DCNR Set to Open ATV Regional Trail Connector Pilot Area May 27

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced year two of the ATV Regional Trail Connector Pilot program in the northcentral region of the state that will provide opportunities for riding enthusiasts to traverse many miles of roads opened to all-terrain vehicle use and trails in Potter, Tioga, Clinton, and Lycoming counties.

“DCNR recognizes the desire of the ATV riding community to be able to travel long distances legally and without interruption. We also are aware of the positive effect such opportunities can have on local businesses,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “Through this pilot program, we hope to determine the feasibility of strategically connecting regional riding opportunities while also serving the larger community.”

This ATV Regional Trail Connector program is in response to growing ATV purchases, registrations, and public demand for increased riding opportunities. Through collaborations with public and private partners, the pilot aims to offer long-distance riding opportunities and contribute to local economies, while maintaining the many uses and values of the state forest system. DCNR recently revised its ATV trail policy, which lifted the moratorium on new trails that had been in place since 2003.

“We recognize the need to be responsible stewards of the state forest lands and DCNR will be looking closely at the impacts of increased use in the pilot area,” said DCNR Parks and Forestry Deputy Secretary John Norbeck. “DCNR is aware of its role in connecting ATV trails and we will use this pilot program to determine whether sections of state forest roads may serve as permanent strategic connectors for regional ATV trails on a limited, case-by-case basis.”

The area will open for use on May 27, 2022, and will remain open until Sunday, September 25, 2022.

The trail route categories are as follows:

  • 397 miles of township roads (currently designated open to ATVs)
  • 22 miles of PennDOT roads (previously not designated open to ATVs)
  • 6 miles of state forest roads (previously not designated open to ATVs)
  • 6 miles of state forest snowmobile trails (previously not designated open to ATVs)
  • 45 miles of existing state forest ATV trails (previously designated open to ATVs)

ATV riders will need to purchase a Regional ATV Connector Pass permit to use the designated PennDOT and State Forest ATV Connector Roads, the cost of which will serve to offset implementation and management of the program. Permits for the 2022 will cost $40 for Pennsylvania registered ATVs and $60 for non-Pennsylvania registered ATVs.

Permits will be available for in-person sales only between the hours of 8:00 A.M and 4:00 P.M. Monday through Thursday, 8:00 A.M to 6:00 P.M. Fridays, and 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Saturdays at Tiadaghton, Susquehannock, Sproul, or Tioga State Forest district offices. Permit purchase began Monday, May 2. District office hours are subject to change throughout the riding season.

Permit applications will be accepted by mail by sending a properly completed permit application form available on DCNR’s website to Penn Nursery, 137 Penn Nursery Road, Spring Mills, Pennsylvania 16875. Permits will be processed according to the date they are received and will be postmarked within three to five business days of receipt.

Though the pilot areas will be marked, riders will be expected to familiarize themselves with the portions of road and trail that are open to ensure they are operating in legal areas. The official pilot area map is available on the DCNR website.

DCNR will be gathering public input throughout the two-year period through a variety of methods, including webinars, surveys, comment cards, public meetings, and advisory committees. To comment on the ATV Regional Trail Connector Pilot, please send an email to: RA-NR-ATV-Pilot@pa.gov

To gauge the impact of the ATV pilot, the Bureau of Forestry is implementing a comprehensive monitoring program that will evaluate the impact of the trail to local communities; ecological values; other state forest users and recreational values; Bureau of Forestry operations, staffing and law enforcement capacity; public safety; and impacts to adjacent public lands and natural resources; and have partnered with researchers from Penn State to evaluate social, sound, and economic impacts of the pilot.

The monitoring program will also evaluate the effectiveness of the special permit, the adequacy of funding for continued operation of the trail, and the need for additional education, outreach, and trail marketing. DCNR will publish a report about the pilot project for further evaluation and stakeholder input by December 2023.