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How to Ride Ruts, Rocks, and Hills on Your ATV

Even if you’re planning to ride in smooth, easy terrain, you may get surprised. Any natural land could be more rocky than you heard, or rain could have caused a rut or washed a large rock in the path since your last visit. It’s always wise to know how to handle anything that may come up.

atv ride ruts

ATV Ruts Tips

All it takes is a good rain for a rut to form. This makes it a pretty likely occurrence, so you don’t want it to slow you down.

The idea is to make sure neither side of the ATV gets stuck in the rut. To do this, you’ll approach at a 90-degree angle to the rut and jump over it a little. You just want to lift the front of the machine so it will go over the rut and then land on the other side to give your rear tires less weight so they won’t get stuck. If there is a small lip that you can use to get out, you can worry less about getting stuck, but don’t count on it.

ride atv hills

ATV Hills Tips


Before you start your ATV hill climb, you have to plan.

Pick out the line you intend to ride. You’ll want to look for a hill or trail with the clearest path. Make sure you are skilled enough to handle the obstacles and the incline.

Where will you stop? You’ll need to plan the amount of speed it will require to build momentum to make it to the top or on having the speed to overcome an obstacle before reaching the top.


With the right speed, you should have the right amount of traction. Pick up speed as you approach the hill. If you don’t think you have much room for this, you might be surprised what a small bit of track or a wide corner can do for you. While you’re on the hill, rely on momentum to get you to the top or the first obstacle.

When you’ve overcome an obstacle, hit the throttle again with your weight on the middle of the ATV and build the speed for the next part of the hill you’re aiming for.

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Lean forward in a standing position to balance your weight. It’s common to have to lean far enough forward that the upper part of your body is over the handlebars. You have to balance the weight of the machine to make sure it doesn’t topple. As you might expect, it takes practice to get this right. That’s why we always recommend doing new things slowly on ATVs. Start with smaller hills to get used to it and work up so you can feel what you need to do.


Keep your controls smooth. You have to shift and throttle smoothly while on a hill. Make sure to not shift too soon, or you’ll break your momentum, and you may not reach the top. With the throttle, you don’t want to do anything jerky. You want to give it some throttle, just enough to keep your momentum. If you give too much, your tires will slip.

Look Ahead

Similar to riding a car, when ATV riding in hills, don’t look at the ground in front of your vehicle but at the path ahead of you. You don’t want to miss any upcoming obstacles that may surprise you.

ride atv turn

ATV Sidehills and Turning Around


Take a sidehill by leaning toward the higher side of the hill to balance your weight.

It is quite possible to hit a portion of the hill that is steeper than you planned. Pick up a little speed to get through and prepare to slow down just before it lessens again.

When you encounter obstacles on a side hill, be prepared that it will make the ATV even steeper, and you’ll need to lean much more aggressively to get past it.

Turning Around

Sometimes you just can’t make it up a hill. It happens to everybody. If you realize you won’t have the right speed to make it to the top or the vehicle’s getting too steep, stop sooner rather than later.

Pick the widest area available to you to stop. You’ll want to get off of the ATV. That’s the safest way to turn it around. Make sure to hold onto the front brake as you get off. Stand on the higher side of the vehicle. Roll the ATV down, and steer it to turn it so that it is perpendicular to the trail. Turn the steering wheel so the tires are facing down. You should be able to get back on and use the front brake to safely get back down the hill. If not, you can use the parking brake and walk your ATV to a spot that is safer before getting back on.


If your ATV’s about to topple on a hill, jump off the ATV toward the top of the hill. This will let the ATV do what it will without you being in the way.

ride atv rocks

ATV Rocks

Rocks are like tiny hills. You need to begin ATV riding in rocks by picking your path so that your tires will be in contact with the rock and try to avoid the frame touching the rocks. This isn’t always possible. If you have to scrape the underside of your ATV, use momentum to get over the rock.

On your rock climber ATV excursion, balance so the front end of your ATV is light and pick up enough speed to get the rock three-quarters or farther under your ATV. When your front tires touch ground, use the throttle to get the rest of the way over and get all of your tires on the ground. This is easier with 4WD, but possible with 2WD. With the latter, just use more speed and keep the back end of your ATV lighter when the rock gets back there.

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