Official 4WD season dates shall be considered to be May 1st to December 1st unless otherwise posted. However, for safety reasons we recommend you exercise extreme caution or stay off the trails during hunting season (dates are generally mid Oct into Dec). Thanksgiving weekend is generally when hunting starts in many areas however please visit.
Why May 1st?
The OF4WD works with other trail user groups and government agencies through a variety of methods to ensure a peaceful coexistence on the multi use trails in this province.
Through negotiations, the date of May 1st was picked for a few different reasons.
- Generally speaking the snow is all gone and the OFSC is not longer using the trails (See Why Victoria Day Weekend below for explanation)
- The weather over the April period has allowed for drying of the trail tread and evacuation of the frost beneath the surface to occur. This allows for a steadier trail base ensuring we adhere to the tread lightly principles.
- This helps with trail maintenance costs
- Reduces our impact on the environment
Why have I heard that Victoria Day Weekend (May 24) is the opening of the season?
May 24 weekend has been considered the season opening date in the past. Some years the province has observed heavier snow falls which takes time to thaw, all dependant on pre-season temperatures. Generally speaking by May 24 the ground is good and dry in all areas which helps firm up the trail base as mentioned above.
Using the May 1st date requires caution as some trails can still be quite wet. This is a judgement call by the user.
By using the OF4WD trail index map you will be able to see trail statuses change as the season opens. The OF4WD stays in contact with locals in those areas where they advise us of conditions. Usually you will see the trails to the south open first while trails further north take a few weeks longer.
Why Have I heard that Thanksgiving Weekend is Season End?
Ontario anglers and hunters use the crown lands for hunting. We do not recommend trail rides during hunting season for safety reasons unless you research the hunting season dates for the areas you are interested in: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/business/fw/2columnsubpage/291144.html.
The reasons are as follows:
- The OFSC clubs require some prep time to ensure their trails are ready for winter and this must be done before the freezing temperatures hit. Once the ground is frozen it’s pretty hard to fix trail tread.
- Ontario anglers and hunters require the use of trails. Safety is a large concern as people are hunting and accidents have happen in the past (http://www.ofah.org/).
Why is December 1st the Season End?
The snowmobile land use agreements start December 1st and thus why the legal season end is selected as December 1st. If caught on an OFSC trail you could be subject to fines.
To be clear, this is not all OFSC trails and there are loop holes in the rules however the OF4WD asks that you respect the snowmobile season and allow them their time to enjoy the trails without unwanted 4WD use. It’s only a couple of months, our season far outweighs theirs!
Why have people been charged for trespassing on OFSC trails while inside the dates of May 1st to December 1st?
Not all OFSC trails are on crown lands. Thousands of kilometers of OFSC trails are over private land whereas they have legal land use agreements in place with the land owners. To protect the trails and the land owners from civil actions the OFSC must enforce trespassing fines if someone is found to be on private land without permission from the land owner, or the OFSC.
How do I know if I can use the same trail as the OFSC does in the warmer months?
Consult your club representative and always check the OF4WD trail index map. Many trails on the OF4WD map are on crown land however some do run across private land where as the OF4WD has land use agreements or understandings with other organizations such as the OFSC or ATV clubs that we can also use the trail.
The trail index pdf print outs will show you if the trails goes onto private land or is fully crown land. (Look in the top right corner of the print out.)
Can I wheel in the winter at all?
In all honestly it is pretty slim pickings as most trails are multi-use. If you know of a place with private land and have permission to play in the snow this is likely your best bet.
The OF4WD trail index map also has some locations open through-out the winter months. Please log in and check it out for details.
Winter wheeling is actually better for the environment from an impact point of view however not worth the expense of ruining relations without fellow trail users who work so hard with us in maintaining access to trails.
If you ever have any questions or concerns please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.