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ATV Riding in State Forests

Pennsylvania has 777 miles for ATV riding enthusiasts to enjoy. Many designated ATV trails can be found within our state forests.

Designated ATV trails on state forest lands are open from the Friday before Memorial Day through the last full weekend in September.

Some ATV trails reopen for winter use in conjunction with the snowmobile season from the day following the last day of the regular or extended deer season through April 1 -- conditions permitting. Check with the forest district to be sure that winter use is permitted.

Only Class I ATVs (motorized off-highway vehicle, which travels on three or more inflatable tires and has a maximum width of 50 inches and a maximum dry weight of 1200 pounds) may be operated on state forest trails designated for ATV use.

Class II ATVs (motorized off-highway vehicle, which travels on three or more inflatable tires and has a width which exceeds 50 inches or a dry weight which exceeds 1200 pounds) may be operated on state forest land ONLY if the trail is specifically posted open to Class II ATVs of a particular width and weight.

ATV riding is only permitted on designated trails in Pennsylvania state forests. State forest roads, state parks, and state game lands are not open to ATV riding.

What You Need While Riding

While riding your ATV you must carry with you or on the vehicle:
  • Certificate of registration
  • Proof of liability insurance
  • Registration plate affixed to the vehicle
  • Expiration stickers (does not apply to limited registration)
  • Valid safety certificate (ages 8-15 if riding off of parent’s or guardian’s property)

Operation of ATVs by Youth

No one under 8 years of age is allowed to operate an ATV on any state-owned property.

Youth ages 8 to 15 must complete a prescribed ATV safety training course and receive an ATV training certificate to ride on lands other than their parents’ or guardian’s property.

Riders ages 8 and 9 are restricted to an engine size of 70cc or less.

Access for People with Disabilities

This activity or structure is ADA accessible. DCNR allows a person with disabilities to operate an ATV in designated areas of state forest land with an approved letter of authorization from DCNR. Most of these areas are open year-round.

If a person wishes to engage in hunting from his or her ATV, a permit to hunt from a vehicle, as well as a valid hunting license, is needed from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
 

Other Places to Ride ATVs in Pennsylvania

Many other ATV riding opportunities exist across the state on public lands and local municipalities. Contact the local tourist promotion agency, ATV clubs, dealers or county governments to find out more about your region of interest.
 

Allegheny National Forest

The federally-operated Allegheny National Forest has more than 100 miles of ATV trails. ATV trail season runs from the Friday before Memorial Day through the last Sunday in September, winter season is from December 20 - April 1. Contact the:

Allegheny National Forest Supervisor's Office
4 Farm Colony Drive
Warren, PA 16365
(814) 723-5150

ATV permits (PDF) are required for riding the Allegheny National Forest ATV trail system. The annual permit is $35. The following trails are within the Allegheny National Forest:

  • Marienville ATV/Bike Trail on State Route 66 east of the town of Marienville
  • Timberline ATV Trail, accessed from State Route 948, north of Ridgway (also connects to the Marienville ATV Trail)
  • Rocky Gap ATV Trail, accessed from Township Road 3005, southeast of Warren
  • Willow Creek ATV Trail on the eastern side of the Allegheny Reservoir, just south of the New York State line. Closed during the winter season

Protecting Pennsylvania ATV Trails

Every ATV rider must be an ambassador for this sport. Please give careful consideration to your effect on the trails, environment, and others when riding. The future of your sport depends on it.
 

Minimizing Environmental impact

Every effort should be made to minimize the impact of your machine on the trail and surrounding environment. Using skill and common sense you can negotiate various obstacles and riding conditions that have the potential to cause damage.

Remember, areas closed to ATVs and snowmobiles are done so for a reason; please respect these special areas.

The following are some suggestions offered by Tread Lightly!®, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the outdoors and outdoor recreation through responsible practices:

  • Stay on designated roads and trails or other areas open for use.
  • Avoid spooking livestock and wildlife you encounter.
  • Cross streams at designated crossings only.
  • Use existing campsites whenever possible; avoid building fires.
  • Cross obstacles at an angle, one wheel at a time.
  • Don't straddle large rocks.
  • Avoid mud if you can while remaining on the road or trail.
  • Turn into ravines or large depressions at about a 45-degree angle.
  • Straddle ruts, even if they are wider than your vehicle. This will keep your vehicle level.
  • Lower the tire pressure to where you see a bulge in your tire to give you better traction and provide for a smoother ride.
  • Avoid riding the brakes and clutch which can lead to brake failure.

ATV Trail Etiquette

Many times ATV riders will come in contact with other user groups sharing the same lands, roadways, or trails. It is important to practice common courtesies when riding your ATV on a trail:

  • Be considerate of others on the trail and keep to the right
  • Slow down when passing
  • Ride only where permitted
  • Leave gates as you find them
  • Yield the right of way to bikes, horses, and hikers
  • Carry out what you carry in
  • Wave and say 'hello' as you pass
  • Report downed trees and trail maintenance needs to land managers

Report Illegal Riding

If you see someone riding irresponsibly, off-trail, or dangerously, try to record the machine's registration number. Report the activity to the local authority with jurisdiction over those lands. Remember, bad behavior by some individuals can harm the reputation of the entire sport.