Know where to go before you go – Tips for hunters on OHVs

With hunting seasons coming up or under way in Idaho – depending on location – it’s important hunters who like to access the backcountry with motorbikes, ATVs or UTVs to research where you can go and specifically what routes you can take on your trail machine.

(Video courtesy Idaho Rangeland Conservation Partnership and the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission’s Life on the Range public education project)

There are many areas with mixed land ownership and a broad mix of recreation uses on Idaho public lands. It’s crucial for everyone to do their homework before they go.

People who purchase new motorized trail machines need to research what trails are open to them, officials said. Experts recommend doing research on large-format paper maps, the Internet, and mobile apps like OnX that show land ownership.

Stay on Designated Roads and Trails

There are thousands of miles of trails statewide. People just need to learn the ropes about what trails are suitable for them.

Singletrack trails, for example, are for hiking, biking, trail-running, motorbikes and horseback riders. Fifty-inch-wide motorized trails are specifically for ATVs and narrow side-by-sides like Polaris Razors.

Jeep trails and dirt roads are open to the wider Utility Terrain Vehicles, known as UTVs or side by sides.

Rock barriers or steel posts at trailheads alert riders that 50-inch ATV trails are meant for only 50-inch trail machines – narrow side by sides and ATVs.

Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs), developed by the U.S. Forest Service, explain what trails and roads are open to each use. The maps are available at all national forest offices and online.

“MVUM’s tell you what trails you can operate a motor vehicle on, it tells you if the trail is singletrack only, it’ll tell you if that trail is 50-inch or more, it’ll tell you if it’s a jeep trail or if it’s open to all vehicles,” Oliver says.

“The MVUM is the bible for the forest.”

It’s imperative that people do not try to ride a larger trail machine on a 50-inch trail, he says. Rock or steel post barriers at trailheads remind users that the trails are made for ATVs or 50-inch side-by-sides.

Riding in a responsible way is crucial. Here’s the message from the Idaho “Stay on Trails” campaign:  “Please, do your part, protect Idaho’s backcountry, respect other riders, stay on the trail and follow trail rules.”

“Public lands are for everybody,” he notes. “It’s not my land, it’s our land. If we don’t respect our land, we’re going to lose access in a lot of areas.”

Ultimately, if everyone shows respect for others, we can care for and share public rangelands for decades to come, officials said.

“The biggest message that I’d like to get out to people is it doesn’t matter if you’re horseback, you’re hiking, you’re on a motorcycle and ATV, be a good steward of the land,” says Lt. Daron Brown with the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.

This article and video were excerpted from an original story and video published by the Idaho Rangeland Conservation Partnership. Thanks to IRCP for sharing these important messages about responsible OHV use for the Recreate Responsibly Idaho campaign

  • Steve Stuebner, RRI State Coordinator