Motorized trail etiquette
Motorized trail etiquette
How to yield, protect, stay safe and enjoy
We all know being out on Michigan's trails is enjoyable. Knowing the rules for mixed-use trails and interacting respectfully with other users helps ensure a fun and safe day in the outdoors.
- Stay on the trail – they are marked for a reason. Rocks, fencing and barbed wire are just a few examples of what could be hidden under the snow.
- Be aware of two-way traffic and trail groomers, and "Ride Right" by keeping on the right side of the trail.
- When you see nonmotorized trail users coming from the opposite direction; please slow down, pull over and yield the right-of-way.
- Always yield to uphill motorized traffic. Uphill traffic may have difficulty starting again if stopped.
- If you stop on the trail, use designated stop areas and remove your helmet. Never stop side-by-side, in the middle, at the crest of a hill, on a corner or in the intersection of a trail. A helmet masks your features and can be intimidating.
- Leave no trace – pack it in; pack it out. If you see litter, please pick it up.
- If you love Michigan's trails, get involved and join your local trail organization!
- Respect riding conditions and trail closures.
- During firearm deer season (Nov 15-30) a person cannot operate an ORV in an area where public hunting is permitted from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.
- During snowmobile season (Dec. 1-March 31), it's preferred that ORV riders use trails and/or open roads not open to snowmobiles.
- ORVs are not legal on snowmobile trails located on private and federal lands.
- Snowmobile trail groomers lay smooth paths for snowmobiles. If you encounter a groomed snowmobile trail, it's imperative that you ride slowly or choose another trail, so you don't undo the work of trail groomers or inadvertently tear up the trail.
- Make sure that you are riding trails with an ORV confidence marker. You can also view the ORV-snowmobile shared trail map.
- ORVs can tear up terrain easily (even when the ground is frozen). ORV grooves can pose a safety risk by causing snowmobile skis to be pulled into an ORV track. Reckless and careless operation are civil infractions, including fishtailing, doing donuts, locking up the brakes and riding in a manner that causes environmental damage.
Look for this yellow ORV confidence marker when coming across a groomed snowmobile trails take it slow or choose another trail, so you don't undo the work of trail groomers and/or tear up the trail.
- Ride only on designated and signed snowmobile trails, backcountry areas, county or local roadways and frozen bodies of water. Respect trail conditions and posted closures.
- Share the trail. Some designated snowmobile trails are also open to ORVing and other nonmotorized users.
- If snowmobiling in the backcountry, please stay on public lands and avoid private property, active logging operations and sensitive areas like forest plantations.
- During firearm deer season (Nov 15-30) a person cannot operate snowmobile in an area where public hunting is permitted from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.
- About 75% of DNR-managed snowmobile trails are located on private or federal lands. Respect private land owners.
Snowmobile trail groomers are nonprofit organizations that groom/brush trails and are 100% funded by trail permit and registration dollars. Watch this video to learn more.
When riding, look for this snowmobile confidence marker (diamond-shaped and orange).