Snowmobiling is very much a community activity. Snowmobile clubs, which are volunteer driven, are the main reason we have so many fantastic trails to ride. OFSC trails operate on a mixture of public and private land with some of the trails operating on multi-use trails. If you want these trails to be available for years to come, there are some simple rules that need to be followed. As a snowmobiler you have a responsibility to ride in a manner that is legal, safe, and respectful towards your fellow riders, other trail users, landowners, and the environment.
Responsible Snowmobiler. Operators and passengers must:
- Make smart riding choices to keep everyone safe on the marked OFSC trail.
- Refuse to ride with anyone who doesn’t stay on the marked trail or doesn’t have a valid trail pass.
- Be prudent and responsible and always operate the snowmobile with appropriate care and control.
- Not attempt to enforce any laws/rules/regulations. Simply document issues and report to the club or law enforcement.
Snowmobile Citizen. Operators and passengers must:
- Show respect and appreciation and be courteous and polite to landowners and their families. Never assume a person on the trail doesn’t have a right to be there.
- Slow down for any pedestrian or animal on a OFSC trail.
- Offer assistance to anyone who is stuck, lost, broken down or otherwise in distress.
- Slow down when passing close to any residence or livestock near an OFSC trail.
- Report any trail safety issues to the club immediately.
- Not touch or do any damage to anything on a landowner’s property (equipment, fences, buildings, etc.).
- Make an effort to replace or fix signs that have fallen or misplaced.
- Join your local snowmobile club, they work hard for you!
Care of the Trails and Environment. Operators and passengers must:
- Carry any garbage or broken parts out with you.
- Leave tracks, not trash.
- Protect our common environment.
- Slow down and avoid hard acceleration on freshly groomed trails.
- Avoid jack rabbit starts which leave a mound of snow in the trail.
- Avoid hard acceleration when exiting corners.
- Be mindful of newly planted vegetation and hibernating animals.
- Not leave the trail to enter fields where there are no trails.
Snowmobile Paperwork. To operate on an OFSC trail, a snowmobile must:
- Display a valid Ontario Snowmobile Trail Permit in the proper location.
- Have the registration number displayed on both sides of the snowmobile.
- Have a MTO validation tag displayed on the left side of the snowmobile.
- Have appropriate liability coverage.
The operator must:
- Carry their driver’s license or Snow Vehicle Operators license with them.
- Carry a copy of the snowmobile registration and ownership.
- Carry the paperwork that was attached to the Ontario Snowmobile Trail Permit.
Operator and Passenger Personal Safety. Operators and passengers must:
- Wear an approved helmet at all times, with the chin strap secured.
- Always ride with a buddy – Never ride alone.
- Dress appropriately for all conditions.
- Be prepared for the weather and changing conditions.
- Always have appropriate safety and emergency equipment to include: matches, first aid kit, tools, parts, etc.
- Carry a cell phone for emergencies with the acknowledgement that many trails do not have cell coverage.
- Carry a printed map of the area.
- Carry snacks, water and other food.
- Plan a route with frequent places to stop; Report in often.
- Not consume alcohol or drugs prior to, or while using the trails.
- Use appropriate hand signals when safe to do so.
- Come to a full stop at all crossings and stop signs.
- Obey all OFSC signs.
- Never exceed your own training, experience, skill or comfort level.
- Be prepared to stop your sled within the distance you can see. Do not overdrive your ability to see what is around the corner, or over the hill.
Safe Operation Practices. While operating the snowmobile, operators and passengers must:
- Share the OFSC trail, keep to the right, obey all signs and ride with care and control.
- Know how to operate and maintain your snowmobile.
- Park, stand or stop your snowmobile off the trail or roadway whenever possible.
- Be aware of your surroundings, and if faster riders come up behind you, look for a safe passing area and then move over and wave them through.
- Expect on-coming traffic at all times. Others will be using the same path, coming from the opposite direction. Do not stop directly on the trail, instead, pull off to the side of the trail to allow safe passage for others.
- Not follow to close to the snowmobile in front of you.
- Ensure snowmobile lights are on before sunset and after sunrise and during poor weather conditions.
- Ensure your rear tail/brake light is clear of snow and/or ice.
- Use caution when steering into a blind corner, up steep hills and through tunnels – stay right.
- Be mindful at all intersections, railways, road crossings and other trail crossings.
- Never pass same-direction traffic unless you have a long straight section with enough width to safety go around.
- Always give way to trail groomers. Groomers require much more space and effort to maneuver than snowmobiles.
- Not turn around in blind areas of the trail including curves, near rail crossings, near bridges or tunnel or near the crest of a hill.
- Not tow ‘toboggans’ unless with a ridge tow bar.
- Not ride with loud or modified pipes.
Trail Riding. While on the OFSC trail network, operators and passengers must:
- Stay off any trail that shows RED on the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) and/or is marked as closed at the trail. If a gate is closed, the trail is closed. Do not open or go around it to enter the OFSC trail.
- Always ride between the stakes and never cut corners.
- Stay on the marked OFSC trail to avoid any dangerous or damaging encounter with obstacles.
- Never wander off an OFSC trail to play in the powder.
- Follow the maximum speed on trails of 50km/hr or 20km/hr (as posted) or otherwise reduced by law.
- Be mindful of any day and/or time of use restrictions on multi-use trails.
- Not follow off-trail tracks cut by others who have left the trail.
- Not cross through rope, tape or snow fencing, and avoid short cuts or detours from the marked OFSC trail. Obey signs warning to stay off sensitive crop areas.
- Not ride over the stakes.
- Know that there may be grooming or other maintenance activities underway at any time of the day or night which may take up the whole or any part of the trail and have the right of way.
- Not move, damage or remove signs.
Ice Crossings. While using staked OFSC ice crossings, operators and passengers must:
- Know the unique and dangers of ice crossings.
- Know the thickness and quality of ice.
- Stay to right of the middle lake marker, when on an ice crossing.
- Be mindful that some ice crossings are not groomed.
Laws and Regulations. All snowmobilers must:
- Know and obey the laws, including:
- local municipal bylaws.
- The Occupiers’ Liability Act.
- The Motorized Snow Vehicles Act and associated regulations.
- The Trespass to Property Act.