Chris Jensen / NHPR

Northern New Hampshire's "Ride the Wilds'' network of 1,000-plus miles of interconnected off-highway recreational vehicle trails is open for the season.  

A grand opening event for one of the largest such trail systems in the country was being celebrated Saturday at Jericho Mountain State Park in Berlin.  

The final segment of the network's first phase opened in August, enabling riders to travel from Lancaster to Pittsburg.  



The key to the new “Ride The Wilds” ATV trails network in the North Country is allowing riders to use some roads to get into towns and reach food, fuel and lodging, thus boosting the region’s economy.  But that’s part of a nationwide trend that has some safety researchers worried.


“At this point in the United States more ATV deaths are happening on roads than are happening off-road,” says Rachel Weintraub, a researcher with the Consumer Federation of America. 

Two ATV riders were killed Saturday afternoon in separate accidents in the North Country, according to police and rescue reports.

One fatality occurred in the ski area near Dixville Notch and the other at South Hill Road in Colebrook.

At least one of the accidents involved a rollover.

No additional details were immediately available.

So far this year three ATV riders have died in the state.

In August a 56-year-old tourist was killed in an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle in the southern part of the state near Fremont.

A 56-year-old tourist was killed in an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle Thursday evening near Fremont, according to a news release from Fish and Game.

The victim was identified as Dulce Compres-Nunez of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Fish and Game said she was a passenger on an ATV driven by 23-year-old Yefrey Perez of Methuen, Mass. Perez lost control and struck a tree.  Both riders were wearing helmets. Perez suffered minor injuries.

The accident occurred about 7:30 p.m. the Rockingham Recreational Trail near South Road in Fremont.

The plan to open some streets in Coos County to all-terrain vehicles as part of the “Ride the Wilds” network is being greeted with dismay by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,  says Carl Purvis, an agency spokesman.

“It is much better to ride that ATV on terrain it was designed for as opposed to taking it onto a paved road,” Purvis said.

Purvis said ATVs were engineered for dirt and riders can have handling problems on pavement. They can also be struck by cars.