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Can you ride your ATV in winter? You bet!

Snowmobile Trail Riding in Explorers Edge Ontario • Credit: Virgil Knapp
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Can you ride your ATV in winter? You bet!

Friendly lodges, dedicated trails, guided tours, and more

Ontario has loads of options when it comes to ATVing in winter. Here’s what you need to know if you want to get out on your quad right now!



Winter ATV enthusiasts have long argued this cold weather mode of transport is superior to all others—so if you're looking to get out into some deep, Northern Ontario snow this winter, here's what you'll need to know. 

First, let’s check out the origin story of these amazing machines.

the ATV was born in the 80s. Does that mean it's a millennial?

The predecessor of the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) was the all-terrain cycle (ATC) which entered the 1980s patented by Honda. All other manufacturers’ paid royalties to Honda to use the ATC branding. As time went on, a 4-wheeled ATV replaced the popular but inherently dangerous 3-wheeler, forever changing all-terrain travel. Yamaha and Kawasaki quickly followed the Honda platform and, by late 1987, when the ATC ceased production altogether, manufacturers went full bore on the production of a ubiquitous 4-wheeled quad that riders could use all year long. From the get-go, ATVs were fun and relatively easy to ride on all-terrain conditions including snow. 

ATV Pros: year-round fun with tracked wheels

The first obvious advantage of ATVs is their ability to be used all year long on a variety of terrain. They're great in early, muddy spring all through autumn when the changing leaves make for amazing scenic rides. Though not designed for snow travel, any hard-packed snow trail or even some soft snow is no problem for these beasts. For deeper snow travel, manufacturers have come up with tracked wheels for winter ATV use, extending your ATV fun into all four seasons!

Wheel tracks for ATVs are a relatively new phenomenon. These transform your quad into a hybrid snowmobile, with the installation of snowmobile-type tracks replacing the wheels for winter travel. Manufacturer Canada Track System, for example, replaces the original wheel with a sprocket of 26 teeth, onto which a tracked wheel is added. This tracked wheel system ensures optimal propulsion, your ATV retains its original height, which reduces the risk of damage, and the ATV’s center of gravity remains unchanged. 

ATVs today are used by hunters and anglers alike and some modern-day machines are even electric.

atving in winter: A good idea, or a great one?

Is a tracked ATV as good in snow as the conventional snowmobile? Experts say no—but it is close, making the installation of tracks a great option for ATV enthusiasts wanting a deep, soft snow option for their quad. Just remember to stay off the OFSC snowmobile trails and ride only on trails that allow ATVs.

I am an avid ATV enthusiast today and I get more use from my 4-wheeler than a snowmobile, though I can see the attraction for both modes of travel during winter.

Any excuse to enjoy the beautiful northern landscape, at a magical time of year, is all right by me! 

Enjoy the great outdoors this winter and perhaps I will see you on the trails!


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