As an ATV rider, you are an ambassador for ATV enthusiasts everywhere. In Kawartha Lakes, Kawartha ATV Association is fully committed to ensuring that all ATV riders abide by laws governing the use of ATVs where riding is permitted. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are familiar with local by-laws and other restrictions, while riding KATVA sanctioned trails. Before you ride, take time to know your obligations. If you are uncertain about trail restrictions or requirements for riding on KATVA trails, contact us directly for assistance.
General Rules for Riders and ATVs
While many rules are imposed by provincial or municipal authorities, KATVA applies additional expectations of permitted riders. These general rules apply all riders and their ATVs on KATVA trails.
- must stay on designated rails
- must not trespass on private property or otherwise disrupt private landowners
- must avoid sensitive and restricted areas at all times, especially wetlands, lakeshores, steep stream banks and hills
- must not remove or unnecessarily disrupt vegetation
- must cross only at designated crossings or bridges when available
- must yield right-of-way to other trail users when approaching:
- pedestrians (walkers or joggers) have priority right of way always
– slow to a crawl when approaching walkers or cyclists and pass with extreme caution
– stop, pull over and shut your machine off when a horse and rider are approaching
– do not pass or overtake a horse and rider
- pack out all your waste material
- must know applicable local and provincial laws
- must follow all warnings and stop signs
- must obey trail officials (Trail Patrol) and By-law Enforcement (City of Kawartha Lakes)
- must carry valid KATVA (or HATVA) trail permit
- must wear helmet whenever in motion
- must be 16 years of age or older with valid driver’s license
- must only ride on trails during as approved (from May 1 through November 30, between 7:00 am and 9:30 pm)
- keep your speed to posted limits
– maximum 20 km per hour (as signed in Lindsay, Bethany, Fenelon Falls, Burnt River, and Kinmount)
– maximum 50 km per hour (as signed elsewhere)
- must operate ATV in a safe manner
- must refrain from excessive noise
- must carry valid plate and insurance
- must meet all safety and ORV (Off-Road Vehicle) specifications
- must conform to Ontario Highway Traffic Act definitions
- must meet acceptable noise levels
Certain other rules and restrictions apply to specific trails in the City of Kawartha Lakes. You must be aware of restrictions that apply to these trails if you plan to ride them.
Trail – Victoria Rail Trail Corridor (VRTC) Motorized Vehicle Restrictions
1. NOT PERMITTED. Any 2 or 4 wheeled motorized vehicle not categorized as an ATV, under the OHV (Off Highway Vehicles) is not permitted on the Victoria Rail Trail Corridor. This includes, but is not limited to the following: UTVs/SxS, MoPeds, Dune Buggies, Golf Carts, Go-Karts, ARGOs, Jeeps, Pickups, Trucks, and Automobiles.
2. PERMITTED. ATVs for trail rides and also, municipal use (CKL public works, parks, and by-law enforcement vehicles) as necessary for trail work, clean up, and enforcement.
3. EXCEPTIONS. Other vehicles may only access the VRTC with special approval by CKL Council.
4. DIRT BIKES. For permitted use please see the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders.
5. OTHER. Due to the soft ground and necessary trail work and clean up being performed by CKL after close of snowmobile season on March 31, no motorized vehicles are allowed on the VRTC April 1 – April 30.
Trail – Somerville Forest Tract Motorized Vehicle Restrictions
1. NOT PERMITTED. As per item (1) VRTC, refer to Trail – Victoria Rail Trail Corridor (VRTC).
2. PERMITTED. As per item (2) VRTC, refer to Trail – Victoria Rail Trail Corridor (VRTC). plus, Off-Road Motorcycles (Dirt Bikes) and their riders with a valid OFTR permit (see OFTR website for permit information) can ride on forest trails.
3. EXCEPTIONS. Other vehicles may only access the Somerville trail with special approval by CKL Council.
4. OTHER. Do not ride on sections designated solely for cross-county, hiking, or cycling.
Local By-law Links, City of Kawartha Lakes
County of Haliburton:
3106 (Rail Trail Usage)
3149 (Agreement with Kawartha ATV Association)
3154 (Agreement with Haliburton ATV Association)
3267 (Amendment to By-law 3106)
3268 (Agreement with Kawartha ATV Association)
3269 (Agreement with Haliburton ATV Association)
Township of Galway-Cavendish and Harvey:
Use of ATVs on roads and links is subject to a range of legislation, i.e. municipal, provincial, and federal. It is your responsibility to become familiar with applicable acts, legislation, and by-laws to ensure that you ride within the law.
Legislation and local by-laws apply for riding on roads and on links between trails.
- road use and links, where permitted, are governed by the Highway Traffic Act
- in the City of Kawartha Lakes (VRT and Somerville Forest) Side by Sides ARE NOT PERMITTED on any roads or trails as per municipal bylaw there, 2-up ATVs ARE PERMITTED as per the municipal bylaw
- in Trent Lakes Side by Sides and 2-up ATVs ARE PERMITTED as per the municipal bylaw there – this includes all 5-points trails
- headlights must be on at all times
- speed cannot exceed 20 km per hour (unless the posted speed is 50 – 80 kms, then the ATV speed limit is 50 km per hour)
- brake lights and side markers must be working
- all turns must be signaled
Provincial – Federal Law Links
Open Roads Program
KATVA is in ongoing stages of negotiation with municipal authorities who control access to local roads not under the authority of the Province. KATVA members must adhere to the rules established by the municipalities where we ride, especially those encountered while riding KATVA and HATVA trails. If we work positively with other trail user groups and co-operate with all other partners, our opportunities for greater access will be increased. This requires safe, responsible riding practices to be followed at all times.
Additionally, we are fortunate to maintain good relationships with several private landowners (who may or may not permit trail access or use of their private property) to enhance ATV rider experiences. We urge all ATV riders to respect municipal and private property, and to be a positive influence for ATV riders everywhere.
We encourage ATV riders to exercise extreme caution while using roadways, bridges or other linkages. These tips will help you ensure your ride is safe.
- be attentive to traffic and pedestrians at all times
- pay attention to signs and traffic signals
- stay off municipal sidewalks and residential property
- be courteous to everyone you encounter while linking between trails
- stage or park only in lots where permitted
- carry valid permit and driver’s license
Publication Link: Ontario Ministry of Transportation ATV Smart Ride Safe Ride
Young ATV riders between the ages of 12 and 16 are welcome to ride KATVA trails if accompanied by an adult as noted herein. We encourage safe and responsible riding practices. If you are the parent of a young rider, please take time to discuss safe riding and legal obligations with your child. Most importantly, be a positive rider role model.
Serious risks including injury or damage to property are always possible. Some children are capable of riding an ATV successfully at an early age, while others well into their teen years ride without care or attention to the rules and the laws. Not all children develop the strength, size, skills, mental capacity, and emotional maturity to master an off road vehicle, at age 12. Knowledge and skills are required, especially as it pertains to braking distances and crossing obstacles. They must know when to ask for assistance in addition to following adult direction.
KATVA fully supports the OFATV Youth Rider program. Information can be found on the OFATV website.
We encourage all young riders to participate in rider safety training, where available. Training is available through OFATV recommended instructors in many communities or from other service providers on a more limited basis. If you are looking for training options near you, ask your preferred ATV dealer or a club member for their recommendations.
- children 12 to 16 years of age can operate a suitably sized ATV on KATVA trails if accompanied by a parent or legal adult guardian
- parent or guardian must be in close visual and verbal proximity to the youth rider at all times
- parent or guardian is to be in control of the situation at all times and is fully responsible for the safety of the youth rider
- ATV must be legal for our trail system (plated, insured, permit)
- ATV must be suitably sized for the youth rider
- children must not operate an ATV on or across any road in Ontario
Note: Only persons with valid driver’s license can legally drive a vehicle on or across a road. If the trail crosses a road, the youth rider must get off the ATV and have their parent or guardian take the ATV across the road.
ATV “Right Size”
Young riders should only be permitted to ride ATVs suitable for their age and size. Children must not be riding adult ATVs. Refer to manufacture specified age recommendations (which by law should be affixed to the ATV machine).
- both feet must comfortably reach pegs while seated
- both hands must comfortably reach handle bars while seated
- handle bars must be comfortably locked without undue body movement or effort
- controls and brakes must be comfortably operated without undue body movement or effort
- rider must be able to shift their weight and balance their ATV when necessary over small inclines
- rider must be able to move from sitting to standing position and back comfortably as necessary
Ontario Federation of All Terrain Vehicles launched a Youth Rider Safety Program
You are welcome to join Kawartha ATV Association members on club rides.
KATVA scheduled club rides are a great way to experience new trails in a guided format rather than running the risk of getting lost on your own. It is also an excellent way to meet other club members, make new friends and learn from others. All club rides are conducted by a Ride Team and lead by an experienced Ride Leader. Ride Leaders know the trails and will ensure everyone completes a ride safely. The Ride Leader is assisted by both a Middleman and a Sweeper. The roles of each Ride Team position are described later in this section.
These guidelines apply to all club organized rides:
After reviewing the Events and Rides Schedule, select a ride within your skill level. Do not join rides above your skill level to avoid unnecessary risk for yourself and to ensure that you do not jeopardize the ride timeline for more experienced riders.
Always contact the Ride Leader prior to a ride to confirm your attendance. A Ride leader will provide details pertaining to the ride, including a meeting location, time and relevant details.
Be sure you have a general sense of where you will be riding. Let a friend or family member know with who you will be riding, where you are riding and what time you expect to return. Bring a cellular phone with you if you have one, but expect cellular service to be unreliable.
Arrive at the ride start location one half hour before the ride starts to allow for last minute checks of your machine and details. Be prepared to go on time.
Before the Ride
Prior to every ride you should inspect your machine and attend the Ride Meeting to confirm ride details and meet the Ride Team.
- ensure your radiator is clean and full
- check headlights and brake lights to ensure they are fully functional
- top up fluids as necessary (engine oil, differential, brake, radiator, etc.)
- confirm fuel tank is full (bring extra gas for longer rides)
- make certain tires are correctly inflated
- test winch, if applicable, to ensure it functions properly
- check that you have all necessary documentation (driver’s license, ownership, insurance, permits, membership, and a map, if available)
Attend the Ride Leader’s meeting (usually called about 5 minutes before start time). All riders and passengers must be signed in. If you are not a KATVA member, obtain a Day Pass.
The Ride Team will be introduced, ride details will be confirmed (including any last minute changes), and a rider count will be conducted.
During the Ride
Headlights must remain on at all times (makes it easier for the rider in front of you to confirm your position and assists with visibility). Ride single file. Stay to the right on all trails.
The Ride Leader will set the speed for the entire group. If you have difficulty keeping up, inform someone on the Ride Team at your first opportunity. Do not pass the Ride Leader or others unless directed. Do not stray behind the Sweep Rider. If you have to temporarily fall back the Sweep will stay with you. Ride Leader’s schedule all breaks and lunch stops. Please wait for scheduled breaks if possible. If you must drop out of the ride, a Ride Team member will ensure you return safely to the start location.
The rider behind you in the procession is your responsibility (know who they are and what ATV they are riding). If you lose sight of the rider behind you, slow to a stop and wait until they are in your sight. Any single stoppage will result in a full stop of the entire procession. In the absence of communication between all riders, this serves as a means to keep everyone together and to alert the Ride Team to issues. When a trail branches, allow sufficient time and space for the rider behind you to see which branch you take. After crossing a difficult section (e.g. ditch, mud hole, water crossing, steep hill), ensure the rider following you makes it through. It may be necessary for you to stop and assist or for you to attract others to help.
Be sure to signal all turns and stops, especially if you come across a hidden or potentially dangerous obstacle. Leave enough braking space between you and the rider ahead. This will vary with speed and trail conditions. Tailgating is dangerous and can be embarrassing.
Give right of way and show consideration to all non-motorized trail users you encounter.
Stop and shut off your ATV when you approach horses. Do not proceed until the horseback rider gives you a signal to proceed. Stay on the trail at all times, unless otherwise directed by the Ride Team. Minimize your impact on the natural habitat. Ride responsibly at all times.
After the Ride
The Ride Leader will confirm all riders completed the ride and be available to address questions, concerns, or suggestions. Take the opportunity to thank your Ride Team. Perform routine maintenance prior to your next ride.
- Alcohol and illegal substances are not permitted on any KATVA ride.
- Rides may use open roads where 2-Up riding and / or UTVs are not allowed.
- All rides are subject to changes resulting from closures, weather, or other circumstances.
It is prudent to check with the Ride Leader in advance of ride day to confirm details or address concerns. If you violate club rules or ride conditions you do so at your own risk.
In addition to the Ride Leader, all rides will have a Sweep Rider (runs as the last rider in the group at all times), and depending upon the size and makeup of the group, we may employ a Middle Man. The number one job of the Ride Leader, Middle Man and Sweep, is to have an enjoyable ride while ensuring that everyone gets back to their vehicles safely. We do not leave anyone behind.
Ride Leader – The Ride Leader is responsible for the entire ride. Each Leader knows the routes they lead and makes decisions regarding the speed, directions, scheduled stoppages, and more for the entire ride. They will control the pace to ensure that all riders stay together. As the group size dictates, they may be assisted by a Sweep and / or a Middleman. With assistance from other members of the Ride Team, they may conduct periodic checks to ensure everyone is accounted for and adhering to ride guidelines.
Sweep – The Sweep (aka “Tail Gunner”) is responsible to ensure that no one is left behind. Their role is made easier by fellow riders who exercise their individual responsibility for the person behind them. As necessary, the Sweep will remain with anyone who is in difficulty (e.g. mechanical issue) or who must stop.
Middleman – When groups approach 20 in number, it is advantageous to use a Middleman to maintain a comfortable ride pace. If necessary, the Middleman will serve as either Ride Leader or Sweep.
You may also wish to incorporate some of these items when you are riding with a group of friends on your own.
- first aid kit
- tire repair kit (incl. pump)
- trail map
- cellular phone
- dust mask
- safety vest (especially during hunting season)
- bug repellent
- lunch (snacks)
- drinking water
- fuel (well secured)
A rearview mirror is highly recommended to keep an eye on the rider behind you. Also, tow ropes, tree straps, and winches can be helpful in certain conditions. Radiator maintenance is essential, especially on excessively wet or dry trails. Some KATVA trails are particularly wet or dusty, which can lead to unnecessary breakdowns for riders who do not routinely maintain their machines in advance of or during rides.
- follow Ride Team directions
- know the whereabouts of the rider behind you at all times
- at all intersections or crossings and in succession, make the correct turn or crossing and wait for the next rider to follow
- assist fellow riders where and if necessary