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Months before snow began falling in the region, snowmobile clubs were hard at work preparing for the upcoming season.
“The first thing that really needs to happen is mother nature,” Director of the Muskoka Sno-Bomers Steve Brooks says. “We need a lot of frost.” He says the region also has a lot of rock and swamp, so for safe travels that needs to be cleared and the swamps need to freeze over.
As that is happening, Brooks says teams of volunteers will be installing the required signage along the trails and marking trails as well.
Once more snow falls, then they pack the trails. “We go out and take the club’s equipment and pack trails, see how safe they are and clear trees,” he explains. With the multiple storms the area has seen over the past few months, he expects to see a lot of downed trees and brush that will need to be cleared. “Those present obvious safety hazards,” Brooks says.
The final step will be getting the groomer out on the trails. That can only be done when enough snow has fallen.
“Working with landowners is another key to getting the trails open,” he adds. Some of the trails cross onto private land, so cooperation with those landowners is required for riders to be able to use some trails.
“I’ve been out on the trails over the past couple of weeks,” Brooks says. He’s been doing work preparing culverts and bridges along with other volunteers. “As recently as yesterday,” he adds. Brooks says they have also been meeting since September to make sure everything is prepared for when snowmobile season does get underway, and the lead up to that.
The Du Ya Wanna Trail Riders in Huntsville, Happy Wanderers in Baysville, Muskoka Lakes Trails Association and Snowcrest Riders Snowmobile Club in Gravenhurst are the other clubs that oversee the trails in Muskoka.
“It’s heavily dependent on mother nature,” Brooks says on when the trails will be opened. He adds that it’s hard to predict when that will happen with how unpredictable nature can be. He says the best thing to do is to keep an eye on the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs’ interactive map. It’s kept up-to-date with information on all the trails in the province.