California Motor Vehicle Code 23127
Driving on Trails and Paths
Certain areas, like hiking or horseback riding trails, are created for specific uses. They are subject to strict rules regarding who and what are allowed to travel on them. Because the purpose of the trail may be for pedestrians to hike, or horseback riders to ride, unauthorized motor vehicles are prohibited in these areas.
Vehicle Code 23127 addresses these restrictions. The code states that no one may drive an unauthorized motor vehicle on state, county, city, or private trails, including hiking, horseback riding, or bicycle paths, that are marked with signs at entrances and exits that show the area to be illegal for motor vehicle operation.
The importance of vehicle restrictions in these areas may be to preserve nature and scenic routes. Motor vehicles of any kind would disrupt the flora and fauna in these areas, and could injure any pedestrians that are hiking. Motor vehicles could also spook horses that horseback riders are traveling with, or hit bicyclists that do not expect to encounter high-speed vehicles on the path. Furthermore, some of these routes are unfinished, rocky, and steep, making them unsafe for regular motor vehicles to traverse.
The only exception to this rule is in the case of an emergency. If an accident has occurred, authorized emergency maintenance vehicles are permitted to enter these trails to prevent injury or death. Any other unauthorized vehicles that operate on trails or paths illegally may be found guilty of a misdemeanor.