Five Tips for Riding Rural Roads on an ATV
Kevin Felts 07.21.17
There is something liberating about riding an ATV. This is especially true when you get off the beaten path and ride the rural back roads that sprawl all over the nation.
Close to the farm where I live there are miles upon miles of rural dirt roads. Some of them are county roads, some are farm roads and some are logging roads that are not maintained. The logging roads provide timber companies access to their land. If part of the road is washed out, nobody is going to fix it.
However, a lot of those logging roads may be on timber company land that is leased to individuals. As such, we have to respect the rights of the people who lease the land.
Here are some tips I follow when riding rural back roads.
Respect Property Owners
When you see a no trespassing sign, respect it.
If it looks like someone lives at the end of a dead end road, stay away. From time to time, especially during the summer, people will ride their ATV down the road and onto the farm.
Not everyone who lives in an urban area has a fence, the same goes for rural areas. We may not always have a fence or gate on the property line. There may not be a sign that says where the county road ends and the private roads starts, so use some common sense.
If you find yourself on a hunting lease and a run up on deer stand and feeder, do not bother anything. It is not your stand or feeder, so leave it alone.
The honest truth is, there is no way to stop people from riding on hunting lease roads. What you can do is show some respect while on the lease.
Sure enough, someone is going to say, “If I catch someone on my lease I am going to,” then some kind of threat about calling the sheriff or game warden. he problem is, the people who lease the property may live hundreds of miles away. Rarely, will anyone be caught riding on logging roads that go through a hunting lease.
A lot of rural roads will have blind corners or blind curves. Meaning, you can not see what is around the corner or curve until you are there.
Two ATVs speeding towards a curve from opposite directions on a sandy road is a receipt for disaster. Sand and dirt reduces friction and increases the distance it takes the ATV to stop. If you can not stop in time, there is always veering off the road, and straight into a pine tree.
Between my junior and senior year of high school, one of my class mates died in an ATV accident. Something happened that caused caused him to run into a tree. Upon striking the tree, he flew over the handle bars and his head hit the tree trunk. He died at the scene.
I would say to wear a helmet, but for adults, I feel that is a personal choice.
Bring Snacks And Water
When I venture several miles away from home, sometimes up to 10 miles away as the crow flies, I bring a backpack with my day hiking gear. The pack is strapped to the front rack with bungee cords. The road distance on some of my trips is close to 25 miles.
My pack usually includes:
- Rain poncho.
- TOPO map.
An ATV is a mechanical device, as such, it can break down. If a road is on timber company land, it may not have a name. Sometimes, riders may not even have cell phone service. So, I bring enough gear in the pack so I can hike home.
Even if the ATV does not break down, I have snacks and water to stop and take a break.
Pre Trip Check up
- Check the oil.
- Gas up.
- If the ATV has a radiator, check the fluid.
- Check the air pressure in tires.
Just like going on a road trip in a regular vehicle. The difference is, if you break down on a busy road people are around to help you. If you breakdown on a rural back road that does no have a name, good luck with that.
No Riding During Hunting Season
You have all summer to ride, let the hunters have hunting season.
While riding rural back roads it is easy to get off onto a hunting lease. A lot of leases will have a gate on the road. That does not mean “all” hunting leases have a gate.
It would really piss someone off if they were in their stand waiting for a deer, and you came riding down the logging road right in front of them.
The person leasing the land paid to use the property, while you are out joy-riding.
I have been riding rural back roads for close to 30 years. While it is fun and relaxing, we should respect that the ATV can take us far away from home rather quickly.
Drive safe and have fun.