Finding new trails to explore on your OHV
By Steve Casper and NOHVCC
We wish we could point you in the direction of a book entitled “Every Single Ride Area in the U.S.” Wouldn’t that be great if you could simply plunk down $20 and buy such a thing? Unfortunately, a book by that title or anything like it doesn’t exist. There are too many different agencies and too many private entities running ride areas to find them all organized under one roof. And on top of that, it’s almost as if many of the smaller, hidden riding areas in this country are known only by the locals, who seem to keep the best spots a highly guarded secret.
So how can you find a new close-to-home ride area that would allow you to take a quick spin on a Saturday afternoon? Or for those big riding weekend plans, where are the best, most scenic trails in your part of the country that are worth the 3 or 4-hour drive?
DEALERS MAY HAVE INFO
Short of buying the magic know-it-all book, there are in fact quite a few resources to use in your quest for new trails. The best place to start is at your local dealerships. Usually the folks who work there have info on the most popular local ride areas. Often times as well, dealerships have bulletin boards and posters that tout upcoming local riding events and riding parks. Some parts of the country also have off-road newspapers that cover and list all the goings-on in the area.
CLUB MEMBERS ARE USUALLY IN THE KNOW
The dealerships are a quick and easy place to begin your ride area search, but the folks who really know about local ride areas are people who are members of dirt bike or ATV clubs. These highly motivated enthusiasts treat riding as a religion, and their best trails as shrines. Maybe they’ll let you in on their cherished secrets, and maybe they won’t. Many club members are a bit gun-shy about showing strangers their best ride areas. What if you were to go in and trash-up the site, or break all the trail rules? The next thing you know the trails are being shut down. The best way to get in on the good side of an OHV club is of course to join them! Other than finding out about all the great ride areas, there are dozens of other good reasons to become involved in a club. Club newsletters with regular features and lists of ride areas and events is one of the reasons, and in some cases the clubs even have their own privately-owned riding parks.
So how can you find out about your local club? The best resource for that is the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). They have a huge, comprehensive list of off-highway riding clubs throughout the nation and are more than happy to put you in contact with them. Call them at 800-348-6487, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out their web site at nohvcc.org that lists all the clubs and contact information.
Another great source for riding information can be your state OHV association (most states now have them). You can find the contact info for the various state associations at the NOHVCC website listed above.
Federal and state government agencies that manage trail systems can also fill you in on what they have to offer. In many cases, they’ll have a brochure describing the locations of all their trails and the rules and regulations associated with them, and to get the brochure it’s usually as easy as just giving them a call. Look in the phone book Government pages under Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forests, State Forests, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Tourism, Chamber of Commerce, or State Fish & Game or Fish & Wildlife. Not all of these agencies exist in all states, nor do they all necessarily have anything to do with managing off-highway trails, but if they do, they’re the ones with all the maps and brochures and it’s their job to give you the info.
Nearly all of the above agencies also have their own websites, many with an OHV recreation page packed with good info.