GF snowmobile route offers easy access to trails out of townLiving in city limits, we weren’t quite sure where we could ride, and we didn’t want to pull the trailer several miles out in the country to drop off the sleds.
By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald
A friend and I decided to put a few miles on the snowmobiles one afternoon last weekend. The sleds had spent too much time on the trailer, and we wanted to run them before an upcoming ice fishing trip just to make sure everything was in order.
Living in city limits, we weren’t quite sure where we could ride, and we didn’t want to pull the trailer several miles out in the country to drop off the sleds.
Our first thought was the Red Lake River, but the parking lot at the boat ramp is clogged with snow. Not much demand for a boat ramp this time of year, after all.
And so, we moved on to Plan B.
I went to the city of Grand Forks’ Web site, where I found the link to a city snowmobile map right on the home page. The map showed four drop sites in various parts of town where we could unload the sleds and access the trails; we opted for a site on the north end of town near Riverside Dam.
It had been several years since I had ridden a snowmobile trail in Grand Forks, but I found another map on the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department’s Web site that showed a signed, groomed trail linked with the Grand Forks route and continued north beyond city limits.
From there, the map showed, we could ride a loop of trails covering nearly 240 miles on the Red River South Trail System or link with other systems to ride even farther.
Local snowmobile clubs groom and maintain the trails.
Because my sled is registered in Minnesota, I needed to buy a $15 trail permit to ride the North Dakota trails. This, too, I was able to do online, and in less than five minutes, I was good to go.
It was mid-afternoon when we got to the drop site near Riverside Dam, and there were no other rigs in the parking lot when we arrived. Within minutes, we had the sleds off the trailer and were headed north down the trail.
This was a new route for both of us, but the trails were adequately signed and groomed. We were able to navigate our way out of city limits without any problem.
Most of the riding on this particular stretch of the Red River South Trail, the “Alberta Clipper” loop, was in open country, but some parts of the trail took us along tree-lined banks of the Red River. The trail was in good condition, and the signage assured us we weren’t riding somewhere we shouldn’t have been.
For no reason in particular, we decided to follow the trail to Manvel, N.D. I wasn’t quite sure how crossing Interstate 29 would work, but the signs directed us along the south edge of the overpass, where enough snow had been left for snowmobiles to travel.
The trip took a few minutes longer than it would have by interstate, but not much.
The sun was dipping toward the western horizon by the time we got back to the parking lot. We’d seen a handful of other sleds out enjoying the afternoon, which was much nicer than the forecasts earlier had predicted, but the trails were far from busy.
Besides the chance to run our snowmobiles — we put on about 35 miles — the quick trip offered us the opportunity to ride some new trails close to home. Even better, we learned that finding a place to ride is easy.
The route was a pleasant discovery and confirmed just how convenient it can be to find places to ride even in city limits. Next time, we decided, we’ll ride even farther.
Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to email@example.com.