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Are e-Bikes Legal in National Forests?

Are e-Bikes Legal in National Forests?


Yes, e-bikes are legal in national forests. The U.S. Forest Service published its official policy on e-bikes, electric bikes, electric bicycles, electric mountain bike, and other types of electric-assisted bikes, on March 31, 2022 in a press release. In short, e-bikes are legal on all forest roads and trails that are designated for motorized vehicle use.

e-bikes legal on national forests
Riding e-bikes on a mountain trail in San Juan National Forest

Are e-Bikes Legal in National Forests?

The U.S. Forest Service on March 31, 2022 issued a statement that e-bikes are perfectly legal in all of its forests and grasslands on roads and trails that are designated for motor vehicle use…

Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes are allowed on motorized trails and roads on national forests and grasslands. Additionally, several year-round resorts operating under a special use permit have established e-bike use within their permit boundary.

Forest Service Statement on Electronic Bicycle Use

Okay, But Are e-Bikes Legal on Regular Bicycle Trails and Hiking Trails?

The US Forest Service was careful NOT to say that e-bikes are banned on non-motorized-vehicle trails. E-bikes are already heavily ridden on regular bicycle and hiking trails. The US Forest Service recognizes how popular these bikes are, and they made it clear that they WANT more people to enjoy forest service lands, and welcome the use of e-bikes.

What they did say is that they are delegating each forest and grassland unit to make its own decisions how to best implement policies regarding e-bikes…

“The additional guidance will help our district rangers and forest supervisors better serve their communities with a policy that allows managers to make locally based decisions to address e-bike use.”

Forest Service Chief, Randy Moore

It’s believed by many that what the US Forest Service is saying is that everyone is still allowed to ride their e-bikes along the same trails where regular bicycles are being ridden. Each forest and grassland unit will monitor the impacts to land, flora, fauna, and people, then decide which trails, if any, should be closed to e-bikes.

How Will National Forests Implement New e-Bike Policies?

The most significant outcome to the US Forest Service’s new policy on e-bikes is that it will create new designations on Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM). Each forest and grassland creates its own MVUM, and these maps depict the various highways, roads, and trails running within its boundaries. They also designate which roads are open to all motorized vehicles, and which are open to street-legal vehicles only. They also designate trails for hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders.

The new e-bike policy will create a new “e-bike” designation, meaning that existing trails may be amended with new signage indicating that e-bikes are allowed or not allowed. Forests and grasslands will be allowed to create new trails exclusively for e-bikes. This means every MVUM will be amended to include the new e-bike designation.

Will Forest Ranger Bill Hassle Me For Riding my e-Bike?

Not likely in the short term. What the US Forest Service did was simply tell every forest and grassland that e-bikes are awesome and to treat them like any other motorized-vehicle. However, they were careful NOT to tell forests and grasslands that e-bikes are banned on bicycle and hiking trails.

Thus, each forest and grassland is free to assess individual bicycle and hiking trails and decide whether or not to include e-bikes, or exclude them.

Make sure, however, to keep your e-bike on roads and trails, never ride them off-trail where it tears up the land, and Forest Ranger Bill will probably leave you alone.

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