Off-Road Etiquette – Basic Rules Of The Trail

Off-Road Etiquette – Basic Rules Of The Trail

Phase 5

We believe off-roading/overlanding is one of the greatest hobbies and we make a point to go every chance we get. It’s my family’s favorite activity to do on weekends and holidays, it’s always a joy to go out and enjoy the wilderness. Overlanding, off-roading, and even camping can be so much fun but with fun, comes responsibility. We all must promise to take care and appreciate these beautiful places nature created for us to explore. These rules and regulations are to be followed when you’re out enjoying the wild. These rules were put in place to keep these areas we love so much open. What you partake in your adventures can not only have a long-lasting impact on you, but it can have an impact on the land you’re exploring as well. Abiding by these rules started with the generations before us and we should continue to enforce and follow these rules for the generations to come. In phase 5, we are talking about off-road etiquette, the basic rules of the trail. 

( #📷 @essjayeffjay )

Educate Yourself- The rules of over landing, off-roading, and camping are different from state to state, town to town and county to county. Knowing the state law before crashing through the state is important. Knowing the ins and outs of the state’s laws can also be a great and help when it comes to where you can travel, what is allowed, and what is not allowed on those certain trails. One of my greatest fears when we were first starting this amazing hobby was “what if we were to become lost?” Having your route or adventure already mapped out prior to leaving the pavement will be super valuable to you. Go over, not around, is a just one rule of thumb while on the trails.  Its sole purpose is to avoid widening an existing trail. We also live by traveling in a group of two or more vehicles. Going solo isn’t frowned upon but it’s not exactly encouraged, even if you’re an avid off-roader. Not having a friend or someone else around to help you if something were to happen is not a great feeling and can greatly increase the risk of being stranded. Understanding where the lowest point of your vehicle is can also help you get through rough terrain and hopefully prevent damage from happening. 

( #📷 @overlandeo )

Read the signs – Most trails have signs giving you direction and they also include color coded difficulty levels which indicate what modes of transportation are permitted on those trails or the intensity of that trail. Becoming lost can be frightening especially if you have taken the wrong route and find yourself on a trail that is not what you bargained for. Turning back around on trails is very seldom an option. 

Respect the Rights of Others- Remember you are not the only one on the trails. Many people come from all over to enjoy the same experiences as you. Keeping a reasonable distance from the vehicle in front of you is one way to respect another off roader. You never know if the person in front of you is more nervous due to it being their first time on the trail or simply because they are just trying to be extra careful. Common curtesy - If you ever come across someone that seems to be broke down or maybe just needing help, STOP and HELP THEM. We are all family and friends out there, no one wants to spoil your day of off-roading, but be polite, stop and ask if they need help.

( #📷 @ovrlandchef )

Communicate to others- This one is critical, knowing basic trail etiquette is key to a great off-roading adventure. Driving slowly around crowds, campgrounds, bikers and even walkers. Yield to those who are passing you if they are traveling uphill and you’re going down. It’s easier for those going downhill to stop or move over then those that are going up hill and needing the extra momentum to keep climbing. More can go wrong when you’re ascending rather than descending, so let the other person come up before you head down. Animals! If you are ever to encounter any livestock, be sure to always proceed with caution, we are on their land. Any sudden fast movements or loud sounds can spook the animal, causing injury to them, handlers, yourself/vehicle, or others in the area. 

Clean up – There is a saying “Pack out what you pack in” and we should all abide by it. Leave your camp site in better condition than you found it. Always do your part and pick up any loose trash you may find along the way (trash attracts more trash.) Our family ALWAYS packs extra trash bag, you never know what is needing to be cleaned up. Be a leader and model appropriate behavior by properly disposing of any waste, trash, or anything else that should not be left behind. Another good rule of thumb is to rinse your vehicle before and after any trails ride it helps to prevent the spread of invasive species. 

( #📷 @norcalrunner17 )

Remember we want to leave the environment better than we found it so it can be enjoyed by others and generations to come. Whether you’re an experienced off-roader or just beginning to explore the world of four wheeling, it’s important to be aware and prepared for what might happen on your trip. We hope these 4 tips will help you explore responsibly in a way that is respectful to others as well as Mother Nature. Check out the TREAD LIGHTLY and LEAVE NO TRACE organization to learn more about what they do and their education programs. Stay tuned for phase 6


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