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Depending on where you ride, you may have come across a trail or riding area that has been closed to OHV (off-highway vehicles) use. Sometimes these closures are planned in accordance with improvements, maintenance, or seasonal schedules. Other times these closures are in response to abuse or misuse of the trail by a small number of irresponsible riders that end up having a large impact on the entire riding community.

Because this is such an important issue, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 tips you can follow to make sure riding areas stay open and accessible for off-road vehicles.

keep riding areas open

Stay Quiet

First, make sure your machine is quiet. When at the dunes or the track, it may be OK to have a louder machine. But, believe it or not, people out enjoying nature don’t want to hear your bike at all. So while most riders love the sound of a bike, the responsible thing to do is make sure your exhaust is quiet.

Servicing your silencer is a good place to start. Packing material can wear out over time, and its sound-deadening properties wear out as well, so a fresh repacking will help lower your bike’s note. If you have a compatible end cap, consider changing out the tip to a smaller diameter or even pick up a quiet core insert.

how to keep the riding trails open

If you’re looking for a completely new silencer, the LEXX MXe, FMF Q-Stealth, Pro Circuit Type 296, FMF Hex Q4 and FMF Turbine Core II Q are all designed around lowering sound output and deliver some of the best results. Choose one of these solutions, lower your noise output, and you’ll be able to ride quietly on busy trails and keep everyone happy.

It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re riding where noise output is an issue, you’ll most likely need to run a spark arrestor as well. Another very important way to keep sound down is by keeping the RPMs down.  Try riding in a higher gear and with smooth throttle control.  Not only does it make you a better/smoother rider, but the noise level of your machine is greatly reduced.

Take Care of the Trail

Keeping the trail in good condition is something every trail user should be concerned with, but there are still riders that rip up the trail and leave noticeable damage—and that affects others’ enjoyment.

how to keep trails open

The first thing you can do to preserve a trail is ride smoothly. Keep your throttle under control, properly manage the power you’re putting to the ground, ride in a taller gear, and maintain momentum at a controllable pace. These will all keep your tire from spinning and digging a trench into the trail.

You can also get a Throttle Tamer (a throttle tube with slightly tweaked cable locations that alter throttle opening) or a Rekluse auto clutch. Either should drastically help tame your bike if it’s snatchy or particularly “on/off” in its power delivery.

Tire choice also plays a big role in trail wear. We like using trials and hybrid tires when we’re riding single track or enduro as their softer compounds and tighter tread patterns increase grip without ripping up the trail like an aggressive knobby would. Popular choices amongt the enduro crowd include the Shinko R505 Cheater and the Kenda Equilibrium.

how to keep dirt bike trails open

Lastly, avoid mud and wet trails. Not only will you lose traction, but your spinning tire in the soft dirt will put a trench in the trail. And that causes drainage problems that lead to bigger problems. So maybe choose a different riding area if you’re trying to sneak into the mountains during the thaw, or choose a more hard-packed trail if the weather is rainy.

Be Courteous

There may be several different user groups that enjoy the areas you ride.  Always be considerate of other people using the trail and treat them with the same respect that you want to receive. That means slowing down for other traffic, staying out of the way or yielding to foot traffic, and pulling over and turning off your bike when coming across horses and their riders.

If you’re not familiar with horses, this may sound like overkill, but horses can be incredibly nervous animals. Some horses are so well trained they won’t get spooked at anything. But, because there’s the risk of injury, it’s best to be safe and treat every horse like one that startles easily. So when you see one on the trail, pull over, hit the kill switch, and do the courteous thing by letting the horse by. Follow this tip and you’ll leave everyone you come across with a more positive opinion of riders than they had before.

tips for keeping riding trails open

Stay On the Trail

For non-riders enjoying the trails, there are few things that negatively affect their opinion of motorcycles more than seeing a rutted out chute running up the face of a hill or an area of destroyed vegetation where riders have played around off the trail. Simply stay on the trail and you’ll be helping keep those same trails open to dirt bikes.

Get Involved

The last tip we can give is to get involved directly. Outside of being responsible while you ride, contact the appropriate local authority—whether it be a riding club, a BLM office, land owner, or the local Forest Service office—so you can get out there, make a good impression on the people who manage the area, and give up some of your time to help physically maintain the trails. This could mean helping clear trees that fell during the off-season, moving earth to maintain eroding trails, or refurbishing signage so it stays upright and easy to read.

how to keep the trails open

A group of Rocky Mountain ATV/MC employees have been doing this very thing for years now. After working closely with U.S. Forest Service for a number of years, we helped form the Uinta Trail Council which helps maintain trails throughout our area. From early spring to late fall, groups of us ride out to maintain, groom, and establish trails. This isn’t just a good way to enjoy the outdoors, we’ve also gotten to know the local riding area authorities very well and have drastically influenced the way they see and interact with riders in general. Getting involved really is one of the most impactful things you can do to maintain riding areas.

Thankfully, we’re far from the only ones working to keep our trail access. Organizations like the Blue Ribbon Coalition and the Colorado 600 are just two examples of other groups fighting to keep our access. If you want to get involved, they have a never-ending surplus of work, so volunteers are always greatly appreciated.

shair trails.org blue ribbon coalition keeping trails open

Conclusion

So, there are our 5 tips for keeping our riding areas open. We all want to have as many riding areas as possible and, by being responsible and keeping these tips in mind, we’ll be able to do that—and maybe even create some new riders in the process. If these tips seem like an inconvenience, just keep in mind, the reality is that we need to be mindful of the opinions of non-riders since they directly affect the areas we have access to. So if we act responsibly, the public response towards riders will be positive and our riding areas will stay open as long as we do our part.

how to keep riding trails open

Comment

Tell Us What You Think

Have any other tips you want to share? Disagree with us? Have a favorite riding area you want to make sure stays open? Share your input in the comments section below.