Knowing the meaning and importance of all trail signs while snowmobiling increases your safety and also the safety of those you are sharing the trail with. The most commonly used snowmobile trail signage largely resembles the familiar designs, shapes, symbols and colors we see daily on a roadway in our cars and trucks. There are a few states and provinces whose signage may vary slightly from the basic versions we share below, so always seek out guidance from state and local associations, a local snowmobile dealer, or the Safe Riders website.
Like on a roadway, the red stop sign is one of the most important trail signs a snowmobile rider will encounter. Stop signs are most commonly seen at trail intersections and roadway and railway crossings. After stopping completely and looking both ways, be absolutely certain the crossing is free of oncoming traffic before throttling ahead.
A Stop Ahead sign is generally posted within a safe slowing distance before a stop sign. These signs can be used as a timing marker, or indicator, to start slowing down to ensure a complete stop will be made ahead.
Yield signs are widely used at low traffic intersections typically found in urban settings where trails cross over driveways, or in the backcountry, to signify a seldomly used access road to reach a logging site, cabin or seasonal structure.
Always adhere to the speed limit signs posted on all trailways, which may vary depending on the trail routing, town or frozen waterway.
Orange diamond markers inform riders when they are on a designated snowmobile trail or corridor, which can pass through dense forests, fields and over frozen waterways.
These signs instruct riders that snowmobiles are either prohibited or not allowed to enter a restricted area or trail closed to public access. Adhering to all of these signs is extremely important to the ensuring long-term access to snowmobile trails, because approximately half of all snowmobile trails pass over a private landowners property during the winter. Riding off the designated trail may be considered trespassing, which is punishable via steep fines and potentially subjects the trail to closure at the landowner’s discretion.
A Slow sign (and any sign with black letters on a yellow background) is used to advise riders there may be a potentially hazardous trail condition ahead including ice floes, bridge abutments, driveway crossings or steep hills and sharp corners.
Yellow arrow signs signify the trail ahead makes a distinct change in direction to the right or left; slow down to ensure you're prepared to safely negotiate the turns. When riding in snow dust or storm conditions, which may affect your vision, proceed with extra caution.
It’s common practice for snowmobilers to use hand signals as a very simple and readily visible way to communicate to other riders or while riding in a group. Here are five common hand signals frequently seen on the trail.
Left arm is raised from the shoulder and extended straight up over the head with palm of hand flat.
Left arm extended straight out from the shoulder pointing in the direction of the turn.
Left arm bent at the elbow to shoulder height; with hand pointing straight up and palm flat. Left arm should make a right angle.
Left arm extended out and down from the side of the body with a downward motion of hand to signal warning or caution.
Guide your snowmobile’s handlebars to the right while pointing to the right side of trail over your head. This motion signals to riders behind you that they should remain on the right half of the trail and should provide enough room to yield to oncoming traffic.
Most states require all riders to take a snowmobile safety course before operating a snowmobile on public land. It’s a great way to learn more about trail etiquette, signage, and how to safely operate a snowmobile.