Thursday, March 17, 2011

ATVs on the A.T.?

On Tuesday of this week, new Department of Justice rules went into effect that will allow “power-driven mobility devices” to be used on trails by “individuals with mobility disabilities.”

An “other power-driven mobility device” is defined in the rules as: "any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines — whether or not designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities — that is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion, including golf cars, electronic personal assistance mobility devices, such as the Segway® PT, or any mobility device designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes. This apparently includes ATVs as well.

While this new rule currently applies to trails only on state or local government lands, it is expected to be challenged (presumably in court) to make the rule applicable on federal lands as well, including National Parks.

American Trails has been providing a ton of information on the new rule. They've also compiled a list of FAQ's that helps to explain the rule in more detail.

So I have to ask my fellow hikers, just out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on seeing/allowing Segways, golf carts or ATVs on the Appalachian Trail, the Little River Trail, the Rainbow Falls Trail, or any other trail in your favorite National Park?

Do individuals with disabilities have the right to enjoy parks just as anyone else, or do power-driven devices impede on the rights of hikers wishing to escape modern civilization while enjoying nature and solitude, for which parks were originally intended?



Jack said...

Love reading your blog and about hiking in general. Another good resource you should check out and tell your readers about is the Habitual Hiker blog on

Anonymous said...

What about the disabled individuals who are less fortunate? Maybe we should start another Federal program to get these people to our parks also. We could buy their ATV or golf cart for them so they don't have to miss out on the fun. And if any of those people also happen to be lazy and don't feel like ridin' all the way to the top of Mt. Leconte on a motorized vehicle, then maybe we could offer helicopter rides to the top. While we are at it, we should probably develop a separate program to get more minorities into our parks.There are just too many white faces in our parks.

Anonymous said...

This is nothing short of a travesty.

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

In my view, it's really a moral dilemma. I should add though, that if the ruling is a blanket situation in which virtually all trails must comply, then I'm against it. I'm also totally against allowing golf carts and ATVs on any trails. This would undoubtedly take away from the enjoyment of being in the wilderness.

However, if it were only Segways allowed on certain trails, then I wouldn't really have a problem with the new rule - whether it's on local, state or federal lands.

One other thing I just thought of, what impact will this have on wildlife?

Just my opinion.

Danny Bernstein said...

This is a tough call. But I am against it. Too many people would be using it as they do a "disabled parking" sticker. So many people,including children, say that they can't walk the half-mile to the top of Clingmans Dome.

Ray Anderson said...

I think this would be hard to enforce and people would take advantage of it. I feel bad that disabled ones will miss out, but I'm against this.

Steven said...

Totally against it. Next thing you know, they'll want air conditioning, running water, and toilets at shelters. There's plenty of ATV access areas already.