With snowmobile season in full swing, Constable Samantha Bigley with the Bracebridge OPP says local officers have been kept busy.

“It’s been a very busy winter once the snow finally came,” she tells the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom. “People are certainly taking advantage of the snow.” 

Bigley estimates there’s been more traffic on the trails than in previous years. She lists speed and people driving beyond their ability as the biggest factors in the accidents that have happened on the trails so far this season. Bigley says if you’re new to sledding, you need to know drive to your ability and know your surroundings. “You have to be mindful of changing conditions,” she says. Even for veteran riders, she says you will never get in trouble for riding safely.

“You can never assume everyone on the trail has the same skill level as you,” she says.

“This year we’re seeing a very large increase in ridership,” President of the Muskoka Sno-Bombers Kevin Alexander says. He adds that what he’s seeing is exactly what Bigley is: people travelling too fast. “With cresting hills and blind corners, that obviously is very problematic if there is oncoming traffic,” he says. 

“We suggest you tell someone where you’re going,” Bigley says, adding that in the event that you don’t return when you’re expected, they will have an idea when to start looking. She also recommends making sure your phone is fully charged before hitting the trails.

Alexander says the most “catastrophic” thing a sledder could do is ride off the trail. “The obstacles and things that are hiding in the snow are very dangerous,” he says. Alexander adds that it could end up causing an issue with private landowners, who he says own 100-percent of the trails overseen by the Sno-Bombers. “This is the reason why we lose snowmobile trails,” he says about sledders that deviate from the groomed path.

“We have a lot of areas that we use on open road allowances which would be governed by the Town of Bracebridge, but they belong to the taxpayer and are managed by the town,” Alexander explains. “Everything on either side of those trails is private property.”

If snowmobiling is going to continue to thrive in Ontario, Alexander says it’s “absolutely critical” that people respect where they can and can’t be. “Plain and simple,” he says.