Snowmobile trails in Muskoka and Haliburton are now closed for the season.
While this year had its challenges, many clubs saw major growth in ridership, according to John Enright, President of the Haliburton County Snowmobile Association.
“Snowmobiling in this area has had a tremendous growth because of the pandemic, probably because it’s socially distant,” says Enright. “People ride in groups but they’re all on their own machines, so the numbers are very, very strong.”
That’s despite having to fight mother nature amid rainy weather, a lack of snow, and a labour shortage, Enright says, to keep trails groomed.
Nunzio Iacobellis, President of the Gravenhurst Snowcrest Riders, says this year was a challenge, but credits volunteers for getting them through it.
“We definitely needed more snow, but we had our warm spells and it seemed to bounce back pretty quickly,” says Iacobellis. “I want to give a shout out to every volunteer through every snowmobile club, that did their part dealing with this past winter. It certainly had its challenges, [that’s] for sure.”
Iacobellis adds that even the new riders followed the rules for the most part.
“I think the majority of the riders certainly got the message this year: the ‘Stay on the Trails’ campaign that the OFSC promoted heavily, the modified exhausts,” says Iacobellis. “People were being very respectful this year, especially with the amount of new riders and increased volume on our trails. It was a good season.”
Enright also took a moment to thank the private landowners who make snowtrails season possible.
“The real heroes are the people who allow our trails on private property without compensation, doing so because they know it’s fun recreation, and a big economic driver in Haliburton and Muskoka,” says Enright.
Although the season is over, there’s still work to be done. General repairs and cleaning on bridges, trails, and other infrastructure is now underway, and winter equipment needs to be put into storage. Enright adds that around 850 lake markers need to be removed from Haliburton’s trails.