Maryland ATV Laws: Where And How To Ride Your ATV Legally

maryland atv laws

Maryland is located in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States and is well known for its abundant coastlines and waterways. There are various points of interest to visit in this state, although it is the smallest state in the United States.

Some of the ATV laws in Maryland are: All ATVs must be titled, all ATV operators must have a valid driver’s license, and always wear protective headgear and eye protection when riding an ATV. You can ride your ATV in Garrett Trail System, St. John Rock ORV Trail, and Wolf Den Run State Park. 

In Maryland, there are several ATV laws every rider must be aware of and comply with. The violation of any ATV law has consequences such as being fined, having your ATV seized by a law enforcement agent, or even getting served a jail term. To avoid these consequences, we will help you know the ATV laws in Maryland.

maryland state sign

Maryland ATV Laws

In Maryland, all-terrain vehicles are classified as motorized vehicles designed and capable of cross-country travel on water, land, swampland, ice, marsh, snow, and other natural terrains. Vehicles such as Utility task vehicles, Amphibious machines, four-wheel-drive vehicles, and snowmobiles are classified under ATVs in Maryland. Below are the ATV laws in Maryland.

  • ATVs are to be operated in designated areas only and must be registered.
  • All ATV operators must have a valid driver’s license and must always be in possession of it while riding.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 16 must always be accompanied by an adult who has a valid driver’s license when riding an ATV.
  • You must not ride an ATV in a manner that can cause damage to wildlife, property, individuals, or vegetative resources.
  • When operating an ATV, you must always be in possession of a certificate of registration for your ATV and provide it when requested by any law enforcement officer.
  • You must not operate an ATV on any departmental land except it is equipped with headlights and taillights, a braking system, and a muffler.
  • All ATV riders must wear protective headgear and eye protection or windscreen approved by the state.
  • You must not operate an ATV in a careless, reckless, or negligent manner, in willful disregard for the safety of other individuals or property, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • It is illegal to ride an ATV in an area used for vehicular traffic or parking or in a manner that permits the obstruction of traffic by irrelevant stopping or parking.
  • You must not ride an ATV while in possession of a loaded weapon unless you have a special permit.
  • Without a special permit, you must not use an ATV to pursue wildlife or ride an ATV while discharging a weapon across a trail or road.
  • As an ATV rider, you must obey all reasonable and lawful orders of a commissioned officer.
  • Every ATV operating in Maryland must not exceed the noise limit of 84 decibels.
  • ATVs are not to be operated on public roads unless used when crossing a public road from one trail to another.

Where Can You Ride An ATV In Maryland?

Maryland, also known as the Free State, has a beautiful landscape, several Atlantic beaches, and large forests. It is an excellent place for off-road enthusiasts to have an amazing off-road adventure. There are several private and public trails to ride an ATV in Maryland. Let us look at some of the best among many places to ride an ATV in Maryland.

Garrett Trail System

Garrett Trail System is also known as Bull Gold Run Creek; it is located at the Garrett State Forest. It is open from March 16 till December 15, and you can only ride in this trail when you have attached an MD DNR Registration Sticker to your vehicle. The noise limit at this area is 84 decibels, and all vehicles must have a spark arrestor exhaust silencer or an end cap attached.

The terrain at this trail mainly consists of hardpack and trees, but there are also little rocks, roads, some dust, and slight elevation changes. The vehicles permitted at this trail system are Motorcycles, Dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs, SXSs, SUVs, and Jeeps; Dune buggies and Sand rail 4x4s are prohibited.

Some wildlife such as black bears, deer, and turkey can be sighted while riding in this trail system. A staging area is available; however, overnight parking is not allowed at the staging area. The Garrett Trail System starts from Cranesville Road’s intersection and heads south, ending near Herrington Lake.

St. John Rock ORV Trail

St. John Rock ORV Trail is 12-mile-long and open to the public all year round. It has a campground with eight sites, although you have to make a reservation to camp. This OHV trail is open to motorcycles, ATVs, SXSs, Dirt bikes, and UTVs. However, you can also ride Jeeps, Sand rail 4x4s, SUVs, and Dune buggies in the rock crawl area.

An MD DNR registration sticker is required to ride an off-road vehicle at this trail. The terrain at this trail mostly consists of crushed gravel, trees, hardpack, steep hills, loose dirt, and rocks. There are no fees for entry, riding, and parking at this trial; however, a tent for camping costs $12, and an RV costs $14. This trail is mostly suitable for novice and amateur riders.

At St. John Rock ORV Trail, a vault toilet is available, but no water or electric hookups are available. All vehicles at this OHV trail must have an end cap or a spark arrestor exhaust silencer. The noise limit at this trail is 84 decibels; night riding and trailblazing are prohibited in this area. Campfires are permitted in certain areas at this trail.

man rides atv in muddy road

Wolf Den Run State Park

Wolf Den Run State Park was formerly a private property before it was purchased by Maryland and converted to an off-road park. It has about 40 miles of trails, steep hills, deep mud pits, loose dirt, trees, sand and gravel pits, water crossings, small jumps, dust, hardpack, rocks, berms, sand, and large jumps. To ride at this park, you will have to pay a fee of $20.

This park is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm from April till October and from Thursday till Monday from 9 am to 4 pm from November till March. The vehicles permitted at this park are Jeeps, Sand rail 4x4s, ATVs, UTVs, Motorcycles, Dune buggies, SUVs, SXSs, and Dirt bikes. Your vehicle does not need a spark arrestor before you can operate it in this park.

Where Can’t You Ride An ATV In Maryland?

Not every location in Maryland is open to ATV operations; the management forbids some places while the law forbids others. As an ATV rider in Maryland, you must know where not to ride your ATV to avoid getting into trouble with the law.

You cannot ride your ATV on a public highway, road, or street. Any area used for vehicular traffic or parking in Maryland is off-limits for ATVs. You cannot ride your ATV in any wildlife habitat. Budds Creek Motocross Park is a park in Maryland where you cannot ride an ATV because they are prohibited.

Final Thoughts

There are risks involved in riding an ATV, so it is imperative that you are very careful during the rides. For the safety of all ATV riders and other road users, there are ATV laws in force, and you must comply with them for your safety. Violating any ATV law is a criminal offense, and there are severe consequences. So, while you would have a great time riding an ATV, you should ensure that you ride legally.

By Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher loves to play with new toys and dive into new hobbies. As a serial entrepreneur, work definitely comes first but there is always room for hobbies.

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