TWIN FALLS • Is that a legal place to ride? This summer, ATV and motorcycle riders in the South Hills will see trails become more identifiable by new signs and trailhead barriers.
The Sawtooth National Forest’s Minidoka Ranger District recently received a $23,656 grant from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation through the Recreation Trails Program. David Ashby, recreation manager for the ranger district, expects to receive the money in early July.
The grant will help improve the conditions of 15 trailheads in the district’s Cassia Division — commonly referred to as the South Hills. Improvements will include installing 15 restrictive devices made of steel, to keep out vehicles not allowed on those trails. Thirteen restrictive devices will be placed at single-track trailheads and two at ATV trailheads. Ashby said all devices will be installed by next spring.
The Minidoka Ranger District has 130 miles of ATV trails, 137 miles of motorcycle trails and 25 miles of Jeep trails. The money will also be used to install information boards at each trailhead to give visitors general forest information and indicate the allowed uses of each trail. The boards will include color-coded maps, Ashby said. Yellow trails will be for ATVs; red will indicate motorcycle trails; nonmotorized trails for hiking and horseback riding will be black dotted lines; and Jeep trails will be marked with green.
“We have problems with people taking ATVs down motorcycle trails,” Ashby said. “They might make it a little way to a spot where they get stuck or tip over. We are trying to keep the trails for only vehicles designed for that trail.”
People riding motorcycles and bicycles like to have a single track to ride on, Ashby said, but as ATVs use one eventually it becomes wider and wider.
“The motorcycle folks don’t care for that,” Ashby said. “The ATV riders don’t want to see Jeeps riding on their trail. It works at both levels.”
Also, trails for ATVs, motorcycles and Jeeps are designed differently, which can be altered if another vehicle uses them.
Jason Fisher, president of the Magic Valley Trail Machine Association, said at times they do see minor problems with oversized vehicles using single-track trails, but most stay on their designated trials. He said the barriers will help educate people about why trails are designated for certain uses.
“These barriers are not to stop people from using the area; they are just reminders to help prevent trail erosion and damage to the land,” he said.
MVTMA has about 75 member families. Fisher said the group’s goal is to promote responsible motorcycle riding activities in the mountains and deserts of southern Idaho.
Members of MVTMA will also volunteer to help install some of the restrictive barriers after they are made, Fisher said.
Stan Mai, president of the Magic Valley ATV Riders, said members from his group will also volunteer.
“We do a lot of trail work in the South Hills to make riding better,” Mai said.
About 25 to 30 members helped install new trail signs June 7 in the South Hills, he said. The group has about 380 members, which Mai said makes it the largest of the 26 ATV associations in the state.
Mai said proper use of designated trails is a problem everywhere, but the barriers and signs should alleviate some confusion.
“The South Hills are the most popular area because it has very extensive ATV trails,” Mai said.