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What Are the Different Types of ATV Riding Trails?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 17, 2024
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People who own an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can choose from many different types of trails. Some ATV riding trails may be very rugged, while others are generally flat. ATV trails can also be small ones intended for only one or two riders, and others could be ideal for a group ATV tour. Trails for beginning riders are usually very short, but those for advanced riders could take several days to navigate. There are ATV parks that have trails only for this type of vehicle, or ones that can also be used for horseback riding, mountain biking, or foot hiking.

ATV riding trails can be found on many types of terrain. Some are very rugged and may include riding up the side of a mountain or over hills. Others could be generally flat with wide curves that are easy to maneuver. Riding an ATV may sometimes require riders to cross creek beds or streams as well.

Many people like to ride ATVs as a family activity, in which case they may want a more private trail. Ones intended for only a few riders may be just wide enough for one vehicle to be driven on the path at one time. Riders who enjoy being part of an ATV tour may want wider trails that allow two or three vehicles to ride side-by-side. Trails such as these normally make a loop so that people who are riding in opposite directions do not run into each.

An ATV tour may last several days, and there are different types of ATV trails for this activity. Some ATV riding trails may be entirely primitive, which means riders must bring their own food and water with them. Others may have designated campsites along the trail with pit toilets and a source of water. Most require people to sleep in a tent or under open skies, so riders should be prepared for this when visiting such an ATV park.

ATV riding trails are often multi-purpose, which means they may be used for activities such as mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, or riding motorcycles. Before setting out, riders should find out if any portions of the trail allow different uses so they will not be caught off-guard. Knowing if there are restrooms or a source of water along the route can also help people be prepared, whether the adventure lasts several days or only a couple of hours.

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Discussion Comments
By kylee07drg — On Nov 21, 2011

I went riding down some beautiful ATV trails this fall when I went with my boyfriend to visit his family in rural New York. They own a lot of hilly, wooded land, so they also own several ATVs. My boyfriend and his dad had made all the trails, and his dad continued to maintain them even after my boyfriend moved to the South.

We went there in October, so the leaves were a dozen shades of beautiful autumnal colors. Giant boulders bordered the trails, but no obstructions lay across the path. The sunlight filtered through the trees and gave everything a golden glow.

It wasn't until after our ride that he told me about the bears and mountain lions that frequented the area. Had I known that beforehand, I probably wouldn't have gone!

By Perdido — On Nov 21, 2011

My husband and I stopped at a scenic overlook yesterday, and I could not believe it when he told me that the trails we were walking were meant for ATV riders. The trail was narrow, and just to the right of it was a steep cliff with a river running way below.

I got nervous just walking up there. One thing is for sure – if ATV riders did brave this trail, they had to ride it slowly and carefully. There was no slope that would give them the chance to brake if they got off track.

By seag47 — On Nov 20, 2011

@Oceana – This sounds a lot like where I live. People ride ATVs religiously here, and they have to make any trails that they want to claim.

The problem is that sometimes kids try to establish trails on land they don't have a right to use. My dad has some property out behind a railroad track that has some great steep hills for ATV riding, though he isn't interested in it. He has caught several kids trying to make trails on his land, and he has warned them repeatedly that they are trespassing.

He plants a garden out there every year, and when ATV riders come through, they are not considerate of his crops. This is why he doesn't want them riding out there. They ride through the corn stalks and roll over the tomato plants.

By backdraft — On Nov 19, 2011

In my experience there is basically two different kinds of TV riding trails. There are trails meant for scenery and there are trails meant for having an intense ride.

The scenery ones usually wind past beautiful natural features, maybe go to the top of a mountain or hill for an aerial view and wind back down past some water. Usually they are not too challenging and they are meant to be relaxing.

Other trails are meant to provide a challenging ride. They usually go over rough terrain and there is a lot of climbing. It is expected to test the riders skill and abilities. Theses course range from beginners courses to some that are just insane. Definitely decide which kind of course you are looking for and know what you are getting into.

By Oceana — On Nov 19, 2011

ATV trail riding is extremely popular where I live. I'm way out in the country, where there's not much else to do. Teenagers entertain themselves by riding ATVs.

Most people around here make their own trails. We have lots of wooded areas with gently sloping land, and this is perfect for the sport.

Guys will ride out into the wilderness slowly to stake out their potential trails. Then, they will ride them over and over to flatten out the tall weeds and establish the trail for other riders.

Because it is such a popular activity among young people, we do have a lot of accidents, and some have been fatal. Kids need to understand that though it is legal for them to drive an ATV, there are massive responsibilities that come along with it. Those safety courses they are required to take could just save their lives.

By honeybees — On Nov 18, 2011

@sunshined - That sounds like a perfect place to ride your ATV vehicles, and I would love to find a place like that close to home.

Most of my experience has been on dirt bike riding trails that are in the back of our timber. I am not complaining since I know there are many people who don't even have this option.

The only problem is you get pretty bored after awhile because you are on the same trails over an over again. We have tried to make some diversions and obstacles, so they are a little more interesting, but there is only so much you can do.

I just met a group of people who belong to an ATV riding club, and am looking in to something like this. It is always fun to ride with a group of people and have bigger and better places to ride.

By sunshined — On Nov 18, 2011

Our family loves to ride on ATV trails and spend many weekends doing this in the summer.

Of all the places we have been, some of the best ATV trails are in Colorado. One of our favorite places is a bit primitive, but I think this is why we love it so much.

There are enough different trails for all levels of experience. They are clearly marked so you know before you get started how rough it might be.

If you have ever been snow skiing, this is much the same concept as marking the ski runs.

At several places along the road there are camping spots, outhouses and picnic tables. Many people come up just to enjoy the day, but you always see some people who spend the night and camp out.

There are enough trails here that you never get bored. We haven't even been on all of them yet, and can't wait to get back and explore the rest of them.

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