Rules and Regulations for OHV Riding

The Wayne National Forest provides some excellent opportunities for riding Off-highway vehicles (OHVs). Four different designated trail systems are provided on the Athens and Ironton Districts. There is not a designated trail system on the Marietta unit, so OHV riding is not allowed on that unit. In order to help us provide the best experience for all riders, we ask that you follow of the following rules, legal regulations, and forest issued riding prohibitions.

OVH rules and regulations are also available in our Spanish OHV guide.

Key Rules

Don't Ride Out of Season

OHV trails are open for use from early spring to winter each year. Visit our Recreation page to see seasonal open and close dates for the current year.

Stay on Designated Trails

OHVs are permitted only on designated trails marked Carsonite posts and orange diamonds. Operation of an OHV is prohibited on Forest Service roads. Cross-country travel is prohibited.

All OHV trail users over 16 require a vaild trail permit.

All riders, including passengers (16 years and older), must have a valid Wayne National Forest (Wayne NF) trail permit. These may be purchased from Wayne NF offices, local vendors, or online.

Ride Safe

Operators should take care of themselves and others on the trails. Proper safety gear, including eye protection and helmets, are required while operating or riding OHVs and OMVs. Alchohol use is strictly forbidden when riding on the trails.

Licensing and Registration

Operator Licensing

Any OHV operator 16 years of age and older have in their possession a valid state driver’s license or provisional license (learner’s permit/restricted license).

Any person operating an OHV with a provisional driver’s license shall abide by the terms and conditions set forth in the license. Any person less than 16 years of age, must be accompanied by a licensed operator 18 years of age or older.

Any person whose driver’s license is currently revoked, suspended, or otherwise rescinded cannot legally operate an OHV within the Wayne National Forest.

Vehicle Registration

Ohio state registration is required of all off-road motorcycles and all-purpose vehicles (APV). The Ohio license plate must remain with the vehicle, displayed in plain sight.

If you are from out-of-state, and your vehicle is registered in your home state, Ohio will grant reciprocity; otherwise, you must acquire a temporary APV sticker from these offices prior to riding on the Wayne NF.

Ohio APV registration is available at the nearest Bureau of Motor Vehicles office..

Note: If your dual sport motorcycle is properly registered and licensed with the BMV to be "street legal", you do not have to register again (i.e. get an APV plate) to be legal off-road.

Utility Vehicle Operators: A UTV or side-by-side is considered an "unconventional vehicle" and is to be registered with the BMV in accordance with Ohio Revised Codes 4511.215(3) and 4503.

Any questions regarding this rule may be directed to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

2020 Ohio BMV Extensions

If your driver license, ID card, or registration (including license plates/stickers) expired on or after March 9, 2020, your expiration date has been automatically extended until December 1, 2020, or 90 days after Ohio’s state of emergency ends, whichever comes first. WE ENCOURANGE EVERYONE TO CONTINUE TO REGISTER YOUR VEHICLE OR RENEW YOUR VEHCILE REGISTRATION AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

Prohibited Uses

It is prohibited to operate an OHV on the Wayne National Forest:

  • While possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages or unlawful narcotics, as defined by state and federal law.
  • Without eye protection and a helmet that meets United States Department of Transportation safety standards.
  • In an unsafe manner or in a manner which places a person in danger of injury or death.
  • With an OHV greater than 50 inches in width (measured from the widest point).
  • While carrying passengers in excess of the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • In a manner which damages or unreasonably disturbs soil, wildlife, or vegetation.
  • Without an operable braking system; for night use, a brake light is required.
  • From 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise, unless equipped with working headlights and taillights.
  • With internal combustion engines not equipped with a properly installed USDA Forest Service-approved spark arrester or exhaust system.
  • With engines that emit a noise in excess of ninety-nine (99) decibels at twenty (20) inches from the exhaust outlet.

Frequently Asked Questions about OHV Rules

Once at the Trailhead, where can I ride?

  1. Designated trails are marked with orange diamonds. Stay on the designated trails. If not marked, the trail is closed.
  2. Seasonal trail closures are in place to prevent resource damage and limit maintenance costs.
  3. Only street legal, licensed vehicles are allowed on public roads.

Where can I NOT ride?

  1. Off road use is prohibited on National Forest land except on marked OHV trails.
  2. You may not ride cross country.
  3. You may not ride on horse or hiking trails.
  4. You may not ride on closed roads -- any road (with the exception of marked trails) which is gated, mounded, signed, or has a barrier indicating it is closed. If you have any doubts about a road, don't ride on it.

What other restrictions apply to how I ride?

  1. Weapons that are displayed are considered to be hunting implements. As such, it must be unloaded and securely encased. This does not apply to concealed weapons as long as the holder has a proper concealed carry permit.
  2. Posted speed, weight, and width instructions apply.
  3. For your safety we recommend not using an OHV to carry more passengers than the vehicle was designed for.
  4. Report within 48 hours any injury or serious accident (includes any resulting in more than $100 damage) to the State Highway Patrol.
  5. Be able to present APV registration and drivers license if requested.
  6. In the interest of public safety, visitors are encouraged to stay out of the woods during gun deer hunting season unless they are hunting, and if they do ride, to wear hunter orange. 

How else can I help?

  1. Pick up after yourself and others- leave the area cleaner than you found it.
  2. Report vandalism - missing signs, unsafe conditions, suspicious vehicles, etc.
  3. Adopt an ethic to Tread Lightly. Encourage others to do so as well.
  4. Consider volunteering for a work project with an organized group, to keep the Wayne National Forest OHV trails a safe and enjoyable place to ride.
  5. Report downed trees to the Forest Service office or email us at