MN DNR Answers Question “Can I Drive an ATV On A Snowmobile Trail?”
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have been recently answering common questions on their Facebook page. In a recent post they addressed the question, "Can I drive my ATV on a snowmobile." In short the answer is pretty simple: NO.
If a trail is designated as a snowmobile route, you'll see signs that say as much. There are several reasons why ATVs shouldn't ride on snowmobile trails. If it's winter, four wheelers and side by sides can create very disruptive ruts that ruin the trails. We actually see this from time to time where a snowmobile club will have to do extra work to correct damage done by an ATV.
You may think it's harmless to drive an ATV on a designated snowmobile trail in the summer. However, snowmobile trails often cross private land with permission from the land owner. The permission only applies to winter months, and the land owner has every right to revoke those privileges. That's why you see so many "Stay On The Trail" signs that some jerks ignore anyway.
There is an exception to this rule. Trails and roads in State forest lands are accessible by ATVs unless they are groomed or marked closed. You can read more about the Off Highway Vehicle Laws on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
While ATV usage is outlined here, another thing we should address is snowmobiles not going where they are designated. Just last week near Snively Road, a group of snowmobiles tore up a cross country ski trail in Duluth. Whether you are riding and ATV or snowmobile, it's important to understand and follow the law so power sports don't get a bad reputation.