Oneida and Vilas counties schedule snowmobile opening dates, but many areas are not quite ready
Story and photo by Lori Adler, reporter
With a good amount of snow on the ground, snowmobilers are anxious to hit the trails. Though a couple of counties are opening their snowmobile trails for the season, many other areas are not ready to open just yet.
Both Oneida and Vilas counties have announced the official opening of their snowmobile trails at 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20. Both counties indicate that lakes are not safe so trails across many bodies of water will remain closed until sufficiently frozen. In addition, two trails in Oneida county will remain closed until conditions improve. The closed trails are trail corridor 12 (Hodag Sno-Trails in the McNaughton area) from the intersection of trails 12 and 47 to highway 47 and trail alternate 13 (Three Lakes Trails) from Rice Lake road to the intersection north of Burnham Lake.
While the local snowmobile clubs do a lot of prep work in the fall to get trails ready, this year’s early snowstorms have created hazards on many area trails. Downed trees and large branches are scattered along many trails, causing a lot of additional cleanup work for clubs. And while most snowmobilers love to see the early season snow, it does cause other problems as well, like swamps and lakes that have been prevented from freezing thoroughly due to the deep snow cover.
For those ready to ride and looking for a place to do so, here’s where area trail systems beyond Oneida and Vilas counties stand.
- Iron county trails have been open since Dec. 5. Expect early season conditions. Some individual trails in the system are still closed. Swamp areas are wet, and most lakes are not safe. Check with Hurley and Mercer chambers of commerce for the most up-to-date trail information (hurleywi.com or mercercc.com).
- Lincoln county trails are closed with no scheduled opening date as of yet. Work is still being done on the trails. Call Lincoln County’s trail hotline at 715-539-1033 for updates.
- Langlade county trails remain closed. Riders are encouraged to check the Langlade County website often for trail updates (langladecounty.org).
- Florence county trails are closed. A recent fire destroyed the club building and several pieces of equipment. However, the club states it will do its best to get trails ready and keep them maintained. Check the Blue Ox Trail Riders club website for updates (blueoxtrailriders.org).
- Forest county trails remain closed. For more information, call the Forest County snowline at 715-478-2024.
All of the above counties have trail information listed on their respective websites. In addition, the Travel Wisconsin website is also a good resource for up-to-date snowmobile trail conditions all across the state (travelwisconsin.com/snowreport/snowmobile).
Riders are reminded to always stay on marked trails and never drink and ride.