Lack of snow likely to put early end to snowmobiling in area

ON THE TRAIL: Snowmobile riders prepare to stop at the Reed City Depot after riding trails last winter. This year, lack of snow has reduced the number of people able to utilize the trails. (Pioneer file photo)

ON THE TRAIL: Snowmobile riders prepare to stop at the Reed City Depot after riding trails last winter. This year, lack of snow has reduced the number of people able to utilize the trails. (Pioneer file photo)

OSCEOLA COUNTY – The official end of snowmobile season on the trails may not be until the end of March, but without even a dusting of snow on the ground, the sleds may be put away much sooner.

A winter season lacking consistent cold weather and snowfall resulted in lower than average use of snowmobile trails in the area, said Paul Jernberg, president of Trailriders Snowmobile Club.

“In December there was snow and it helped tremendously, but we had a warm Christmas and New Years, which hurt a lot of the small merchants in the north country,” Jernberg said. “The week of those holidays can be a pretty busy time, but it was not this year.”

Trailriders Snowmobile Club clears and upkeeps the trail system from just south of Irons to Newaygo, along with the western half of Lake County to Reed City, which includes a section of the Pere Marquette Trail.

The beginning of year was snowy, but it turned warm again, and February was the same way, Jernberg said.

“Things started cold and snowy, but in the middle of the month it all left,” he said. “Officially now there is no snow now. The trails aren’t rideable around here. I’ve heard even in the Upper Peninsula things are rough, but there are some good spots.”

Jernberg said he could categorize this as the worst season in the last four years. Trailriders groomed 6,000 miles this year compared to the usual 9,000 or 10,000.

“Things were down considerably, but with that said, we were happy to be able to groom as much as we could,” he said. “We kept the trails up right until those 50 degree days.”

Dan Daggy, president of the Pere Marquette Snowmobile Club, agreed it has been a rough season.

“It was not a good year for us,” he said. “I was hoping for a better winter. With the way it started out, I was hopeful. If all the rain we had would’ve fallen when it was colder, we would have had plenty of snow.”

The Pere Marquette Snowmobile Club is responsible for grooming and maintaining 102 miles of snowmobiling trails, including the White Pine Trail from LeRoy to Cedar Springs and a portion of the Pere Marquette Trail from Reed City to Clare.

In December, the club groomed just over 1,000 miles. In January, it was down to 300 or 400 miles and in February groomers worked on a little over 500 miles.

While Daggy knows it’s probable the area receives more snow, it likely won’t last long or be enough to ride on.

“I’ve had worse years back in the 90s, where it was plenty cold but there was almost no snow at all,” he said. “One winter we only groomed 24 miles the whole winter. This year was definitely a rollercoaster. It seemed like we got snow and then lost it.”

While the trails are bare now, Jernberg said the club would be back on the trails if enough snowfall hit.

“The trails don’t close until March 31, so if we got 10 inches of snowfall, we would for sure try to maintain it and let people ride,” he said.

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Posted by Emily Grove

Emily is the Pioneer and Herald Review crime and court reporter, covering crime in both Mecosta and Osceola counties. She can be reached by e-mail at emily@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8362.

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