Minnesota DNR Reminds Snowmobilers Colder Temps + More Snow Still Needed On Many Trails
It's been another snowy start to a week in the Northland and Minnesota's snowmobile trails officially opened on December 1, but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says that many trails across the state may still need more snow and colder temperatures before they can be properly groomed for use.
Of course, different parts of the state experience different conditions throughout the winter, so snowmobilers shouldn't assume that all trails are ready for action at the same time.
The DNR notes that several conditions must be met before trails are groomed and safe:
- The ground must be frozen. Where trails cross wetlands, 15 inches of ice is needed to support the weight of the trail groomers.
- Adequate snow cover of about 12 inches must be on the ground to allow for trail packing and grooming.
- Trails must be cleared of fallen trees, signs put in place and gates opened. Snowmobile club volunteers and DNR staff are currently working on these tasks.
“It’s a big job for local volunteers and DNR staff to get the trail system up and running each year, especially with varying weather conditions,” said Wade Miller, state trails and snowmobile program consultant. “We work together to get trails ready to ride as soon as we can so Minnesotans can enjoy a long riding season.”
Another important factor is that ice must be thick enough to for safe snowmobile travel over bodies of water. The DNR recommends a minimum of 5 to 7 inches of new, clear ice for snowmobiles.
Patience is important before getting in the full swing of the snowmobile season and the DNR recommends utilizing that wait time to make sure your snowmobile registrations are current and that your snowmobiles are in good operating order. It's also a good time to review safety training, and check local trail maps for route changes or new trails.
Please note that registrations for new snowmobiles must be purchased in person at any deputy registrar office or at the DNR License Bureau in St. Paul. Registration renewals and out-of-state trail stickers may be handled in person, or online.
As snowmobilers begin hitting the trails this winter, caution is urged as early season trails can have obstacles such as trees or other debris. Also, road ditches can have can have obstacles such as culverts, signposts, and rocks.
Also, it's important to make sure snowmobiling only occurs on authorized trails and where permission to ride has been granted. The DNR says snowmobile trespass is an issue every year and civil penalties for trespass have doubled this year to $250 for a first offense up to $1,000 for third and subsequent offenses. Riders may also have to pay restitution for any damage they cause to public or private property.