A guide to ATVs on public streets


There are a number of public roads in Scott County that are open to off-road traffic. However, certain conditions do apply. This is a guide to those streets and the conditions.

On the map above, red routes are open to ATVs during daylight hours, any day of the year. The blue route is open to ATVs during daylight hours on two extended weekends of the year as determined by the Town of Huntsville Mayor and Board of Aldermen. The green route is open to ATVs throughout the year.

In a nutshell, any public road within the municipal boundaries of the Town of Huntsville that is not owned by the State of Tennessee (state routes include S.R. 63, S.R. 456 and U.S. Hwy. 27) is open to ATV traffic from sunrise to sunset, as per an ordinance adopted by the Huntsville Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

Additionally, any public road in unincorporated Scott County that falls south of S.R. 63, east of U.S. Highway 27, and also between Brimstone Road to the west and Norma Road to the east is open to ATV traffic from sunrise to sunset, as part of an Adventure Tourism District adopted by Scott County Commission.

These two sets of roads are the ones marked in red on the map above. However, the map is not an all-inclusive list. Dead-end roads into residential neighborhoods that do not lead to off-road trails were not marked on the map, although they are legally open to ATV traffic under the conditions stated above. Roads within the Town of Huntsville that fall on the north side of S.R. 63 were not included because all off-road trails in the vicinity of the town are on the south side of S.R. 63.

In addition to those two sets of roads, S.R. 63 is open to ATVs from sunrise to sunset on two extended weekends each year, as determined by the Town of Huntsville Mayor and Board of Aldermen, as per legislation by the Tennessee General Assembly. This state law was adopted to accommodate Brimstone Recreation‘s event weekends, which traditionally were on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. Those event dates have since changed, however.

Finally, O&W Road from its intersection with Verdun Road in Oneida to its terminus at North White Oak Creek in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area is open to ATVs throughout the year, as per legislation by the Tennessee General Assembly.

There are a few stipulations to ATV traffic on public roads, however:

1.) By law, all ATVs must be off public roads in the Town of Huntsville, the Scott County Adventure Tourism District, and S.R. 63 by sunset and cannot return to these public roads until sunrise. ATVs that are on the roads after dark are subject to citation. Enforcement of the law is at the discretion of the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and other law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction. This law does not apply to off-road trails at Brimstone or the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area that are not public roads.

2.) ATVs that are operated on any public road in Scott County must abide by the same laws that govern other motor vehicles. This means that speeding, reckless driving, and driving under the influence are prohibited.

3.) Helmets are required for all ATV drivers and passengers on public roads. This is the source of some confusion, since state law only requires helmets for ATV occupants under the age of 18. However, the state law applies to off-road trails that are not a part of the public road system. The helmet requirement for public roads is a part of state legislation enabling ATVs on the various public roads in Scott County. While enforcement of the law is at the discretion of the Scott County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, riding an ATV on a public road without a helmet, regardless of age, could result in a citation.

4.) In addition to helmets, the use of seatbelts is required for SXS and other off-road vehicles equipped with them.

While the various local ordinances and state legislation enabling off-road traffic on some of Scott County’s public streets is intended to make it easier for riders to access trails at Brimstone and the North Cumberland WMA without having to trailer their ATV to a trailhead, it should be noted that most of the public roads that are used to access trails are located in or pass through residential neighborhoods. Most complaints involving reckless driving, loud pipes and operating ATVs late at night stem from traffic on Winona Road, River Road and Brimstone Road. The Scott County Chamber of Commerce welcomes off-road riders to our community and encourages our ATV-riding residents and guests alike to be courteous and respectful of residents and private property owners within the Adventure Tourism District.

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