Four or five people driving ATVs on dirt trail

Stock image.

Active-riding and trail safety in our community

By Kristi Reynolds & Chico Traclet

Posted on Thursday September 23, 2021

The Renfrew County system of trails offer some of the best riding in Ontario with trail experiences for all levels of riders. The trail system managed and maintained by the Renfrew County ATV Club includes almost 1000km of trails across 5 trail systems, and is connected by roughly 400km of trail routes and roads. We know you are going to enjoy the scenic views, the expanse of abandoned rail trails, the heritage logging routes, the rivers and lakes and above all the forested trails that meander through the valley taking you to places inaccessible without off-road vehicles.

Recreational ATV and ROV (also known as SxS, UTV or Side by Side) riding offers an exciting, versatile and fun experience for outdoor enthusiasts. With enhanced protection features, these machines are suitable for exploring and off-roading on a wide range of terrain. Drivers must be over 16 and have a valid license to drive an ATV or ROV. This activity is what we call “RiderActive” and demands all of your attention to remain engaged and observant. No matter what terrain you ride on, you will utilize different muscle groups in your entire body to operate your ATV or ROV for a thrilling experience. Alcohol and/or drugs have no place while on the trails and the penalties are the same as if you were driving your car; impaired is impaired.

To be aware of your surroundings on the trails you must watch for other trail users, wildlife, trail hazards and be prepared for the unexpected in the great outdoors. Whether you are new to recreational ATV/ROV or have grown up on wheels, all riders should be aware of a few key safety and riding considerations before and while on the trails.

• Ride your machine safely by becoming safety certified on your ATV or ROV.
It goes without saying that the first thing you should do once you have purchased a new machine, is to ensure you know your new acquisition; the best way to do this is of course by reading your owner’s manual. Ensure you know how to ride your machine safely by taking the time to become safety certified on your ATV or ROV. RCATV offers the most current and up to date safety training that is recognized by the Canadian Safety Council.

Enroll in a CASI ATV RiderCourseSM training program to gain hands-on experience to handle your ATV correctly, from a certified instructor.

For basic knowledge of your ROV, take advantage of the free Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV) Safety E-Course (ROHVA E-Course) online. This will provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge before enrollment in the ROV Basic DriverCourse (RBDC). The RBDC which consists of the ROHVA E-Course and six closed-range exercises, is designed for current and prospective recreational off-highway vehicle users. It is about the fundamentals of operating an ROV and provides the basic knowledge and skills for successful operation.

By the end of the course, each driver will have basic physical skills and strategies to be able to make safe and responsible driving decisions. For additional information on upcoming training dates, visit

• Become familiar with designated trails in your area and trail signage for the safest possible ride.
Know where you are riding by becoming familiar with the trails in your community. Do you know the maximum speed limits when riding on roadways through ATV-friendly communities? It’s easy to contact the municipalities you are planning to visit to ensure they have a by-law in place which allows driving on their roads. As well a local club/director will be able to assist you in reading trail signage and other fun to go places within their area. Inform yourself with the difficulty level of your ride by reviewing trail technicality ratings. RCATV has made it easy to do so on their interactive RCATV Trail Map. There, you can view trails ranging from beginner to most difficult, allowing you to tailor your trip accordingly, depending on your off-road experience and skill level. You can also download the free QuadON app to your mobile device for an enhanced riding experience with or without data coverage.

• Be ready to ride anywhere by dressing the part and packing accordingly.
A good ride can be a messy one, with muddy terrain and uncertain weather. Ensure you are prepared to hit the trails with the appropriate gear. Riders must always wear a high-quality and well-fitted motorcycle helmet and safety rated/certified eye protection. Make certain your entire body is protected and comfortable with a material that can shield you from debris or gravel, including long sleeves, pants, gloves and over the ankle footwear. As well, a dust mask or balaclava will be well used to protect you from the dust you are most likely to encounter. Well seasoned riders know anything can happen on the trails, which is why they travel on the trails with a compact first aid kit, extra water, food, a tire repair kit, spare fuel, and a mobile device that has the What3Words app downloaded. This app simplifies location by precisely identifying wherever you are in the world using a phrase composed of 3 unique words. Should you ever find yourself lost on the trails, this can be helpful for family, friends and medical personnel to find you.

• Join a local volunteer club to engage with like-minded riders.
Supporting a local club ensures your membership dollars are invested into the trails you actually ride. This is also an excellent way to become involved in your community. Take part in group rides, participate in online discussions and learn about volunteer opportunities on the RCATV Facebook group Out for a Rip.
With more trails than time, what are you waiting for? The Renfrew County ATV Club encourages you to explore the trails throughout the heart of the Ottawa Valley today. Become a part of a connected ATV/ROV experience with the Renfrew County ATV Club.

Chico Traclet, Director-At-Large
Renfrew County ATV Club
Phone: 613-602-0180