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Snowmobile trails still not open in most of Wisconsin

Glen Moberg

Wisconsin Public Radio

Midway through January, snowmobile trails are still not open in most of Wisconsin.

Despite the cold weather, there hasn't been enough snow for snowmobiling except in the far northern part of the state.

It is the fourth disappointing winter in a row, said Jon Rauen, director of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs in Marathon County.

"Right here in Marathon County, the trails are not open. I'm sure people are getting a little frustrated and a little excited," Rauen said. "Here we're going on our fourth season now with marginal snow conditions. We definitely need a good snow year here."

Rauen, who is a member of the Poniatowski Dare Devils snowmobile club, said he hasn’t been out on his snowmobile yet this winter.

"If we don't lose any snow in the next couple of days with the warmup, we're probably only 2 or 3 inches of snow away from being able to open," Rauen said.

According to the state’s Travel Wisconsin website, trails are in excellent shape in just Douglas, Sawyer and Vilas counties. Nine other northern counties are in good shape.

Club members work hard to keep the trails groomed, said Fred Suchy, director of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs in Vilas County and a member of the Cross Country Cruisers snowmobile club in Arbor Vitae.

"They are superb. The trails have got a good base. Everything is marked on the lakes. All the swamps are good. We've had groomers out Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and they're going out again tonight," Suchy said.

He said many will be riding the trails to get to the World Championship Snowmobile Derby this weekend in Eagle River.

"Eagle River is going to be loaded with snowmobilers," Suchy said. "That's a big thing up here. It puts heads in beds. They stay in Minocqua. They stay in Arbor Vitae, Presque Isle, and most of them go in snowmobiles. And that is really good for this county and this area."

Snowmobile trails reopened this week in Door County after portions of the peninsula got more than a foot of snow. But the trails are in poor condition, said Door County Interim Parks Director Wayne Sitka.

"A lot of that snow was really powder. It wasn't a thick wet snow. It was lake effect powder that came down," Sitka said.

Sitka said the powder doesn’t pack into a good base for the trails.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2018, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. Find more WPR news on KUWS-FM 91.3 or wpr.org.

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