Draft* FOREWORD *Draft


In our fast-paced hectic society, it has never been more important to recreate; to immerse ourselves in an activity other than work with our family and friends and plunge ourselves into a different realm. Indeed, recreation is really re-creation; the act of rejuvenating our minds and bodies. Most people who recreate in the great outdoors utilize trails to enhance their experience and especially enjoy a great trail. A great OHV trail offers an outstanding recreation experience, but it can trigger something deeper than that- an emotion, an inspiration- the WOW, that invigorating, re-creating feeling. What made that trail so great and what created that feeling? There is a multitude of physical, subliminal, and emotional elements that triggered that WOW feeling. How do we re-create that?

Creative vision: Is this just a tree to be cut out of the way of the flagline, or is it an opportunity

to create a technical challenge feature for an ROV trail?


This book offers guidance on the planning, design, and construction process, using proven principles and techniques, to create a great OHV trail on the ground. But it goes beyond that. Creating a great OHV trail is one thing, but keeping it great for the long term is another. How do we manage the trail and maintain the trail to preserve that special quality? What can we do with an existing trail to make it the best that it can be?

While it is difficult to teach creativity, we can give the reader the elements, tools, and techniques that can be incorporated into a project to help insure its quality and success. In the right mix of those elements and with the right frame of mind, the outcome just may be creative.

Traditionally, we speak of trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, and management as separate processes. Most agencies fund these steps separately and often each is handled by a different department within the agency. We started writing this book with the same mindset and then realized that all of these steps are really components of one process: the process of creating a great OHV trail. Each component must be effectively implemented or the outcome of the whole project could fail. We have seen trails planned and designed well, but poorly constructed; and we have seen trails planned, designed, and constructed well, but poorly maintained or managed. The result may not be failure in all cases, but it isn’t total success either. The trail may not meet the rider’s needs, may not be sustainable, and may be costly to maintain. The outcome is dependent on the sum of its parts. This book integrates those components into one process and one thought pattern.


There are a lot of books available about trails, but from an OHV perspective, there is information out there that: a) is not relative to OHVs; b) is out of date since technology or best practices have changed; or c) is not current since OHV vehicles and vehicle types have changed. What was state of the art technology 20 years ago may or may not be valid today. Certainly, the vehicle types have changed. Twenty years ago, motorcycles dominated the market and ATVs were an emerging market. Over time, motorcycle sales have flattened, ATV sales have soared and flattened, and ROVs are the booming emerging market. Trail planning, design,  construction, maintenance and management techniques all need to change in order to adjust to the changing market and to insure that what is on the ground provides quality, sustainable recreation opportunities. Change will always occur, but the principles presented in this book will provide resiliency to that change.

In starting to write this book, we asked ourselves: Do we need an OHV-specific design guide? The answer was a resounding “Yes.” Off-Highway Vehicle modality is vastly different than any other recreation trail modality. Motorized vehicles have motors and this is a critical difference. With the motor comes the desire to use it. With power assistance, OHVers can climb, tackle technical terrain, and travel farther in a single day than any other user group. Most also desire to challenge their vehicles as well as themselves. All of this creates trail system planning and design challenges that are unique to OHVs. There are more physical, displacing forces being delivered to the ground making trail design and durability a critical factor. By necessity, most OHV trails are wider than non-motorized trails which means that they will collect and channel more water and this needs to be mitigated through proper location, design, and engineering. All of this necessitates more emphasis on effective OHV management, maintenance, and thorough trail system planning. The wide variety of motorized vehicle types and activity types generates the need for multiple sets of design parameters to address trail width, clearing, grade, obstacles, drainage, hardening, etc. While many design principles and techniques may be similar to those on non-motorized trails, the

scope and complexity of those applications is much broader with OHVs.  For the purposes of this book, the term “OHV” refers to summer motorized vehicles: OHM (Off-Highway Motorcycle), ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle or quad), ROV (Recreation Off-highway Vehicle, UTV, or side-by-side), and 4WD (Four Wheel Drive Vehicle). It does not include snowmobiles or other over-snow vehicles.  Across the country, each trail has a unique combination of soil, topography, vegetation, and climate, so not only can there be more than one tool in the tool box to solve a problem, but the tool used in one place may not be the same tool used on another trail in a similar situation. The need for a variety of tools and options is also driven by the huge regional diversity in OHV use types, numbers and concentration of riders, private/public land ownership mix, state/provincial laws, and agency policies. Rather than offer charts and tables filled with values that may be meaningless in your situation, we offer a thought process to help the technician or manager understand the use, the rider’s needs, the natural environment, and the physical forces being applied to any given trail. With this understanding, the technician or manager can predict effects and make informed decisions. There are principles and guidelines, but few absolute “rights” and “wrongs.” Rather, there are choices: If I do this, what will be the effect? Also, we live in the real world where what should be done or is “right” sometimes can’t be done. What are my next best options?

The understanding of the use, the rider’s needs, the environment, and the physical forces helps the planner and designer in creating a new trail, but it also aids the manager and maintenance technician in evaluating issues with an existing trail.

The theme throughout the book is providing for the rider’s needs while insuring resource protection. Applying this theme from planning to maintenance will help the OHV manager achieve success, provide a high-quality recreation experience for the riders, and insure resource protection. That is a great trail.

Let’s get back to the WOW factor. WOW is relative depending on the age, skill level, and desired recreation experience of the rider(s), but when we create a high-quality trail, thousands of people will ride that trail and have a smile on their faces at the end of it- that is a WOW for them and for the OHV manager. WOW generates energy, project support, compliance, volunteerism, and increased funding opportunities- all key elements in a successful project and successful OHV program.

Each chapter of this book contains at least one of several insets:

  • A Look Back- at the end of each chapter, this is a summary of key talking points
  • A Second Look- a picture or subject that has been brought up before, but discussed again with a different option or viewpoint

  • A Closer Look- a subject that is brought up in the chapter, but is highlighted in more detail

  • A Case in Point- an actual example of a talking point discussed in the chapter

  • Tips, Tricks, or Traps- key points for success or failure

  • Need More? Learn More Here… - key references that are applicable to the chapter material                                           

Now, let’s start down that trail to success….

We provide professional consulting to help our clients plan and create high-quality, sustainable recreation opportunities.
RecConnect 20923 SE King Hezekiah Way Bend OR 97702 (541)382-8319 cell (541)419-1979