March 31, 2014

Ice, slush blamed for mediocre snowmobiling season

PLATTSBURGH — While there were a couple of big snowstorms this winter, extreme weather conditions of other kinds did not make for the best conditions for snowmobiles. 

Lots of ice and too-warm weather all played the villain role in 2013-14.

“That doesn’t help the trails,” Trail Finders Snowmobile Club President Mike Relation said about the warm streak earlier this winter.

The melting snow turns into a layer of slush, he said, and snowmobilers shouldn’t ride on it.

However, he said, some do and end up badly damaging the trails.

But then Winter Storm Vulcan dumped a foot or more of snow that gave trails new life.

Snowmobilers were out riding the next day even as the North Country shoveled out from the storm.


Another problem Relation talked about is returning riders, who were regulars maybe 10 years or so ago and then decided to get back at it.

But they forget to check where the trails are now.

“The trails changed,” he said. 

And so some end up riding on private property, where the landowners do not want snowmobiles going through.

That hurts the important relationship between property owners and the snowmobiling community, Relation said. Some individuals think they can just buy a sled, and they are good to go, he said, but they could not be more wrong.

“There is a lot to snowmobiling,” he said. “It is not just jumping off a sled.”


The snowmobiling statewide is mostly regulated by the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. 

Also, snowmobiling clubs around the state make an effort to educate members and people using their trails.

One of the important roles of the Office of Parks is putting together the snowmobile safety training course for youths, who are required to complete it before riding a snowmobile on their own.

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