WHERE TO RIDE FAQs
We get lots of emails and phone calls about where ORMs may ride and rightly so. It is confusing and not as simple as we would like it to be. Below are some answers to questions we are asked. If your question is not here, email us and we will do our best to answer it and perhaps add it to this list.
Can I ride on ATV and OFSC trails?
In most cases, yes.
ATV and Snowmobile trails are mostly located on Crown Land in Ontario and you have the right to ride on them. There is no exclusive use of Crown Land although you may be told otherwise. Municipal lands such as forests and rail trails may or may not be restricted so you have to check with the municipality. Some have by-laws that specifically restrict use by vehicle so you have to check with the municipality.
You may not ride on trails that are on private property unless it is a designated OFTR trail under agreement with the land owner. Municipal Forest agreements are in place in some parts of the province and you must stay on the OFTR trail. Municipal forests are often gated to thwart garbage dumping and there will be a sign that prohibits trail use unless authorized. In this case there will often be an OFTR near the entrance that designated the area as an authorized OFTR Motorcycle Trail Area.
Why did the local ATV/OFSC club tell me I may not use ATV trails?
We don’t know why they do this and you need to question if the land is private property. If you are not sure, contact the local MNR office or the municipal office.
What is OFATV, ATV Ontario and the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance (EOTA), is there one provincial federation for ATVs?
No, the three organizations for ATVs have tried to unify several times and have not been successful.
What is the Trillium Trail Network (TTN), can I ride on these trails?
The TTN is a trail designation project that tried to unify trail user groups. There are three types of trails in the TTN.
GREEN – Non-motorized
BLUE – water trails
GOLD – Motorized plus equestrians
The TTN Gold Pass is an affiliation with the Ontario Trails Council and there is no legislation or authority behind it. The OFTR was approached to join the TTM Gold permit program and declined. The OFSC has not joined either.
Why doesn’t the OFTR publish maps for Crown Land trails?
We have some maps available on our website and hope to publish more. See “Where to Ride”. We are understaffed and not funded well enough to do any more, yet. We used a good portion of our grant monies from 2009 to create what we have, the program was not renewed in 2010.
The OFTR was incorporated in 1992 but wasn’t really active until 2006 in regards to land use and organization. Motorcyclists were generally aware of where they could ride and there weren’t many land use concerns. We also had access to roads via conversion (street-legal licensing) so we had no real issues. In 2005, municipal forests and some crown lands were starting to create legislation for trails due to the increase in ATV use and the damage caused. Also, the MNR transferred ownership of many southern forests to municipalities in the mid-1990s which turned public property into municipal property which is governed differently. A municipality can pass by-laws regarding their land and trails.
Why isn’t the provincial government involved?
The ministry for trails in Ontario is the Ministry of Health Promotion(MHP) and we approach them regularly to see what they are doing for ORMs. We applied for many grants under the “Trails for Life” and the “Communities in Action Fund” and were denied. We contact them a few times each year and they have nothing for us. There was an encouraging initiative called ACTIVE 2010 but the links don’t work on the website anymore.
One of our strategies with this ministry was to illustrate the physical benefits of our sport. We applied for research funding and were denied. The OFTR created and financed a small study at the York University Fitness Laboratory that inferred ORM use exceeded jogging in physical benefit. (SEE REPORT) The pilot has since been expended into a full study with the result expected in the fall of 2010.
What about the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR)?
The MNR doesn’t seem to be in the trail business although they may state otherwise. The MNR entered into a partnership with the Ontario Trails Council (OTC) to map Ontario trails. The MHP funded the OTC’s “find a trail A-Z” and asked the provincial federations to map and submit trail information. The OFTR participated until we realized they weren’t posting the trails, just the trail heads. The submissions made by some groups did not include all the allowed uses either so it is misleading. The OFSC did not submit any trails. We placed the OTC logo and a link on our website and were asked to remove it. We have since removed the link from our website as there were too many calls and emails about the inaccuracies and lack of trail information.
This is confusing and frustrating; I just want to know where to ride. What do I do?
Join the OFTR and especially join an OFTR club in the area you plan to ride in. You will meet other club members and gain local knowledge about the trails.
Ontario Trail Ride Series – this is a series of recreational trail rides intended to introduce riders to Ontario trails and other OFTR members. They are rated and often designed for the beginner. If you are unsure, check with the contact person listed for each event.