Forest Service Clarifies Use of Electric Bikes

Contact(s): Leona Rodreick


Electric bikes (e-bikes) are now becoming popular throughout the United States and there has been some confusion about whether they are considered motorized vehicles and where people may ride them.  The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest would like to clarify where e-bike riders are allowed to ride. 

The Forest Service recognizes that technology continues to rapidly change, including the design and capability of e-bikes and other related modes of travel. As a starting point, certain applicable laws provide direction to how e-bikes are defined and where they may be operated:

 The Forest Service Travel Management Rule defines motor vehicles as any vehicle that is self-propelled, with the exception of a vehicle that travels on rails or fits the vehicle criteria for “mobility use” for mobility impaired individuals. The Forest Service considers technologies that merge bicycles and motors (gas, batteries or electric powered) as motor vehicles. E-bikes, therefore, would be considered a motorized vehicle and not allowed on non-motorized trails.

Exploring the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF 3.3 million acres is a favorite past time for many. Over 55% of the Forest is open to summer motorized use and 60% is open to winter motorized use.  Over 5,600 miles of roads and over 1,000 miles of trails are open to motorized recreation. E-bikes are welcome in these areas and travel routes. Here are a few guidelines for riding e-bikes on the Forest:

  • Motorized travel off a designated road or trail is prohibited.

  • Motorized travel on routes leading to identified dispersed campsites is allowed.

  • Only routes shown as open on the visitors map are available for use.

  • Gates/Barriers: vehicles including e-bikes, are not allowed to travel beyond gates or barriers.

  • E-bike travel in Wilderness, Recommended Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas is not allowed.

  • Temporary and emergency closure orders may be implemented when road and trail conditions are considered unsafe (e.g., soft wet roads, washouts, fire).

 Visitors are encouraged to ensure they carry or download maps of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF to refer to whey they are traveling in locations where they may be unsure if their vehicle or e-bike is allowed. Maps may be purchased for $14 each from Forest Service offices in Dillon, Butte, Philipsburg, Wisdom, Wise River, Sheridan and Ennis. Or, they can be purchased online at: www.nationalforestmapstore.com.  Maps can also be downloaded for GPS enabled smartphones or tablets from the “Avenza” map app for $4.99 each.





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/bdnf/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD601048