Operation on streets and highways
Snowmobiles may be operated only on streets and highways designated and posted as a snowmobile road by the government agency having jurisdiction over that road.
A snowmobile may make a direct crossing of a street or two-lane highway if:
- The crossing is made at an angle of approximately 90 degrees to the direction of the highway and at a place where no obstruction prevents a quick and safe crossing;
- The snowmobile is brought to a complete stop before crossing the highway;
- The driver yields the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic that constitutes an immediate hazard;
- The crossing of a divided highway is made at an intersection of that highway with another street or highway.
Snowmobiles may be operated on streets or highways during periods of emergency, if declared by the jurisdiction, or when necessary to cross a bridge or culvert.
Operation during special events
Snowmobiles may be operated on highways and streets for special events of limited duration approved by the local authority having jurisdiction over those roadways.
Operation on private property
It is illegal to ride your snowmobile on private property without permission from the landowner.
Operation on state-owned property
Thousands of miles of snowmobile trails and roadways are available on State Forest, State Park and State Game lands. Trails open on State Forest and State Park lands the day after the last day of Pennsylvania's regular or extended deer season and close April 1, or earlier as determined by the district forester or park manager. State Game Lands trails open Jan. 15 and close April 1.
Riders must stay on roads and trails marked open for snowmobiles. Some roadway trails on State Forest and State Game lands used for snowmobiling may be open to vehicular traffic. Roads for joint use by snowmobiles and vehicular traffic are marked with caution signs at all road junctions. Snowmobile trails on State Forest lands are marked with snowmobile trail signs where the trail intersects with a State Forest road. Between intersections, snowmobile trails are marked with orange diamonds.
To make the use of the trails safe and enjoyable for yourself and others, please:
- Do not disturb, drive, or pursue wildlife with your vehicle
- Do not carry loaded firearms on your snowmobile
- Abide by State Park and Forest Rules and Regulations and the Snowmobile/ATV law and regulations
- Stay on designated trails and roadways
- Operate your vehicle in a safe and responsible manner
- Place all litter in waste containers, where provided; otherwise practice the "carry-in, carry-out" procedure · Wear a securely fastened helmet
Any of these activities may result in a fine or the loss of your registration:
- Riding at a rate of speed that is unreasonable or improper under existing conditions or in excess of the maximum limits posted for vehicular traffic;
- Riding in a careless way so as to endanger the person or property of another, such as riding double on an ATV;
- Riding while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or drugs;
- Riding in an area, or on a trail or roadway that is not open to snowmobile use;
- Riding without a securely fastened helmet.
All snowmobiles operating in Pennsylvania must be equipped with:
- A brake system capable of bringing the snowmobile to a stop, under normal conditions, within 40 feet when traveling at 20 miles per hour;
- A muffler in good working order. The sound intensity produced by a snowmobile may not exceed 82dbA (decibels) for older machines. A 78dbA limit is in effect for all snowmobiles made after Jan. 1, 1976;
- An operating headlight and tail light if operating at dark or when visibility. The headlight must produce a white light sufficient to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of 100 feet. The tail light must produce a red light plainly visible during darkness from a distance of 500 feet.
The two snowmobile registration decals shall be affixed to the snowmobile forward of the handlebars, one on each side of the cowling, or one on the outside of each trailing edge of the windshield. An expiration sticker shall be affixed to the immediate right of each decal.
If you are using your snowmobile solely on land owned or leased by you, you do not have to get liability insurance. All other riders must carry liability insurance. Proof of that insurance must be carried with you when you ride. There are no minimum requirements or coverage standards established by the law for the liability insurance.
What you need while riding
While riding your snowmobile you must carry with you or on the vehicle:
- Certificate of registration
- Proof of liability insurance
- Registration plate affixed to the vehicle
- Expiration stickers (does not apply to limited registration)
- Valid safety certificate (ages 10-15 if riding off of parent's or guardian's property)
Where to ride
Know before you go. It's important you know what lands you will be riding on and if they are open to snowmobile use. Contact the appropriate land management agency to find out what is open.
Generally speaking, snowmobiles may be operated (see Youth operation for restrictions on child operators of snowmobiles):
- On private property with the consent of the owner;
- On state-owned property on clearly marked and previously designated trails;
- On highways and streets when necessary to cross a bridge or culvert.
- On highways and streets during periods of emergency when so declared by a governmental agency having jurisdiction;
- On highways and streets for special events of limited duration that are conducted according to a prearranged schedule under permit from the governmental unit having jurisdiction;
- On streets and highways that have been designated as "ATV or Snowmobile Roads" by the governmental agency having jurisdiction.
Where NOT to ride
Private property without the consent of the owner
State Forest trails not designated for snowmobiles
- On municipal or state-owned roads or streets that are not signed open to snowmobiles
It is prohibited for a child under 16 * to:
- Operate anywhere other than land owned or leased by a parent or guardian unless the child has a valid safety certificate or is under the direct supervision of a certified instructor during a certified safety training course.
- Operate across highways or connecting streets or operate on State Park or State Forest roads designated for joint use (use by both motor vehicles and snowmobiles or ATVs) unless the child has a valid safety certificate and is under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older.
- Drive on state or local highways, roads or streets designated for joint use.
*A child under 10 is not eligible for a safety certificate and is prohibited from operating anywhere except private property.
All snowmobile trails on State Forest lands are designated with signs. Stay on the marked trail. Roads for joint use by snowmobiles and vehicular traffic are marked with caution signs at all road junctions.