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  1. #1
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    Default LEGAL off trail riding

    Hello all, as the season approaches I’m starting to do some research on LEGAL off trail riding in MN, WI and MI. The US Forest Service has a lot of great maps and from my understanding, State and Federal land is free game unless otherwise posted (correct me if I am wrong). I am trying to get a more clear answer on power line/high line riding and if it varies from state to state. Just trying to know before we go, we absolutely do not want to be the reason for a trail closure or even a complaint. Thanks guys.

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    Powerlines/Pipelines are generally private and illegal to be on. That includes many sections that are also on state/federal land. Their easement does not usually allow public access. There are some sections on public land that are open, but general rule is, just because it's there does not mean it's OK to be on it. If the utility line crosses private land, definitely not legal to be on it, unless it's shared with a designated town/county/state road.

    Some USFS roads in MI are not open to snowmobiles, varies by forest. In general snowmobiling is restricted to roads/trails and off-trail (cross country) snowmobiling is not allowed on USFS land.

    MI State land doesn't get specific on cross country over snow travel, however if running over saplings/etc, that is not allowed. Sticking to roads/trails is the safe answer.

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    Lake Effect Snow, my three favorite words.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skylar View Post
    Good Info there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2TrakR View Post
    Powerlines/Pipelines are generally private and illegal to be on. That includes many sections that are also on state/federal land. Their easement does not usually allow public access. There are some sections on public land that are open, but general rule is, just because it's there does not mean it's OK to be on it. If the utility line crosses private land, definitely not legal to be on it, unless it's shared with a designated town/county/state road.

    Some USFS roads in MI are not open to snowmobiles, varies by forest. In general snowmobiling is restricted to roads/trails and off-trail (cross country) snowmobiling is not allowed on USFS land.

    MI State land doesn't get specific on cross country over snow travel, however if running over saplings/etc, that is not allowed. Sticking to roads/trails is the safe answer.
    This is absolutely not true. Many National Forests allow cross-country snowmobiling. The Ottawa NF alone has nearly a million acres of boondocking opportunities (but stay clear of the Wilderness areas).

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    This is absolutely not true. Many National Forests allow cross-country snowmobiling. The Ottawa NF alone has nearly a million acres of boondocking opportunities (but stay clear of the Wilderness areas).
    Absolutely true. "In GENERAL". If you don't know which forest you are in, which roads are considered "plowed", which management area you are in (wilderness, etc), then in general, the safe bet is sticking to roads and trails and the safer bet is to stick to designated roads and trails.

    Very restrictive is the HMNF:

    Huron Manistee National Forest:
    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...prd3821078.pdf
    Prohibited:
    Using a motor vehicle, snowmobile, motorcycle, or OHV on Forest roads unless that road or portion of road is designated open to that type of vehicle.
    To possess or use a motor vehicle, snowmobile, motorcycle, or OHV off Forest roads, off trail, into, across, or over forestland, wetlands, streams or beaches unless the area is designated open.

    Less Restrictive is the Ottawa, but you still have to know multiple exceptions and your location:
    Ottawa National Forest:
    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...prd3833604.pdf

    Snowmobiles are prohibited in designated wildernesses, Sylvania Perimeter Area, and on plowed Forest System Roads. In Semi-primitive Non-motorized Management Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers Corridors snowmobiling is limited to designated trails.
    Beginning March 1, the area of the Ottawa National Forest south of M-28 and east of Highway M-64, is closed to cross-country snowmobile use.

    Hiawatha has nothing posted for reference other than their 2006 forest plan.
    Hiawatha National Forest

    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5106341.pdf
    Forest roads within motorized ROS objectives will be open to snowmobile use unless designated closed.
    Cross country snowmobile use is generally allowed within motorized ROS classes unless prohibitions or restrictions are needed for resource protection to meet management objectives.

    CNNF is pretty restrictive

    Chequamegon - Nicolet National Forest
    https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/cnnf/...TELPRDB5182020
    Using a snowmobile on National Forest System roads unless such road is unplowed and has a snow accumulation exceeding four inches is prohibited. 36 CFR 261.54(a).
    Using snowmobile on a National Forest System trail is prohibited unless designated 'open" for such use by posting.
    It is prohibited to possess or use a motor vehicle off National Forest System roads. (cross country travel)

    Superior is fairly restrictive (lots of "which area are you in" caveats):

    Superior National Forest
    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5111683.pdf
    It is prohibited to use a snowmobile on unplowed Forest System roads within the following management areas: Semi-primitive non-motorized Recreation; Research Natural Areas; Candidate Research Natural Areas; Unique Biological Areas; and wild segments of Eligible Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers.
    It is prohibited to use snowmobiles on any plowed National Forest System road, except those listed in Exhibit A and shown on Exhibits B-1, C and D.
    It is prohibited to possess or use a snowmobile off National Forest System roads within the following management areas: Semi-primitive non-motorized Recreation; Research Natural Areas; Candidate Research Natural Areas; Unique Biological Areas; and wild segments of Eligible Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers.
    Last edited by 2TrakR; 11-13-2020 at 11:10 AM.

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    To further explain, here's the Ottawa National Forest broken out by management areas with the snow trail overlaid on top. This does not show all of the non-national forest areas (ie private) within the boundary and is intended to show where restrictions are in place.

    Green has the least restrictions.
    Red is no-go.
    Blue is "probably no go" in that it is managed for minimum, but is not officially considered non-motorized at this point.
    The map also does not show the "no off trail in March" area.

    Clearly there are not "nearly a million acres of boondocking opportunities".

    OttwawaNFSnow.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2TrakR View Post
    Absolutely true. "In GENERAL". If you don't know which forest you are in, which roads are considered "plowed", which management area you are in (wilderness, etc), then in general, the safe bet is sticking to roads and trails and the safer bet is to stick to designated roads and trails.

    Very restrictive is the HMNF:

    Huron Manistee National Forest:
    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...prd3821078.pdf
    Prohibited:
    Using a motor vehicle, snowmobile, motorcycle, or OHV on Forest roads unless that road or portion of road is designated open to that type of vehicle.
    To possess or use a motor vehicle, snowmobile, motorcycle, or OHV off Forest roads, off trail, into, across, or over forestland, wetlands, streams or beaches unless the area is designated open.

    Less Restrictive is the Ottawa, but you still have to know multiple exceptions and your location:
    Ottawa National Forest:
    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...prd3833604.pdf

    Snowmobiles are prohibited in designated wildernesses, Sylvania Perimeter Area, and on plowed Forest System Roads. In Semi-primitive Non-motorized Management Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers Corridors snowmobiling is limited to designated trails.
    Beginning March 1, the area of the Ottawa National Forest south of M-28 and east of Highway M-64, is closed to cross-country snowmobile use.

    Hiawatha has nothing posted for reference other than their 2006 forest plan.
    Hiawatha National Forest

    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5106341.pdf
    Forest roads within motorized ROS objectives will be open to snowmobile use unless designated closed.
    Cross country snowmobile use is generally allowed within motorized ROS classes unless prohibitions or restrictions are needed for resource protection to meet management objectives.

    CNNF is pretty restrictive

    Chequamegon - Nicolet National Forest
    https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/cnnf/...TELPRDB5182020
    Using a snowmobile on National Forest System roads unless such road is unplowed and has a snow accumulation exceeding four inches is prohibited. 36 CFR 261.54(a).
    Using snowmobile on a National Forest System trail is prohibited unless designated 'open" for such use by posting.
    It is prohibited to possess or use a motor vehicle off National Forest System roads. (cross country travel)

    Superior is fairly restrictive (lots of "which area are you in" caveats):

    Superior National Forest
    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5111683.pdf
    It is prohibited to use a snowmobile on unplowed Forest System roads within the following management areas: Semi-primitive non-motorized Recreation; Research Natural Areas; Candidate Research Natural Areas; Unique Biological Areas; and wild segments of Eligible Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers.
    It is prohibited to use snowmobiles on any plowed National Forest System road, except those listed in Exhibit A and shown on Exhibits B-1, C and D.
    It is prohibited to possess or use a snowmobile off National Forest System roads within the following management areas: Semi-primitive non-motorized Recreation; Research Natural Areas; Candidate Research Natural Areas; Unique Biological Areas; and wild segments of Eligible Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers.
    Since the Hiawatha and the Ottawa are the two largest national forests in the UP, and since boondocking is allowed in the MAJORITY of those forest lands, then your statement is absolutely false. Yes, a person absolutely needs to be careful where they ride (as I stated in the last post), but "in general", the majority is still open for riding.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by 2TrakR View Post
    To further explain, here's the Ottawa National Forest broken out by management areas with the snow trail overlaid on top. This does not show all of the non-national forest areas (ie private) within the boundary and is intended to show where restrictions are in place.

    Green has the least restrictions.
    Red is no-go.
    Blue is "probably no go" in that it is managed for minimum, but is not officially considered non-motorized at this point.
    The map also does not show the "no off trail in March" area.

    Clearly there are not "nearly a million acres of boondocking opportunities".

    OttwawaNFSnow.jpg
    The Ottawa NF is 990,000 acres, and the vast majority of it is open to snowmobiling. It's OK to just admit you were wrong.

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    How do you know if a forest road is plowed

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    Quote Originally Posted by rp7x View Post
    How do you know if a forest road is plowed
    I can't answer that question but I can add this comment: Years ago, when we first moved up here the forest roads used to be numbered up and down OR sideways...if the numbers were up & down, like you were shaking your head "yes", it was legal to ride...if the numbers were sideways, like "no", they weren't...but in their "infinite wisdom" they did away with that practice...after all, why have something anyone can understand?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rp7x View Post
    How do you know if a forest road is plowed
    While it seems like an obvious answer since most of the snow would be removed from the road, however if there's recent snow, it definitely could be hard to tell. I don't know of any enforcement actions for riding on plowed roads in the UP, I do know of enforcement actions for riding on USFS Roads in the lower peninsula.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    Since the Hiawatha and the Ottawa are the two largest national forests in the UP, and since boondocking is allowed in the MAJORITY of those forest lands, then your statement is absolutely false. Yes, a person absolutely needs to be careful where they ride (as I stated in the last post), but "in general", the majority is still open for riding.

    - - - Updated - - -



    The Ottawa NF is 990,000 acres, and the vast majority of it is open to snowmobiling. It's OK to just admit you were wrong.

    Alright, let's try again.

    Original Post was asking for MN, WI and MI. That's 6 National Forests. 4 of the 6 prohibit cross country travel. The remaining 2 have many exceptions.
    You are correct, though, the majority of the Ottawa and the Hiawatha are open to cross country travel. They are the minority of those three States.

    Ottawa National Forest is:

    Total Acres: 963,596.97
    Closed to Cross Country Snowmobile use: 187,445.55

    Break up those remaining 776,000 acres with many areas of private land and the result requires serious effort to know where you are and where you can be. It's not like there is one big block of 700K+ acres, it's a lot of disconnected areas.


    This image shows the detail on USFS Ownership (green= open, red and blue = no, white is private; orange-white is snow trail).


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    Quote Originally Posted by 2TrakR View Post
    Alright, let's try again.

    Original Post was asking for MN, WI and MI. That's 6 National Forests. 4 of the 6 prohibit cross country travel. The remaining 2 have many exceptions.
    You are correct, though, the majority of the Ottawa and the Hiawatha are open to cross country travel. They are the minority of those three States.

    Ottawa National Forest is:

    Total Acres: 963,596.97
    Closed to Cross Country Snowmobile use: 187,445.55

    Break up those remaining 776,000 acres with many areas of private land and the result requires serious effort to know where you are and where you can be. It's not like there is one big block of 700K+ acres, it's a lot of disconnected areas.


    This image shows the detail on USFS Ownership (green= open, red and blue = no, white is private; orange-white is snow trail).

    The forest service says it's 993,010 acres. Your numbers are bunk. The Ottawa and Watha the are by far the largest in the Yoop, and since the vast majority of that land is open to boondocking, as well as much of Superior and other small forests, your statement that boondocking is "generally prohibited" is clearly false. Buy a dictionary.

    It's obvious that you have never ridden off-trail in the Ottawa, but there are maps available from the USFS if you want to learn more. https://www.fs.usda.gov/ottawa

    Good day.

  14. #14

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    hey guys

    link to usda/ottawa -subtitle- land & resource management, has a data disclaimer as long as my arm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rp7x View Post
    How do you know if a forest road is plowed
    There is a sign at the start of each road usually right off the main one that says...this is a seasonal unplowed road....look for them....hard to see...very small....and white with red lettering

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    Quote Originally Posted by jime View Post
    hey guys

    link to usda/ottawa -subtitle- land & resource management, has a data disclaimer as long as my arm.
    If you are implying that a person needs to be careful where they ride.....ummm, yeah, absolutely, always. That doesn't change the fact that there are massive areas in the UP where boondocking is allowed. As in: areas so huge that you can get lost and die of exposure before anyone finds you. Out west, it's even more dangerous. It's not meant for retards who can barely navigate a simple trail map.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracker View Post
    There is a sign at the start of each road usually right off the main one that says...this is a seasonal unplowed road....look for them....hard to see...very small....and white with red lettering
    Seasonal Road is a County Road sign. It is not a USFS road sign. Seeing that sign indicates the County claims jurisdiction of the road, but does not indicate if the USFS also claims ownership of the road (they sometimes do if the road passes through lands owned by USFS). Does not indicate if the USFS considers it an unplowed Forest Service Road.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    The forest service says it's 993,010 acres. Your numbers are bunk. The Ottawa and Watha the are by far the largest in the Yoop, and since the vast majority of that land is open to boondocking, as well as much of Superior and other small forests, your statement that boondocking is "generally prohibited" is clearly false. Buy a dictionary.

    It's obvious that you have never ridden off-trail in the Ottawa, but there are maps available from the USFS if you want to learn more. https://www.fs.usda.gov/ottawa

    Good day.
    Hopefully third time is the charm.

    1. Please direct me to an Ottawa National Forest Map that shows cross country over-snow riding opportunities. A link will suffice.
    2. My acreage calculations are based on USFS GIS data that I have, provided to me from the USFS. The numbers you are referring to, I suspect, are public "rough" numbers presented to the person maintaining a web page. There's "only" 30K difference which is a lot of land, but in this context, probably not a meaningful difference. I agree that over 900K is "nearly a million acres" but I stand by my statement that 770K open-acres is not "nearly a million acres open to cross-country travel" (it is a lot of area for certain).

    3. Why do I make a generalized statement that leans towards the most-legal version of an answer to the original question? "in general cross country travel is not permitted" when referencing MI, WI and MN...

    You indicated
    The Ottawa NF alone has nearly a million acres of boondocking opportunities (but stay clear of the Wilderness areas).
    It's a lot more than designated wilderness. If you look at a visitor map from the Ottawa, the few wilderness areas are depicted; those maps do not depict the many other areas such as Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized Areas, Wild Rivers, Special Interest Areas, etc. and all of those prohibit cross-country motorized use (over snow or not). Most people interested in off-trail riding do not know of these management areas or the restrictions in place in them and why would they since they are not on any regularly used maps.

    To reinforce this point, do you recall the article from the 2019 season where off-trail riders were running on a river and had issues on Ottawa National Forest Land? Including tickets.

    https://content.govdelivery.com/acco...letins/22eaca4

    Quote Originally Posted by DNR
    Painter said the snowmobilers had ridden up the river, which is illegal under federal regulations, to do some backcountry off-trail riding. Hanson, Painter and Lopac, along with an Ontonagon County Sheriff’s deputy, were the first law enforcement officers arriving on the scene.
    The area they were riding in is attached for reference. It's one of the SPNMA and no where near USFS-designated wilderness; so double jeopardy for these riders - they were on a river that was a no-no and they were then in other non-motorized areas off trail. This is not a designated wilderness. If they were going by the information "Ottawa open except for wilderness" they would have thought they were legal and that is not the case. The only legal spot they could be in that whole big section southwest of White Pine is on FSR 360 which is a dead end.

    It's the same mentality for wheeled users. When MI Legislature passed PA288 to open forest roads on State Land to ORVs, all of the Facebook groups said "all snowmobile trails are now open" which is entirely not the case. A great example of the resulting fallout is the current loss of Trail 109 which was due to wheeled vehicles following the snowmobile trail and causing "damage" on private property. If you listen to one of those riders, you'll probably hear them say "well, I read all snowmobile trails are open to ORVs now plus this IS the UP, so must be OK for me to be on this one". That's like the snowmobiler who was told "all of the Ottawa is open to cross country riding except wilderness areas".

    So when asked:
    Quote Originally Posted by sledjunkie25
    LEGAL off trail riding in MN, WI and MI {snip} The US Forest Service has a lot of great maps and from my understanding, State and Federal land is free game unless otherwise posted
    I will answer "in general, considering the areas available to snowmobile across those three States, cross country travel is prohibited".

    This is especially important when the question includes "free game unless posted". Again, look at just the Ottawa which does allow such riding and you'll find no signs designating an area closed or even open for cross country travel. Even the official Wilderness areas are poorly signed.

    Is it true that cross country travel is allowed in the Ottawa and the Hiawatha? Yes.
    Is it legal to do if I just watch for signs that say "no cross country travel"? No.
    Is is easy to know which areas I can snowmobile cross-country in either of those National Forests? No.
    Is is easy to know where I am and if I am changing into an area with different ownership or rules while riding cross-country? No.

    How would I stay legal if I wanted to ride cross-country in the Ottawa National Forest? You would need to use a GPS, research each forests' rules and also where the designated management areas are, have a map that you make or shows those MAs and ownership and either pre-plan your trip or frequently stop to review the GPS.

    Heck, the CNNF joins the Ottawa along the MI/WI border and have totally different rules.

    Cross-country snowmobile riding is prohibited in most of MN, WI and MI. Cross-country riding in the Ottawa and Hiawatha National Forests is allowed, but doing so legally requires substantial effort on the riders part.

    BigIronRiver.jpg

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    Thank you all for this information so far. I plan on doing more research in all these areas and printing a lot of maps. Also wondering in the three state area I mentioned, how many sled guide services are there? I know about Keweenaw Snow Expeditions but that’s the only one that I know of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sledjunkie25 View Post
    Hello all, as the season approaches I’m starting to do some research on LEGAL off trail riding in MN, WI and MI. The US Forest Service has a lot of great maps and from my understanding, State and Federal land is free game unless otherwise posted (correct me if I am wrong). I am trying to get a more clear answer on power line/high line riding and if it varies from state to state. Just trying to know before we go, we absolutely do not want to be the reason for a trail closure or even a complaint. Thanks guys.
    Thank you for starting this thread! I have a feeling there will be many more people riding off trail this season, and this helps those who have not done as much of it. PLEASE everyone make sure you know what land your on! We don't want to upset what a great area we all have to ride! Its a privilege, not a right, be smart about it for all of us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2TrakR View Post
    Hopefully third time is the charm.


    1. Please direct me to an Ottawa National Forest Map that shows cross country over-snow riding opportunities. A link will suffice.


    Is it true that cross country travel is allowed in the Ottawa and the Hiawatha? Yes.
    Is it legal to do if I just watch for signs that say "no cross country travel"? No.
    Is is easy to know which areas I can snowmobile cross-country in either of those National Forests? No.
    Is is easy to know where I am and if I am changing into an area with different ownership or rules while riding cross-country? No.

    BigIronRiver.jpg

    You can reply a hundred times; it won't change the fact that you don't know what the F you are talking about.

    The question here wasn't "is it easy to know where I can ride?" Nobody said it was "easy" or that there would be "signs everywhere", so I don't know where you got such dumbass ideas. I stated that there are massive areas available for boondocking, and that most of the Watha and Ottawa allow it, which is 100% true. I specifically said that it's not for effing retards who can barely read a trail map! But if "easy" is what you need, there are actually phone apps and GPS maps that can tell you exactly where you are at all times, and give immediate feedback if you are out of bounds or trespassing. That actually does make it really "easy". You could have just walked away from the thread instead of embarrassing yourself again, but people like you rarely do. You try to talk about a subject which you obviously know NOTHING about, and then can't admit you were wrong.

    Here are the maps: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/ottawa/maps-pubs
    You can also pick up current maps at their service centers, if you can't afford a GPS or app. But I'm sure you won't, because you are clearly only a trail rider who only stuck your nose in this thread to tell everyone "stay on the trail, always".

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    Thanks, given my obvious lack of intelligence, can you point to which of the maps on that link show cross-country snowmobile riding opportunities on the Ottawa?
    I looked before you posted and there are none, maybe you can educate me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2TrakR View Post
    Thanks, given my obvious lack of intelligence, can you point to which of the maps on that link show cross-country snowmobile riding opportunities on the Ottawa?
    I looked before you posted and there are none, maybe you can educate me.
    You were probably looking for "off-trail snowmobile maps", which they don't have. The maps are under "motorized vehicle use maps" (MVUM), which show all of the private property and wilderness areas in great detail. Like I said before, it's not "easy", but you can get apps or GPS maps that make it much easier. If you are looking at NF areas and thinking "that's pretty small; I would be through that in 10 minutes", no, you wouldn't. Travel is much slower off-trail, and even a few hundred acres can keep you busy for hours. Are you genuinely interested in learning more about boondocking in the Ottawa, or are you just looking for ways to say "see, I told you that you can't ride there"? What track and lug length are you using?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    You were probably looking for "off-trail snowmobile maps", which they don't have. The maps are under "motorized vehicle use maps" (MVUM), which show all of the private property and wilderness areas in great detail. Like I said before, it's not "easy", but you can get apps or GPS maps that make it much easier. If you are looking at NF areas and thinking "that's pretty small; I would be through that in 10 minutes", no, you wouldn't. Travel is much slower off-trail, and even a few hundred acres can keep you busy for hours. Are you genuinely interested in learning more about boondocking in the Ottawa, or are you just looking for ways to say "see, I told you that you can't ride there"? What track and lug length are you using?
    MVUM does not in any way shape or form apply to over-snow vehicles. They explicitly state that on the maps. The MVUM also does not depict SPNMA or other "non-motorized" management areas except for genuine Wilderness. The SPNMA that the MN riders got tickets on, up near White Pine, is not depicted as a closed area on the MVUM (or most any other map for that matter).

    Quote Originally Posted by OttawaNF
    This map does not display nonmotorized uses, over- snow vehicle uses, or other facilities and attractions on the Ottawa National Forest.
    This thread was about advice on legal off trail and presumably cross country over snow travel in three States. You've now agreed that there is no published map from the Ottawa that would help a rider stay "legal" while riding cross country in just that one national forest. And we've shown it's a lot more than just designated Wilderness areas that are not legal for cross country travel in that same NF.

    The more riders we keep legal, the less opportunity we have for losing access.

    As for my sleds, I have two set up for some off trail work. One is 1 3/4 x 144 and one is 1 1/2 x 137. Obviously not mountain machines, but they are only used in MI/WI/MN. My youngest loves it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2TrakR View Post

    MVUM does not in any way shape or form apply to over-snow vehicles. They explicitly state that on the maps.
    I already said it's not a "snowmobile map"! But it DOES show all private property and wilderness areas in great detail. If you stop at a Forest service station and ask where you can boondock in the Ottawa, that is the map that they will sell to you!!!! So no, I have absolutely NOT agreed that there is no map that will help one stay legal! You clearly don't want to learn about this, and are only here to tell everyone to "stay on the trail". Stop telling people that boondocking is "generally prohibited" the UP national forests. You are wrong and dishonest, and we are done here.

    From the USFS: The use of snowmobiles cross-country is permitted on the Ottawa, except in areas designated closed to snowmobiles. Snowmobiles are prohibited in designated wildernesses, Sylvania Perimeter Area, and on plowed Forest System Roads. In Semi-primitive Non-motorized Management Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers Corridors snowmobiling is limited to designated trails. Forest Service Visitor maps identifying these areas are available at all Forest Service offices, these maps can be purchased for $14. Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps do not provide regulations for snowmobile use. These are the same maps that are linked on the site!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    I already said it's not a "snowmobile map"! But it DOES show all private property and wilderness areas in great detail. If you stop at a Forest service station and ask where you can boondock in the Ottawa, that is the map that they will sell to you!!!! So no, I have absolutely NOT agreed that there is no map that will help one stay legal! You clearly don't want to learn about this, and are only here to tell everyone to "stay on the trail". Stop telling people that boondocking is "generally prohibited" the UP national forests. You are wrong and dishonest, and we are done here.

    From the USFS: The use of snowmobiles cross-country is permitted on the Ottawa, except in areas designated closed to snowmobiles. Snowmobiles are prohibited in designated wildernesses, Sylvania Perimeter Area, and on plowed Forest System Roads. In Semi-primitive Non-motorized Management Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers Corridors snowmobiling is limited to designated trails. Forest Service Visitor maps identifying these areas are available at all Forest Service offices, these maps can be purchased for $14. Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps do not provide regulations for snowmobile use. These are the same maps that are linked on the site!!!
    Thank you for reposting and agreeing with everything I have posted by copying it from the Fed's site. I have not said boondocking is generally prohibited in the Ottawa or Hiawatha National Forests, I have said cross country travel is generally prohibited in MI, WI and MN. There are a whole bunch of national forests and other public lands in those three states that prohibit it, much more than the acreage offered by those two in the UP, but we've already established they are the exception to the rule.

    The MVUM are supposed to be provided free at forest offices (not sold). They should not be offering those in relation to snowmobiling if asked, but the desk staff do not always know all of their own rules. The hard copy Visitor Map, referenced above, does have a cost.

    Both the MVUM and Visitor Maps do not show the Wild and Scenic River boundaries, nor the SPNMA. I'm sure you have one of those hard copy Visitor Maps handy, compare it with the map I posted further up. Easiest to look in the upper left (southwest of White Pine). That whole block is SPNMA and just to the east of Hwy 64 are interspersed blocks of SPNMA, Wild Rivers and some motorized areas. None are shown on their hard copy Visitor Map, or at least not the ones I've seen. Are they shown on your copy? If not, what information do you use to stay "legal" for cross country travel?

    I concur that the Fed's statement is confusing when they indicate Visitor Maps are available for purchase that show those areas. I've never seen one that does and I think I have a hard copy of every map they offer. Possible I've missed one and it would be nice to be shown their statement to be true and I am mistaken.

    The Semi Primitive NonMotorized Management Areas are a special sore spot for me as we've had the USFS deny our commercial event permits for using county-owned roads that crossed through USFS land that was designated as SPNMA. Street legal vehicles, on county owned and maintained roads, but because some of the land on either side of that county road was managed by that District as SPNMA, they would not allow our event to use those roads. Those Management Areas are not depicted on their published maps, the only way we could learn of them was to put hundreds of hours into planning our routes out and then submit the permit to the USFS, then wait for them to mark it up with denials and restart. Once we got into GIS and the USFS made their MA boundary data available, then we could do more accurate preplanning and save a little time (and still be frustrated on what could/could not be used).

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2TrakR View Post
    Thank you for reposting and agreeing with everything I have posted by copying it from the Fed's site. I have not said boondocking is generally prohibited in the Ottawa or Hiawatha National Forests, I have said cross country travel is generally prohibited in MI, WI and MN. There are a whole bunch of national forests and other public lands in those three states that prohibit it, much more than the acreage offered by those two in the UP, but we've already established they are the exception to the rule.

    The MVUM are supposed to be provided free at forest offices (not sold). They should not be offering those in relation to snowmobiling if asked, but the desk staff do not always know all of their own rules. The hard copy Visitor Map, referenced above, does have a cost.

    Both the MVUM and Visitor Maps do not show the Wild and Scenic River boundaries, nor the SPNMA. I'm sure you have one of those hard copy Visitor Maps handy, compare it with the map I posted further up. Easiest to look in the upper left (southwest of White Pine). That whole block is SPNMA and just to the east of Hwy 64 are interspersed blocks of SPNMA, Wild Rivers and some motorized areas. None are shown on their hard copy Visitor Map, or at least not the ones I've seen. Are they shown on your copy? If not, what information do you use to stay "legal" for cross country travel?

    I concur that the Fed's statement is confusing when they indicate Visitor Maps are available for purchase that show those areas. I've never seen one that does and I think I have a hard copy of every map they offer. Possible I've missed one and it would be nice to be shown their statement to be true and I am mistaken.

    The Semi Primitive NonMotorized Management Areas are a special sore spot for me as we've had the USFS deny our commercial event permits for using county-owned roads that crossed through USFS land that was designated as SPNMA. Street legal vehicles, on county owned and maintained roads, but because some of the land on either side of that county road was managed by that District as SPNMA, they would not allow our event to use those roads. Those Management Areas are not depicted on their published maps, the only way we could learn of them was to put hundreds of hours into planning our routes out and then submit the permit to the USFS, then wait for them to mark it up with denials and restart. Once we got into GIS and the USFS made their MA boundary data available, then we could do more accurate preplanning and save a little time (and still be frustrated on what could/could not be used).
    Your exact words:

    "Some USFS roads in MI are not open to snowmobiles, varies by forest. In general snowmobiling is restricted to roads/trails and off-trail (cross country) snowmobiling is not allowed on USFS land."

    Sure sounds like you were talking about forests in Michigan!

    "You've now agreed that there is no published map from the Ottawa that would help a rider stay "legal" while riding cross country in just that one national forest"

    Those maps will most certainly help a rider stay legal, because they show over 99% of the areas where they can't ride! But it's 2020, and nearly all riders have at least one GPS in their group. A map should be considered a backup, not a primary means of navigation.

    Why do you keep babbling on about this as if you know anything about it, when it's clear that you have never done it, and are only copy/pasting what you find on the USFS site? It's obvious that you only stuck your nose in this thread to tell people to "stay on trail", and you have been repeatedly been dishonest about the law, and dishonest about what you have already written in this thread. It's all still there for anyone to read. Boondocking is obviously not the right sport for you, because you want everything to be "easy". Nothing about boondocking is easy. It's far more physical than trail riding, and it's far more mentally challenging than staying on an 8-foot trail with signs at every intersection. It's clearly not for you, so why are you still typing? I'm guessing that you are one of those people who can't ever admit that they were wrong, and thinks they know it all on every subject.

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    Can we now lock this thread up mod's?

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    This. This is EXACTLY why I do not go to the UP and hit The Black Hills. Same drive time for us and (pretty much) EVERYTHING is fair game. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE riding out there when they get the pow (which is typically the biggest challenge) but the past two seasons have been epic. Made it out there twice last season and the second it was so deep you could ride literally anywhere with zero risk of land mines. Just sayin. Good luck boys!

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by timo View Post
    Can we now lock this thread up mod's?
    Yeah, and start a new one?

    This could have been a useful thread, but 2TrakR though it was more important to pollute it with misinformation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    Yeah, and start a new one?

    This could have been a useful thread, but 2TrakR though it was more important to pollute it with misinformation.
    Lol, and you thought it was just as important to try to prove him wrong.
    Lake Effect Snow, my three favorite words.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    Those maps will most certainly help a rider stay legal, because they show over 99% of the areas where they can't ride! But it's 2020, and nearly all riders have at least one GPS in their group. A map should be considered a backup, not a primary means of navigation.
    For other's reference and clarity. MVUM only shows designated wilderness. The other closed areas are not shown on a MVUM. The roads depicted are not designated for over-snow use (they may or may not be open to snowmobiles and the MVUM does not say yes or no). That's why the USFS says on the MVUM map, do not use this for over-snow use. Wilderness is only 1/3 of the closed area.

    To use a picture to better illustrate. The map below shows the designated wilderness in yellow (5% of the area). The MVUM would show that. The other areas managed as non-motorized (SPNMA, Wild Rivers, etc) are shown in red (14%). According to the verbiage on the USFS site, they offer a hard copy Visitor Map that would show those areas that I show in red. Those areas, however, are not shown on the hard copy Ottawa National Forest Visitor Map that I have, so I am skeptical of their statement (definitely possible I just have not seen it). There could be a newer one or a "different" one. Without knowing what areas, besides wilderness, are closed, a rider would not know if they are legal.

    GPS is great, except nobody currently offers a map for a GPS that shows these management areas. They show the area the USFS owns for sure, but not all of the management areas that are closed to cross country travel.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Skylar View Post
    Lol, and you thought it was just as important to try to prove him wrong.
    It IS important to correct his misinformation! I want people to know that they can boondock in the Ottawa, and it's not "generally prohibited" as he claims. I'm not the one who joined this thread just to tell people to "stay on the trails" in a thread about legal boondocking. He ruined the thread, not me.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2TrakR View Post

    GPS is great, except nobody currently offers a map for a GPS that shows these management areas. They show the area the USFS owns for sure, but not all of the management areas that are closed to cross country travel.
    You could have just walked away, but you had to come back and lie one more time. Why can't you just admit that you don't know anything about this? There are GPS maps that show every type of designation for Federal lands, such as OnX. OnX also shows who owns private property, which makes it possible to ask for permission. Sometimes the ownership is out of date, but it's still a great feature, especially for those of us who hunt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    You could have just walked away, but you had to come back and lie one more time. Why can't you just admit that you don't know anything about this? There are GPS maps that show every type of designation for Federal lands, such as OnX. OnX also shows who owns private property, which makes it possible to ask for permission. Sometimes the ownership is out of date, but it's still a great feature, especially for those of us who hunt.
    I use OnX for business. It is an awesome APP.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    You could have just walked away, but you had to come back and lie one more time. Why can't you just admit that you don't know anything about this? There are GPS maps that show every type of designation for Federal lands, such as OnX. OnX also shows who owns private property, which makes it possible to ask for permission. Sometimes the ownership is out of date, but it's still a great feature, especially for those of us who hunt.
    While I appreciate the accusations, how about backing up your assertion? Screen shot OnX or other app and show us where it displays Ottawa National Forest Land that indicates if it is managed as SPNMA or is managed for regular "open" usage.
    I have OnX, no argument regarding it's utility and their staff seem friendly when they've reached out to me on the phone.

    OnX and other apps as well as other GPS maps available do show the ownership, as I've stated previously. Most show wilderness. They do _not_ show what management category the non-wilderness USFS lands are. Or maybe they do and I've not seen it - educate me.

    I've given you a map above that shows which areas are open and which are not. That should make it easy to compare with another map and say "see, this one shows it right here too".

    Maybe I've missed something, so please correct me. I think you've implied that cross country over snow travel is legal on the Ottawa except for Wilderness. The additional closed areas are not referenced in your other posts, excluding that piece that was copy/pasted from the USFS site but in that same post you only reference wilderness.

    Are you aware of what areas are legal for cross country over snow travel and, if so, what are they and what do you use for reference (ie which map, which docs from the Feds, or personal guide or other)?

    I realize the sentence structure in my first post really upset you. I apologize. I know what I was saying and I understand you read it differently. In subsequent posts, I've expanded and clarified what I've said and backed it up with maps and links to docs from the USFS. I'm sorry if you don't believe what my reply to the OP was about.

    How about instead of calling me a lying liar who lies, you post up the answer to just a subset of the original question? Let's make this thread useful. If you'd rather cover all the areas for all three States, that would be great as well.

    Here's the question:

    "I'm looking for information for legal off trail snowmobile riding in the Ottawa National Forest".


    Here's my answer (in white), compare it to yours and let's see what we agree with:

    Snowmobiles are allowed on designated roads and trails, unplowed forest roads and most county roads.
    Cross-country over snow travel, meaning no road or trail, is allowed in about 80% of the forest.
    They are not allowed on utility right of ways (pipeline/powerline) unless there is also an open road or trail.
    Areas closed to cross country travel include designated Wilderness or managed as non-motorized such as Semi Primitive NonMotorized, Wild and Scenic Rivers, Research Natural Areas, Special Interest Areas. The area south of Highway M28 and east of M64 are closed to cross country travel after February.
    The Forest Service does not offer a comprehensive map that covers over-snow travel opportunities.
    The Forest Visitor Map shows some of these areas, but not all. The forest only offers this map for sale in hard copy format.
    The Motor Vehicle Use Map is for wheeled vehicles and does not show which roads and trails are open to snowmobiles. It does show most ownership areas and most Wilderness, but does not show other areas managed as non-motorized. This map is available online and hard copies are available, normally at no cost.

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    I think it would be cool if you two guys actually met up out in the forest while boon docking!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pclark View Post
    I think it would be cool if you two guys actually met up out in the forest while boon docking!
    duel-pistols.jpg

    Pistols at twenty paces?

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    Quote Originally Posted by frnash View Post
    duel-pistols.jpg

    Pistols at twenty paces?

    Hey,Hey! It's Frank!

    Welcome back! I missed you (should there be a comma here?) old buddy!

    -John

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    Quote Originally Posted by pclark View Post
    I think it would be cool if you two guys actually met up out in the forest while boon docking!
    He obviously does not go boondocking, and only posted in this thread to tell everyone to stay on the trail. So the chances of us running into each other are zero.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2TrakR View Post
    While I appreciate the accusations, how about backing up your assertion? Screen shot OnX or other app and show us where it displays Ottawa National Forest Land that indicates if it is managed as SPNMA or is managed for regular "open" usage.
    I have OnX, no argument regarding it's utility and their staff seem friendly when they've reached out to me on the phone.

    OnX and other apps as well as other GPS maps available do show the ownership, as I've stated previously. Most show wilderness. They do _not_ show what management category the non-wilderness USFS lands are. Or maybe they do and I've not seen it - educate me.

    I've given you a map above that shows which areas are open and which are not. That should make it easy to compare with another map and say "see, this one shows it right here too".

    Maybe I've missed something, so please correct me. I think you've implied that cross country over snow travel is legal on the Ottawa except for Wilderness. The additional closed areas are not referenced in your other posts, excluding that piece that was copy/pasted from the USFS site but in that same post you only reference wilderness.

    Are you aware of what areas are legal for cross country over snow travel and, if so, what are they and what do you use for reference (ie which map, which docs from the Feds, or personal guide or other)?

    I realize the sentence structure in my first post really upset you. I apologize. I know what I was saying and I understand you read it differently. In subsequent posts, I've expanded and clarified what I've said and backed it up with maps and links to docs from the USFS. I'm sorry if you don't believe what my reply to the OP was about.

    How about instead of calling me a lying liar who lies, you post up the answer to just a subset of the original question? Let's make this thread useful. If you'd rather cover all the areas for all three States, that would be great as well.

    Here's the question:

    "I'm looking for information for legal off trail snowmobile riding in the Ottawa National Forest".


    Here's my answer (in white), compare it to yours and let's see what we agree with:

    Snowmobiles are allowed on designated roads and trails, unplowed forest roads and most county roads.
    Cross-country over snow travel, meaning no road or trail, is allowed in about 80% of the forest.
    They are not allowed on utility right of ways (pipeline/powerline) unless there is also an open road or trail.
    Areas closed to cross country travel include designated Wilderness or managed as non-motorized such as Semi Primitive NonMotorized, Wild and Scenic Rivers, Research Natural Areas, Special Interest Areas. The area south of Highway M28 and east of M64 are closed to cross country travel after February.
    The Forest Service does not offer a comprehensive map that covers over-snow travel opportunities.
    The Forest Visitor Map shows some of these areas, but not all. The forest only offers this map for sale in hard copy format.
    The Motor Vehicle Use Map is for wheeled vehicles and does not show which roads and trails are open to snowmobiles. It does show most ownership areas and most Wilderness, but does not show other areas managed as non-motorized. This map is available online and hard copies are available, normally at no cost.
    You have changed your story through the entire thread, and it's all still there for anyone to read.

    First it was "Off-trail is generally prohibited in UP National Forests".

    Then when you realized you were wrong, it changed to "but it's too difficult to know where you are, so it can't be done".

    Then it changed to "there are no paper maps to show where you can legally ride, so it can't be done".

    Then it changed to "there are no gps maps to show where you can legally ride, so it can't be done".

    At least you are finally admitting that most of the Ottawa is open to off-trail riding, so that's progress.

    Here are some maps. One is from the USFS, showing a SPNMA near Bruce Crossing. Also attached is a screenshot from my OnX, showing that same SPNMA (outlined in red dots). I also attached one showing the Sylvania Wilderness area. These are zoomed way out, so obviously not showing in great detail.

    It would have been a lot easier (and wouldn't have ruined a thread on a valuable topic), if you had just admitted right up front that you know nothing about this. You probably thought you were helping by telling everyone to "stay on trail", but you are doing the opposite. Some people are going to go off-trail regardless, so it's highly beneficial (to the entire snowmobile community) to tell them where they can legally go boondocking.SPNMA.JPGSylvania Wilderness.JPGSPNMA Victoria.JPG

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    Quote Originally Posted by DamageInc View Post
    You have changed your story through the entire thread, and it's all still there for anyone to read.

    First it was "Off-trail is generally prohibited in UP National Forests".
    Nope. "UP" was never mentioned, that was something you added in. Kind of like you keep adding stuff such as "so it can't be done" but that was never in any posts but yours.

    Here's actual:

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    Some USFS roads in MI are not open to snowmobiles, varies by forest. In general snowmobiling is restricted to roads/trails and off-trail (cross country) snowmobiling is not allowed on USFS land.
    You can scroll up to see it. This is the statement that has given you such heartache. First sentence references MI, second sentence was in reference to all three states. Had I put a carriage return between those two sentences, it may have been more clear for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    Some USFS roads in MI are not open to snowmobiles, varies by forest.
    True. Referencing MI specifically. The Huron-Manistee National Forest in MI only allows sleds on designated roads and trails; Ottawa and Hiawatha don't allow plowed roads.

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    In general snowmobiling is restricted to roads/trails and off-trail (cross country) snowmobiling is not allowed on USFS land.
    True. Referencing all three States (MI/WI/MN). In the three States the OP was asking about, only the Ottawa and Hiawatha in MI allow it, they are the exception and they have a lot of rules, more than just "but stay clear of the Wilderness areas".

    More importantly, I'm glad you are acknowledging it is more than just wilderness that is not open.

    The Visitor Map in your screen shot shows more than the hard copy I have here, so it must be newer than mine (good they are updating it). Unfortunately, it still only shows "some" of what is closed. Compare the Victoria screen shot to the map below. That Visitor Map shows the Ontonagon rivers as "Recreation Rivers" in that screen shot, but they are not open. Not just the river itself, but about 1/2 a mile on either side of the actual river.
    Now, I'm not pointing that out to say you are wrong. There is just more to be aware of that is not open.


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