2017-01-05 / News

Riders Warned To Use Caution on Snowmobile Trails

This groomer became stuck in a bog near Kinross in Chippewa County. (Department of Natural Resources photograph) This groomer became stuck in a bog near Kinross in Chippewa County. (Department of Natural Resources photograph) With varying amounts of snowfall so far this season across the northern section of the state, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is urging snowmobilers to use caution riding trails.

Groomer contracts went into effect December 1, signaling the start of another Michigan snowmobile season. Trails are being groomed in many areas, but snow depths are limited in many places, making trail grooming difficult.

“We always want snowmobilers to use caution, but especially during this early-season riding,” said DNR trails specialist Paul Gaberdiel. “Riders should keep to trails they know or trails they know are situated on dry ground.”

Without much snow, trails can have potential hazards, including rocks and wet areas.

“Many areas have not had enough cold weather to freeze swamps and have soft ground or water covered by snow,” Mr. Gaberdiel said. “Several groomers have gotten stuck because of unusually high water and warm temperatures in swampy areas.”

In those areas, DNR staff is working on establishing bypass routes.

Before riding trails, check with local trail clubs for current trail conditions; in the St. Ignace area, straitsareasnowmobileclub.com; in the Cedarville and Hessel area, lescheneauxsnowmobileclub.org.

Straits Area Snowmobile

Club: Trails Are Ridable

The Straits Area Snowmobile Club’s trails are in an improving condition as of Monday, January 2, although the warm weather around Christmas that led to melting and the rain that followed have made for icy conditions. Club vice president Neil Hill said conditions right now are fair but they will need about another foot of snow on the trails to optimize them. The club is hoping for cold weather and storm system snows in the area, as lake effect snow is often too powdery to make for good trails.

“They’re perfectly ridable,” Mr. Hill said of the trails Monday.

Progress on the trails was been slowed this year after a number of trucks and all-terrain vehicles drove down them during the Christmas warm up, damaging the trails with a number of ruts because of the ground being soft from warm rains. The club is working to repair these ruts when possible.

The Straits Area Snowmobile Club trails have seen only light traffic so far this winter. Snow has been widespread across the state so far, reducing the number of riders coming this far north. Its groomers have made just a few runs due to the light snow, compressing eight inches of fallen snow into two on the trails. One of the groomers started off 2017 by breaking a hitch Sunday, January 1, but it was already fixed and back in service Tuesday, January 3.

The Straits Area Snowmobile Club is looking for volunteers to drive its grooming tractor this winter. Those who are interested can contact the club by calling

(906) 643-9374. Les Cheneaux Snowmobile Club: Trails Are Ridable, But Poor

Stu Volkers, president of the Les Cheneaux Snowmobile Club in the Cedarville and Hessel area, reported Monday, January 2, that parts of the trails are usable and groomed, but several other parts are not. Riders can ride the trails, but are likely to run into some problems with water.

“It’s certainly not pristine conditions. We need some colder weather and more snow for the trails to be in the best shape. Right now, we are rating the trails as poor,” said Mr. Volkers.

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