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All-Wheel Drive (AWD)


Intro to Off-Highway Driving

Learn how to get the most from your AWD vehicle and travel "off-highway" safely.

2024 Schedule:

July 7, 2024

August 3, 2024

October 27, 2024


I"f you’re even curious about taking your AWD vehicle off road, take this class. Even if you don’t plan on taking your vehicle off road, we live in New England and sometimes it’s unavoidable. Take this class. The knowledge you will gain in a day is invaluable. I was completely impressed by the scope of topics covered, the incredible knowledge of the instructor, and the real, hands-on experience. What I expected was a follow-the-leader drive in the woods. What I got was a lifetime of off-road driving experience passed on in a professional way, and I now have more confidence in myself and my vehicle then I ever thought I’d have. I can’t recommend it enough."  - Matt, AWD Student

Do you have an AWD vehicle and want to learn more about how it works?

Would you like to explore the capabilities of your vehicle beyond paved roads?

Interested in learning some of the basics of driving on trails?



This is the course for you!



The AWD Off-Highway Introduction Training covers the basics of using an All Wheel Drive vehicle on off-highway surfaces like New Hampshire Class V and Class VI roads.  It is designed around compact to mid-size vehicles with 8 or more inches of ground clearance and drivers who have little to no previous off-highway driving experience.  Examples of previous customer vehicles include Subaru Forester, Ford Bronco Sport, and Subaru Ascent.  Trainings are held in/around Merrimack & Hillsbourough County, NH convenient to most New Hampshire metro areas as well as Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and beyond.  Events are generally between 5 ½ hours and 7 hours depending on weather conditions, vehicle count, and guest participation.



We will start by covering basics like:


What is off-highway travel and why would people want to do it?

How can we use Tread Lightly to practice responsible motorized recreation?

How do AWD vehicles work and how are they different from 4wd vehicles?

What are some key terms and specifications we should be familiar with?

How can we prepare our vehicles for off-highway travel?

What is traction and how do we get it?

When should we use scouting and spotting on the trail?


Following the group discussion, we move on to driving some class V and Class VI roads appropriate for stock AWD vehicles.  The trails are chosen to allow drivers to see some common obstacles that could be present in New England in a challenging but not dangerous environment.  



While driving we will practice:


  • Driving techniques covered in the discussion session

  • Observing trail obstacles and “picking a line”

  • Spotting other vehicles to assist them on the trail

  • Tread Lightly basics

  • Water crossings, ditches, rocks, and sand

  • Uphill and downhill travel

  • Introduction to vehicle recovery



Prerequisites & Equipment:

  • Clothing suitable for any weather during the day

  • Sturdy footwear for walking safely on trails

  • Registered, inspected vehicle in good condition with AWD and 8+” of ground clearance

  • Pictures of the factory recovery points to ensure you know where they are on your vehicle and you have all of the appropriate components

  • Knowledge of your vehicle such as control locations, driving position adjustments, and the modes or electronic settings used for off-highway travel generally available in the owner's manual

  • Drivers license and insurance valid on the day of instruction 

  • FRS or GMRS radio, preferably handheld (spares are available with the instructor in case of radio failures) - If GMRS a valid FCC license is required

  • Gloves

  • Trash bags or container for your trash and in case we find litter on the trails

  • A first aid kit





Classes are rain or shine - bring along your own weather-appropriate clothing. Don’t forget any bug spray, sunscreen, etc you may want. We’ll be in the woods. There are bugs.


Guests are welcome but must be registered to the vehicle.  Guests can be added at the day of the event and will be charged admission at the standard guest rate. They are required to complete a waiver on site.  Cash (exact change) is required for day-of registrations. 


While we are on public roads, there is always the possibility of contact between the vehicle and ground or the vehicle and trail features.  Courses are selected to minimize the possibility of damage but we cannot prevent all contact from occurring.  Please keep this in mind.


Weather conditions may change the conditions of the trail and the instructor will try to ensure that conditions are appropriate.  If trail conditions are poor we may substitute other driving opportunities or reduce the amount of driving on the trip.  We promote responsible outdoor recreation and will work with our best judgment to prevent trail or vehicle damage.


Bring along all food and drinks (i.e. plenty of water!) you need for the duration of the course.  We will stop at lunch time, but this will be a “rural” stop with no ability to purchase provisions at that time. (We will be close to some great places nearby to get food, and will be happy to point you in the direction of food before or after the event.)


Please bring along any special medications or foods you may need during the event.  Your instructors are first aid trained, but if there is something specific they should know please inform them in private at the beginning of the course or let us know in advance. (i.e. severe food allergies, insect allergies, asthma, etc and the locations of your epi-pen/inhaler are important for us to know in case of emergency!)


We must be strict about guest behavior during the course.  We will not permit horseplay, unsafe driving, disregard for coaching or spotting, use of drugs or alcohol during the event, or disrespectful behavior towards ENH staff or other participants.  Participants violating these policies will be asked to leave the event without refund.

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