ATVs can be used on all kinds of terrains – this much is known. But what about snow? Can you use an ATV on snowmobile trails?
ATVs are not allowed on snowmobile trails in the US. States like Michigan, Indiana, New Hampshire, Maine, and Wisconsin have strict laws about driving ATVs on snowmobile trails. While some of them prohibit it right away, some of them allow it only when the wheels are replaced with skis.
There are two specific reasons why ATVs aren't allowed on snowmobile trails. The first reason is trail damage, and the second reason is safety. Snowmobile tires can damage the soft snow trails. Secondly, snowdrifts can put the drivers in danger, as the wheels aren't meant to provide traction in snow.
After riding ATVs on different terrains for most of my life now, I have put together this article to tell you whether you can ride an ATV on snowmobile trails – mostly, why you shouldn't. In the following paragraphs, we will look at the laws different states have regarding ATV usage on snowmobile trails and some best practices to adopt if you want to ride your ATV on snowmobile trails.
Why Aren't ATVs Allowed on Snowmobile Trails?
The number one reason why ATVs aren't allowed on snowmobile trails is that they damage the terrain and the trails, especially on soft snow. It's not all doom and gloom, though. Some trails are groomed or have firm snow. Those trails are open to ATVs and snowmobiles.
However, Even if a trail is open for ATVs, it is in your best interest to check the weather forecast before heading out. If it snows while you're on a trail, it can increase the amount of snow on these trails, thus making it difficult for you to drive.
As discussed above, safety is a major factor why most states have strict laws about riding ATVs on snowmobile trails. There are so many trails with snowdrifts that can make things dangerous for your ATV. Before going on an ATV ride in the snow, check local laws. This will help you abide by the rules, and it will protect you and your vehicle.
State Laws Regarding ATV Riding on Snowmobile Track
In Michigan, you cannot drive an ATV on trails prohibited by the Department of Natural Resources. However, there are some off-road vehicle trails in Michigan where ATVs are allowed. Before driving, make sure to visit the DNR website; also, keep an eye on the signage on the trail.
As we have discussed above, driving an ATV on snowmobile trails can damage the terrain. The state of Maine gives serious attention to natural conservation, and authorities are very serious about protecting hidden vegetation, alpine tundras, freshwater ecosystems, and wetlands.
However, there is a way you can drive your ATV on snowy terrains in Maine. You can register your ATV as a snowmobile, which is only possible when you have tracks instead of used wheels and tires. As long as your ATV will not damage the trails, Maine has no issue with you driving your ATV on snow.
Both Indiana and Michigan have similar laws regarding ATVs on snowy trails. Most prohibited snowmobile trails in Indiana are also covered in soft snow. They can be easily altered by wheeled vehicles, and therefore, driving over them isn't allowed.
Like Michigan, in Indiana, you can only drive your ATV in areas where wheeled automobiles are allowed. The reason is that those areas have harder snow, which makes it safe for drivers to ride their ATVs.
It doesn't really matter whether you are driving a winter ATV or a regular one. All kinds of ATVs are prohibited on snowmobile trails in Wisconsin. However, if the landowners allow, you can freely explore the areas without resistance – as long as you have wheels on your ATV. If you think you can find your way in with tracks instead of wheels, I have some bad news for you.
If the authorities see you driving without wheels, even if the landowners allow it, you will be asked to leave right away. In the absence of wheels, your ATV will no longer be considered an all-terrain vehicle. You can only drive when you have the landowners' permission and tires instead of tracks or skis.
Just like in Maine, you can drive your ATV on snowmobile trails in New Hampshire if the wheels are removed. Tracks, cleats, and skis should be used instead of tires if you want to drive on snowmobile trails. To drive your ATV on snowmobile trails in New Hampshire, you have to modify it and register it as a snowmobile.
Moreover, even with the new tracks, your ATV mustn't be wider than 54 inches. Furthermore, the weight should also be less than 1200 pounds. Do not doubt the credibility of your ATV even if you registered it as an off-highway recreational vehicle.
What Is an ORV Trail?
ORV stands for "off-road vehicle." This vehicle can be used on a variety of terrains. ATVs also fall within the category of off-road vehicles. Therefore, they are welcome on most ORV trails.
ORV Trail of Atlanta
Located in Atlanta, Michigan, this ORV trail stretches up to 79.3 miles. It falls within the
Montmorency and Presque Isle counties. While ATVs are allowed on the roads, they are prohibited on forest roads. The trail also has access to Jackson Lack Forest Campground and Clear Lake State Park.
At a facility near M-33, you can find fuel and food. The staging area is situated near the DNR Atlanta Office. However, you can expect some traffic on the trail. Luckily, there are several loops to maximize the route when driving on this trail. Here, you can expect sandy, rocky and rough surfaces.
This trail is 17.1 miles long, and the road is 50 inches wide. It falls within Otsego County and also crosses paths with North Branch ORV Trail and the Big Bear ORV Trails. The terrain on the southern side is soft and sandy, but it gets harder as you move up north. The vegetation in this area mostly comprises hardwood and pine scrubs. If you need fuel and food, you can find them near M-32.
This trail is 90 miles long and 40 inches wide. While ATVs are allowed on the roads, forest roads are completely off-limits. Since this trail route isn't too popular, you can expect little to no traffic. Besides ATVs, this trail is also open to motorcycles.
On the north side, the terrain is uneven and challenging. However, toward the southern side, it is sandy and flat. Hardwood and pine scrubs are the two kinds of vegetation found in this area. Furthermore, you can find food and fuel at Bluffs Resort.
The St. Helen ORV trail is situated in Roscommon County. This trail offers a length of 63.7 miles, while the width is 50 inches. While this county allows ATVs on roadways, forest roads are completely prohibited. This trail is very popular as it connects the Geels, Denton, and Ogemaw Hills ORV Trail.
Therefore, don't be surprised if you find traffic in this area. This trail offers several loop options. Furthermore, the vegetation in this area includes different types of hardwood and pine scrubs. You can find fuel and food on the southern side of the trail.
Two-Heart ORV Trail
This trail is fairly shorter, unlike the previous trails we have discussed. It stretches up to 35.4 miles, and it is 50 inches wide. This trail connects you to forestation and urbanization. It is also connected to Pine Ridge ORV Trail and Pine Lake Forest Campground.
This trail is popular, and therefore, it is no surprise to find some traffic over here. If you need fuel and food, you can find them at Rainbow Lodge, located on the north-eastern side of the trail. The terrain is mostly sandy, but it can be beach-like in some areas. Speaking of vegetation, this trail also contains hardwood and pines.
Best Practices for ATV Snow Riding
Use a Plow System
Besides cleaning up a long driveway, a plow also helps clear a snow trail. Adding a plow system to your ATV is easy, making it safer for you to drive in snow.
Invest in Snow Tires
Before investing in snow tires, make sure these tires are allowed on a particular trail. If you have an SxS or a Polaris ATV, an all-wheel system is great for you. You can also replace your stock tires for more traction. These tires can hold on to snowy terrains while helping you move forward. You can also invest in ATV tire chains.
Replace Tires with Tracks
ATV tracks not only help you drive safely, but they also enhance the look of your ATV. The triangular shape of the tracks distributes your ATV's weight and provides extra flotation and traction.
Before driving your ATV on snowmobile trails, check the local laws. Another thing you must know is whether or not tires are allowed. If they aren't, you can use cleats, tracks, or skis.
About THE AUTHOR
41 years old. I'm a freelance writer that specializes in informational blog posts. All my articles are detail oriented and well researched. I'm a huge Arizona Cardinals fan!Read More About Michael