Cattle Guards for Off-Highway Vehicle Trails

One of the greatest sources of contention between recreationists and livestock permittees as trail use increases is gates.

by USDA Forest Service

Trail Cattle Guard

Introduction

One of the greatest sources of contention between recreationists and livestock permittees as trail use increases is gates. Gates are left open, allowing livestock to roam in places where they shouldn't. While the cows don't mind, ranchers, recreationists, and agency managers certainly do.

With dirt bike, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), and mountain bike traffic on the rise, trail managers have identified the need to evaluate small cattle guards that offer an alternative to gates.

Kent Traveller, from the Dixie National Forest, asked the Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) to evaluate and document designs for trail cattle guards that work. The cattle guards would be suitable for trails used by ATV's, motorcycles, mountain bikes, and hikers. They would need to be lightweight and easy to install, particularly when compared with the massive cattle guards used on roads.

MTDC found four trail cattle guard designs that were doing the job on several National Forests. Three are steel, or a combination of steel and wood. Another is made entirely of wood. We decided to show you all four. Differences in design, fabrication, and installation could make any one of the four the top choice for your installation.

View the guide

Published July 1998

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