OHV riding on Mark Twain National Forest

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) riding is a great way to enjoy your national forest. But to do it right and prevent natural resource damage, OHV riders need to stay on designated roads and/or approved trail systems like those found at Chadwick and Sutton Bluff OHV Areas. 

For the purposes of riding on Mark Twain National Forest, the term OHV includes: ATVs (all-terrain vehicles, also known as four-wheelers); UTVs, (utility type vehicles, sometimes called side-by-sides); and off-road motorcycles (aka dirt bikes).

Why is this important? Once one person rides cross-country, they have made the first pass of a user-created trail. If someone else follows, then another, and another, soon this user-made trail looks like a regular trail and will continue to attract riders.  

User-created trails create resource damage, including increased soil erosion, soil compaction, and negative impacts to stream channels and aquatic organisms (if traveling through streams and creeks).

In areas where illegal use caused severe resource damage, agency personnel may have to consider closures. Respected access to the country’s public lands ensures continued access.

Chadwick ATV, UTV, and Motorcycle Riding Area in Christian County, and Sutton Bluff ATV, UTV, and Motorcycle Riding Area in Reynolds County (near the Sutton Bluff Campground) are the only designated OHV trail systems on Mark Twain National Forest.

These trails were created under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which authorizes collection and retention of fees for specialized trail systems to improve maintenance and better serve the customers.  

Anyone riding an ATV, UTV, motorcycle, or mountain bike on these trails is required to purchase and display a current Mark Twain National Forest annual ATV/UTV/motorcycle or mountain bike sticker or daily use tag. 

All ATVs and UTVs must be under 50 inches in width to use the trails. The annual (season) pass costs $45 and the daily use tag is $7 for ATVs and motorcycles. For mountain biking, the season pass is $20 and the daily use tag is $3.  

For information on obtaining permits, visit www.fs.usda.gov/mtnf and go to Passes and Permits.

The Mark Twain National Forest allows OHVs on open and numbered Forest Service Roads, in compliance with state and county laws. Use the Mark Twain National Forest’s Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) to ensure you are riding on designated routes.  

Remember, these roads are also open to highway legal vehicles and visitors should share the road. Please do your part to take care of the Forest by staying on the road and not riding cross country!  
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MVUMs can be viewed and downloaded at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/mtnf/map/mvum.   MVUMs can be accessed through the Avenza app as well, and used to track where you are in real-time on the map.  

You may ride on these Forest Service roads in counties where ATV or UTV county permits are issued, providing you abide by Missouri State motor vehicle regulations (MSMVR).

• Have the appropriate county permit.

• Have a valid driver’s license.

• Persons under 18 years of age must wear a motorcycle helmet on ATVs; and everyone must wear seatbelts on UTVs.

• ATVs in Missouri must be registered with a state registration decal attached to the right front fork or frame.

• No operator of an ATV/UTV is allowed to carry passengers unless the vehicle was designed by the manufacturer to carry passengers.

• ATVs and UTVs cannot be operated in streams or rivers, except at designated crossings.

• Vehicles must have appropriate muffler system and a Forest Service approved spark arrester, a good operating brake system, a slow moving equipment emblem at least two feet above the roadway, a safety flag attached to the rear of the vehicle extending at least seven feet above the ground, lighted headlamp, lighted tail-lamp, and a roll bar (for UTVs).

Law enforcement officers will be focused on enforcing these rules for rider safety, and stopping illegal off-road operation, especially in areas experiencing significant resource damage.

The website also includes information on acquiring county permits for each county on the Forest. The county sheriff is also a great place to get information about OHV regulations for a particular county

(Cody Norris is the public affairs officer for the U.S. Forest Service, Mark Twain National Forest.)

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