need advice-permission to ride private property-
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  1. #1
    trail addict
    Reputation: Uncle Six Pack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    need advice-permission to ride private property

    I have addresses for two local landowners who own large adjacent tracts of wooded land. Kids have been biking out there for years, people walk their dogs, some people camp, and some hunt out there.

    I have ridden there a little, but the thing is nobody we ever see out there has official permission from the landowners. Most people don't even know who the landowners are or where they live. I would like to do the right thing, but I was wondering what would be proper-phone call, letter, knock on the front door (which is nowhere near the trailhead). And how should I phrase my request? Does anyone have a form letter or something that has been successful with landowners in the past?

    Thanks for any advice!


  2. #2
    Don't worry, be happy!
    Reputation: formica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    First off, you want to research the recreational statues of your state. Some states ( like mine, WA) have very good protection from liability for landowners that allow recreational use of their land. As long as admission is not being charged, a WA landowner is fairly well protected from lawsuits. I think the IMBA site has links for this information somewhere. Personally I think face to face is always best but it depends on the situation.


  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Up here a people have what is called the right of prior access, meaning if the trail is in use anyone has the right to use it on the private property. If the owner wishes to stop the access he must sign the trail clearly and mark his bounderies.

    That said knock on some doors, be polite, the (very kind and resonable) land owner probably would love to talk with someone anyway.

  4. #4
    featherweight clydesdale
    Reputation: Fattirewilly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    I wouldn't make a point of saying "hey man there are lots of people using your land." Chances are, the owner is aware of it unless he lives out of town and visits once every 5 years.

    Feel it out, ask just for verbal permission for yourself and see how it goes. Unless its posted, you might not need written permission. Offer to keep an eye on things like trash, dumping, poaching if its an issue. My family lets people they don't know hunt because the offer to come out and help one or two days a year in a hayfield. If things go well, you may be able to work toward a more open agreement for a local club or public easement.

    I used the letter below for one written can find several examples on'll need to insert verbage from your own state's rec use code.

    Landowner Permission Form
    Approval for trail to cross private land

    I/We ________________________________________ hereby give permission to __ and members of the community to maintain, modify, or construct natural surface trails or old farm roads on my property for non-motorized travel by members of the community. Examples of non motorized uses include hiking, jogging, and bicycling. This is not a transfer of property rights. The landowner may terminate this permission at any time. Trails will not be constructed without prior permission.

    It is understood that my land is open on marked trails only, or specially designated areas as follows (attach additional pages as necessary):

    1) Small pie shape pie approx 3 feet wide and varying in depth from 0 to approximately 1 foot deep at end of cul-de-sac

    I am fully aware that my liability exposure is limited as the General Assembly has addressed this concern in Virginia Code Section 29-130.2. as amended in 1982. Paragraph (b) of the code states:
    A landowner shall owe no duty of care to keep land or premises safe for entry or use by others for hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, participation in water sports, boating, biking, hiking, sightseeing, hang gliding, skydiving, horseback riding and bicycle riding, collecting, gathering, cutting or removing firewood, nor shall a landowner be required to give any warning of hazardous conditions or uses of, structures on, or activities on such land or premises to any person entering on such land or premises for such purposes except as provided in (d) hereof.
    The exceptions, in paragraph (d), concern payment of a fee, other than that necessary to cover taxes, to the landowner and "willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use or structure" on the property.

    Landowner or Lessee

    Signature of Landowner or Lessee: _____________________________________

    Date: _____________________________________

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