Maine ATV Trail Signing Guidelines
trails must be adequately marked so that people who aren't
familiar with the area can easily follow them. Getting lost
is no fun and could be quite hazardous even on a major trail
if you should run out of fuel, have a breakdown, or needed
medical help and not know where you are.
Our challenge to all of you is to make sure that no one gets
lost or injured on your trails.
Specific land marks, highway crossings, town lines, mileage
to certain points, location of support facilities, etc. should
be identified. This will inform riders where they are and
how to get to the services they need.
Installing Kiosks or smaller information boards with maps at
parking areas and intersections showing people where they are
in relation to the trail system is a great way to help keep
Mapping and marking rescue locations is also a great idea that
has been done in some areas. If people need help they can give
the location to rescue personnel making it quicker and easier
for them to be found. If you decide to do this you need to coordinate
it with the local Search and Rescue Agencies so the correct
locations are chosen and to make sure everyone has the same
information so you have a workable plan.
The Bureau has developed these guidelines for marking trails
and we urge everyone involved in ATV trail maintenance to follow
these guidelines so all trails are adequately and uniformly
marked throughout the State.
Generally, trails in Maine are two-way, which requires marking
for travel in both directions. Generally signs should be installed
on the right side of the trail. Signs need to be installed facing
the direction people are coming from so they can be seen in
a timely manner. When two or more signs are used in conjunction,
the more important message to be conveyed should be in the higher
We recommend signs be installed on sign posts instead of
trees because usually sign posts can allow signs to be posted
closer to the trail so they are more visible. If signs are
installed on trees they should be installed with staples or
aluminum nails so they don't cause a sawing hazard. ATV signs
should be placed only where the landowner or manager has authorized
a trail. Remove all signs if the trail is discontinued rerouted
The ATV Program provides plastic signs that will last for
a long time if properly installed. Signs should be mounted
on a stiff backing to make them more resistant to wind and
adverse weather. Backings can be made from plywood, tempered
hardboard, rough lumber, or similar materials.
Many times those of us familiar with a trail know it so well
that we fail to install enough signs or give enough information
for people who may not be familiar with the trail system.
We recommend that you have people who aren't familiar with
the trail ride it and tell you if they think there needs to
be more signs. This is a great way to get new club members
Most of us at some time or another have gotten lost on some
trail system because it wasn't marked well enough, the message
had faded, or tree limbs etc blocking the signs hadn't been
trimmed recently. Regular sign maintenance is important! You
can't put signs up in the spring and then never check them
again. Paint markers are ideal for written information since
they resist fading.
It's very important that signs be regularly checked and maintained.
This shouldn't be just the job of the trail master.
All of us need to play a part in helping keep the trails
open and safe.
Trail crews should carry extra signs with them to replace ones
that have been destroyed or to install new ones in areas where
a potential hazard has developed.
These are necessary on our roads and streets due to the heavy
volume of traffic combined with discourteous and uneducated
drivers. Hopefully we will never get to the point where we
need them installed on trails!
So you ask why do you have a street light in the sign guidelines?
Well I'm glad you asked. The good thing about streetlights
is they have created an easily recognized and accepted color
Yellow is Caution,
and Red is Stop.
Because people generally understand this color standard we
have adopted this color scheme for ATV trail signing. The
green signs are all positive affirmation that you are on the
trail. The yellow signs contain some kind of cautionary or
warning message. The red and white signs tell you to stop,
don't go, or don't do something. You should keep this color
scheme in mind when installing signs.
The following are standard issue ATV Signs in Maine. Most
of these signs are available to ATV clubs or landowners from
the ATV Program of the Division of Parks and Public Lands.
These should be installed using the guidelines that
This sign should be used at regular intervals along
the trail to reassure the rider they are still on the
trail. A blaze immediately beyond an intersection or
road crossing informs a rider where the trail continues
on the other side. This is especially important when
the crossing is not direct. If the trail is further
away and hard to see you may need to use a Trail Identification
sign since it's larger and easier to see.
This sign should be used at the beginning of a trail,
such as at a Clubhouse, parking lot, or place of business
etc. It should be used to show the trail name, number,
destination, and/or direction of travel (NSEW), etc.
as well as the name of the club maintaining the trail.
In some instances this sign can be used instead of the
Trail Blazer, as it may be easier to see at the entrance
from a field or other large clearing.
Stay On Marked Trail
This sign should be used when the trail travels through
croplands, tree plantations, or anywhere a landowner
has given permission to cross their lands only at a
specific location. This is also a good sign to use anywhere
riders may be tempted to access an unauthorized side
trail. It may also be appropriate to install these at
picnic areas or at Kiosks as a reminder to users.
This sign should be used together with other signs
to provide additional information that would be helpful
to the user. It can be used to mark town lines and geographic
names as well as distance and direction to businesses
or destinations etc., to help orient the rider. If a
club has the trail mapped they may want to note reference
points on the map. We recommend you use a paint marker
when writing on these signs. Regular markers tend to
fade quickly in the sun and may soon be unreadable.
This sign should be placed on the trail to notify the
operator to proceed with caution due to a variation
in the trail condition. The sign should be placed far
enough in advance so that the operator has enough time
to react accordingly. A blank space is provided on the
sign for specific information to be written such as
narrow bridge, steep grade, blind curve, intersection,
ditch, and gate etc. If more information is necessary
then a Trail Information sign should be used in conjunction
with the Caution sign.
This sign is used to show right or left-hand turns.
It is generally not used to mark the trail straight
ahead; a trail blaze is used for that. The arrow should
be placed far enough in advance of the corner to allow
the ATV operator ample time to slowdown. The actual
distance necessary will vary depending on the normal
travel speed of the trail its' located on and how sharp
the corner is.
This sign should only be used to mark bridge abutments,
fence posts, gate openings or other similar hazards that
the operator has to drive between or avoid. The diagonal
stripes should point down and toward the trail opening.
The sign should not be used to replace arrow, caution,
blaze or any other sign.
This sign should be used at water crossings and anywhere
else that erosion or misuse could negatively impact
fish habitat. This is meant to be a reminder to be extra
careful especially in very sensitive areas like salmon
This sign is to supplement the Stop sign. It should
be placed in advance of the Stop Sign to give riders
ample opportunity to slow down in order to safely stop.
Terrain and visibility will determine the location but
the sign should be placed at least 100 feet in advance
of the Stop Sign. See chart on last page for ranges
based on estimated speed of travel.
This Sign should be placed at each public and private
road, or authorized railroad crossing. As an additional
aid write on the bottom of every stop sign, in the space
provided, the route number or name of the road that
the trail is crossing. This will help people orientate
themselves especially if they have a map. Don't write
the trail name or direction on the Stop sign.
This sign should be placed at the approach to steep
hills, bridges, road crossings, or anywhere else where
tire spin could break down the trail and lead to erosion
causing sedimentation or a hazard.
Mud Season Closure
This sign should be used to temporally close approved
ATV trails when the ground is wet especially in the
spring of the year when the frost is coming out of the
This sign should be placed at locations along the trail
where landowners have requested that ATV's NOT travel.
It might also be beneficial to use a blank information
sign to state why ATV's are not allowed. Example: An
apple orchard, a tree farm, drinking water source protection
area etc. The sign should also be used to post trails
or roads where ATV use is prohibited even if it's not
next to an approved trail. We recommend that the local
club install these signs for landowners as a gesture
of good will.
Shared Use Roads
This sign is generally not available to clubs. It is
used to designate shared use roads on the Division of
Parks and Public Lands that are open to ATVs as well as bicycles,
horses, cars and trucks.
|| Recreational Trail
This sign is generally not available to clubs. It is only
used on state owned multiple use trails like converted
railroad beds. It is to be placed at all road crossings
to prevent automobiles from traveling on the trails.
Recreational Trail Crossing
This is a Department of Transportation Sign that can
be installed on state roads to warn motorists that there
is a trail crossing ahead. It is generally not used
everywhere, but should be considered in locations with
high-speed travel. It is installed by D.O.T. and has
to be paid for by the Club or Municipality who requested
its installation. An alternative might be to try
and locate the trail crossing in a better location if
ATV Access Route
This is a Department of Transportation style sign that
is available through a private sign company. This is
the sign that is to be used if a public road is officially
designated for use by ATVs. This has to be purchased
by the club or Municipality and must be installed on
authorized roads instead of the regular ATV trail signs.
You may want to also post a speed limit sign under it
to further regulate the use.
The following are examples of how signs should be
placed in relation to the distance and direction from the
Because of the unique hazard with gates at road crossings
it is very important that we have extra warning. For that
reason we recommend a Caution sign in addition to the Stop
Ahead sign. Each of these signs should be located a minimum
of 100 feet in advance of the previous one. In the case of
gates or other similar man made hazards we recommend caution
signs be installed on both sides of the trail.
We have included the information below to give you an idea
of how different trail speeds impact the distance signs need
to be installed in advance.
Speed equals distance traveled
At 20 mph you are traveling 30 feet
At 30 mph you are traveling 45 feet per second
At 40 mph you are traveling 60 feet per second
At 50 mph you are traveling 75 feet per second
Distance needed to slow down to 20 mph
At 20 mph it takes 0 feet to slow down
to 20 mph
At 30 mph it takes 50 feet to slow down to 20 mph
At 40 mph it takes 100 feet to slow down to 20 mph
At 50 mph it takes 150 feet to slow down to 20 mph
Distance needed to stop
At 20 mph it takes approximately 100
feet to stop
At 30 mph it takes approximately 150 feet to stop
At 40 mph it takes approximately 200 feet to stop
At 50 mph it takes approximately 250 feet to stop