Advice for Safe Four Wheeling Adventures
Off-road adventures present unique perspectives on unreached areas in the great outdoors. Drivers and passengers are wise to learn basic tips about responsible four-wheeling practices. Remote locations present significant challenges if anyone is injured because of careless attempts to increase the thrill for participants. Follow these recommendations for a safe trip into the wilderness.
BE AN EDUCATED FOUR-WHEELER
Before you head out, obtain multiple sources of information. Adequate maps and an updated copy of regulations are important for the successful four-wheeling venture.
- Create a plan for your trip and ensure someone knows exactly where you will be traveling.
- Contact the area land manager to learn about permit requirements, closures, and restrictions.
- Never assume the weather will cooperate. Be prepared for unexpected rain and snowstorms.
- Wear seatbelts whenever the vehicle is in motion.
Designated trails, roads, and off-road space are set aside for people who love to explore undeveloped areas. Everyone has a personal responsibility to adhere to these rules while four wheeling. Breaking these rules can cause the authorities to remove significant areas from the four-wheeling open spaces.
- Venture into areas where four-wheel drive vehicles are allowed.
- Approach every hill directly and travel straight up and down.
- To maintain narrow trails, drive over the obstacles instead of going around.
- Drive through washouts and gullies to prevent further erosion following storms.
- Straddle ruts, even when the tracks are wider than yours.
- Follow the road through streams where the designated fording points have been made.
- Avoid driving through mud whenever possible. Moving slowly through soft terrain will reduce the depth of ruts you make.
- Back up until you can find a safe turn around place instead of attempting to turn around on steep terrain, unstable ground, or narrow roads.
- Get out of the vehicle and scout ahead on foot to determine if the path is passable. Do not assume that conditions remain unchanged since your previous visit to this place.
- Balance the load in the vehicle and lower your tire pressure until a bulge is visible, but do not drive with less than 20 pounds of pressure. These measures improve traction while you are in motion.
- Measure the actual clearance under the vehicle in the center and close to each tire. Drivers must be aware of the vehicle’s limitations to prevent vehicle damage on the trail.
- Do not follow other vehicles too closely.
- Respect barriers and comply with posted signs.
- Explore in groups of two or more vehicles to provide a backup in case of a breakdown or accident.
- Ensure at least one vehicle has a winch that is strong enough for the weight of the vehicle. Learn proper winching practices before departure.
- Never mix four wheeling adventures with alcohol or drug consumption.
RESPECT OTHERS’ RIGHTS
Many other people will be present enjoying various activities in the immediate area. Campers, hikers, and explorers will be in close proximity when you are off-road. Respect their rights!
- Make room for others on the same roads and trails.
- Restore gates to the position in which you found them. Ask for permission from landowners before crossing private property.
- Vehicles traveling uphill have the right of way when two vehicles meet. Yield to horses, hikers, and motorbikes.
- Be especially cognizant of equestrians on the trail. Horses can throw their riders if a four-wheel drive vehicle scares them. Pull to the side, remove your helmet, and speak to horse and rider. Ask the rider to tell you when it’s okay to proceed.
- Avoid four-wheeling activities in areas where others are camping and picnicking.
- Refrain from creating any more noise, dust, or speed than absolutely necessary.
AVOID SENSITIVE LAND FEATURES
Wetlands, streams, lakeshores, and meadows are home to many creatures that cannot be seen from a moving vehicle.
- Desert sands, tundra, and anywhere animals breed or build nests at various times during the year must be avoided.
- Archeological, paleontological, and historical sites must remain completely undisturbed.
- Keep your distance from wildlife and livestock that are in the area.
- Designated Wilderness Areas are off limits to all motorized and mechanized vehicles.
BE A GOOD CITIZEN!
Four wheeling enthusiasts should set the best example when leaving the area better than it was found, disposing of waste and minimizing the use of fire. Careful use of undeveloped areas will ensure that there will always be places to off road.
- Carry a trash receptacle in your vehicle.
- Practice minimum impact camping in established camp sites.
- Reduce the amount of noise your vehicle makes by maintaining the exhaust system and never revving your engine.
- Wash your vehicle to reduce the spread of seed from invasive plant species.
- Get to know other people who enjoy the same areas you four wheel.
FOUR-WHEELING IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
Approximately 120 miles of trails and gravel roads are available on New Hampshire’s largest trail system of guided and unguided four wheeling road. Find more information here:
For additional trail information:
Trail status information is available to find the areas that are open, closed, rerouted, and under reconstruction. Changes occur frequently, so check back often.
Winter trail usage: Because of snow cover, trails can be closed to preserve the integrity of the snow surface. Snowmobiles can be used in many areas. Winter months are utilized for grooming activities in some areas. Contact local clubs to confirm the areas that are open for use during the winter. Misuse of trails during winter is extremely dangerous since weather conditions can make rescues impossible. Ride smart and avoid irresponsible actions behind the wheel.