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Tread Lightly!

The following tips are from Tread Lightly!‘s website. Tread Lightly! is an organization who promotes responsible off-highway vehicle use.

General tips

  • Stay on routes designated for four wheeling.
  • Cross streams only at designated fording points, or where the road crosses the stream.
  • Cross large rocks and other obstacles slowly, at an angle, one wheel at a time.
  • Avoid muddy trails. Leave them for another day when they’re dry. If you do come across mud on the trail, go easy on the gas to avoid wheel spin, which can cause rutting. Don’t leave the trail to avoid muddy spots, this can widen the trail and damage trailside plant-life.
  • Straddle ruts, gullies and washouts even if they are wider than your vehicle.
  • Don’t turn around on narrow roads, steep terrain, or unstable ground. Backup until you find a safe place to turn around.
  • Travel straight up or down hills. Don’t traverse the face of a hill; you may slip sideways or roll your vehicle.
  • Stop frequently and reconnoiter ahead on foot.
  • Ride in the middle of trails to minimize widening them. Avoid side-slipping and wheel spin, which can lead to erosion.
  • To help with traction, balance your load and lower tire pressure to where you see a bulge (typically not less the than 20 pounds).
  • Know where the differential or lowest point on the vehicle is.
  • Choose the appropriate winch for your vehicle size.
  • Attach towing cable, tree strap or chain as low as possible to the object being winched. Let the winch do the work; never drive the winch.
  • Protect the soundscape by avoiding unnecessary noise created by your vehicle.
  • Leave gates as you find them. Respect private land.
  • Yield the right-of-way to those passing you or traveling uphill. Yield to mountain bikers, hikers, and horses.
  • Avoid “spooking” livestock and wildlife.
  • Always avoid sensitive habitats: wetlands, meadows, and tundra.
  • Following a ride, wash your vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.
  • Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated “Wilderness.”
  • Pack out what you pack in. Carry a trash bag in your vehicle and pick up litter left by others.

When camping

  • Whenever possible, use existing campsites. Camp on durable surfaces and place tents on a non-vegetated area. Do not dig trenches around tents.
  • Camp a least 200 feet from water, trails and other campsites.
  • Minimize use of fire. For cooking, try using a camp stove.

Before you go

  • Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures, and permit requirements. If you cross private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner(s).
  • Get a map.
  • Make a realistic plan and stick to it. Always tell someone where you are going and your expected return time.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Make sure your vehicle is mechanically up to task. Be prepared with tools, supplies and spares for trailside repairs.
  • Travel with a group of two or more vehicles, as riding solo can leave you vulnerable if you have an accident or breakdown. Designate meeting areas in case of separation.