all riders to keep off of “outlaw trails”  that come off of Windmill Gap Road, and beware of trucks and heavy equipment, as active mining may be happening on both sides of Windmill Gap Road! And as always, remember that this is a residential road and people live on the road, so please be courteous of those who live there by maintaining a safe speed and not kicking up dust near people’s homes!

We created an “unofficial” map of the Pocahontas Trail below, which includes Windmill Gap Road. This map is provided for reference only; riders are encouraged to seek out and use the official trail maps from for riding!

We also wanted to update riders on House Bill 2809, which was passed by the state Legislature and is expected to be signed into law soon by Governor Jim Justice. The bill adds a simple line to state law, stating “(e)ach trail user shall at all times remain within and on a designated and marked trail while within the Hatfield-McCoy Recreation Area.” It will also impose a $1,000 fine for violators of the new law, and a $2,000 fine for ATV operators who damage private property or “interferes with a landowner’s or lawful possessor’s use of the property.” We have been in contact with county officials and the Hatfield-McCoy Trails about this, and we have been told that this law is to discourage riders from riding on private property, including active mine operations. This new law should not impact riding on public roads between trails and food, lodging, fuel, etc. as allowed under the state law we shared above. However, we encourage all riders to research and be aware of all applicable state, county and/or municipal laws before riding!

Of course, Four Wheeler Heaven also connects to the Spearhead Trails in Tazewell County, Virginia, which are about 4 miles away from us. You will not be subject to these West Virginia laws on the Spearhead Trails, and we recommend the Spearhead Trails for groups with kids under the age of eight so that you can legally take your youngsters out on the trails! We have Spearhead Trails permits, as well as Hatfield-McCoy Trails permits, available when you book your accommodations online!

Though the new trail maps and laws can be confusing, we wanted to explain it in detail so that our guests know they can still safely and legally access the Indian Ridge trail system from Four Wheeler Heaven, just as they’ve always been able to! As always, you can call us at 855-5-TRAILS (855-587-2457) if you have any questions about West Virginia ATV laws, Hatfield-McCoy trail rules, trail access, or if you’re looking to book accommodations for your next ATV adventure!

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