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Recreation Officer


Douglas County ATV/UTV changes:

Most of you know by now that Douglas County Highways will be open to ATV/UTV traffic starting this Friday, May 22.  There are a few additional restrictions with this ordinance.  Also, there were many State law changes for ATVs/UTVs that went into effect in March 2020.  Please see the updates below as these laws are in effect now.  Reminder, this post highlights some of the most significant changes.  Always review the full law changes directly from the source.  State laws and regulations can be found at  Douglas County ordinances can be found at  The Douglas County Forestry Department has updated laws and routes on the new ATV trail map that will be available shortly.


WI Law Changes

On March 3, 2020, Gov. Evers signed ACT 183 into WI State Law.  The following are highlighted changes that are in effect now:

1)  ATVs and UTVs are allowed to operate with any "TIRES."  The "Low Pressure" tire description was removed from the definition.  There is no maximum operating PSI any longer.

2)  Standard width measurement techniques are set.  Maximum widths (ATV=50 inches, UTV=65 inches) are measured from outside rim to outside rim.  This does not include mirrors, tires, or other accessories of the machine not essential to basic operation.  This is an industry standard with manufacturers.

3)  Headlamps are now required to be on when operating on BOTH TRAILS and ROAD ROUTES, all times of the day.

4)  The only visible light from the front of the machine can be WHITE or AMBER.  The only visible light from the rear of the machine can be RED, YELLOW, AMBER, or WHITE.  A flashing, oscillating, or rotating lamp that emits any other color than YELLOW or AMBER would be illegal (from any direction).

5)  Requirement to dim high beams or auxiliary lighting within 500 feet of another machine (trail, road route, or public property).


Douglas County Ordinance Changes

On May 22, the updated ATV/UTV Highway Ordinance 5.04 goes into effect.  In addition to all DNR laws, some restrictions apply when operating an ATV/UTV specifically on Douglas County Highways:

1)  You must have LIABILITY INSURANCE on your machine and carry PROOF of coverage.

2)  Operators age 16 and older must have a VALID DRIVERS LICENSE from any state.

3)  No one under 16 can operate on county highways between SUNSET and SUNRISE.

4)  State law allows ATV operators between ages 12-15 to operate on roadway ONLY when accompanied by an adult.  This ordinance mandates that the adult that is accompanying them must have a VALID DRIVERS LICENSE.

5)  All county highways have a posted 25 MPH SPEED LIMIT for ATV/UTV operation.


***There are 3 sections of County Highways that are closed to all ATV/UTV traffic and are posted as such:

-CTH B from STH 35 to CTH A (Four Corners); 2.78 miles.

-CTH Y from STH 27 to 2.12 miles south (This segment is under Bayfield County jurisdiction)

-CTH B, Degerman Road to Fitch Avenue; 1.28 miles (Lake Nebagamon has open village roads for detour)

Also of importance is the J-Turns of HY 53, one in Hawthorne at CTH B and one in Bennett at CTH L.  As of now, there is NO LEGAL CROSSING OF J-TURNS at these intersections.  There are "ROUTE END" signs posted in both directions.  Any crossing of a J-Turn or other operation on a State or US Highway will be strictly enforced.  The snowmobile crossing in Hawthorne (Trail #4) is winter only and is ILLEGAL for use in summer.


Please review all law updates and ride responsibility.  Respect land owner rights on trails.  Operating on roadways is a privilege, not a right.

Contact the Douglas County Sheriff's Office or the WI DNR for any questions on these law changes.

For maps and trail questions, visit Douglas County Forestry Department.

Questions about specific County Highway signage or routes can be forwarded to the Douglas County Highway Department.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Weekend!