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Ask a Conservation Officer: Can dirt bikes use snowmobile trails?

Q: Are motorcycles/dirt bikes allowed on ATV/snowmobile grant-in-aid (GIA) trails? And do all law enforcement agencies enforce the rules of the trails?

A: Off-highway motorcycles (OHMs/dirt bikes) are very restricted in where they may legally operate. Public roads, road ditches, many state trails and some public lands are closed to their use.

In most cases, OHMs are not allowed on state grant-in-aid trails, especially snowmobile trails, unless specified in the easement creating the trail. These trails are established through a written easement with the landowner for a specified purpose and time, and do not create a thoroughfare for any public use.

GIA snowmobile trails usually exist from Dec. 1 through April 1; outside these dates the use and control of the land is managed by the landowner unless otherwise specified in the easement language. If that trail easement exists across public land (state or county land), you need to check with that entity to see if they allow other motorized vehicle uses in that location.

All peace officers in Minnesota (conservation officers, sheriff's deputies, police officers and state troopers) are authorized to enforce recreational motor vehicle laws. See the 2017 Minnesota Off Highway Vehicle regulation synopsis for more details on where you can legally ride.

Send your questions to outdoors@duluthnews.com.

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