Skip Navigation LinksDCNR > Recreation > What to Do > Snowmobiling > Riding Rules and Enforcement

Snowmobile Riding Rules and Enforcement

To make the use of snowmobile trails safe and enjoyable for yourself and others, please know and practice the following snowmobile operating rules:

  • Do not disturb, drive, or pursue wildlife with your vehicle
  • Do not carry loaded firearms on your snowmobile
  • Abide by state park and forest rules and regulations and the Snowmobile/ATV Law and regulations
  • Stay on designated trails and roadways
  • Operate your vehicle in a safe and responsible manner
  • Place all litter in waste containers, where provided; otherwise, practice the “carry-in, carry- out” procedure
  • Wear a securely fastened helmet -- it is illegal to operate snowmobile without a securely fastened helmet on the head of the operator

Any of the following activities while operating snowmobile may result in a fine:

  • Riding at a rate of speed that is unreasonable or improper under existing conditions or in excess of the maximum limits posted for vehicular traffic
  • Riding in a careless way so as to endanger the person or property of another
  • Riding while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or drugs
  • Riding on an area, trail, or roadway that is not open to snowmobile use
  • Riding without a securely fastened helmet

Where You Can Ride Your Snowmobile in Pennsylvania

Know before you go. It’s important you know what lands you will be riding on and if they are open to ATV use. Contact the appropriate land management agency to find out what is open.

Generally speaking, snowmobiles may be operated:

  • On private property with the consent of the owner
  • On state-owned property on clearly marked and previously designated trails
  • On highways and streets when necessary to cross a bridge or culvert
  • On highways and streets during periods of emergency when so declared by a governmental agency having jurisdiction
  • On highways and streets for special events of limited duration that are conducted according to a prearranged schedule under permit from the governmental unit having jurisdiction
  • On streets and highways that have been designated as “ATV or Snowmobile Roads” by the governmental agency having jurisdiction

A snowmobile may make a direct crossing of a street or two-lane highway if:

  • The crossing is made at an angle of approximately 90 degrees to the direction of the highway and at a place where no obstruction prevents a quick and safe crossing
  • The snowmobile is brought to a complete stop before crossing the highway
  • The driver yields the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic that constitutes an immediate hazard
  • The crossing of a divided highway is made at an intersection of that highway with another street or highway 

Operation of Snowmobiles Youth

Children under the age of 16 are prohibited from:

  • Operate anywhere other than land owned or leased by a parent or guardian unless the child has a valid safety certificate or is under the direct supervision of a certified instructor during a certified safety training course
  • Operate across highways or connecting streets or operate on state park or state forest roads designated for joint use (use by both motor vehicles and snowmobiles or ATVs) unless the child has a valid safety certificate and is under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older
  • Drive on state or local highways, roads, or streets designated for joint use
  • Children under 10 are not eligible for a safety certificate and are prohibited from operating a snowmobile anywhere except private property.

Snowmobile Equipment Requirements

All snowmobiles operating in Pennsylvania must be equipped with:

  • A brake system capable of bringing the snowmobile to a stop, under normal conditions, within 40 feet when traveling at 20 miles per hour
  • A muffler in good working order -- the sound intensity produced by a snowmobile may not exceed 82dbA (decibels) for older machines, and 78dbA for snowmobiles made after January 1, 1976
  • An operating headlight and tail light if operating at dark or when visibility -- the headlight must produce a white light sufficient to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of 100 feet and the tail light must produce a red light plainly visible during darkness from a distance of 500 feet

Enforcement of Snowmobile Rules and Regulations

All law enforcement officers in the state, including local and state police, are authorized to enforce the Snowmobile/ATV Law. This includes:

  • State forest and state park lands -- DCNR rangers
  • State game lands -- wildlife conservation officers and deputy wildlife conservation officers
  • Municipal and state roadways -- municipal and state police
  • Private property -- municipal and state police

You must stop when signaled by a law enforcement officer. Failure to do so could result in fines and loss of your registration.

Snowmobile Fines

Failure to register your snowmobile or abide by the rules can be costly.

First offenses range from $50 to $200 plus the cost of prosecution.

A second offense carries a fine of $100 to $300 plus the cost of prosecution.

Failure to register your vehicle or failure to have liability insurance is an automatic $300 fine plus cost of prosecution.