Winter ATV Tourism on PEI

It’s called an All Terrain Vehicle and ‘all’ includes the snow. Winter riding is a completely different experience from the other seasons and can be quite enjoyable if you and your machine are properly equipped.

Recently, we visited the Evangeline ATV Club , Tignish Sportsman Riders ATV Club and the O’Leary Recreational ATV Club, all of which are situated within the North Cape Coastal Drive. These three clubs operate over 200 km of groomed woodland trails open to ATVs during the winter. Riders would need several day trips to the area in order to cover all of the trail systems that are offered. Residing only 1 hour away, we have already been there 3 times and we are still discovering new things to see. ATV Tourism could be the catalyst to redevelop our tourism product post COVID.

While some riders prefer to store their ATV during the winter months or use it only for plowing the driveway, there are others that want to continue the off-road adventure despite the cold and snow. We’re part of the growing winter ATV tourism group, and if you’re thinking of doing some winter ATVing, we have a few tips to share with you.

Having a quality, full-face helmet that is rated for cold temperatures is an essential. A proper winter sport suit that is designed for wind protection and allows room for layers underneath is a must. Boots and mitts rated for -40 are the best choice, as wind-chill effect is always a factor when the ATV is moving. Always pack extra socks, mitts and extra layers under your suit, in case temperatures drop.
Safety needs to be at top of mind when winter ATVing in the winter ATV Trails . If, for some reason your machine breaks down or freezes up, you need to be prepared to survive in cold temperatures. Never ride alone. A winch is a necessity and you should always have an axe, lighter and knife packed in your gear.

Handling an ATV in winter is a whole new way of riding—quick braking, or accelerating turns, do not tend to happen smoothly on snow and ice. Operating the atv in 4 wheel drive at all times is a must to lessen trail rutting -damage. Spinning or sliding sideways will also occur which requires the rider to maintain a steady acceleration, and bring the speed down slowly when stopping. Leaving a much larger gap between vehicles is important because of this.

If conditions are cold and the snow is firm, handling an ATV is much easier to do. When warmer days cause melting or slushy conditions, handling an ATV safely can become quite a challenge as the sides of the trails become soft, causing the machine to pull off the path. In these conditions, it is best to reduce speed and try to find wider, well-packed trails.

Many products are available to improve an ATV’s performance in the winter. Stud kits and pre-studded tires are an option for better traction. Track kits are now available for most ATVs, with options for replacing the 4 tires with tracks.. These options allow the machine to stay on top of the snow and provide much better control. Some basic accessories like a windshield and hand guards, or gauntlets, to block the cold wind can make for a much better day on the trails. Heated grips, thumb and seat warmers are a minimal investment that can save a lot of discomfort.

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