June 2021 | Vol. 1, Issue 7

Message from the Director

New Trailhead in Doran Opens July 3

Thanks to a new agreement with CNX Gas Corporation, we’re excited to announce Tazewell County is receiving its third trailhead to the Spearhead Trail system. A ceremony is scheduled 9 a.m. July 3 to mark the grand opening of the Doran Trailhead. This will give the residents in and near the Doran community far easier access to the Spearhead Trails system. The other Tazewell County trailheads are located in Pocahontas and Boissevain.

Jawbone Trail System

By the way, Spearhead Trails usage permits will be sold at the July 3 ribbon-cutting event.

The Doran trailhead provides access to the 100-mile Jawbone Trail system, which connects to the Coal Canyon Trail system at Jewell Valley by way of another trailhead in Whitewood, VA. Previously, street legal 4-wheel drive vehicle, ATV, and single-track dirt bike users could only enter Jawbone Trail via the Whitewood trailhead, about 21 miles away. With the Doran Trailhead located on the busy thoroughfare of highway 460, it’s expected to provide an economic boost to the area by increasing revenues for (as well as jobs in) restaurants, hotels, outfitters, and other local businesses. Approximately 70% of Spearhead Trail users come from out of state.

One of the reasons we’re very excited about this news is because it’s a big step toward connecting trails to different communities and counties in southwest Virginia. Suffice it to say that CNX Gas Corp. has been a tremendous asset to our success. This trail would not be possible without their help.

In our agreement with CNX — which is a major employer in the region — they’re allowing SRRA’s access to their properties free of charge through land use agreements. In honor of this agreement, trail 1 was named the Pocahontas Gas Trail. There are approximately 30 trails in the Jawbone Trail system.

I also want to give a shout out to the Hugh I Shott, Jr. Foundation, which helped enormously by funding this trail project.

New rules were created to keep trail users safe and to prevent vandalism to critical infrastructure. These rules, which will be strictly enforced by rangers and local law enforcement, include no stopping, standing or loitering at any gas well or equipment location. In addition, no photographs are allowed of any machinery, equipment, gas wells, structures, or other commercial equipment on any trail.

Comments from Government Officials

Finally, let me share a few quotes from government officials:

“I am thrilled to see the opening of the new Pocahontas Gas Trail. Many years of meetings, efforts of local officials, CNX officials and funding by the Shott Foundation have culminated in the addition of this new asset to the tourism and recreation economy of SWVA,” said Delegate Will Morefield, who represents the 3rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. “I want to personally thank Josh Ball and Mary Beth McGlothin of CNX, and counsel for Spearhead Trails, Brad Ratliff for their hard work in getting this agreement in order. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have made funding of Spearhead Trails a priority. Congratulations to Spearhead Trails and the citizens of Tazewell who now have a trail right out their back door!”

Added Senator Travis Hackworth of the 38th Senatorial District, “Prior to my election to the Virginia senate, I spent many years on the Tazewell Board of Supervisors. Getting a trail head at Doran was a priority then and is certainly so now. Thanks to all the hard work by the local officials, CNX staff, Spearhead staff and the Shott Foundation, this day has finally come. This is great day not only for Tazewell County but for the new outdoor recreation economy of southwest Virginia!”

Please come check out our new trailhead and tell others about it!

L. Shawn Lindsey
Executive Director

New Rules for All Trail System Riders

As part of our agreement with CNX Gas Corporation in opening the Doran Trailhead, we updated our rules.

These rules are here promulgated and effective immediately for all trail system riders in allocations. They’re for your safety and shall be strictly enforced by our Trail Rangers who are authorized to issue civil citations for violations:

Obey all signage in all locations on the trail.
DO NOT stop, stand or loiter at any gas well or equipment location. These are potentially dangerous. Doing so could result in injury or death.
NO PHOTOGRAPHS shall be taken of any machinery, equipment, gas wells, structures, or other commercial equipment on any trail.
Activities are subject to video surveillance, particularly as related to any commercial site located on or near the trail system.
SPEED LIMIT ON ALL TRAILS IS 25 MPH — UNLESS A LOWER SPEED LIMIT IS POSTED.
Do NOT venture off trails as marked. This is particularly important as related to venturing off trails to create new trails, new riding locations, or hill climbs. This activity IS NOT PERMITTED. You must ride only on marked trails.
Vehicle traffic has the right-of-way. Many of our trails use access roads that are in use by commercial entities that utilize work vehicles. Watch out for and yield to these vehicles.
Obey all other rules and regulations included with your permit.

We appreciate your visit and patronage. We hope you enjoy your ride and the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia.

These new rules will be enforced on all Spearhead Trails and will be added to the permit waiver that is required of each person on the trail. Those who already possess a yearly permit will be asked to sign this addendum on the opening day. Those that have not yet purchased a permit will have this addendum in the waiver signed at the retailers.

Report on Strategic Planning Session

Southwest Regional Recreation Authority recently held a retreat to discuss and begin formulating a 5-year plan. This meeting was a year in the making. It began with surveying the public including trail users, businesses around our trails, local governments, and other groups and stakeholders. We asked these groups several questions on how we were doing on accomplishing our mission.

Strategic Planning

The board did a similar 5-year strategic plan in 2016, but felt we needed more public input. The survey made it possible to receive input from our trail users and other stakeholders. This information was presented to the board and helped in developing our new 5-year strategic plan. This plan should be completed in the next few months. Southwest Regional Recreation Authority/Spearhead Trails is very thankful to all who participated.

Here are some of the goals and timelines in our quest to fulfill our mission from the 2016 Strategic Plan:

Continue Trail Development/Expansion – For Spearhead Trails to grow to a highly-competitive level and reach trail mileage milestones outlined in the applicable master implementation plan, continued trail development growth and expansion is crucial in the coming years. It’s imperative that each trail system reach 100 miles for each trail system.

Deadlines/Targets

Development of equestrian trail in Scott County by Spring of 2018.
Expansion of the Coal Canyon Trail ATV/OHV to include trailheads in Grundy and Vansant by Spring of 2017.
Development of the Haysi area ATV/OHV trail by Spring of 2018.
Complete Dante area ATV/OHV trail by Spring of 2018.
Support Haysi-to-Breaks hiking/biking trail development.
Support Appalachia-to-Norton biking/walking trail development.
Support Poplar Gap-to-Haysi trail development.
Support Harlan-to-Big Stone Gap trail development.
Potential expansion of Stone Mountain Trail for major development in area – triggered by private sector developers’ timeline.
Support mountain biking development in region, including forming partnership with the International Mountain Biking Association (ongoing).
Develop Current Trails Snapshot– with mileage, maps, etc. to use both internally, for partners, and for consumers that includes mileage, etc.

Deadlines/Targets

Map completed and distributed by June 2017

We definitely did a pretty good job achieving our goals with around 600 miles opened currently (from only 205 just 5 years ago). And we exceeded some expectations and in other area. Additional progress is just around the corner.

For example:

Our new Dante Mountain Trail ATV Trail and Dante Mountain Biking Trail are slated to open this fall.
Our opening of the Thunderstruck Equestrian System in Scott County is imminent.
Additional openings of trails soon to come.
We also developed a Sportsman Complex, which was added to our plan just a few years ago. It began opening in phases a few months back with archery events. Studies we conducted showed a need for this type of facility.
In addition, we’re opening a “rainy day project” with our Spearhead Trails Adventure Recreation Center. This will be ideal for those coming to our area and need an indoor activity during bad weather.

We’d love to hear what you think! Let us know what your vision of what Spearhead Trails should look like by 2026. We always welcome input.

Email: director@spearheadtrails.com

Give Back to the Community

Being a nonprofit organization, we need your support for several new initiatives.

In exchange, you’ll receive a tax-deductible donation, recognition, and free day passes to any of our new indoor or outdoor recreational activities!

Generous support from community members like you is key for allowing us to continue developing recreational activities that provide an enormous positive impact in our region. Our 600+ miles of trail systems throughout Southwest Virginia is currently producing an economic impact for the Commonwealth of Virginia of over $25 million annually. And it’s created more than 250 full-time jobs.

We’re opening a 22,000+ square foot Activity Center in our new headquarters, currently under construction in Coeburn, VA (at the old Coeburn Home Supply warehouse). This facility will feature an axe throwing center, indoor skate park, and a climbing/bouldering gym — along with baseball and softball batting cages. This new Activity Center will host programs geared towards our youth, workforce, and tourists. It will be open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., 7 days a week.

We’re also in the process of building new Sportsman Facilities in Clintwood, VA. This will include rifle, pistol and shotgun ranges of all types, as well as a variety of archery ranges. In addition, we partnered with Clintwood Bible Church to offer indoor archery year-round in their unused gymnasium.

Simply download this donation slip, choose which projects you would like to donate to, and return this slip with your donation. Once your donation is received, we’ll rush your free day passes to you. Regardless of what you choose to donate to, you can use your passes for any of these new activities.
In addition to monetary donations, you can also donate building supplies. Your generous donation will also be recognized with a plaque located at the facility.
What a great way to meet your annual tax-deduction goals!

Download your donation slip.

Join Spearhead Trailblazers

Please sign up below to be a volunteer with Spearhead Trailblazers. This is our friends’ group, and they do many activities to help the various communities we serve. Last year they participated in 16 events and raised over $600 funding for local charities (including P.A.W.S of Russell County, Toys for Tots, The Friends of the J. Fred Matthews Memorial Library, and the Town of Coeburn – Ringley Park). Spearhead Trailblazers was also able to donate over 300 hours for community service though the USDA – Forest, community projects, and the Adopt-a-Street program.