At our Northern Ontario homestead we like to keep our ATVs useful and functioning all winter long. It beats pulling the batteries and throwing them into storage for the winter. There are 3 reasons we enjoy our ATVs during an Ontario winter.
We pull a trailer with our ATVs to round up wood for splitting (until the snow gets too deep). We also use it to haul tools like our splitter, which gets a ton of usage all year round. Our ATVs only have tires, mostly because we also have snowmobiles for the deeper snow, but the addition of tracks to an ATV makes it a mean, year-round machine that can get through the deep stuff and do more work like towing ice huts than snowmobiles in many situations!
2. Lake outings
ATVs are great for trips out onto the lake for a ride, or out to the fish hut—except for when the snow is too deep, then we have to use the snowmobiles. One thing we find that is really fun is on a warm day, take them out for a ride on the street just like you would a motorcycle, just know your local rules! Refreshing—and no motorcycle license required!
Know your local rules. Where we live in central Ontario we can ride pretty much anyplace except 4 lane divided highways, and some downtown areas in the larger cities, meaning anywhere within 50k of our house is rideable except for Highway 11, and Highway 400 in the Parry Sound area. Everything else 100k east, west, and north is open to us, and everybody else. If you want to know more about great spots for winter trail riding, in Lake of Bays they groom and maintain 90 km of winter trails just for ATVs and UTVs! A special treat, see here for more info! Haliburton Forest also has year-round ATV trail riding, cabins to rent, and a restaurant (UTVs aren't permitted). See here for more info.
Grip warmers and full-face helmets are a great addition for cooler weather riding. Plates, valid license, and insurance are the main requirements, (plus headlights and functional tail and brake lights). You do also need to use hand signals if you don’t have turn signals. A rearview mirror is indispensable to keep an eye on your backside. Another thing is to make sure your headlights and tail lights are on, and clean enough to be seen clearly by others. A one-minute video on ATV hand signals is here. The Ontario road ATV/UTV/SxS rules can be found here, you will need to check your local municipal regulations as well. Check out our tips for winter ATVing!
Winter ATV resources in Ontario
- Here's a list of ATV-friendly lodges in Ontario.
- Choose a guided winter ATV tour from one of the region's many operators.
- Be sure to check out Ontario's dedicated ATV trail systems like VMUTS, Lake of Bays, and Haliburton Forest that are open to ATVers in winter.
- Stay safe with these 9 safety tips for ATV riding in the snow.
- Plus if you're planning ahead for this summer, here are the best-guided tours for ATV riders in the province.
For us, having everything going all winter is useful, and productive! Hopefully, I have highlighted a few of the ways ATVs and UTVs are useful even in the off-season, turning them into year-round activities.
Get out there!