How To Snowmobile Legally and Safely on Private Property
Every year, generous landowners provide land use permission to local snowmobile clubs for their volunteers to build and maintain an OFSC Prescribed Trail (commonly referred to as “OFSC trail)” on their property. OFSC Prescribed Trails are recognized in Ontario law as the only approved recreational trails for snowmobiles. They allow snowmobiles that are displaying a valid Snowmobile Trail Permit to legally cross the property of these landowners during the winter months on a designated OFSC trail.
This land use permission is a privilege not a right, and must be respected and defended by every trail rider or the OFSC trail may be permanently closed.
Loss of land use permission and trail closures will adversely affect the trail connectivity in Ontario, diminish the recreational enjoyment for riders, and negatively impact the economies of our rural communities that rely on OFSC trails for an important part of their winter business.
Here is the acceptable behaviour expected from every snowmobiler entering an OFSC Prescribed Trail on private property.
1. Always purchase and ride displaying a valid Snowmobile Trail Permit.
Unless you have a valid permit, it is not legal for you to enter any OFSC trail on private property.
2. Always ride between the stakes and never cut corners inside a stake line.
Stakes are installed so you can follow the designated OFSC trail and cross that private property safely. The stake line shows the approved route around the corner to avoid crop damage.
3. Show your respect and appreciation for the private landowners that have allowed you to use a portion of their property for your recreational enjoyment by:
• Never wandering off an OFSC trail to play in the powder.
It’s not only illegal to leave the marked OFSC trail, but deep snow can hide dangerous obstacles. Your track can cause serious compaction damage that freezes dormant but fragile winter crops.
• Not riding with loud pipes.
Not only are aftermarket pipes illegal in Ontario, their loud noise unnecessarily disturbs landowners and livestock.
• Slowing down when passing close to any residence or livestock near an OFSC trail.
Moderating your speed helps minimize any disruption your sled may cause to landowners or local residents.
• Not touching or doing damage to anything on a landowner’s property (equipment, fences, buildings, etc.).
Stay on the marked OFSC trail to avoid any dangerous or damaging encounter with obstacles.
This isn’t your property, so leave everything alone and continue on the marked OFSC trail.
• Always being courteous and polite to landowners and their families, and never assuming any person on the trail doesn’t have a right to be there.
Landowners deserve your respect and appreciation. That pedestrian on the OFSC trail may be the landowner, so show your respect by slowing down and waving as you pass by.
• Carrying any garbage or broken parts like worn belts out with you.
Litter is not only unsightly, some trash can also cause damage to livestock or expensive farm machinery.
4. If you see tracks cut by others who have left the trail, do not follow them.
Just because someone else trespasses off the trail, doesn’t make it right for you to do.
5. Stay off any trail that shows RED on the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) and/or is marked as closed at the trail. If a gate is closed, the trail is closed. Do not open or go around it to enter the OFSC trail.
The ITG is the sole authorized source of trail status and RED means a trail in not available to ride.
A “closed” sign or other barrier means that you cannot legally enter the property.
6. Don’t cross through rope, tape or snow fencing, and avoid short cuts or detours from the marked OFSC trail. Obey signs warning to stay off sensitive crop areas.
These visual barriers and signs are located in highly sensitive areas to keep sleds from wandering off the OFSC trail. Land use permission defines exactly where the OFSC trail must go and any deviations are illegal trespass. Your track can cause serious compaction damage that freezes fragile winter crops.
7. Don’t ride over the stakes.
Stakes are installed to mark the OFSC trail, so damaging them means others won’t know where to go. Every damaged stake adds to the maintenance cost incurred by your local club from your permit dollars.
8. Avoid entering nearby fields where there are no trails.
Never leave the marked trail when crossing farm fields or ride into other fields.
9. Share the OFSC trail, keep to the right, obey all signs and ride with care & control.
It’s your responsibility to make smart riding choices to keep everyone safe on the marked OFSC trail.
10. Do not ride an ATV on any OFSC trail at any time of year.
OFSC trails are for snowmobile use only in the winter months and ATV’s are not only illegal there, but can also cause serious damage to private property and expensive trail repairs that waste your permit dollars.
Make sure that everyone you snowmobile with reads this Code of Conduct and understands the importance of staying on the marked trail. Together, we can make wandering off the marked trail and trespassing on private property socially unacceptable behaviour within the snowmobile community.