Ride the Wilds

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.  

A Hudson man has been fined $1,000 for riding a four-passenger ATV on a North Country snowmobile trail not marked for that use.

There were three charges brought by Fish and Game against Jeffrey Rogers, of Hudson, over the September 12th incident in Stewartstown.

Appearing in District Court in Colebrook Thursday, Rogers plead not guilty to charges of operating an off-highway recreational vehicle in a wetland and causing damage to property.

A Hudson man was arrested Friday evening in the North Country after he was found operating an off-highway recreational vehicle in a wetland, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game Conservation Officer Christopher Egan.

The man, Jeffrey Rogers, 48, of Hudson was charged after his vehicle was found stuck in the mud on a snowmobile trail that is not open to all-terrain vehicles “in part because of environmental sensitivity to wetland soils and vegetation.” The trail was on snowmobile corridor 5 in  the Coleman State Park in Stewartstown. 

Safety officials are expecting a large number of ATV enthusiasts will be following trails in the North Country over the holiday weekend and they’re saying safety patrols will be watching for reckless behavior...

The riders are being attracted by the new 1,000-mile network called Ride the Wilds, part of an economic development effort for the North Country.

“I’m asking them to drive safe. To be out there, to think about what they are doing,” said Fish and Game Lieutenant Wayne Saunders.  “Sober is huge.”

  An attempt to boost the economy of the North Country by drawing tourists to a 1,000-mile network of ATV trails is getting a boost itself as the federal government is providing about $152,000.

 “This is a tremendous shot in the arm for the 'Ride the Wilds' marketing program,” said Harry Brown, the president of New Hampshire Off Highway Vehicle Association.

 

 

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. 

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.

Chris Jensen / NHPR

Starting as early as Thursday ATV enthusiasts will be able to ride on some streets in Gorham. It is part of a plan to increase tourism in the North Country.

State officials have given final approval for ATVs to drive on parts of Main Street and Route 2 in Gorham.

The idea is to make it easy for ATV riders to enjoy a network of trails in the North Country called “Ride the Wilds” and then easily get into town, says Gorham town manager Robin Frost.