Off-Roading 101 – Obeying the Rules of Off-Road Trails

Back-road trail adventures are some of the best kind, from the easy-to-navigate scenic trails all the way to the hardcore monsters enjoyed by the rock-crawling crowd. However, with public land usage becoming more and more scarce by the day, as four-wheelers we need to obey the rules, and this starts with the individual.

Remember to pack out what you pack in. Bring trash bags along with you, so you can easily store waste like cans, bottles, paper plates and napkins. Don’t limit yourself to your own trash, either! If you see litter on the trail, it only takes a minute to stop and pick it up. If you see someone else chucking trash out the window, let them know that they are putting the entire trail system at risk by acting like a fool. The trails are there for us to enjoy, not abuse! Educating others could save your favorite wheeling spot.

Be careful with alcohol on the trail. The best way to do this is to consider ANY off-road area a “no tolerance” zone. While it’s true, a couple beers here and there probably isn’t going to hurt much if you aren’t throwing the bottles or cans on the trail or into the trees somewhere, but the easiest way to ensure that booze in no way plays a part in a trail mishap is to not consume any at all.

STAY ON THE DESIGNATED TRAIL! Going off into the bushes and mowing down anything in your path is not a part of safe and sane wheeling; in fact, it’s illegal in most places and a MAJOR reason why trails are being closed everywhere. If the trail you are on isn’t challenging enough, try a more difficult trail instead of blazing your own wherever you’d like one. These are not the Pioneer days, and you aren’t in a wagon. Every time you venture off the trail something is going to get damaged.

Use the buddy system. If nobody can go out and run a trail on a certain day, find something else to do. Even the easiest, most scenic dirt roads can become scary or even deadly if something happens and you are the lone rig. No matter how capable your rig is, or how long you have been wheeling, or how well you know the area, don’t go out alone! It is one thing for you and a friend to pass through a couple rough spots on the way to your favorite fishing hole, and quite another to run an entire trail with only one vehicle. Use common sense for this one, it will almost never steer you wrong.

If you are on a weekend trail run, and plan to camp along the route, be careful with campfires. Have someone who knows what they are doing set up a pit, and tend to the fire. Don’t let folks throw bottles and cans or trash of any sort into the fire, either. These items can sometimes become very unpredictable when subjected to such heat, and also create a hazard for others coming through the same way.

Clean up any fluids your rig spills, as well. Sometimes radiator hoses pop, lines get disconnected, or a brake cylinder can fail. Rolling over is also a part of the off-road scene, and is going to happen on occasion. The rig is guaranteed to lose some of its oil, antifreeze, ATF or power steering fluid. Please scoop up as much of the mess as you possibly can and bag it out of the area.

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