Riding along electric transmission lines?

We have an telecommunications easement through our property that’s a 100’ wide trail that continues on for miles through neighboring properties following the power lines. It’s always mowed, relatively flat, and a great place to hack out. Does anyone know if I’m allowed to ride along the easement outside of my property line?

IIWM, I’d call the utility that owns the lines (& presumably keeps the area mowed) & ask.
They may say Yes, may not permit due to liability.

Where I live, there are power lines in undeveloped areas that are open for all kinds of recreational traffic, horse, bikes, hikers, quads, dogs etc. Then there are power lines that have been annexed into people’s property and are fenced off. I assume they have a lease agreement of some sort with the company. These last are obviously not open to recreational use.

Question: do you ever see other recreational users of any sort on that road? If yes, I would go ride but be prepared to meet anything out there.

If you don’t see any recreational users out there, and the road is unfenced but appears integrated into the farms, I would try to ask one of those folks what their deal is with the power company. If the road is clearly seperated from the farms, like fenced off from the pastures, I’d just ride.

I would just ride and see whether there were reactions. My experience has been that if you start riding or walking on “liminal” land nobody cares unless a problem arises, as long as you are discrete. You might be able to Google hydro easement rules for your state.

Honestly I would not go and ask your utility a question that gets them thinking and wondering like “can I ride on the power lines or do you have a liability issue with that?” The last thing you want is them mulling that over and asking their staff lawyer.

Your issues will be with the land holders if they think the road is part of their property.

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I figured a Google earth image of what I’m talking about may be helpful! The blue rectangle is my farm. The “hub” or whatever where the power lines begin is circled in red and the red lines are along the power line “trail”. We were the last neighbors to sign the paperwork to allow the easement, and no fences are permitted along the power lines.

I’ve ridden and taken the side-by-side down the trail and have never seen another soul, or even another house. We’re pretty secluded where we live though, and are at the end of a dead-end road with only a few farms surrounding us.

It would be awesome to have access to this, I’m tempted to just start riding on it but I don’t want to get in trouble!

So there is realistically no trouble you can get into. If it’s an open easement in a rural area, you can ride. The power companies do not police these places. I doubt even the service workers would care if you smile and wave.

If there was any pushback the first thing would be a polite warning. No one is going to grab you and toss you in jail.

I would look at the easement you signed and see what it says about public access. But really people ride and hike and bike and quad on these all the time like on forest service roads. I would just go out and enjoy.

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You might look at your easement paperwork. I know I have an easement that allows power access but no others. I don’t think the easement turns it into public access, but maybe your neighbors would not mind? But then would you mind them crossing “your” land? Horses and hikers seem fine but I’d worry about loud dirt bikes or quads. I hate how we’re losing so many trails (all over, in general), that does look like a great place to ride!

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They just run their lines on private property, right? As far as I know you would need to get permission from all the landowners or you will be trespassing?

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Ah, if that’s how it works it’s up to your neighbors. Maybe get a little agreement written up between all of you.

Around here the electric company keeps all the land cleared where the electric lines run and it is all private property. I am assuming the OP’s situation is the same. They may pay the landowners where the towers are but the land itself is still privately owned.

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It’s called a substation.

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It is going to depend on the utility and the language of the easement. The right of ways (ROW) are generally not open to public use. That isn’t to say the public doesn’t use them, but they aren’t supposed to. They are almost impossible to police for trespass.
The utility I work with (water) has ROWs which are emphatically not supposed to be used by anyone, same with the gas company that sometimes shares it. That being said, water and gas tend to be far touchier about their ROWs because the consequence of someone digging a hole in the wrong spot or riding their vehicle over the wrong thing could be catastrophic.
The service workers probably will wave, by the way, but they may also take info down. We are taught to not engage and always be polite.

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Ok, so all the power lines I’ve ridden on have been on undeveloped land or through a park. Now that I think about it, there are power line easements that go through farm land and all of those are actually fenced in by the landowners as pasture. Those lines were put in after the land was cleared and farmed. So question of riding on them doesn’t arise.

I still think you could talk to your neighbors about how they feel about letting you on their land, or just go for a ride and talk to them as you see them.

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I agree. The neighbors still own the land, so generally they have the right to give access to it, each one individually to their section of the ROW. The power company has the right, usually, to restrict activity (such as digging, fencing, etc). and around here often prohibits vehicles, but I am in a very densely populated state. It gets complex!

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tangent-
What do “hydro” (water) easements have to do with power lines?

Hahaha.

Where I live almost all power is from water powered dams and the monopoly utilities company is called BC Hydro. We say hydro lines interchangeably with power lines, and it’s a Hydro right of way because that’s the company name!

I caught myself doing this and tried to edit back to powerlines but clearly missed one!!

When I was growing up the local and only dumpster company was called Smithright and it wasn’t until adulthood that I realized the wider world had no idea what I meant when I referred to “a Smithright.”

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Thanks all! Lots of good info. The furthest I’d ride the power lines would only take me across my next-door neighbors land, and another property that has horses. Any further than that and I’m stuck crossing a busy rural highway. So, sounds like I could easily just ask those two landowners if they would mind my riding in their land.

:laughing: Thanks!

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