SLEDsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 05 - Rider Responsibility



Riding in a group is awesome. Helping each other out, reaching your destination as a team and the roar of a sled convoy moving through the woods is an experience you won’t soon forget. So grab your buddies and do it right. Here’s how:

Determine group placement: Before hitting the trail, you’ll need to determine group positioning, including who will be the group leader and who will be the tail rider.

Group Leader: The group leader rides at the front of the group and should be an experienced rider who is familiar with the trail and riding area. The group leader will be in charge of navigation, they will designate road crossing, methods and they will set the pace for the group (keeping in mind weather conditions and the skill level of each rider). 

Tail Rider: The tail rider should be the next most knowledgeable person in the group. They will be positioned last, behind the group and will be responsible for assisting anyone who may have a problem, keeping count of the riders in the group, and ensuring no one falls behind. If this is you, know your duty!


Groups that are larger than 10 to 12 riders should break up into smaller groups and each of the smaller groups should have a designated leader and tail rider. 


Once you’ve determined who your group leader and tail rider will be, take the following steps to ensure you have a safe, fun ride with your crew:

  • Always position the riders with the least experience in the middle of the group where they will be safest.
  • Plan out the trip as a group to prevent having a last minute itinerary change. Leave a copy of the Trip Plan with a friend or family member so it can be used by Search and Rescue authorities to locate you if you go missing.
  • Ride single-file on the trail. Don’t hog it and don’t ride double. Most sled trails aren’t wide enough for two riders to be side-by-side and if the trail narrows unexpectedly, one of you would be in trouble (EXCEPTION: Never ride single-file if you’re crossing a frozen body of water! This doubles the weight on the ice).
  • Stick to the right-hand side of the trail (like traffic lanes).
  • Leave plenty of stopping distance between you and the rider ahead.
  • Check behind you frequently to make sure your group is good to go and that everyone is keeping pace.
  • Make sure everyone on the trail has performed a pre-ride safety inspection of their sled.
  • Buddy up. Make sure every rider has been assigned to another rider who they are responsible for. Your job is to get your buddy home safe and sound.
  • Make sure everyone in the group can communicate using hand signals.


If you end up getting much further ahead on the trail than the person riding behind you, you should signal to the rest of the group, stop your machine at a safe place where you’re visible to other riders (like an intersection or wide area of the trail) and wait for the other rider or for the group to catch up. Every rider will have different limits! Stick together out there.


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