OFSC Trail Rider Code of Conduct

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.

OFSC Provides By The Numbers Overview of Organized Snowmobiling

A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Economics of Delivering Snowmobile Trails

(Barrie, ON: February 25 , 2021) – As the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) enters its 54th year as the voice for the volunteer snowmobile clubs in this province, it’s informative to look at a few of our “Snowmobiling By The Numbers”. Hopefully, they help all of us better appreciate the big picture of organized snowmobiling in Ontario – and what a massive, complex and valuable undertaking this year-round enterprise really is. It’s also a sobering look at the economic benefits that are being lost to snowbelt communities as too many trails are closed due to snowmobilers wandering off marked trails.

Most of these Snowmobiling By The Numbers are from the 2018-2019 riding season, the most recent figures available. While the numbers vary slightly from year to year, and may be down this season due to current restrictions, a primary and very unpredictable variable is consistent: What kind of season we get from Old Man Winter?

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OFSC Provides Good News Update For Ontario Snowmobilers

2021 Season Includes Many Positive Indicators For Organized Snowmobiling

(Barrie, ON: February 18, 2021) – Overcoming many of this season’s uncertainties, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is making considerable progress on our promise to deliver the best possible trail riding experiences for snowmobilers this winter. Following extraordinary efforts, our districts, clubs and volunteers made over 22,000 kilometres of OFSC trails available for your local riding pleasure on the 2021 Family Day Long Weekend. This included many close to home, day ride opportunities throughout Southern Ontario.

In fact, local trail riding was allowed and available last weekend in about 89% of the 27 Ontario public health units (of 34 in the province) that have OFSC trails within their boundaries. Now the OFSC is pleased to report some additional riding opportunities. With the new re-opening framework easing into place, even more OFSC trails are becoming available again between Yellow or Green public health units. But note that in keeping with continuing provincial restrictions, any OFSC trail crossing the boundary of a Gray, Red or Orange public health unit will remain temporarily closed under the OFSC Flex Trails plan.

To date, the 2021 season is highlighted by numerous positive indicators for organized snowmobiling, including these signs of increased interest and participation (no final numbers yet available):

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OFSC Urges Trail Riders To Make Smart Choices On Family Day Long Weekend

Smart Choice #1 For Snowmobiling Is Riding Available OFSC Trails

(Barrie, ON: February 11, 2021) – Snowmobile trails operated by clubs belonging to the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) comprise about 40% of our province’s recreational trails, a network that continues to be the smart choice for where to ride your sled. Recent statistics provided by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) show that over 90% of snowmobile fatalities this season have occurred on roads, ice and unmaintained areas, and not on available OFSC trails. That’s one good reason why we’re pleased to welcome smart riders to over 22,000 kilometres of snowmobile trails now available for local riding this Family Day Long Weekend.

We want you to feel safe on our trails and arrive home without incident after every ride. To help, we’ve invited the OPP and other enforcement services to patrol our trails this weekend. You can do your part to safeguard your family by reminding everyone in your group of smart riding choices expected on our trails. There is no more important time to take this advice to heart than Family Day Long Weekend when so many families and new riders will be sharing our trails for a special winter outing. These smart choices include:

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OFSC Adds Public Health Unit Boundaries To Interactive Trail Guide

Boundary Lines Assist Snowmobilers To Ride Locally Within Their Public Health Region

(Barrie, ON: January 27, 2021) – With winter finally upon us and thousands of kilometres of trails now showing either Green or Yellow on the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) for local riding, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has created a new tool to assist snowmobilers.

As of today, we have temporarily added public health region boundaries (blue lines) to the ITG on our website, which are visible in both Trail Network and Trail Status views. They will also show on the Go Snowmobiling Ontario Apps after your next regular data update. The blue boundary lines will help you to stay within your own public health region while riding available OFSC trails and enable you to plan your local rides more easily while complying with public health measures.

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OFSC Urges All Snowmobilers To Follow Public Health Protocols

Together We Can Do This!

(Barrie, ON: January 20, 2021) – On January 18th, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) received the news that, effective January 21st, 2021, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit (NBPSDHU) is temporarily closing all OFSC trails within its region for the duration of the provincial Stay At Home Order. This district stretches from Parry Sound on the shores of Georgian Bay, east to Mattawa on the Ottawa River, and from Novar north almost to Marten River. It also includes many OFSC clubs and their volunteers in OFSC Districts 10, 11 & 7 who have worked very hard to prep their trails and, in some cases, had commenced grooming operations despite a late start to winter.

In a news release from January 18th, 2021, Dr. Jim Chirico, NBPSDHU Medical Officer of Health, stated that: “I have received many complaints about people travelling from other districts to use the local snowmobile trails, thus putting our district at risk of COVID-19. The OFSC recommends that snowmobilers avoid trailering and travelling to destinations that are outside their health unit region to snowmobile, but people have not taken the direction seriously.”

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