Butte County offers an incredible amount of off-highway recreation opportunities all year round, whether 4-wheeling in the High Lakes area, riding ATV’s on French Creek Road, to snowmobiling the Jonesville loop. While many enjoy adventures on these popular trails, some occasionally have misadventures and need our team’s assistance. Following some simple guidelines will improve your chances of having a safe and fun filled motorized adventures enjoying Butte County’s backcountry. 

Let someone know your plans – Make sure to tell someone exactly when and where you are planning to ride, including where you plan to launch, what vehicles or equipment you are taking, and when you expect to be back. This person can relay information to authorities if you haven’t returned within a reasonable amount of time. Need to report someone who is lost, missing or overdue in Butte County? Contact BCSO at 530-538-7321 who will dispatch our team if needed. 

Be a defensive driver – Always be alert to your surroundings and aware of potential danger. Engine noise and helmets may reduce your ability to hear other riders. Slow down around blind corners and intersections. Watch out for obstacles on the trail or road, and don’t assume that others can see you!

Ride in groups – Riding in the backcountry alone poses greater risk than riding in groups. Having a partner may mean the difference between life and death if you experience an injury or accident.

Dress appropriately – Make sure your clothing is appropriate for the type of riding and weather you are going to experience. Dress in layers, and make sure you avoid cotton in the winter. Consider clothing purposely designed for the type of ride you are going on.

Equipment Readyness – Maintain your vehicles per the manufacturer recommended schedule and perform an inspection before and after each use. Make sure your vehicle is ready for the type of trail and weather you are about to ride. 

Carry the Dozen Essentials – Many people who have survived backcountry disasters have pointed out that they were able to survive by carrying  the traditional “10 Essentials” in their pack or vehicle. We have modernized that list to 12 items which are listed below.

The “Dozen Essentials”

  1. NAVIGATION: A USGS or equal topographic map, a compass, and the skill to use both.  GPS units can also be helpful, if you know how to use it, and carry spare batteries.  Also carry a cellphone and conserve your phones battery power.
  2. SUN PROTECTION: Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat suitable for the season (important for both hot and cold environments)
  3. INSULATION: The MOST important consideration: NO cotton clothing! Carry synthetic or wool layers, waterproof/windproof rain jacket/ pants; extra gloves/hat, and extra socks as required. Wear layers of clothing to adjust insulation to activity level and current weather. Stay dry to decrease the risk of hypothermia (which can be life-threatening).
  4. ILLUMINATION: Headlamp and flashlight, with extra batteries.  Make sure both your devices use the same batteries.
  5. FIRST-AID SUPPLIES: Basic supplies such as Band-aids, gauze pads, triangular and compression bandages, etc. Include any medications you may currently be taking and a bee sting kit if you are allergic.  If high risk activities (hunting, rock climbing, etc.) suggest advanced first aid skills and equipment.
  6. FIRE: Waterproof matches, butane lighter or candle stubs, plus fire-starting materials (Fat Wood or similar). Do not expect to find dry materials to help start a fire during inclement weather.
  7. REPAIR KIT/TOOLS: Multi-tool or Swiss Army knife, etc.  A little bit of duct tape can be useful.
  8. NUTRITION: High energy, no-cook foods, such as high-carb energy bars. Carry at least 200 calories for every hour you will be out.
  9. HYDRATION: Extra water; take at least (1) liter for short (1-2 hour) outings and at least 2.5 liters for all-day excursions. Remember that extra water will be needed for hot or cold weather, drink continuously during your outing.  For overnight trips, some type of filtration system will be necessary, to make sure that the water you drink is safe.   Don’t wait until you are dehydrated! 
  10. EMERGENCY SHELTER: A Space blanket or bright plastic tarp (9’ x 12’) and a few large plastic trash bags. These items will insulate you, keep you dry, and provide the supplies necessary to create a rudimentary shelter
  11. Whistle and mirror for signaling others that you need help.
  12. Lightweight cord – to assist with building shelter, pack repairs, shoe repairs, hanging bear bag, etc.


Riding Responsibly

At all times riders should be courteous and safe. Respect all applicable laws and obey all trail signage. Be aware of the property you are on, and respect the landowners property that has made your ride possible. Be aware of other riders and operate at reasonable speeds at all times to prevent injuries and accidents to yourself and others who may be near.


Contact Information

Additional information on OHV Safety and Laws can be found at the California State Parks Off-Highway Vehicle website

Questions on OHV riding and safety in Butte County? Feel free to reach our team by visiting our contact page