AUGUSTA — The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands has issued a new Maine All-Terrain Vehicle Trail Map for the upcoming riding season.
However, all Maine ATV trails are currently closed for mud season out of respect for landowners’ wishes and to protect the terrain until the ground hardens.
“Stay off the trails until they’re open, and when they’re open, stay on the marked trail — that’s the bottom line,” Brian Bronson, ATV program coordinator for the bureau's Off Road Vehicle Division, said Friday in a report.
The new map — featuring 6,000 miles of three-season ATV trails throughout the state — is being mailed this week to ATV clubs and dealers statewide.
Maine now has the largest connected ATV trail system in the nation, with approximately 2,300 miles, Bronson said. That particular section of linked trails runs from Washington County to the top of Aroostook County.
“For the first time, you can go from Machias to Fort Kent — there are thousands of miles of linked trails,” he said, estimating that it could be up to a seven-day trip one way.
“We speculate that we have the largest ATV trail system in the country, but we can’t prove it," Bronson said. "We do know we have the largest connected trail system in the country.”
The BPL Off Road Vehicle Division is the only state agency that oversees the maintenance of ATV and snowmobile trails. About 94 percent of the ATV trails are on private land, and ATV clubs do most of the actual maintenance, he said.
Based on increasing telephone calls from riders anxious to hit the dirt, Bronson said interest is rising, but trails are still mush.
“While the trails are drying out, there still is quite a bit of deep frost in the ground, making the trails ‘soupy’ for riding,” Bronson said. Club officials and landowners will determine when trails once again are suitable for use.
Still, he said he anticipates that this year will be a good and early season for ATV riding.
Riders can get copies of the new map from either local ATV clubs or dealers, or contact the Off Road Vehicle Division.
An online .PDF version should be available soon, Bronson said, but the format may be too small for good use since the map is quite large.
For more information about the new ATV map, contact Bronson at 287-4958 or Brian.N.Bronson@maine.gov, or visit www.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/ATV/atv_maps.html