OHV Trails - Colorado National Forest Land

mallardsx2

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Jul 8, 2015
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So I have been doing some google earth snooping. I have found a couple areas I want to try but I keep finding these "random trails" zooming all over the national forest. It looks like 4 wheeler trails but upon closer inspection they are NOT legal trails. My fear is that I show up and a bunch of knuckleheads are boondocking it all over the place in their 4 wheelers and side by sides. Best I can tell is somebody took a right hand turn off of a trail that keeps going and make their own going about a mile closer to where the elk should be at....which kinda sucks.

Could this be the people that have the grazing rights? It really appears that these trails are VERY well used. And this has me of course concerned. I would hate to draw into a unit only to find out that people are driving all over the place with 4 wheelers and side by sides.

Anyone care to comment?
How much enforcement is there on this?

I called the local officer and he didn't have much to say about it. Seems to me they should be writing a lot of tickets if people are driving all over the national forest. But who am I to say I guess.
 

JimP

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Mar 28, 2016
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I doubt that it is the ranchers or those who hold the grazing rights to the area. On and off road regulation are the same for all of us.

One problem is trying to actually find a correct answer to a question on where it is legal or not to ride. This past year I was helping my brother in law with a hunt here in Colorado and even after talking to the agency that is responsible for the area I still couldn't get a straight answer, in this case it was the BLM.

Even in the area that I live you need a actual travel map from the agency to even try and make heads or tails if a road or trail is open to ATV's. My problem is that the Forest Service along with the county is closing off roads to ATV use but still allow state licensed vehicles to drive on them. So if you have a dirt bike that is registered and licensed with the state you can ride on this road but a legal ATV can not.

The problem with a agency writing tickets is that you need a "enforcement officer" of that responsible agency to write those tickets and there are very few of them if any out patrolling the forest and BLM lands.

This is also a big gripe of mine.
 

taskswap

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Jul 9, 2018
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I'm not sure where exactly you're looking, and won't ask. But bear in mind that there are lots of uses of the forest beyond hunting and camping that are "legitimate" and also lead to tons of two-track scars everywhere you look. Two big ones are logging and fire mitigation. Those scars last for years.

It's a common misconception that the USFS was created to conserve public forest land. Actually, it was originally established to manage timber as a strategic reserve, kind of the way we have a strategic oil reserve. Bill Bryson has a funny story in A Walk in the Woods (a must read, funny as he**) about the USFS: "... mostly what the Forest Service does is build roads. ... There are 378,000 miles of roads in America's national forests. The Forest Service has the 2nd highest number of road engineers of any government institution on the planet. ... It is the avowed aim of the U.S. Forest Service to construct 580,000 miles of additional forests road by the middle of the next century."

I haven't hiked every square mile of this state but I've definitely hit a ton of it. There's a ton of quadding around the state especially in places like Rampart Range Rd and Kremmling. But it hasn't been my experience that there's a lot of quad-category abuse of areas where they aren't supposed to be. Maybe I'm just not hitting the "bad spots" but that's not what I see.

I agree with JimP about enforcement. I've only run into officers 2-3x in the past few years. The potential consequences are so rare that it's easy to see how some folks might get carried away...
 

mallardsx2

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Thanks for the replies guys. Both very helpful.

In today's day and age the "I though I was on the right road" doesn't fly. Especially with OnX maps and such having layers so I prefer not to risk it too much.

Interestingly enough one trail I used last season NF loops a half mile in the wrong direction from what is posted on their OHV map. So I wonder the accuracy of these maps in the first place.

I might just look at a totally different area to avoid the situation all together or check to see if there are signs showing closure when I get there.
 

Colorado Cowboy

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Down here in the San Juan NF, the FS is posting the ones that are closed. The 2 tracks that were used by full sized 4wd's are usually bermed or have large rocks across the entrance to keep you out. The ones used by sxs & quads are posted with their standard "fence post" type signs.
 

mallardsx2

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I obviously will obey the signs. But if there are not signs and "Everybody's doing it" my conscience still always gets the best of me and I park and walk. Plus it would be just my luck to get busted even if there was no sign and being from out of state its an automatic ticket. "I see your not from around here...." scenario. lol

You ever parked and walked to be safe and had someone come blasting past you a mile in on a side by side? I have...lol It sucks

Glad to hear that they are attempting to put up signs and such. That makes me feel better. I had read that on the internet last night that they were going to start enforcing things more this year and they were posting and blockading some areas that people had been using. So maybe my worries are all for nothing.
 

RICMIC

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The area where I hunted in CO last fall was accessed the first 3 miles on a "Jeep/ORV trail" It is apparently heavily used right up to the wilderness area boundary. Before the hunting season starts it is gated and posted as closed. I spent 13 days in that area and never saw anyone else but hikers and a couple bow hunters. So, just seeing a road or two track on Google Earth isn't the definitive answer to trail use. The N.F. and wilderness area maps mark out the info very well.
 

mallardsx2

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I have the OHV map of the area. I will try to pull some more maps today and see if the road is listed on any of those. The map I have definetly does not show the road going in the direction of google earth, but towards some private ground 180 degrees in the different direction.
 

tim

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Jun 4, 2011
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north idaho
the white ohv maps from the forest service will only show roads that are legal to be one, not all the roads in an area. ie if the road is closed to motor vehichles, it will not be on the white motorized travel map. so you can see it on google earth or in real life, but it does not mean it is legal to take a vehickle on it.
 

kidoggy

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Apr 23, 2016
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legal or not ,if there is a trail , you can bet that some idiot will be on it on a dirt bike or a four wheeler, during hunting season..
 
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taskswap

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Jul 9, 2018
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Get the official USFS/MVUM for the area (or the layer in your mapping tool). Gates are clearly marked and where you see those you know that 2-track you're looking at is only for fire, USFS, logging, and similar. You won't have any trouble in hunting season.

Where not forbidden (many wilderness areas restrict all wheeled vehicles) consider bringing a mountain bike. If you're poking around figuring which logging road you want to hike in on, it can make a quick way to get a mile back to snoop around.