I know that ideally every snowmobiler would like to wake up every morning in a cabin in the mountains somewhere and open the door to see a fresh blanket of powder awaiting them, but in the real world we have jobs and places to be, and snowmobiling is our escape from that world. Some of us live in big cities and travel every weekend to enjoy our sport, but there are some of us that actually live in some of the places that everyone else travels to each winter. The snowmobiletrail.com staff are lucky enough to live and work in one of those places- Northeast Minnesota. The snowmobiletrail.com headquarters is literally a stone’s throw away from the state trail and for the most of the season the only travel we do to go for a ride is to walk from our front door to the garage. This week we are posing a question to all of the snowmobilers out there: If you had your choice to live in one of these two areas which one would you choose- Northeast Minnesota or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula?
THE CASE FOR NORTHEAST MINNESOTA: Northeast Minnesota will never claim to be like the mountains or the UP, but what it does have going for it is cold and occasional Lake Effect Snow. Northeast Minnesota doesn’t get huge amounts of snow (On average 84 inches a year) but winter comes earlier and stays longer. Early in the season before there is adequate snow elsewhere, Northeast Minnesota not only gets its usual Southern Minnesota traffic but it gets traffic from the UP and Wisconsin as well. The same can be said late in the season when our friends further south start getting 40 degree temperatures and rain, Northeast Minnesota is still getting snow and once again we are flooded with snowmobilers seeking the last traces of winter. The disadvantage is that if conditions aren’t right we can suffer from an extreme lack of snow and the season can be short or not take place at all.
THE CASE FOR THE UP: The answer here is simple- Lake Effect Snow- insane amounts of it, in some areas as much as 300 inches of snow in a season- for those of you keeping track at home that is a whopping 25 feet of snow! In the UP snow may come late but you are virtually guaranteed good riding conditions for the entire season once it shows up.
So the question is, which one do you choose? Northeast Minnesota, where you can get a very long season but no guarantee that you will have adequate snow every year or the UP where the season may be shorter but you are virtually guaranteed to have good snow every day once it starts. We want to know. Go to our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/snowmobiletrailcom/ and put your answer in the comment section and tell us why. Thanks again let’s keep our fingers crossed for a good year!
What’s that? A trail update in November? Yes my friends it is true- Falling temps, Frozen Water (As evidenced in this fabulous frozen swamp photo) and falling snow keep inching us toward a new season. We were out doing some trail work this weekend and actually had to ride out to a few places that needed to be brushed- on a snowmobile. We didn’t venture too deep into the woods with deer hunters out there but we are going to have to do more work this weekend. Right now we still expect the trails to be open on time December 1st! We will keep you updated as conditions change.
You wake up on a Saturday morning, the air is crisp and cold, there are flurries falling from the sky. The night before you loaded up your sleds on the trailer and hooked it up to your truck. You load your riding gear in the back seat and drive to meet your buddy in the parking lot of your favorite trail and head out for a great day of riding, but have you ever wondered how that trail got there? Today’s blog is all about the birth of a snowmobile trail and you might be surprised how much work and planning really goes into it.
STEP 1: THE IDEA- Imagine there is a vast network of trails on the East side of your town and another large network of trails on the West side of town. You like riding both trail systems but you have always wished there was a connection between the two so you could ride both sets of trails in the same day. You look on your trail map and you see a narrow section of land dividing the two trail systems and you think to yourself “wouldn’t it be great to have a trail that connected these two large trail networks?” You can see the route in your mind but then you begin to wonder how such a thing would get done. You wonder where to start and the answer is quite simple- Your local snowmobile club.
STEP 2: THE SNOWMOBILE CLUB- So you do some investigating and find out that there is a snowmobile club in your town and it just so happens that many of the members of this club have had the same idea you had and they have started a committee to try and build a trail.
STEP 3: TALKING TO LAND OWNERS: You find that most of the trail that you would like to build goes through private property. Now comes the hardest task of all- going door to door talking to land owners to get their permission to build a trail that runs through their property. This is where most trail plans die. It is extremely difficult to get land owners to agree to let you put a snowmobile trail on their property, but, miraculously this happens every year and most snowmobilers are not aware of it. Many snowmobilers falsely assume that the state has decided to build a trail when in fact it is the snowmobile clubs that have put all the work in and gotten easements from the landowners for the use of their land. Permanent easements are the preferred way to go but often times trails are built using temporary easements which means the landowner can cancel the easement at any time and effectively shut down the trail. This is why you must respect the law and speed limits on the trails along with obeying the ever crucial “Stay On Trail” signs. People have given their permission to the club for use of their land- respect it! Every year snowmobile trails get shut down because some idiot snowmobiler did something stupid resulting in the cancelation of an easement. These people are allowing you to be on their property and without the cooperation of landowners our trail system would be dead. If you are lucky enough to obtain the proper easements then the physical work begins.
STEP 4: BUILDING THE TRAIL- This is where the actual physical labor of building a trail starts. This usually consists of gathering together all of the club members and spending hours on end cutting trees and clearing a path through the woods wide enough for the groomer. Sometimes this means dealing with difficult terrain like swamps and steep or rocky areas that may require the use of heavy equipment, all of which must be rented by the snowmobile cub at the clubs expense. That is another thing many snowmobilers are not aware of- all of the work done to maintain your trails is done by volunteers. This includes getting the proper permits from the DNR to build bridges and then the actual bridge building itself. None of these are easy tasks. All told it can take hundreds or even thousands of man hours to build a snowmobile trail and equal that in expenses.
STEP 5: MAINTAINING THE TRAIL- Now that your new snowmobile trail is in place it needs to be maintained year after year, that includes mowing brush, cutting fallen trees and overgrowth, fixing washouts and bridges, renewing temporary easements, and of course grooming all winter long and keeping the trail free from trash and debris- again, all work done by club volunteers.
THE PAYOFF: When it is all said and done you have one more trail that can be enjoyed by thousands of snowmobilers every year. As you can see, there is a lot that goes into your trail system and the lion’s share of that work is done by snowmobile clubs. We encourage every snowmobiler to join their local clubs because the more hands they have the better your trail system and riding experience will be!