While recent snow in parts of Minnesota has many snowmobile enthusiasts excited to go for a ride, most of the state’s trails are not yet groomed and ready to ride, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Riders can expect to find uneven conditions and should check local trail reports before venturing out. Several conditions must be met before trails can be groomed:

•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, about 12 inches, must be on the ground to allow for trail packing and grooming.

•Trails must be cleared of fallen trees, signs have to be put in place and gates need to be opened. Snowmobile club volunteers and DNR staff are currently working on these tasks.

While snowmobilers wait for grooming to start, now is a good time to make sure registrations are current, confirm that snowmobiles are in good operating order, review safety training and check local trail maps for route changes or new trails. Registrations for new snowmobiles may be purchased in person at any deputy registrar of motor vehicles or at the DNR License Center in St. Paul. Registration renewals and out-of-state trail stickers may be purchased in person or online at mndnr.gov/licenses.

Local trail conditions are often posted online by local tourism associations, chambers of commerce and volunteer snowmobile clubs. Contacts for DNR-funded, locally managed trails can be found online at dnr.state.mn.us/snowmobiling/index.html. State park and trail conditions are also posted there. 

Local snowmobile clubs welcome volunteers to assist with annual trail preparations like removing brush and fallen trees, holding snowmobile safety classes and stocking trailside shelters with firewood. To find the nearest club, visit the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association website at mnsnowmobiler.org. 

 

— Contributed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 

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