Snowmobile trails in our region will not likely open until well into the new year.
That’s according to John Enright, President of the Haliburton County Snowmobile Club. Enright says he understands riders are itching to get back on the trails, but that’s ill-advised.
“We need the okay from property owners, and we need to prep the trails for the groomers. That’s happening now,” says Enright. “We need the weather on our side, frost in the ground, the snow base, and a lot of other criteria related to safety. We’re just not there yet, you can’t open a trail off just one snowfall.”
However, Enright says the wait will be worth it. The artery connecting Haliburton’s snowtrails to neighbouring Muskoka will reopen this season, after being washed out three years ago.
“We’re super excited that finally, after three years, this washout has been fixed and we’re rejoined to our good neighbours to the west in Muskoka,” says Enright. “That’s going to be such a great thing for winter tourism and small business. Finally, the two busiest areas in the province are reunited.”
Nunzio Iacobellis, President of Gravenhurst’s Snowcrest Riders, says Muskoka’s trails are dealing with the same issues as Haliburton, and will likely be closed until the second or third week of January. He says the recent snow is acting as an insulator and causing them to not freeze as quickly as needed.
“Please, please stay off the trails,” says Iacobellis, noting that anyone caught on closed trails could be charged with trespassing, and private landowners might revoke access to certain sections of trails. “We all want to ride,” he says. “All the volunteers are sledders. We want to get on the trails, too, but only when it’s safe.”
Enright notes the wide geographic area, with uneven terrain and snow cover, means clubs have a lot of due diligence to go through before trails are ready.
“Be patient. The trails are not safe. A number of things have to happen, and it’s going to take time,” says Enright. “Early season riding, you’re really putting your snowmobile at risk for damage, and yourself with injury.”
In the meantime, you can keep an eye on the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs’ interactive trail guide, which will be updated once trails open.
**With files from Martin Halek and Mathew Reisler