BRAINERD, Minn. — Northern Minnesota received its first significant snowfall last week and many snowmobile enthusiasts are rushing to take their first ride of the season. The Minnesota DNR wants to remind snowmobilers that despite the early snow, most of the state’s snowmobile trails are not yet ready for riding, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota’s snowmobile trails officially open Dec. 1 each year; and several conditions must be met before trails are open and ready for travel:
- The ground must be frozen to allow for crossing wet areas.
- Adequate snow cover, about 12 inches, must be on the ground to allow for packing and grooming of the trails.
- Trails must be cleared of fallen trees, signs put in place and the gates opened.
According to the DNR, snowmobile club volunteers and DNR staff are currently working on these tasks.
“While the early snow is encouraging, it acts as insulation that slows the freezing we need in order to work on brush clearing and other trail maintenance in wet areas,” Grand Rapids area supervisor Guy Lunz. “Crews are out removing brush from trails where they can, and that pace will pick up once cold weather helps freeze the low-lying areas.”
Most Minnesota lakes remain ice-free despite the recent snow. The DNR recommends a minimum of 5 inches of new clear ice for snowmobiles.
When the trails open, the DNR urges riders to use caution. Early season trails may have trees or other debris across the trails, unfrozen areas, rocks or ruts, or standing crops and closed gates. Also, road ditches can have obstacles such as culverts, signposts and rocks.
Trail users are always encouraged to call in advance or research online to get local conditions for the area they plan to ride. State trail conditions are posted each Thursday on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/index.html.