As stated before, no ice is ever safe ice. However, many state agencies, such as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have come up with a suggested amount of good, clear ice there should be on a body of water before venturing on it with various modes of transportation. Remember this is only a guide, use your instincts and knowledge and inspect the ice before venturing on it.
The DNR recommends the following activities be conducted when at there is at least the following amount of good clear ice on the water body.
Less than 4 inches – STAY OFF! There is no reason to test the newly formed ice at this time.
4-6 Inches – Ice fishing, foot travel in single-file lines, and small spaced seating on the ice should be safe, presuming the ice is clear and clean.
6-10 Inches – Snowmobiles and ATV’s can travel safely on good ice that is over inches thick.
10-16 Inches – Small cars and pick-ups can begin to venture on to the ice. However, the DNR states that it is best to avoid driving on the ice whenever possible.
16+ Inches – A medium-sized car or mid-size pickup can drive on good clear solid ice.
Ice Thickness Chart from the ND Game & Fish Dept
Important safety actions
Despite being fully aware of the treacherous nature of ice, many experienced anglers and ice enthusiasts die each year when they get careless or are unprepared. In order to be able to deal with an emergency situation, there are several helpful hints and actions one can take to avoid tragedy on the ice.