Snow does not equal open trails
Snow may be accumulating in northern Wisconsin, but many snowmobile trails may not be open yet.
Before a trail can be opened, the ground under the snow needs to be frozen to ensure trails crossing wet areas are safe. In agricultural areas, adequate snow is necessary to protect the ground and crops the trail travels over.
The current Douglas County recreation/trail report can found on Travel Superior, www.superiorchember.org under the visit tab. Douglas County also posts a weekly trail report on www.douglascountywi.org on the Forestry, Parks and Recreation Department site.
To find out which trails are open statewide, visit awsca.org or travelwisconsin.com/snowreport/snowmobile.
Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs coordinator Don Hamilton urged riders to be aware, even on open trails, as early season riding conditions magnify possible hazards under the snow. Snowmobilers should always ride with caution and never ride on any lakes or rivers without checking with locals to ensure the ice is safe for snowmobiles, he said.
The association consists of more than 600 snowmobile clubs from every county in Wisconsin. Community based, snowmobile clubs and their more than 40,000 volunteer members are solely responsible for developing and maintaining over 24,000 miles of public snowmobile trails.
Club members brush, clear, sign and prepare the trails, along with grooming them to ensure they are smooth and safe. Annually, these volunteers work many hours in partnership with dozens of landowners to ensure trail access, as most trails are on private property. Without the support of thousands of Wisconsin landowners, the trail system would not exist. Thus, riding on closed trails or traveling off a marked trail is not only dangerous — it's trespassing.
Wisconsin's snowmobile program is administered by the DNR. This user-funded program provides the money to reimburse clubs for some of the expenses they incur. Funding come from snowmobile registration and trail pass fees, along with some gas tax money snowmobilers generate.
The season is here, so make sure your snowmobile has a current registration and a 2018 Wisconsin Trail Pass. For more information on registration and trail pass requirements, go to www.dnr.wi.gov.