Off-Road Riding

Life is a journey best taken on two wheels

OFTR and our member clubs maintain an extensive trail network across Ontario. We are committed to trail stewardship and responsible use, and ask members to respect all trail users and the natural environment. Explore the great outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty only seen from this vantage point.

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Off-Road Riding

Riding Etiquette & Expectations

What you need to ride

You MUST

  • Have a valid membership in the OFTR.
  • Know where you are riding, stay on designated trails only
  • Ride in control and observe a 50 kmph speed limit
  • Respect, and expect, other trail users including horseback riders, hikers and mountain bike riders

Code of Conduct

  • Ride on existing trails only and do not trespass on private property
  • Respect nature
  • Expect and respect other users, they have a right to use the trails
  • Respect the work of volunteers who develop and maintain your trails including the volunteers of other user groups
  • When you see a horse: stop, turn off your engine, remove your helmet and wait for instructions
  • Comply with all legislation, by-laws and insurance requirements
  • Practice All the Gear all the Time: Always wear a helmet and other safety gear
  • Pack in and pack out to leave the place better than your found it
  • Use trails according to permitted uses. Some trails are seasonal, be sure to check trail conditions.
  • Rider sober with no use of drugs or alcohol before or during your ride
  • Keep your motorcycle quiet with a maximum of 94 decibels.

Why does the OFTR need a code of conduct?

OFTR and Member Clubs have land access agreements with municipalities and private landowners. We all need to ride appropriately and respect neighbours and other users to ensure continued access to our amazing trail network across the province for today and future generations.

Remember

  • If you ride without a trail pass you are trespassing.
  • Trails are patrolled by the police and by-law enforcement officers – if you are doing something illegal, you will be charged.
  • Ride legal and encourage those you ride with to do the same.

Protective Gear for Off-Road Motorcycles

Proper riding gear is your best investment for years of continued fun and enjoyment while exploring the trails of Ontario.

Your local dealer can help you navigate the various brands and options to best suit your needs. Our Membership Benefits provide you with discounts on parts and accessories with various dealers across the province and all you need to do is show your valid membership card.

The OFTR recommends the following off-road riding gear for men, women and children:

  • Full face helmet
  • Eye protection with goggles
  • Riding boots with good ankle and foot protection
  • Chest protector
  • Gloves
  • Elbow and knee pads
  • Pants and jersey
  • Neck brace
  • Water repellent/waterproof outer layer for spring and fall riding

Remember to wear all the gear, all the time! Ride safe with a friend or family members and always make a plan.

Where Can I Ride?

Legal Riding Areas

The OFTR currently has Land Use Agreements with:

  • Simcoe County Forest
  • Somerville Forest
  • Limerick Forest
  • Larose Forest

We also have regular dialogue with Ganaraska Forest and have negotiated riding rights with a portion of the Victoria Rail Trail. We are constantly working with local, regional, provincial and federal governments to preserve existing riding areas and gain access to new areas.

Crown land is available for use by off-road motorized vehicles under the freedom of use policy unless otherwise posted. This applies to areas in and around Haliburton, Highlands East and Calabogie. A good reference is the “Crown Land Use Policy Atlas”.

Note: It is important to realize our greatest threat to riding areas is our own code of conduct. Noisy motorcycles and inconsiderate behaviour by a few can ruin it for many.

Riding Maps

The following is a list of popular riding areas in Ontario. It does not include Ontario Crown Land. In Ontario there is a freedom of use policy for crown land. This means that all provincially owned land can be used at no cost unless the area has restricted use due to environmental factors.

All riding on public land requires ownership, license plate, insurance and 94dB or less exhaust.

Port Hope

Ganaraska Forest – This is a Conservation Area located near the junction of Hwys 115 & 35. It occupies over 900 sq kilometers. A day use or annual permit is required. Ganaraska is a sandy based reforestation area offering over 200 km of trail. The trails range from open fire roads to tight twisty single track through the woods.The Great Pine Trail Riders are the hosting club. This forest is home to the Mini Pine Enduro, Mid-Summer Dream Trail Ride, Great Pine Trail Ride and the OCMC Club Enduro.

Simcoe County Forest

Simcoe County Forest – This is a county forest surrounding the Barrie area. You must be an OFTR member to ride here. Failure to comply may result in trespassing charges. SCF has almost 200 km of single track trail. The trails range from open fire roads to tight twisty single track through the woods. Some areas have very little elevation changes while others get quite hilly. Soil is mostly sandy to loam. Unlike the Ganaraska SCF is divided into a number of smaller parcels of land. Not all of the forest tracts are deemed suitable for motorized use. The Simcoe County Off Road Riders are the hosting club. Maps are only available to OFTR members on the OFTR or SCORRA websites. SCF hosts the Midhurst Trail Ride.

Simcoe County Forest Permissible List Map

Northumberland County Forest

Northumberland County Forest – This is a county forest north of Cobourg. You must be an OFTR member to ride here. Failure to comply may result in trespassing charges. Soil is sandy to loam. Area can be hilly in places. NCF has limited allowable single track trail plus a network of two track and fire roads. The Northumberland County Trail Riders are the hosting club and own club property adjacent to the NCF.

Haliburton and Highlands East – The riding areas in this part of the province are Crown Lands. Riding is permitted on the trail system centering from Gooderham, Ontario unless marked otherwise. This area is rocky and hilly. Trails range from tight single track to open double track. A favourite riding area for those looking for a challenge. The hosting club is the Haliburton Trail Riders. This area hosts the Corduroy Enduro & Trail Ride and the Soggy Boot Trail Ride.

Haliburton and Highlands East

Madawaska Area – The riding areas in this part of the province are Crown Lands. Riding is permitted on the trail system centering from Madawska, Ontario unless marked otherwise. This area is rocky and hilly. Trails range from tight single track to open double track. A favourite riding area for those looking for a challenge. The hosting club is the Haliburton Trail Riders. This area hosts the Algonquin 2 Day Trail Ride.

Madawaska Area

Somerville Forest & Victoria Rail Trail – You must have an OFTR membership to ride in this area near Kinmount, Ontario. Access to the VRT is only from Kinmount to Burnt River. Somerville Forest is located off of Monck Road just west of Kinmount. Loam soil and valleys make this a tremendous place to ride for those wanting a challenge. The hosting club is the Haliburton Trail Riders. This area hosts the Corduroy Enduro. Somerville Forest Trail Map

Limerick Forest – This is a 5782-hectare community forest located in eastern Ontario, owned by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, and is managed by the Forest Manager. The Bytown Motorcycle Association and the OFTR are partners of Limerick Forest. You must be an OFTR member to ride here.

This forest is a great area for all levels of rider, sand base, 70% pine plantation, with little elevation change. It is one to the best riding areas for family, new, beginning, and “just remembering how to ride” riders. It is also great skills building/practice area in a forest plantation, very close to Ottawa. No problem if you only have a half day.

Limerick Forest has about 40km of single track and 40km of two track trail, used by multiple types of users: off-road motorcyclists, ATVs, cyclists, hikers, hunters (best to avoid during deer season), horseback riders and others. The riding areas are broken into two areas 1.5 km apart. There are no trails between areas, you must choose one or the other to ride in, as there is swamp between them, and connected by a gravel road only – see our caution below in using the road. Both areas have good parking, but we ask riders to park at the south parking lot (pit) for safety and privacy reasons. Both parking areas have primitive facilities. The BMA is the hosting club.

Larose Forest – This is the newest BMA riding area, and has come about as a result of a prolonged effort by a small number of BMA members working persistently and diligently with County representatives to gain access to this County owned forest.You must be an OFTR member to ride here.

Larose Forest riding area offers a short technical single track loop in an open pine forest at the start. Approximately half the loop is suitable for novice riders, the other half is suitable for intermediate or above riders. It is generally flat terrain, with a shallow ravine, and some short high banks (like riding on ditch dredging), parts of the trail are rooty and rough, and there are parallel log and cross board bridges. As a small compact area, you will never be more than a couple of kilometers from the parking are. The BMA is the hosting club.

Calabogie Area – This is one of Ontario’s most envied riding areas! Every year riders come from Southern Ontario, Quebec, New England states, and occasionally from even further to experience the annual Calabogie Boogie.

The Calabogie riding area is quite large, constituting approximately 5,000 – 10,000 square km. Trails may be found on both public (Ontario crown) and private lands in the three counties of Lanark, Renfrew and Frontenac and is generally:

  • West of highway 511, South of highway 508, north of highway 509 and East of Ompah

Some of the major riding landmarks/trail systems may be found as follows

  • K&P trail – 45° 7’41.19″N, 76°41’18.55″W
  • 77 Snowmobile trail –hydro tower line – 45° 8’41.00″N, 76°48’17.69″W
  • Bumpas hydro tower line – 45°12’53.22″N, 76°42’17.68″W
  • Triple tower hydro line – 45° 6’2.43″N, 76°40’56.28″W
  • Three beaver pond logging roads – 45°12’53.22″N, 76°42’17.68″W
  • Perch Lake – 45° 6’24.23″N, 76°43’50.71″W
  • Levant Mountain – 45° 1’59.45″N, 76°40’6.01″W
  • M&M/East of 511
  • Mountain Chute Express – 45° 7’58.22″N, 76°52’38.12″W
  • Evergreen Mountain – 45° 8’18.52″N, 76°55’6.54″W

Parking Areas

  • Highway 580 (North Madawaska) pit – 45°15’16.98″N, 76°51’1.72″W to ride the Newfie Autoban
  • Mountain Chute Dam (top of hill) – 45°11’32.40″N, 76°54’14.59″W to ride Evergreen Mountain
  • Highland Golf Course – 45°16’28.56″N, 76°43’45.45″W to ride #77 and K&P trails
  • Flower Station – 45° 9’27.70″N, 76°41’14.01″W to ride #77, Perch Lake, Triple Tower, Three Beaver Pond, Bumpas trails
  • Levant Station – 45° 2’35.37″N, 76°42’7.51″W to ride Levant Mountain, Triple Tower
  • M&M – 45°11’33.02″N, 76°34’59.82″W to ride M&M, Campbell Rd, Triple Tower, and East of 511

What are the various trails types/riding levels?

  • Forest access Rd, Beginner/novice
  • Old rail bed, Beginner/novice
  • 4 wheeler and jeep trails, Beginner – expert
  • Logging roads, Beginner – intermediate
  • Single track, Beginner – expert

What kind of terrain can I expect to encounter?

  • Rock, rock and more rock
  • Water
  • Mud
  • Pine forest loam
  • Elevation (the most in Ontario

Welland County – This area is hosted by the Niagara Timberline Riders club. The description of the conditions and allowable riding area will be posted soon.

Turkey Point Riding Area – This area is hosted by the Lynn Valley Dirt Riders Club. The description of the conditions and allowable riding area will be posted soon. This area hosts the Beagle Bash Enduro and Trail Ride.

Kitchener Waterloo Area – This area is hosted by the Kitchener Waterloo Cycle Sport Association. The KWCSA has their own riding area but you must be a member to access it. This club hosts the Anthill Classic XC race.

Oshawa / Whitby Area – This area is hosted by the Oshawa Competition Motorcycle Club. OCMC has their own motocross track on Brock Rd north of the 407. You must be a full OCMC member to take part in their Tuesday Night MX Series.

Riding Requirements

To ride on public land the following is required:

  • License plate – on or off-road
  • Liability Insurance
  • Noise limit of 94 dbA or less with Spark arrestors
  • OFTR Membership (mandatory in some areas, optional in others)
  • Public land can be defined as crown land, county forest, conservation area or private land where an OFTR Land Use Agreement has been established.
  • Riding on unauthorized public or private land is strictly prohibited.

Legal Requirements

For the purposes of defining the difference in the legalities, there are two predominant areas:

Private Riding Area

This area is a privately owned property where you have permission to ride either through an agreement with the land owner or through paying a fee to be allowed to ride. Examples could be a friend or neighbour’s property or a pay per use facility/track.

On private land the requirements are at the discretion of the land owner. Typically there is no requirement for vehicle registration, license plates or liability insurance.

Public Riding Area

This area is publicly owned, meaning it is crown land owned by the Province of Ontario or land owned by a municipality or conservation authority. Examples include Simcoe County Forest (County owned), Ganaraska Forest (Conservation Authority owned), Calabogie Area Forest (Province of Ontario Crown Land).

On public land the requirement is clearly spelled out in the Off-Highway Vehicles Act and includes the requirement for vehicle registration, the presence of an on-road or off-road license plate permanently affixed to the motorcycle and valid liability insurance. Public riding areas also require all vehicles to have a spark arrested exhaust with a noise output of no more that 94 dbA as tested under SAE J1287.

From Ontario OHV Act

Insurance

15. (1) No person shall drive an off-road vehicle unless it is insured under a motor vehicle liability policy in accordance with the Insurance Act. R.S.O. 1990, c. O.4, s. 15 (1).

Idem

(2) No owner of an off-road vehicle shall permit it to be driven unless it is insured under a motor vehicle liability policy in accordance with the Insurance Act. R.S.O. 1990, c. O.4, s. 15 (2).

Production of evidence of insurance

(3) Every driver of an off-road vehicle who is not owner thereof shall, upon the request of a peace officer, surrender for inspection evidence that the vehicle is insured under a motor vehicle liability policy in accordance with the Insurance Act. R.S.O. 1990, c. O.4, s. 15 (3).

Idem

(4) Every owner of an off-road vehicle that is driven on land other than land that the owner occupies shall, upon request of a peace officer, surrender, for inspection, within seventy-two hours after the request is made, evidence that the vehicle was insured under a motor vehicle liability policy in accordance with the Insurance Act at the time it was driven. R.S.O. 1990, c. O.4, s. 15 (4).

License Plates & Insurance

You must have liability insurance to ride on public land including but not limited to roads, road allowances, fire roads and trails. This includes municipal forests, conservation areas and crown lands.

It is also important to note that your home policy does not cover your off-road motorcycle in the event it is stolen or lost in a fire, flood, etc. You must have fire and theft coverage in addition to liability to cover your off-road motorcycle.

LICENSE PLATES

There are two common types of license plates used in off-road riding as outlined below.

Green Plate

The green plate is actually white with green letters or numerals. It designates the bike as an off-road only machine bearing the body type MF. The green plate must be permanently affixed to the front of the motorcycle, typically on the number plate.

The green plate and proper insurance allow the operator drive off-road and to ride directly cross a highway as long as the operator has a valid Ontario drivers License.

Blue Plate

Again this plate is a white plate with blue letters or numerals. It designates the bike as an approved vehicle for travel on road.

The Blue Plate in combination with proper insurance allows the operator to travel on-road or on permitted off-road areas providing the rider has a valid “M” class motorcycle license.

The Blue Plate must be permanently affixed to the rear of the motorcycle in a location visible from directly behind the motorcycle according to the Highway Vehicles Act.

Where Not To Ride

If you are not sure if it’s legal, don’t ride there until you find out!

HUNTING ADVISORY

In the spirit of shared use and safety we advise all OFTR members not to ride in areas where deer hunting occurs during hunting season.

Deer hunters have a short season and we ask all forest users to give them the space they need to enjoy their sport.

How to determine when hunting occurs in your area

Check your area for accurate information at the MNR Website

Sunday Hunting is allowed in some zones in Ontario

Below is a link to a map for Sunday Hunting

SUNDAY HUNTING MAP

Off-Road Vehicles Act

In Ontario there is specific legislation covering the use of off-road motorcycles. The link to the act is as follows:

Off-Road Vehicles Act

Regulation 316/03

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/source/regs/english/2003/elaws_src_regs_r03316_e.htm