Off-road vehicle riding areas

The rules governing off-road vehicle traffic may be different depending on where you are driving.

On a trail

Québec has over 33,000 km of snowmobile trails and over 30,000 km of quad trails. These trails are managed and maintained by member clubs of the Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec and the Fédération québécoise des clubs quads.

Only off-road vehicles (ORVs) and maintenance vehicles are allowed on a user club’s trail.

Consult the Maps of the interregional snowmobile and quad trail networks This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Hours of operation allowed

ORVs are permitted on roads and trails between 6 a.m. and midnight. You are liable to a minimum fine of $250 if you do not respect these hours.

Authorized sizes and weights

The maximum width of vehicles on trails must not exceed:

  • 1.28 m for snowmobiles;
  • 1.68 m for all other ORVs;
  • 1.5 m for sleds or trailers.

Their weight must not exceed:

  • 500 kg for single-seater vehicles;
  • 950 kg for multi-seaters.

Width and weight restrictions do not apply to peace officers’ vehicles (police officers), ambulances, fire-fighting vehicles (firefighters) or the vehicles of other persons performing safety-related functions when they are on their way to places where an emergency response is required.

Near an inhabited area

In the absence of another distance set by municipal by-law, trail use is prohibited:

  • within 100 m of a dwelling, a facility operated by a health care institution or an area reserved for the practice of cultural, educational, recreational or sports activities;
  • less than 30 m from these sites, in the case of a trail built before January 1, 2012.

Only the owners of the aforementioned structures and premises located near a trail can contest the conformity of a development. In principle, these people live on the lot adjacent to the trail.

However, trail development restrictions do not apply in the following cases:

  • the initial development of the trail, at a lesser distance, was expressly authorized by the owner of the site;
  • the trail is built within the right-of-way of a public road or a road on public land, in compliance with the applicable provisions. This is usually an alternative solution;
  • the trail is built on a private road;
  • the pathway is built on a disused railway right-of-way and is indicated in a land use and development plan or a metropolitan land use and development plan;
  • in the other cases and conditions stipulated by government regulation.

Do not disrupt the neighbourhood

ORV drivers and their passengers must take care not to annoy other users and neighbours of the areas where they are driving by causing:

  • noise;
  • dust
  • smoke;
  • excessive light;
  • avoidable odours.

Speed limits 

When ORV traffic is permitted in the vicinity of a dwelling, a facility operated by a health care institution or an area reserved for the practice of cultural, educational, recreational or sports activities, the driver must not exceed the following speed limits:

  • 50 km/h within 100 m of these places;
  • 30 km/h within 30 m of such premises.

Anyone driving an ORV faster than the speed limit is committing an offence and is liable to a fine.

On a public road

ORVs are not permitted on public roads. However, there are exceptions in certain situations.

For example, it is allowed to:

  • circulate on the roadway, for a maximum distance of 1 kilometre, if a worker is using the vehicle in the performance of the work he or she is doing;
  • cross the road at points indicated by road signs;
  • ride on the roadway, for a maximum distance of 1 kilometre, if authorized by road signs, to reach places such as an ORV club trail or a gas station.

On public land

On public lands, ORV traffic is permitted subject to the conditions and restrictions imposed by the laws applying to these lands and the regulations in force.

The government reserves the right, in certain areas, to set traffic speeds and to prohibit or restrict the circulation of certain ORVs. It may also set specific time periods and other conditions for the use of these vehicles.

Off trail

Riding an ORV off trail (outside the right-of-way of an authorized trail or in an undeveloped natural area) may be prohibited in an area delimited by the Minister or public body having authority on this land. Any person driving an ORV in such an area is liable to a minimum fine of $250 for a natural person or $1,000 in any other case.

On a private road

ORVs are permitted on private roads. However, the owner of the road and the person responsible for its maintenance may, by means of signs:

  • prohibit traffic;
  • restrict it to certain types of ORV;
  • restrict it to certain periods.

Elsewhere on private land, ORV traffic is subject to the express authorization of the owner and lessee.

On private land

Restrictions apply when riding off trail on private land owned by someone other than a municipality.

The restrictions are as follows:

  • no speeding or other action that could endanger life or safety or damage property;
  • obligation not to disturb other users or neighbours in the area where you are riding;
  • prohibition on carrying more passengers than the number of seats provided, the capacity indicated by the vehicle manufacturer, or the number of belts installed;
  • prohibition on driving a vehicle with a missing, out-of-order or altered seatbelt, and obligation to wear it correctly;
  • minors are required to wear helmets, footwear and protective equipment sufficient to make sure they are safe.

Establishing a right-of-way on your property

The use of private land for an ORV trail is a privilege. ORV club volunteers negotiate rights of way with landowners. To find out more, visit the following federations’ websites:

Consult the following documents to learn more about rights of way on private land:

In the case of public land, clubs must obtain permission from the land manager.

Motocross and off-road motorcycles on closed circuits

All-terrain motorcycles and motocross bikes used on closed circuits (on private land for which the owner has given his consent) do not have to comply with the ORV traffic rules, as long as they neither cross nor intersect the road and as long as the activity is planned and carried out under the responsibility of an off-road vehicle federation. If one of these vehicles is used on the road, it will be covered by these rules.

On farmland

An off-road vehicle used for work on farmland not accessible to the general public is not subject to the ORV traffic rules unless it crosses a public road. 

On a ski area

ORV traffic rules do not apply to groomers and other vehicles that operate exclusively within a ski area and do not cross or use a public road or off-road vehicle trail. These vehicles, including snowmobiles that operate exclusively within a ski area, are already subject to regulations to make sure the public is safe under the Regulation respecting safety in Alpine ski centres This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Last update: January 15, 2024


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