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Trails

How Snowmobile and ATV Trails Effect Maine Real Estate

Why do you want to purchase a Maine log cabin or seasonal home for vacation with lots of land? Many buyers do for recreation opportunities. Acreage that fronts a local trail system or one of the statewide ITS snowmobile trails is appealing to many buyers who love outdoor power sports. ATV riders often enjoy rules in Maine that allow their machines to be operated on or along paved roads to access connecting trails.

Are Trails an Easement?

Riding the trails in Maine is a tradition that goes back nearly 100 years. Aside from a few state owned trails, snowmobile and ATV trails are on private land with land owner's permission. Keep this in mind while you are enjoying the ride and appreciating the views along the trail. The property owner has no obligation to allow this access. Large land companies allow this for public relations. Private individual landowners may allow access because they like to ride or just do so to help their neighbors enjoy Maine. All do this for free. You can help avoid losing this access by staying on the trails and practicing carry in carry out ethics.

Trails Impact Market Value

We are often asked if a trail on near a land listing has a positive or negative effect on the property's market value. The influence on value will be a positive if the majority of prospective buyers like snowmobiling and off road vehicle sports. A large segment of buyers do enjoy it and either live here or come to Maine for the extensive trail system. The trail can have a negative impact on value if it is poorly situated, too close to an existing home or camp and if it has damaged the property with deep ruts and litter left behind by irresponsible operators.

Liability

Another question that is often asked us by prospective buyers is "What liability will I have because a trail crosses or fronts my property?" The State of Maine has a landowner liability law also referred to as the recreational use statute. The law favors Maine landowners and protects them from suits brought by persons on your land for recreation and other uses.  According to the Maine.gov web page, there has not been a single reported successful case against a landowner where the Maine Landowner Liability law applied.

Join a Club

If you love power sports you need to join a snowmobile or ATV club or organization. These groups are organized by community leaders who help maintain trails, work to get landowner permission for the trails, organize rides, do community and charitable fund raising, maintain club houses for a place to stop or trailer to and so many other benefits not mentioned here. If you do not have time to participate, at least make the monetary contribution of membership. This money will help keep your favorite trails open.

Finding Trail Maps

Maps are not always easy to find. Local club membership will help make locating a map easier. Club membership also will introduce you to experienced riders who often will show you the trails. Many of Maine's recreational trails are in remote regions, for safety, try to ride with others in case of a breakdown. The Maine Snowmobile Association has an excellent trail map of Maine's ITS trails. See the links below to help understand Maine liability laws, locate trail maps and clubs for different regions of Maine.

Maine Landowner Liability Information

https://www1.maine.gov/IFW/aboutus/commissioners_office/OutdoorPartnersPgrm/landowner_liability_explained.htm

Maine Snowmobile Association

http://www.mesnow.com/

ATV Maine

http://www.atvmaine.org/

ATV Trails and Land Use in Maine

People purchase property in Maine for many reasons but at some level the recreational opportunities are always a factor.  It doesn't matter what time of year, if you enjoy the outdoors there are always activities available regardless of your age. Winter in Maine offers snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing and snowmobiling.  The clear blue skies and fresh white snow draping the landscape is a sight to see. Spring in Maine, a welcome season after a long winter brings some of the best brook trout fishing in the Northeast.  Ice out on our lakes brings anglers a cure from the cabin fever and trolling for salmon can be very productive. With the spring thaw comes our mud season and once things dry out the ATV trails open up (usually mid May) over 6,000 miles of club trails across Maine.  As an outdoor enthusiast, I am very thankful for the private landowners that allow multiuse trail systems to be used across their lands. Between snowmobiles and ATV's, businesses across Maine realize a big economic boom from these types of recreational activities.  An economic study completed by the University of Maine in 2005 showed a net spending of $156 million for the 2003-2004 season. If you enjoy ATV riding, we have some of the most affordable properties in Maine for sale with easy access to the trails and you can see them at LandBrothers.com Some things you should know and prepare for to make your atv trip in Maine safe and enjoyable are as follows:

  1. Make sure your ATV is registered and properly marked front and back with the registration number.
  2. Children must be at least 10 years old, have passed a state ATV safety program, wear an approved helmet if under 18 years old and riders between 10-16 years of age must be under the direct visual and audio supervision of an adult (21 or older). Approved helmets must have a "DOT", "SNELL" or "ANSI" sticker.
  3. When riding, stay on market trails and for unmarked trails you need landowner permission.
  4. Plan your trip of where you will be riding in advance. Make sure you have trail maps and more importantly call the local club trail master to check on trail conditions and technical difficulty of each trail. Trail maps do not indicate the difficulty or skill level needed to traverse any given trail number so it is critical to your safety to contact the trail master and ask what trails will get you to where you want to go safely.
  5. Use the buddy system and never ride alone. Make sure you leave a map of your route and travel plans with someone outside your party in case of an emergency.
  6. Check the weather for the area you will be riding and bring the right clothing. Always bring a first aid kit, survival kit, and tool kit. The biggest killer of people recreating outdoors is hypothermia from spring to late fall. The nights in Maine do get cold so be prepared, especially if you are taking a long ATV trip on remote trails that are miles from services.
  7. The day of your trip make sure you have filled the gas tank and perform a pre-ride inspection of your ATV. The web site www.offroad-ed.com has some great videos on safety, pre-ride inspection and safe riding techniques.
  8. On multi-use trails be sure to respect the right of other non ATV riders to use the trail system. If you meet someone on horseback, please pull off to the side and shut your machine off. Wait until they have passed a clear distance or if they waive you on.
  9. Remember, using these trails is a privilege and not a right. You are enjoying these trails by the good graces of the land owner. If you see some trash on the land and can pick it up, please do. If it is a large amount of trash, call the Maine Warden Service, Landowner Relations Program and report the area.

Be safe and enjoy the great state of Maine!

Maine Deer Hunting Food Plots and Stand Placement

We had a successful hunting season in Maine for 2015.  Everyone in our hunting party saw deer, had some good naps on stand and just enjoyed being in the Maine woods in Hancock County.  In the post you will see a photo of my 10 year old nephew, Gavin, enjoying a nap on stand. Gavin bagged his first turkey in May and bear in October, but the whitetails were intolerant of the snoring sounds coming from his blind.

 

20151127_135600

Snoozing in the blind

 

Throughout this year we worked on clearing new hiking and ATV trails throughout the northwest section of our family woodlot.  Along these trails we installed two ladder stands on a ridge of mature maple and pine trees overlooking one of the small babbling brooks that meanders through our land.  From our stands we also have a view of Blue Hill Maine and Mount Desert Island and parts of Acadia National Park. Even on the days we don't see deer the views are nice.

The trail work paid off as my brother harvested a nice 8 point buck that dressed out just under 190 pounds.  To make the job of getting the deer out of the woods, our neighbor Nick and his 3 year old son Colby drove their ATV out our new trail and drug the deer out for us and even hoisted the animal onto our truck.  Thank you Nick!

We have found the deer like to use our new trails along with other game animals.  To smooth out some of these trails and remove stumps we plan to have Jeremy Guellette of Ground Perfection Specialists spend a day or two with his grinder cleaning things up for us.  The machines you see clearing the sides of I-95 north of Lincoln is Jeremy's company.

Once cleaned up we will seed down the trails and plant some small food plots.  Our forester also recommended cutting back the 7-10' poplar in areas.  This will cause the poplar to reshoot new seedlings and will be a "natural" food plot.

We enjoy working and improving our woodlot.   Owning land in Maine has many benefits but to me one of the tops is the therapy of doing physical labor and discovering new areas of your Maine land and how to best take advantage of the topography and other features.

On The Trail to Increasing Your Land Value

There is something special about a walk in the woods. Inspecting the tracks of forest animals, listening to the distant "wack-wack-wack" of the pileated woodpecker, watching a busy beaver putting the finishing touches on her dam, these and many other woodsy events are just a few reasons why we own land. To better care for and use our property we enjoy creating and improving multi-use trails. Building trails improves our outdoor experience, while at the same time increases the lands value.

Before starting the physical work of trail building take some time to mentally plan the construction. What are the intended uses of the trail? Is it for accessing a location such as a hunting stand or scenic place, hiking and cross country skiing? Do you intend to have vehicles on it like ATV's, snowmobiles,  tractors, mountain bikes or others? How much traffic will your trail support? Asking yourself these and other questions will help you design a trail that meets your goals and will save you time and money.

Google Earth and the Maine office of GIS provide free solutions which can be used to plan and map your trail system. If you are not familiar with these programs see our post on using Google Earth. for some basic information. The topographic overlay from the Maine office of GIS in conjunction with Google Earth is especially useful.

Once you decide for what purpose and where you want the trail now is the time to get out on your property and scout out the best route. Online mapping got you a good start but it won't show you all the variations in the land like micro elevation changes or the best place to cross a creek for examples. Priorities when choosing the best route should include minimizing soil disturbance, protecting riparian areas and require a minimal amount of future trail maintenance. When done well trails enhance the recreational and economic use of the land today and for years to come.

You will need a few tools to create your trail. The following will get you started and may be all or more than you need.

  • Flagging Tape
  • Lopping Shears
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Lightweight Chainsaw
  • Brush Saw
  • Lawnmower

If I am out alone clearing trails to be used primarily for hiking, a good pair of shears and safety glasses are what I will bring. When making larger or wider trails power equipment is a big time and back saver. If you plan to use power equipment be sure to get good safety gear to protect yourself from injury.

Building trails is hard but rewarding work. So get out there and enjoy your land.

Snowmobile News from Maine DIF&W

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                             January 19, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine  - Snowmobilers will have the opportunity to enjoy the trails in neighboring states for free during a special weekend shared by Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. This annual three-day event will take place January 29 - 31, 2016 and allows all legally registered Maine snowmobiles to be operated in New Hampshire and Vermont without being registered in those states.

"This means that all snowmobiles legally registered in New Hampshire and Vermont can be operated in Maine without a current Maine registration," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "We welcome these snowmobilers to explore more than 14,000 miles of Maine's interconnected, groomed and marked trails. As always, we encourage them to enjoy Maine's beautiful outdoors, but also urge them to ride safely."

The Maine Warden Service reminds snowmobilers to ride with caution at all times.

"With the increased traffic anticipated during the reciprocal snowmobile weekend, we remind all riders to obey laws of prudent operation, do not drink and drive, and be mindful that this is a family sport, so please keep our trails safe," said Maine Warden Colonel Joel Wilkinson. "Pay extra close attention to ice conditions on all Maine waterways especially when travelling at night, and ride with caution. We hope that enthusiasts participate in this great opportunity to discover Maine's tremendous snowmobiling opportunity."

Snowmobilers should stay off roads, ride at a reasonable speed, use hand signals and ride to the right.

If you need to register your snowmobile in Maine, visit:  https://www10.informe.org/ifw/atv-snow/.

For information about snowmobile laws and rules in Maine, visit: http://www.eregulations.com/maine/atv/snowmobile-laws-and-rules/.

For trail condition updates and trail maps, visit the Maine Snowmobile Association at: http://www.mesnow.com/