Trail Notices and Updates
As of May 1, 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has opened All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Off- Highway Motorcycle (OHM) trails in the following forests:
Beartown State Forest, Monterey (All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Off Highway Motorcycle (OHM)
October Mt. State Forest, Lee, Lenox, Washington (ATV and OHM)
Pittsfield State Forest, Pittsfield, Hancock (ATV and OHM)
Tolland State Forest, Tolland (OHM only)
F. Gilbert Hills S.F, Foxboro, MA (OHM only)
Franklin S.F, Franklin, MA (OHM only)
Wrentham S.F, Wrentham, (OHM only)
Freetown State Forest OHM trails will open on their traditional schedule beginning on Monday, May 6, 2013
Recreational Trail Permit Program expands to October Mt and Beartown State Forests
DCR has expanded the All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Off Highway Motorcycle (OHM) recreational trail permit program to include Beartown State Forest and October Mountain State Forest for 2013. DCR has operated this free program at Pittsfield State Forest program since 2010. The recreational permit program has facilitated more direct and effective communication between our staff and our ATV and OHM customers and provided valuable information about user demand, the popularity of motorized recreation trails and rider demographic and usage patterns. The agency believes the program will offer similar benefits at Beartown and October Mt. State Forests. For information about reserving or picking up your recreational use permit for these forests visit the following webpage: 2013 Off-Highway Vehicle Permit Program
Changes to Massachusetts Recreation Vehicle Laws
Recent changes to Massachusetts laws require that recreation vehicle operators under the age of 18 must complete an operator safety and responsibility program and carry a certificate of completion while riding.
Off Highway Vehicle (OHV)
Training Safety Certificate Class Schedule
Legislation signed in August of 2010 (Ch. 202 of the Acts of 2010) brings significant changes to Massachusetts Recreation Vehicle Laws. Among the new provisions are educational requirements for young riders, age restrictions for operators of ATVs and UTV’s, increased penalties for illegal use and the establishment of an OHV program fund to support improved riding opportunities and law enforcement. This brochure provides a brief overview of the substantive change to MGL c.90B as it pertains to recreation and snow vehicles.
Recreation Vehicle Safety Laws and Regulations as they pertain to Massachusetts Forests and Parks
Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Defined
Also known as Off Highway Vehicle (OHV), ORV’s are any motor vehicle designed or modified for use over unimproved terrain if used for recreation or pleasure off a public way and all legally registered motor vehicles when used off a way. Vehicles over 1000 lbs. such as pickup trucks or SUVs are prohibited from all trails at all times.
All ORVs must be currently registered in Massachusetts under MGL c. 90B. New Massachusetts Recreation Vehicle Laws require the display of registration on the left and right side of the vehicle. Additionally, motor vehicles registered under chapter 90 must now also register as a recreation vehicle under chapter 90B (on/off road motorcycles, Jeeps, etc.) when used for recreation or pleasure once they leave a public way as defined in chapter 90. Out of state recreation vehicle registrations are not valid in Massachusetts. Contact the Division of Environmental Law Enforcement for registration information: (617)626-1610 or www.mass.gov/dfwele/dle/elereg.htm
Designated ORV Trails
ORV use is permitted only on designated ORV trails within the forest management. Designated ORV trails will be marked with trailhead signage and/or orange or yellow trail blazes. All other state parks, reservations and forests are closed to ORV use at all times.
ORV use is permitted only during the riding season (as conditions allow) beginning no earlier than May 1 and ending no later than the last Sunday in November each year. To be sure the forest is open to ORV riding, call ahead.
Age Restrictions and Engine Capacity
No person under 18 years of age shall operate a recreation vehicle unless he has successfully completed a recreation vehicle safety and responsibility course approved by the Director of the Office of Law Enforcement. Proof of course completion shall be carried on the person when operating such recreation vehicle. A parent or legal guardian of an operator of a recreation vehicle under 16 years of age shall participate in at least 1 session of the recreation vehicle safety and responsibility course or as required by the director. No person under 14 years of age shall operate a recreation utility vehicle or an all
A person between 14 and 16 years of age may operate an all-terrain vehicle or recreation utility vehicle with an engine capacity equal to or less than 90 cubic centimeters if directly supervised by a person 18 years of age or older.
No person between 14 and 16 years of age shall operate an all-terrain vehicle or recreation utility vehicle with an engine capacity greater than 90 cubic centimeters.
A person, between the ages of 10 and 14, may operate a recreation vehicle or snow vehicle in preparation for, or while a participant in, a sanctioned race, rally or organized event which is supervised by a person aged 18 or older and which has been authorized or approved by a municipal permitting authority.
No person under ten years of age shall operate a snow vehicle or recreation vehicle under any circumstances.
No person aged 18 years of age or older shall knowingly permit another, who is under the age of 18, to operate a snow vehicle or recreation vehicle in his custody or under his control in violation of M.G.L. c. 90B.
Any person age 18 or older with custody or control of a snow vehicle or recreation vehicle, who knowingly permits another, who is under the age of 18, to operate such vehicle shall be held liable, jointly and severally with the operator, for any damage or injuries caused by such operator’s operation of the vehicle and for any fines, penalties or restitution resulting there from. No person under the age of 16 and ½ years of age shall operate a recreation vehicle across a public way.
The following are examples of prohibited operation of ORVs:
- Operating on trails or in state forests / parks not designated for ORV use.
- Operating on public ways or upon the right-of-way limits of a controlled access highway - this includes all roads (dirt or paved) within state forests.
- Failure to come to a complete stop when crossing a public way (ORV rider must yield to motor vehicle traffic).
- Operating so as to endanger any person or property.
- Operating at an unreasonable, improper, or unsafe speed for existing conditions.
- Operating before sunrise or after sunset within state forest lands.
- Operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
- Operating on land of another within 150 feet of an occupied residence without permission of the owner.
- Operating within 150 feet of an occupied residence without permission of the owner.
- Operating in a manner so as to harass or chase wildlife or domestic animals.
- Operating on a wetland such as a bog, marsh, or swamp so as to destroy or damage the wetland.
- Carrying of a firearm, rifle or shotgun in or on a recreation vehicle or on a trailer or sled attached, unless the firearm in unloaded and in an enclosed case.
- Carrying passengers on any ORV unless manufactured for the driver and one passenger.
- Emitting noxious fumes and excessive noise.
Persons operating or riding on a recreation vehicle shall wear an approved helmet. Each recreation vehicle must also be equipped with an adequate braking system and muffler designed to reduce unusual or excessive noise (96 dbA or below) and obnoxious fumes. Each recreation vehicle must be equipped with and display after sunset, one or more headlights, a red rear light and red rear reflector. An attached trailer must have a red rear reflector.
Observing trail etiquette and safety are important, particularly when trails are heavily used. Keep to the right side of the trail, and go slow around blind corners and through trail intersections. To prevent habitat and trail damage, slow down, stay within the trail corridor and use bridges when provided. Know where you are permitted to ride and where you are not. Respect private property and closed areas. When passing hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and other trail users, reduce speed, yield right-of-way, and do not pass until it can be accomplished with complete safety. If you “pack it in, pack it out”. Volunteer to help maintain trails and join an organized club in your area.