A few months ago, my dad asked if I wanted to go ATVing at the Hatfield–McCoy Trails for the weekend. As a first time ATVer, I’d never heard of the Hatfield–McCoy Trails, but I was excited to try something new and spend some time outside. I love the outdoors but normally take in nature slowly on foot and not speeding by on four wheels. Being a newbie to the ATV world, I had no idea what to expect.
Gearing up for the ATV trail
My dad is an experienced ATV rider, so I knew he would have all the necessary gear. He showed up to the trails hauling a trailer full of dirt bikes, ATVs, and even a UTV. And he didn’t go light on the safety gear either—helmets, boots, gloves, and goggles were all packed too.
Whether you’re a newbie like me, an experienced rider, or just want a refresher, this list of safety gear will help keep you protected on the trails:
- Long sleeves and pants
Find more ATV safety tips here.
Getting the proper trail permits
Before we could hit the Hatfield-McCoy trail system, we needed to get a permit. You’ll want to double–check the rules for wherever you’re going to find out if any permits are required before you get out on the trail. You can buy the sticker that goes on your helmet for the Hatfield-McCoy Trials there or order them online in advance, but everyone riding is required to have one.
Hitting the trails
The cabin we were staying in for the weekend was located on the 700–mile trail system. The ATV trails are all numbered and follow a color-coded system that identifies each trail’s level of difficulty. Green indicates the easiest, blue indicates medium difficulty, and black indicates the most difficult. Our cabin was located on a blue trail, which, as a beginner, initially made me nervous.
However, my dad showed me the ropes and helped me gain confidence. One of the biggest tips he gave me was to stand up while riding to help absorb the shock of the bumps. Once I did this, riding became a lot more comfortable, and we were able to cover a lot more ground, although we did ride into the town to fill up our gas tanks, grab some snacks, and take a rest.
Find more tips for a first-time ATV rider here.
Expectations versus reality
Once we were back at the cabin, I took off all my gear and it immediately became obvious how sore I was from operating the ATV all day. My shoulders and hands were exhausted, and my thumb was cramping from pressing the throttle for hours. Riding ATVs is much more physical than I expected. The rest of our group came back grumbling about how sore they were too—it was a relief to learn it wasn’t just because I was a newbie. It’s all part of the experience!
Now that I’ve learned how much fun ATVing is (even if I was left a bit sore), I can’t wait to go again! And with over 700 miles of trail to explore at Hatfield–McCoy, I see many more trips in my future.