Many Good Reasons to be Optimistic…

Let's be optimistic about riding open snowmobile trails this winter.

Photo by Martin Lortz for Destination Ontario

Related: Snowmobile Anxiety Disorder


Like everyone else, snowmobilers are trying to cope with today’s uncertainty. What does it mean for open snowmobile trails this winter? Will there be any to ride? What will be available and where can we go?

We don’t have a crystal ball to foresee exactly what will happen. But we do have some positive reasons to be optimistic about a great riding season ahead…

Open Snowmobile Trails Unlikely to Be Affected

First off, we have good news on the COVID-19 front in recent statements by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams. Our leading provincial health expert said that there are no signs the province is on a long-term path to increased infection.

Further, he concluded that there would likely be no future need for a province-wide lockdown like what was seen in March and April. He thinks future measures targeting a possible second wave would possibly only target a few of Ontario’s 34 local public health units.

Williams went on to comment that during the crisis last March, “We didn’t have the luxury of good case contact management, we had an influx of (foreign asymptomatic) cases that we didn’t even know.”

He is recalling that when the virus struck, experts had only the faintest inkling of what it was or what it would do. Borders were open, international travel underway, and many Canadians were heading back to Canada from Spring Break. So they ordered blanket restrictions that they have since refined and refocused to those proven as most effective. Snowmobile trails aren’t on anyone’s hit list.

Moreover, the measures and precautions taken since March did succeed in flattening the curve in Ontario. Since then, most of these protocols have become second nature to us. So as long as we continue them, we are unlikely to see a province-wide set back. And that’s good for snowmobile trails.

Photo by Martin Lortz for Destination Ontario

Snowmobile Trails Good For Your Health

The second reason for optimism comes from a 2019 study conducted by the University of Guelph for the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO). It confirmed that snowmobiling is good for your physical and mental health. And both of these are very important after the months of stress and inactivity, we’ve suffered.

Better yet as every snowmobiler knows, trail riding is very self-isolating, thanks to solo riding and visored helmets. Additionally, much of trail riding occurs in rural and wilderness areas away from population centres. And, it’s common knowledge that getting outdoors is better virus prevention than staying inside. So riding a sled this winter in and of itself should be among the lowest of health risks.

However, more risk is possible anywhere snowmobilers could come into close contact with others. Think trailside rest breaks, pit stops, outhouses, warm up shelters and clubhouses. Also include public places like restaurants, gas stations, lodgings and dealers, while riding and trailering.

So trail riders need to carry over the same precautions and protocols used at home to the snow. Good habits like physical distancing, face covering and hand washing will be major helpers in preventing virus spread by and among snowmobilers. So will adopting the “social bubble” concept to the trails, such that snowmobilers form regular “riding bubbles” of trusted companions. Together, we can keep snowmobiling healthy and safe.

Help keep open snowmobile trails by social distancing.

Photo courtesy of ISMA

Increased Demand for Snowmobile Trails

A third reason to be optimistic for a great riding season is that more people are getting into motorized recreational activities. Contributing factors include “staycations”, a desire to stay active outdoors, and disposable income burning holes in people’s pockets.

This emerging trend manifested itself over the summer with robust sales and use of PWCs, ATVs, SXSs and motorcycles. Sled manufacturers expect it to continue through the fall and winter. And that means more snowmobile owners eager for trails to ride and even greater incentive to make it happen.

Photo by Martin Lortz for Destination Ontario

OFSC Committed To Open Snowmobile Trails

Last but not least, recent news from the OFSC reaffirm its commitment to delivering trails to ride this winter. And work is already underway to get trail systems ready this fall. Snowmobilers should be encouraged that districts, clubs and volunteers aren’t taking anything for granted or just waiting to see what will transpire.

Moreover, the OFSC is implementing proactive plans to deal with various scenarios. This way, it will be more ready, more flexible and better able to deliver trails in any circumstance. None of this would be happening without a strong certainty that Ontarians will be able to enjoy trail riding this winter.

Be extra careful when open snowmobile trails lead to public locations.

Photo courtesy of ISMA

My Last Word

As usual, Mother Nature will be the final arbitrator of what winter will bring. But I’m feeling pretty good about early forecasts for a snowy one. And, it sure looks like we have many other good reasons to be optimistic about getting plenty of wind therapy this winter.

So let’s think positive about the coming season to make our dreams of hitting the trails a reality. After all, we turn the page on January 1st and deserve to celebrate the new year with open snowmobile trails!


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The tips and advice in this blog are the opinions of the author, may not work in every situation and are intended only for the convenience and interest of the reader, who has the personal responsibility to confirm the validity, accuracy and relevancy of this information prior to putting it to their own use.


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