Minnesota Department of Natural Resources field staff, resource managers and the DNR Information Center staff answer many questions every day about natural resources topics. Here is one of them:
Q. Finding a place to ride an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or other off-highway vehicle (OHV) takes a little research. Are there different levels of riding choices — from novice to adventurous? How can riders find the trail that fits their needs?
A. Minnesota is using the standard symbols to identify level of difficulty. The symbols are: green circle — easiest that include the most developed, almost road-like trails with rolling hills and few obstacles; blue square — more difficult, narrower trails with steeper hills and switchbacks and some moderate obstacles; and black diamond — most difficult or technical with very steep grades, narrow trails, rough or loose tread surfaces and obstacles. Most public OHV trails are green with some blue levels available. The Red Dot and Spider Lake systems are two sites that have some blue level trails.
The only public riding area with significant black diamond level opportunities is the Iron Range Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in Gilbert. It is important for riders to know their abilities and know their machines. Most of the difficult trails do not provide alternative routes — once the course is started, it must be finished. For more information see http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/difficulty.html  More information about trails can be found in the DNR’s book Trail Planning, Design, and Development Guidelines, available for purchase from Minnesota’s Bookstore. You can also get information by calling the Parks and Trails Division at 651-259-5600 or toll-free at 888-646-6367.
— Mary Straka, OHV program consultant
For more information, call the DNR information line at 296-6157 or go to the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us .