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Fresh snow is good news for snowmobilers

Trail groomer Andy Nagel of Park Rapids has been out much of the week readying the snowmobile trails for holiday visitors and locals. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

A half-foot blanket of new snow will put the Park Rapids area back into the running for tourists on sleds.

"Well it looks as if we are going to have a very nice white Christmas," stated the Forest Riders Snowmobile Club's first trail report of the year.

"The groomers have been out at least once through the trail system and have started again today with the additional new 5-8 inches of snow that we have received," wrote Lou Eischens. "Hope everyone will have a chance to enjoy the snow!"

Two feet of snow have kept snowmobilers in the southern part of the state as Hubbard County had just a bare ground cover of the white stuff.

"Up until this snowstorm we haven't had enough to ride," said Bronson Vinge of 34 East Lawn & Sport. "The hardcore guys would go out but now that we have this Christmas snow this should really help everybody."

Vinge said the Park Rapids area missed the early snowfalls - and riders.

"With the other areas that have a lot more snow we're kjnd of in the middle of it," he said. "All of the people in the Twin Cities have a ton of snow."

That should change this week.

"We're excited to have all this new snow," said Ron Potter, recreation systems manager for the DNR's Division of Parks and Trails, "but the snow came early before we had a lot of frost, so swamps aren't frozen and the groomers haven't been able to get through in those areas.

"Snowmobilers, in particular, should stay alert to conditions around wetlands. Our crews and the local clubs are doing everything they can to get trails ready for the holiday weekend, but we do advise checking the website to see if we've gotten to your favorite trail yet."

According to the DNR, a new online interactive snowmobile trail map and a downloadable GPS background map are now available to help people explore and navigate Minnesota's 22,000 miles of snowmobile trails.

"There have been a lot of early riders already," said Hubbard County snowmobile deputy Jarod Andersen.

He cautions riders, with the new snowfall, to make sure they're on solid ice and to watch for obstructions in ditches that may be obscured.

He also suggests having a game plan that is communicated to others. All registrations and trail passes must be current, he said.

Sales of new sleds have been a bit sluggish, Vinge said, mostly because of the price. But used machine sales are red hot.

"An average machine is about seven thousand bucks," he said. "Used ones were selling like crazy because people don't want to make that big jump.

"Now that this stuff is here it's really going to help," Vinge said. "If there's snow here there's people around."

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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