Off-Highway Vehicle Fact Sheet
Q: Where are Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts allowed to ride on the Ozark National Forest?
A: OHVs are allowed on designated trails and routes. OHVs are rarely allowed in recreation areas. Check the regulations posted on the bulletin board in the recreation area or call ahead before unloading an OHV in a campground.
Q: Are there any trail systems specifically designed to accommodate OHVs?
A: Currently there are four designated multi-use trails on the Forest:
- Brock Creek Trail (near Jerusalem)
- Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail (near Midway)
- Mill Creek Trail (near Combs)
- Moccasin Gap Horse Trail (near Dover)
Q: What areas are closed to OHVs?
A: Forest areas closed to OHVs are:
- The general forest area.
- Lake Wedington.
- St. Francis National Forest.
- Roads closed by earthen mounds, gates, signs, or other reasonable barriers.
- Any road or trail not classified as a designated route or trail.
Q: Why is this being done now?
A: One of the key threats facing the nation’s forests today is unmanaged recreation, especially natural resource impacts from OHVs. Concerns are increasing about the number of unplanned roads and trails, soil erosion, watershed and habitat impacts resulting from OHV use. Implementation of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Policy requires Forests to designate roads, trails and/or areas for motor vehicle use.
Q: How is OHV use considered “unmanaged recreation”?
A: A variety of recreational-focused groups share National Forest roads and trails. In many places, OHVs are becoming the predominate use. OHV use and other recreation activities have increased significantly in the last few years, which has resulted in the following concerns:
- Resource Damage: Most OHV riders are very conscientious about the environment; however, resource damage is occurring. Increased levels of stream sedimentation have been found, ruts are deepening at stream crossings and on steep hillsides, and vegetation is being lost from some fragile soil types. Trash and litter are increasing in widespread locations across the forest.
- Safety Issues are a primary concern, especially when OHVs have the ability to accelerate and maneuver quickly, as well as travel at high rates of speed. This can be exhilarating, but can pose problems on trails shared with hikers, horseback riders, mountain bike riders, other OHV riders, and large trucks. Numerous OHV accidents have been reported, including collisions with vehicles or natural obstructions, such as trees or hillsides.
- User conflicts are also occurring. Visitors desiring non-motorized solitude have reported a conflict with the intrusion of OHVs into areas not designated for their use.
Q: Is the Ozark National Forest banning the use of Off-Highway Vehicles on the Forest?
A: No. The forest is prohibiting unauthorized use off designated routes. Forest personnel will continue to work with OHV groups to provide trail opportunities in the future.
Q: Is the Ozark National Forest closing other areas?
A: Not at this time. However, if resource damage occurs and other ways to correct the negative effects are not working, closure may be necessary.
Q: How can Forest visitors and neighbors know which roads or trails to use?
A: It is the rider’s responsibility to be informed of the designated routes and trails available for use. Visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/osfnf/ or contact any district Forest Service office to obtain maps of designated riding routes.
- Traveling the Backcountry, a brochure providing designated route information is available
Q: Do OHV enthusiasts and the general public have any input into which roads and trails will be designated for OHV use?
A: Ozark National Forest personnel welcome input from individuals and groups on all issues including OHV use and the availability of open riding areas.
Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use is rapidly increasing on public lands in Arkansas. Providing safe, enjoyable recreation opportunities is a priority for forest managers. To ensure the safety for both you and other visitors to the national forests, please adhere to the following state, federal and OHV manufacturer guidelines.
Arkansas residents must have their OHVs registered with the Arkansas Department of Revenue. Upon registration, the OHV will be assessed and the owner will be charged a one-time fee of approximately $10.00 for title, registration, and a decal that will be placed permanently on the OHV. Call the Department of Revenue office in your county to find out specifics about Arkansas Motor Vehicle and Transportation Laws and State Highway Commission Regulations (27-20-201 through 27-21-109). This rule holds true for every OHV with an engine over 50 cc, whether the vehicle is driven on state lands or national forests within Arkansas.
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC) Regulations
This applies ONLY to AGFC OWNED Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) such as Gulf Mountain, Cedar Creek, Point Remove, Gene Rush, Harris Brake, etc. The AGFC does not allow OHVs on state-owned WMAs EXCEPT to those people who can prove permanent disability and have received a Mobility Impaired Program card from the AGFC. These OHV permits are not applicable to Forest Service lands and do not entitle the rider to go onto closed roads or the general forest area.
National Forest Regulations
Visitors can have OHVs in some recreation areas, but only for entry and exit—in other words, riding around in the campground is not permitted. Visitors are encouraged to check the bulletin board where they are camping for specific information regarding that particular recreation area and/or surrounding area before unloading their OHV.
Ozark National Forest:
Effective January 1, 2007, any road or trail not classified as a designated route or trail is closed to OHV use.
The Forest’s current policy states that an area is closed unless it is an open road or trail and that OHVs are not allowed on roads that are closed by earthen mounds/ berms, signs, and/or gates.
Riders are responsible for knowing which routes are designated and refraining from illegally riding in any other area on public lands managed by the USFS. Official designated route maps are posted here, and will be available at your local National Forest office.
Other rules and regulations for operating an OHV on designated routes include:
- Persons less than 12 years of age are prohibited from operating OHVs on any road unless accompanied and under the direct supervision of an adult 18 years of age or older.
- Operating an OHV at speeds greater than reasonable is prohibited.
- Headlights and tail lights must be utilized when operating an OHV between ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise.
- Each OHV must have a factory-installed muffler in good working condition and be equipped with a factory-installed spark arrester.
- When two or more OHVs are operating together on a road, they should be operated in single file.
- All OHV operators must comply with applicable Arkansas state laws governing the use of motor vehicles.
- Operators are prohibited from operating any vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or narcotics.
Motorized Vehicle Use Definitions
Most National Forest System trails and roads are designated for specific use--either OHVs and/or motorcycles or regular passenger vehicles.
The Ozark National Forest has separated these roads and trails into four categories:
- Nondesignated roads: roads open only to highway-legal (licensed) motor vehicles.
- Designated roads: roads open to all motor vehicles.
- Designated trails: trails open only to motor vehicles less than or equal to 50 inches in width.
- Designated single-track trails: trails open only to two-wheeled vehicles. These four types of routes will be clearly marked and identified on Forest maps and publications.