Trail Riding Guidelines
Below are a few guidelines we'd like you to follow when driving your rig on the trails and routes. Together, we can help keep the trails from closing and keep people safe. The ethical use of trails is a prerequisite for sustainable trails. If we abuse it, we lose it, regardless of the recreation. It's also our responsibility to call out those who risk the closure of our trails. Together, as a network of responsible users, we can help land managers, clubs, and local agencies build, maintain, and expand the types of trails we like to use.
Always have the following equipment in your rig while trail riding.
- GMRS/HAM Communication Radio (CB ok, but being phased out in almost all 4x4 clubs).
- Fire Extinguisher within drivers reach. We recommend the Element type extinguishers for the ultimate in use time and because they don't expire.
- First Aid Kit. More on that at https://rl4wd.com/firstaid
- Recovery Gear: Recovery Rope, Shackles, Tow Points, Tree Saver, Gloves, Safety Glasses, etc.
- Buddy System. Never Ride Alone. Always let someone know where you're going and when you'll return.
- Tie-Downs. Always strap your gear down. Never let it float/shift in your vehicle.
- Basic Automotive Tools.
- Winch and Snatch Block.
- Tire Repair Kit / Tire Air Down Kit / Tire Air Up System.
- Fuel/Oil Spill Kit / Radiator Stop Leak.
- Vehicle, Safety, Recovery, and Emergency Training.
- Mapping Programs and Paper Maps.
Be kind; your actions speak for all RL4WD users. Please make sure everyone you meet remembers us as good people. It goes a long way in developing relationships. Be mindful of youthful passengers (future riders) and set a good example.
Never drink and drive. Do not be on any mind-altering substances while operating an RL4WD. Obey all local traffic and trail laws. Observe one-way trail signs and follow them.
Never leave anyone behind. Keep the vehicle behind you in sight. At intersections, wait until the vehicle behind you sees which way you're going before making a turn.
Stay on marked trails and don't cause erosion. Always cross water at bridges or designated areas with prepared bottoms (NEVER rut up an ecological waterway). Protect the environment in which we recreate; if we don't, the trail will close. Don't cut switchbacks or take shortcuts. Use 4-low in sensitive areas where rutting damage can occur.
Trails usually cross or connect using DOT roadways; thus, all vehicles need to carry road registration and liability insurance.
Bring the right gear for you and your vehicle, making sure it's safely secured. Always carry a functional/current fire extinguisher and keep it within drivers reach. We highly recommend a spill kit and spare vehicle fluids as well. All vehicles should have a functional, undamaged roll cage. Carry a first aid kit. Firearms need to be safe and secure (where allowed).
Leave it better than you found it. If this is an RL4WD sanctioned event, picking up garbage or other trail maintenance may be worth event points if properly documented (take pictures and write a story of your adventure!).
Do not attempt any trail beyond your skill level. While the vehicle may be capable of the trail or obstacle, it can take years to become experienced enough to do things safely. Trust your gut, go to workshops and training sessions before big adventures—practice like-obstacles in a controlled environment before heading on a big ride.
Trails can cause vehicle scratches and/or damage. Spotters are not liable for your vehicle, you are. While aid is there to assist, it's your ultimate decision to follow and execute any travel path your vehicle is on. To avoid damage to your paint, always bring loppers to trim back brush that would otherwise come in contact with your rig. If brushing, wear the appropriate safety gear.
If your vehicle is not fit for the trail or is not running properly, do not bring it on a trip where a breakdown is likely.
Do NOT peer pressure someone to do something. Do not poke fun of someone for bypassing a trail or obstacle. Help new riders learn the ropes of trail riding, check egos at the trailhead.
Always use the buddy system. Never go out alone. Let someone know where you're going and when you expect to return.
Use a HAM or GMRS communication device for off-grid communication between vehicles. CB's are being phased out in most 4x4 clubs, so get your GMRS or Ham licenses for much better range and clarity between vehicles. More on this at https://rl4wd.com/communication
If using aftermarket lighting systems at night, be mindful of oncoming traffic and rearview viewing of vehicles in front of you. Dim or shut off your aftermarket lights to avoid blinding people, especially for oncoming traffic. Lightbars are not legal on DOT roadways in most states.
Know before you go! Always contact the local trail chapter or club. Get the most current trail conditions and have a good map and backup map. Get local emergency numbers to the area you're going to and have them in your vehicle in the event of an emergency.
Upon completing your trip, remove an invasive species (plants, seeds, etc.) before leaving the area. Pay special attention to your undercarriage.
Always inspect your vehicle after adventuring on a trail.
The Road Legal Four Wheel Drive Association uses for Universal Trail Rating System designed to help trail goers find trails they wish to ride on. Please see this article for more info. https://rl4wd.com/trailratingsystem