web analytics

Tag Archive | "snowmobiling"

State is home to thousands of miles of trails, great riding opportunities


A rider heads out on a trail, having just made a highway crossing. Michigan has more than 6,000 miles of snowmobile trails to enjoy.

A rider heads out on a trail, having just made a highway crossing. Michigan has more than 6,000 miles of snowmobile trails to enjoy.

Ask snowmobilers around the country about the best places to ride a sled, and the Great Lakes State is sure to come up in conversation.

Michigan is known by snowmobilers nationally for its unique combination of abundant and dependable snow, exciting terrain and an extensive network of nearly 6,500 miles of designated snowmobile trails.

American Snowmobiler magazine recently featured Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula on the top of its list of “25 Epic Snowmobiling Destinations.”

“The area’s location by Lake Superior guarantees plenty of lake-effect snow each winter. This natural phenomenon coupled with state-of-the-art grooming equipment makes the western U.P. a premier destination in the Midwest,” the magazine said. “As you travel over 2,000 miles of trails you can see Lake Superior ice caverns, scenic overlooks, frozen waterfalls and abandoned railroad beds that lead you over majestically high trestle bridges.”

Michigan’s snowmobile trails are among the finest anywhere.

Michigan’s snowmobile trails are among the finest anywhere.

Over the past several years, SnowGoer magazine has named the Upper Peninsula the best overall snowmobiling area, as well as the area with the most scenic snowmobiling and the best trail riding.

“If you close your eyes and imagine perfect riding, what do you see? Do you visualize trails weaving through the forest? Do you see hotels with more snowmobiles than cars in the parking lot?” said an excerpt from SnowGoer. “Well, welcome to the best all-around snowmobile spots in North America. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with an average snowfall of 60 to over 200 inches, offers plenty of snowmobiling amid spectacular natural beauty.”

As these national publications have recognized, Michigan’s draw for snowmobilers, besides the plentiful snow and vast trail network, is the unique opportunity for sightseeing along the way – and a great deal of those sights to see are located in Michigan’s state parks.

“A lot of snowmobilers visit places like the Lake of the Clouds in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Indian Lake State Park and Tahquamenon Falls State Park,” said Ron Yesney, U.P. trails coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Bond Falls and Brockway Mountain are other popular sightseeing destinations as well.”

The U.P. has about 3,300 miles of state snowmobile trails, which connect communities, provide access to beautiful scenery and draw riders from near and far.

“We really have an outstanding snowmobile system in the U.P., that’s very accessible and links you to snowmobile-friendly towns,” said Rob Katona, DNR central U.P. trail specialist.

The northern Lower Peninsula also is a popular snowmobiling destination.

The new, highly anticipated Snowmobile Trail No. 37 in Wexford and Manistee counties recently opened for the 2016-17 snowmobile season. The 16.5-mile trail, which runs from Yuma to Copemish, connects the trail systems near Cadillac to trails north in Benzie, Manistee and Leelanau counties.

“This new connector trail will greatly enhance snowmobiling opportunities in the northwest Lower Peninsula, as well as increase tourism in towns such as Mesick and Copemish,” said Todd Neiss, a DNR recreation specialist who works out of the Cadillac office.

Another northern Michigan snowmobiling hotspot is the Gaylord area, which,  according to American Snowmobiler, “offers great winter fun with rolling hills, thousands of acres of unspoiled forests and reliable snowfall.

“Sledders are welcomed by local businesses and you can ride your machine right up to your door and back out onto the trail. Plus there are many trail connectors for uninterrupted travel.”

The magazine calls the trail from Gaylord to Indian River “the crown jewel of snowmobile trails in northern Michigan. The trail runs along an abandoned railroad corridor, crosses the Sturgeon River and winds through some of the most spectacular scenery in northern Michigan.”

While the focus tends to be on the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula when it comes to snowmobiling, there are plenty of opportunities to ride in southwestern Michigan as well, with about 700 miles of sled trails.

“There are a lot of trails in southwest Michigan that are close to population centers that many folks don’t even think about. Many of these trails go through DNR lands, and can be very scenic,” Neiss said. “While snow conditions are much more temperamental in southwest Michigan than in the north, if you catch it right, there is no need to drive hundreds of miles to ride.”

There are snowmobiling trails on National Forest lands too, which riders often use along with state trail routes.

“There are 1,157 miles of designated snowmobile trails on National Forest system lands. The U.S. Forest Service and Michigan DNR work together with club sponsors to ensure these trails are maintained,” said Kristen Thrall, recreation and hydropower program manager and forest accessibility coordinator for the Huron-Manistee National Forests. “We have worked together since the 1970s to develop a high-quality long-distance system that connects communities to the great outdoors.”

According to a 2012 National Visitor Use Monitoring Study, 27 percent of people recreating in the national forests identify snowmobiling as their primary activity.

There is plenty of information available on the DNR website to help plan a snowmobiling adventure, including trail maps in a variety of formats and links to trail reports from organizations like the Michigan Snowmobile Association.

Snowmobilers need to purchase a snowmobile trail permit, which is required to operate snowmobiles in Michigan and is valid for one year, from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Riders also need to register their snowmobile, as a valid registration from the Secretary of State (or another state or province) is required to ride as well.

Those new to snowmobiling who would like to try out this fun winter experience should consider rental snowmobiles that are available.

This week (Jan. 21-29) is International Snowmobile Safety Week, a great time to brush up on how to stay safe while out on the trail.

“Safety is the most important aspect of this sport,” said Lt. Pete Wright, a DNR district law supervisor. “Safe snowmobiling means riding within your own capabilities, operating at safe and appropriate speeds for the terrain, and never drinking alcohol before or while driving. Always wear a helmet and adequate clothing, stay on the designated trails, and always snowmobile with another person, never alone.”

Other safety tips from the DNR include:

  • Always keep your machine in top mechanical condition.
  • Pick safe places to stop off the trail.
  • Be aware of changing trail conditions.
  • Use extra caution when riding on an unfamiliar trail.
  • Stay far enough behind other riders to avoid the snow kicked up by their machines. This flying snow may blind snowmobilers to hazards, including other riders.
  • Check the weather conditions before you depart.
  • When possible, avoid crossing frozen bodies of water. Never operate in a single file when crossing frozen bodies of water.
  • Always be alert to avoid fences and low-strung wires.
  • Never operate on a street or highway.
  • Always look for depressions in the snow.
  • Keep headlights and tail lights on at all times.
  • When approaching an intersection, come to a complete stop, raise off the seat and look both ways for traffic.
  • Steer clear of trail groomers if you can. Never follow a groomer, give groomers the right of way, and if you meet one head-on, give it room to maneuver.

Snowmobilers also should make sure they are familiar with all of the rules and regulations for snowmobiling in Michigan, as well as the universal snowmobile trail signage the DNR developed to help keep everyone safe on the trails.

Snowmobile safety education training and online safety courses are recommended for all snowmobile operators and are required for youth 12 to 16 years old.

In 2016, Michigan had more than 200,000 registered snowmobiles – only Minnesota and Wisconsin had more, according to a report from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association.

The same report indicates that, in the United States, snowmobiling has an economic impact of $26 billion annually and that the average rider spends $4,000 each year on snowmobile-related recreation.

It’s clear that snowmobiling contributes significantly to Michigan’s tourism industry and the state’s economy.

“I snowmobile quite a bit and meet all kinds of wonderful people out being safe on the trails, spending money, and enjoying the U.P.,” Yesney said.

Snowmobiling is a social sport, with clubs throughout the state. The Michigan Snowmobiling Association maintains a list of clubs at www.msasnow.org/snowmobile-clubs.

Learn more about snowmobiling in Michigan at michigan.gov/snowmobiling.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments Off on State is home to thousands of miles of trails, great riding opportunities

DNR reminds public of ice-safety measures


With warm and rainy weather patterns seen in recent weeks in many parts of the state, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources urges ice anglers and snowmobilers to remember that no ice is safe ice.

“When temperatures reach into the 40s, as they have recently in many areas, thawing will occur and that will definitely weaken ice,” said Sgt. Steve Orange, DNR Law Enforcement Division’s recreational safety, education and enforcement supervisor. “It’s very important to know and follow guidelines to determine how ice looks and feels so that your day of ice fishing or snowmobiling is enjoyable and safe. Ignoring warning signs of weakened ice can result in a life-threatening incident.”

The DNR does not recommend the standard “inch-thickness” guide used by many anglers and snowmobilers to determine ice safety, because ice seldom forms at a uniform rate.

Orange said a warm spell may take several days to weaken the ice; however, when temperatures vary widely, causing the ice to thaw during the day and refreeze at night, the result is a weak, “spongy” or honeycombed ice that is unsafe.

Ice strength can’t be determined by its look, thickness, the temperature or whether or not it’s covered with snow, Orange said.

When venturing onto ice, remember:

  • Clear ice that has a bluish tint is the strongest. Ice formed by melted and refrozen snow appears milky, and is very porous and weak.
  • Ice covered by snow always should be presumed unsafe. Snow acts like an insulating blanket and slows the freezing process. Ice under the snow will be thinner and weaker. A snowfall also can warm up and melt existing ice.
  • If there is slush on the ice, stay off. Slush ice is only about half as strong as clear ice and indicates the ice is no longer freezing from the bottom.

Although it’s a personal decision, the DNR does not recommend ice anglers take a car or truck onto the ice,” Orange said.

Anyone venturing onto the ice is urged to wear a life jacket, wear bright colors, bring a cell phone and bring along a set of ice picks or ice claws, which can be found in most sporting goods stores.

If ice does break, Orange offered the following tips:

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Don’t remove winter clothing. Heavy clothes won’t drag you down, but instead can trap air to provide warmth and flotation. This is especially true with a snowmobile suit.
  • Turn in the water toward the direction you came from; that is probably the strongest ice.
  • If you have them, dig the points of the picks into the ice and, while vigorously kicking your feet, pull yourself onto the surface by sliding forward on the ice.
  • Roll away from the area of weak ice. Rolling on the ice will distribute your weight to help avoid breaking through again.
  • Get to shelter, heat, warm dry clothing and warm, nonalcoholic and noncaffeinated drinks.
  • Call 911 and seek medical attention if you feel disoriented, have uncontrollable shivering or have any other ill effects that may be symptoms of hypothermia (the life-threatening drop in the body’s core temperature).

Learn more about ice safety on the DNR website www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off on DNR reminds public of ice-safety measures

Celebrate the season with Winterfest 2011


These kids had fun playing at the Howard City Winterfest 2010 last January. Come on out and join them this year! Photo courtesy of Village of Howard City.

If you are looking for something to lift the mid-January blues, head out this weekend to Howard City’s second annual Winterfest, January 14 and 15.
“The community support has been great and our team is working to make the Winterfest even bigger and better than last year,” said Howard City Village Manager Mark Rambo. “We have a day filled with events for all ages, including games, food, music and snowmobiling.”
Added to the slate of activities this year are some adult team activities sure to be good for a few laughs. They include a four-person wooden ski race, tug of war, frozen chicken bowling, and bed races. Those interested can register a team of four on the day of the event.
Another new event is the chili cook off, sure to warm up participants and give them a tasty meal to boot.
Other activities include a polar plunge, snowman building contest, snowmobile ride to Cadillac and more! Visit howardcity.org for complete details.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Celebrate the season with Winterfest 2011

Increase snowmobiling fun with these cool tips


Secretary Land reminds operators to stay safe, obey the law

snowmobilersWith winter here, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land reminds snowmobilers that a safe riding season depends on proper training and abiding by state safety rules and regulations.
“With more than 6,000 miles of designated trails crisscrossing the Upper and Lower peninsulas, Michigan provides some of the best and most varied snowmobiling available,” Land said. “Safe riding involves more than just ensuring that your snowmobile is in good working order. Proper training and an understanding of the laws regarding this wonderful recreational activity are equally important in keeping you safe this winter.”
Safe snowmobiling includes the following:
*Don’t ride alone
*Keep headlights and tail lights on at all times
*Keep your snowmobile well maintained
*Wear appropriate clothing for the weather — always include a helmet, gloves and eye protection
*Always check the weather and leave a travel plan
*Avoid crossing frozen bodies of water when possible and never cross single file
*Be aware of fences, low-strung wire or depressions in the snow
*Do not ride on a street or highway
*Be cautious at intersections, stop and look carefully for traffic before proceeding
Land said that a snowmobile safety course is an excellent idea for all operators. Children ages 12-16 may operate a snowmobile if they have a valid snowmobile safety certificate with them or are under the direct supervision of an adult age 21 or older. Only those with a valid snowmobile certificate may legally drive across a street or highway.
Children younger than 12 must be under the direct supervision of an adult unless they are operating a snowmobile on property owned or controlled by a parent or legal guardian. They are not allowed to cross a highway or street.
Snowmobiles are registered by the Department of State. Operators must have the registration certificate with them when riding. The registration is the ownership document; snowmobiles are not titled. Registrations are issued for three years and should be renewed before Sept. 30 of the year shown on the registration decal. Decals are displayed on the forward half of the cowl above the foot well.
A snowmobile trail permit sticker is also required under Michigan law, with a few exceptions such as when riding solely on private property. Trail permits are issued for one year and are placed on the forward half of the snowmobile directly above or below the headlight. They are available from snowmobile dealers, Department of Natural Resources and Environment offices and retail license agents.
Snowmobile operators are reminded to never operate a snowmobile under the influence of drugs or alcohol or at speeds that are unreasonable for conditions. Residents whose driver’s license has been suspended or revoked may not legally operate a snowmobile.
Snowmobiles may operate on the right-of-way of public highways under certain situations. Traveling single file is permitted with the flow of traffic on the extreme right of the right-of-way. Driving on the roadway or shoulder is restricted to crossing bridges or culverts.
There are a number of other regulations regarding the speed, time of day, place and circumstances in which snowmobiles may safely and legally operate. This information is available on the DNRE Web site and snowmobile owners are encouraged to review it before riding.
For more information about snowmobile safety training, regulations and trail permits, visit the DNRE Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnre.
Nearly 87,000 snowmobile renewal notices were mailed by the Department of State this year. There are more than 347,000 snowmobile registrations on file, including original, renewed and expired certificates.
Additional information about registering snowmobiles is on the department’s Web site at www.Michigan.gov/sos.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off on Increase snowmobiling fun with these cool tips