I have been out in the hills riding since Thursday. 

I am so frustrated with the incredible number of full size pickup trucks  I HAVE PERSONALLY OBSERVED in the last 24 hours running on our 62 inch only trails.  I finally got mad enough that I stopped one of the drivers and asked if he was aware he was parked a mile up 62 inch trail.  “No, I had no idea” he said.  I mentioned he drove past at least 2 four numbered signs to get where he was…one of them was:

which clearly shows the 62 inch designation.  I mentioned the fine and jail time should a ranger find him and he just turned and walked away.

Nearly every gate this trip has been like this:

Clearly, this form of enforcement to keep full size pickups off of the trail system is useless.  How useless?  I think this photo of another truck from this morning speaks for itself:This is the gate at the top of trail 6907. I later spoke to the driver who indicated he had come from the west, meaning he had to drive well over a mile on a 62 inch trail to be where he parked.

The only thing that is going to stop this is to install a gate like the following at all trail entrances off the main roads.  You can do posts or even the green crossings, but you MUST lock the large gates to keep the full size vehicles out.  The hunters and ranchers can access the areas just like we do…on a OHV 62 inches in width or less.  Here is what the FS needs to be spending our tag fees on:

What happens when you let the full size trucks on the trails? Here is but 1 example on trail 6921 from this morning:

You can clearly see this damage is from full size truck tires…I could post another 10 pics of the same thing from other trails, but this is sufficient. 

OHV users are constantly being criticized for tearing up the environment and being poor stewards of the forest.  I have logged over 200 miles this week on 62 inch trails and all the damage I have observed has been from full sized vehicles.  There is a big difference between the damage from a 80 inch wide 5000lb F150 and a 48 inch wide 700 lb ATV or a 60 inch wide 1500lb UTV.   OHV riders are getting a bad rap.  We being blamed for damage we are NOT responsible for!

Yesterday I watched a club cab dual wheel white pickup truck take off from road 291 climbing trail 6012 spinning tires and throwing rocks all the way up.  Trail 6012 is a 62 inch ONLY trail!  This just illustrated again the one thing that seems common about the truck drivers; they just don’t care about what they are doing, vs the majority of the ATV/UTV drivers that I observe paying attention to how they are driving and trying NOT to tear things up.

You don’t have to completely fence in the entrance areas to the trails.  50 ft of fence on either side of posts/crossing guards would get the job done in 90% of the locations.  Many of the trails entrances have natural barriers that would make the installation of posts/crossing guards relatively simple.  BUT, you DO have to lock the vehicle gates (as was done in the above pic) to keep the full size vehicles out.

The state association and the local clubs lost the fight to keep any 50 inch trails in the South Dakota Black Hills, (there still some on the Wyoming side).  I believe both groups need to strongly encourage the FS to start enforcing the rules on 62 inch trails before they all turn into wide track, heavily rutted, full-size truck roads.  The majority of the “trails” I have ridden over the past 3 days are just that.  If you actually find a 62 inch trail that is truly 62 inches wide, it is the exception.

Everyone is always screaming at the ATV/UTV people to “Stay on the trail!”. 

We need to start screaming just as loud to EVERYONE: “STAY OFF THE TRAILS!”.

12 Comments
  1. Johnny 7 1 year ago

    Catch them and fine them. Make it big and word will spread quickly.
    Only thing the understand!

  2. Johnny 7 1 year ago

    Should have been only thing they understand!

  3. Author
    T 1 year ago

    I agree….I understand there are already more patrols in the hills this year than previous years . Hopefully they are going after things like this in addition to enforcing the trail stickers on ATV/UTVs.

  4. Author
    T 10 months ago

    Well, it took a year longer than they told me it would after receiving my letter and pictures documenting the above damage, but the Forest Service is hiring 5 new rangers specifically to patrol the hills:

    https://www.keloland.com/news/local-news/black-hills-national-forest-creates-new-trail-ranger-jobs/1632603340

    Not bad, I am impressed that they moved forward on the initiative, secured that many positions and secured the funding to make it happen. Well done FS!

    • Scott 8 months ago

      I certainly like the idea. No use having rules for the trail system if they aren’t going to enforce them.

  5. Author
    T 2 months ago

    Quick update. I was on 6901 and many other trails in that area last weekend for the first time in several years. I am happy to say there was no sign of any truck tires or ruts on the tails I checked out. Apparently the FS has stopped the trucks and the forest has quickly recovered back to a single 2 track in these areas. It was really exciting to see the improvement!

  6. John Ferda 2 months ago

    I wish they would patrol more often for these reasons

  7. Author
    T 2 months ago

    Agreed…I have yet to see anyone patrolling, but have only been out 1 time this year. I was amazed at the number of rigs I say headed to the hills, yet when I was out riding for 2 days I never saw anyone. It is a vast area and people disappear into it quickly!

  8. Heather 2 weeks ago

    My family spent almost 5 weeks on the trials this summer and still came across this issue. I hate seeing everyone complain about other utvs when alot of the time it’s full sized trucks and Jeeps. I love the trails and being in the black hills but just because we are from wyoming we are the ones blamed.

  9. Author
    T 2 weeks ago

    Wow Heather, how lucky are you to be able to do that much riding in 1 summer! I am lucky to get 5 days in a year. I am curious what part of the hills/which trails you saw most of the trucks and Jeeps?

  10. Author
    T 2 weeks ago

    and as a follow up…the only way I can see you getting blamed is if you and your family are riding UTVs on the trail system that are wider than 62 inches.

    Are you?

  11. Heather 4 hours ago

    We took vacations and days off over there. I’m not saying “we” were blamed specifically but I heard it alot from locals that out of towners were to blame. We rode spearfish to nemo alot.

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