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Hatfield McCoy Buffalo Mountain Ride Report


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Me and my friend Brian made the trek down to West Virginia to ride the Buffalo Mountain section of the Hatfield McCoy trails. The trip had it's up's and down's but sometimes that is what makes a trip into an adventure!

For lodging we decided on The Blue Goose Inn in downtown Matewan, WV. Bill is the owner and an avid dirt biker and trail (torture) designer for this section of the trails. It was a great place and designed for trail riders. He has a hose for spraying down your bike and is situated right on the main drag. Very clean and comfy..it's the reddish bldg on the right.

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A couple of things about Matewan. It's a pretty small downtown area. When we were there (3/10) Wingo's was closed and aside from a smaller breakfast/ lunch nicer restaurant there was no place to eat. Not even a small party store or grocery selection. There is a place for ice, beer and liquor which is open until 10pm but it's kinda a dead down town. Not that it's a bad thing, but we would have enjoyed a place to get a pizza or burger without leaving the downtown area. We did go to Lisa's pizza which was good and about 5 minutes from downtown - no beer here, just sayin. There were also 2 bed and breakfast's on the strip which seemed to be active.

Also - there is a coal train that runs at a pretty frequent schedule, especially during the day. The Blue Goose Inn is on the side of town FURTHER away from the train and we did not hear it much while inside. There are other places (the B&B's) that are very close to the tracks - another plus for the Blue Goose.

Okay - now for the ride report. I posted in the KTM section about some issues I had starting my KTM which kept me down for 1.5 days. I won't go into it here. We decided to head to Williamson for dinner via the trails. We wanted to start easy, especially since it rained for about 3 days prior and took the green trails. We took 18 out of Matewan and kinda stayed on the green trails to Williamson. It was cooler and wet and we were just getting a feel for the trails.

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We ate at Shooters in downtown Williamson and it was very good food at an affordable price - just go to the back of the place we ate in the front "fancier" part and felt out of place - but the patrons were VERY nice. It's kinda bizarre to ride into the down town on our bikes - it was a really cool downtown. Big Bri is shown here.

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We took the highway back since it was getting nice.

The second day, the sun was out and the temps were warming up. We goofed around in the area between Matewan and trail 16/18. There is a lot to explore in just this area.

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We tried the blue trails and loved them. Good hill climbs, but nothing crazy. Then we got bold and tried trail 99 a black trail. What a mistake! This had larger rocks (boulders) which we had to do down - very tense. There were some 18" ledges (drops) we had to go down. There were some climbs which were fun and challenging. There was a final section we came up to which would essentially take you to the very top of a hill. It was a steep climb that led you to a massive rock ledge we would need to climb. It was not our idea of fun and we luckily found a trail to ditch out onto. Because of that we shyed away from the single track sections. It may have been an over reaction - especially since I thought the tough section was an orange single track section - not a black section and assumed all the orange sections were massive rock climbs.

The blue trails were a blast however and we were content.

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We went to downtown Williamson again and got lunch and gas and rode back to Matewan. I had some rough get-off's and by 6pm or so we decided to call it a day and head back to Matewan.

We will plan to hit the HM trails again next year, and had a great time.

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Yeah I have been to Buffalo Mtn 3 times and I do not enjoy the single track at all. Too much like work, all I did was feather my clutch in first gear. I do really enjoy the rest of the trails though. I guess I'm more of a 3rd gear pinned kind of guy.

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So I am guessing the single track is lots of steep boulder-filled trails with rock ledge climbs and descents similar to the black 99 trail we tried?

I wish I would have bought my mountain climbing gear with me!

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A group of us are heading down there for the last week of April. I keep hearing about Buffalo Mtn, and I see Buffalo Mtn on the map. But I am not seeing official trails there. Are you referring to Rockhouse when you say Buffalo Mtn? If not, can one easily find the Buffalo Mtn trails?

Thanks,

Jay

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I had a PM about Gilbert and typed a massive response and thought I would post it here. Hope it helps.

Well, I think Gilbert is part of the Rockhouse system which we did not go on. I highly recommend trying the Buffalo Mountain system. Either way, my only advice is to be honest with your abilities. I ride some pretty gnarly stuff in Michigan and the Orange and Black trails are pretty darn technical. Others have already said it, but some riders like "technical" and others find it no so much fun and a buzz kill.

In HM trails technical levels represent two things 1) altitude changes and 2) rocks. The easy Green trails will have gentler climbs by way of cool switchbacks with very little rocks. Blue trails are similar to orange but will have the occasional climb with some shale type rock on the path up - very fun for the beginner / mid-level rider who just wants to buzz around with some degree of difficulty thrown in.

The black trails are the most technical trails for ATV's and MX bikes. So they will be a bit wider but with very steep climbs, usually with patches "boulder gardens" on the way up or down the hills. This is a slower and more technical type of trail. I can not really comment on the orange trails since we shyed away from them, but they are narrow, slower trails with lots of rocks and steep climbs.

It seemed to me that many of the trails had you commit pretty early, so turning around was not too feasible, however some trails were black or orange for a brief section and then it merged back in with the main (orange/blue) trails.

Again - be honest with your ability. Don't take a newer rider on the orange / black because they can (and will) get hurt. It's not a place to cut your teeth. An injury can ruin your trip.

Also - our experience in Buffalo Mountain is that there are many trails and intersections. We got lost several times, not a huge deal but it was sometimes frustrating when we wanted to get to Williamson or back to Matewan and we kept doing big loops. The issue is that with the switchbacks you can't really come to an intersection and easily figure which way you wanted to go. For example, you want to go west to get to town. You come to an intersection and your desired trail shoots off south or north. With the switchbacks you are always changing directions so it made it really difficult to stay on track and there are MANY intersections.

Some additional trailside signs would have been a HUGE help. The paper maps kinda help but are not nearly detailed enough to help figure out some of the complex intersections. For example a sign saying Williamson with an arrow and Matewan with another arrow at some of the bigger intersections (where 4 trails converge) would be very helpful.

Also, I am a HUGE proponent of displays with a big map at intersections and a YOU ARE HERE dot. The other alternative is to get the vvmapping gps software - google vvmapping and you'll see it. Again, if your low on gas or hungry it get's very irritating to maintain a sense of where you are and where you need to go.

Okay - enough babble - bottom line, you'll love it!!

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big problem with signs is the local quad tards take them home to use for siding on their shack's:smirk:

theres a place in TN where all the signs are about 12' up the tree's....we did see a quad with an extension ladder though,hopefully it was the feller putting them up!

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