Snowdusters trails are now open with caution

Manitoulin Snowdusters’ groomers have been busy preparing the trails for snowmobile traffic. photo by Mike Skippen

MANITOULIN – Thanks to the early February dump of snow, Manitoulin Snowdusters volunteer groomers have been hard at work packing the trails and, as of last weekend, the trails are marked on the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) website as ‘yellow’—open with caution.

Snowdusters president Rick Bond told The Expositor that both the West End and eastern Manitoulin groomers have been making their way along OFSC trails with the final pass (until more snow appears) taking place over the weekend. On Friday, February 12, the West End groomer was making its final trip from Gore Bay to Dryden’s Corners near Providence Bay, while the eastern groomer was packing the route from Manitowaning to South Baymouth on Saturday.

Mr. Bond also warned snowmobilers that there were no official ice picket lines this year as “the ice is not good this year.” Some kind volunteers have placed an unofficial tree line in from Strawberry Island to Killarney to ensure those who do venture out onto the big water do not get lost, but as always, Mr. Bond advises that snowmobilers abide with the utmost of caution and, “if you don’t know, don’t go.”

The Snowdusters president noted that on the weekend of February 6 and 7, he heard of at least three snowmobilers going through the ice, one near Gore Bay and the other two near Kagawong’s Maple Point. Strong winds shifted the ice away from the north shore of Manitoulin causing even more unsafe ice conditions.

In eastern Manitoulin, Sheguiandah was historically the main intersection for trails heading both east and west. Again this year, there is not a trail leading from Sheguiandah to Manitowaning. Snowmobilers must access Manitowaning the long way around, via Mindemoya and then Sandfield, unless they know their way across the frozen lakes (again, with the utmost of caution). There is a trail to Rockville, albeit with some road running involved, which will get sledders to M’Chigeeng then either Mindemoya and points beyond or communities west.

Mr. Bond also advised also snowmobilers to respect private property and to stay on the trails. The president heard from upset landowners over the weekend who had sleds trespassing on their fields, which could mean grave danger for those snowmobilers as high voltage electric fences are often found around the perimeter.

To access the C107D trail, snowmobilers must have an OFSC trail permit and insurance. Head to ofsc.on.ca/permits to buy yours today and don’t forget to click on ‘Manitoulin Snowdusters’ to see the Island club reap the benefits of your purchase.