September 20, 2022

ATV season in Ontario and Trail Etiquette

Just because summer is winding down, doesn’t mean it’s time to put your ride away for the year! Ontario is home to thousands of kilometres of ATV trails and many are still open to use throughout the fall.

So just how long does ATV season last in Ontario? Glad you asked! Read on to find out!

HOW LONG IS THE ATV SEASON?

ATV season can mean different things to different people. Some only want to ride when the weather is warm and sunny, while others switch out their tires for tracks to rip through the snow. Still others can’t wait for spring to go ripping it up during mud season.

According to the ATV Club of Eastern Ontario, ATV season starts on May 15 and runs all the way to March 15 of the following calendar year. 

Please keep in mind that trail closures depend on the region, and even the association that maintains the trails. For instance, the Ontario Federation of 4WD Recreationists consider the official 4WD season to stretch from May 1 – December 1, with some caveats we’ll explore below.

What is Mud Season

The period between March and May is known as Mud Season, and the trail closures allow the ground enough time to dry out after the spring thaw as the melting snow and ice makes some routes more of a bog than a trail. 

While mudding can be a ton of fun, you should respect the trail closures. However, there are plenty of trails that close earlier or open later so as a trail user, it’s your responsibility to find out if the particular trails are open before you head out there. It could save you a lot of time and hassle. (And if you get stuck in the mud, here’s how to get unstuck.)

The trail closures also allow others to enjoy the trails. Since most ATV trails are mixed-use anyways, that means we have to share them with everyone who wants to use them. This includes the hunters and anglers who use the Crown lands, and we highly recommend that you avoid the trails during peak hunting season in October and November. 

Once the snow comes, that’s when the snowmobilers come out to play. We recommend avoiding ATV’ing during this time because snowmobile season only lasts a few months, so let them have their fun while the snow lasts. Plus, if you’re caught ATV’ing on a closed trail, you might even get fined, so it’s not worth it. 

What Trails Are Open?

The Ontario Trails website keeps an updated list of which trails are open and which are closed, be it for riding, hiking, or otherwise. Check out their current conditions list to see if your preferred trail is open for use.

As well, don’t ignore any closed signs on any trail. You may be able to tell from the trailhead, but they’re likely closed for a reason. Your safety is important, so choose another trail.

As with most things, it’s better to be prepared before you head out. Also check the weather and make sure you’re dressed appropriately. You’ll have lots more fun if you do, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR USING THE TRAILS?

The rules will likely depend on which trail you’re at, but overall there are some general rules for ATV trail users.

1. Many trails require the use of a permit or a pass to ride, 

Before you head out, make sure to check whether you need a permit or pass to ride and if you do, make sure that you’ve got the right one! Some are club-based, so it can depend on which club maintains the trails, while others are run by a trails association. 

Always check to see what passes are required for which trails. It will save you a lot of headaches later on.

2. Trail Etiquette

Trail etiquette may be one of the most important ATV rules out there since trails are often maintained by volunteers. So, respecting where you ride and other riders, is extremely important. Don’t be the type of person who ruins it for everyone!

Always be courteous to other riders. They’re there to have fun, just like you. Also, avoid damaging the trails you’re on because you’re not the only one using them and please don’t go out of your way to wreck anything. That’s a good way to get yourself banned.

3. Respect the rules of the road 

Many municipalities don’t allow ATVs and other off-road vehicles on their roads, but some do allow it. Make sure you know the rules of where you’re going, or you could be looking at a ticket or fine.

Lake of Bays Township allows all off-road vehicles on township roads from May to December, but not every place is so ATV-friendly so make sure to do your research before you go..

LOOKING FOR A NEW RIDE? 

Want to be prepared for fall and winter riding? Visit us at Throttle Powersports at any of our 3 locations, or simply give us a call at 1-877-862-0250.

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