TRAILS ARE CLOSED
Notice!!!!! The trail to the Village of Wheelwright Is now open!!
THIS TRAIL IS A FEEDER TRAIL FOR MEMBERS FROM WHEELWRIGHT! IT GOES NOWHERE AND IS 1 MILE LONG.
THE TRAIL EXTENSION TO THE HARDWICK HOUSE OF PIZZA IS OPEN!! THERE IS NO ACSESS TO CUMBERLAND FARMS FROM THE PIZZA HOUSE! THIS TRAIL IS NEW AND STILL VERY ROUGH IN SOME PLACES.
Please if you must go out go slow and respect the property you are on. Spinning in the fields do not make a farmer happy. Watch for the obstacles under the snow. Keep a close eye on the trail for there are a few reroutes out there. And please stay on the "MARKED" trail.
Remember Ride Right, Ride Safe. Most of all HAVE FUN!!
George Barnes, TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
prediction of a cold, snowy winter many not sit well with some, but it suits
the state's snowmobilers just fine.
Although the weather outside may not
look it, winter is right around the corner and snowmobilers are hoping the
Farmers' and Old Farmers' Almanacs are both correct. Both publications predict a
harsh, snowy winter — something the region has not seen for a few years.
"I'm hopeful every year," said Jay Pease, trail boss for the Ware River
Mr. Pease said weather is a challenge for
snowmobilers, especially here in Massachusetts where good snow years are
inevitably balanced out by bad years. "It's really a crapshoot," he said. "Down
here, we're on the south end of the snow."
Mr. Pease said what
snowmobilers hope for is snow and plenty of it. When it doesn't snow, enthusiasm
wanes and clubs lose members.
"It gets tough sometimes to keep things moving
forward," he said.
Nothing is guaranteed, but Mr. Pease and his volunteers
have been working at getting the club's 15 miles of trails ready for riding as
soon as there is enough snow to support their machines. They are hoping the
almanacs are right.
The state requires an average 4-inch base before trails
can be used, but Mr. Pease said many riders prefer even deeper snow.
Higgins Power Equipment in Barre is also thinking snow and hoping for a good
year for snowmobiling. The company has managed to keep growing at a time when
many dealerships have succumbed to a down economy and unfavorable winter
Ron Higgins, one of the owners, said he is hoping for the best.
"I'm always an optimist," he said. "I think we're going to have a bad
(snowy) winter and be out there snowmobiling."
Mr. Higgins said he is also
optimistic about the business in general.
"The numbers are up and overall
the industry is heading upward," he said.
Mr. Higgins said the most active
snowmobilers are unfazed by a lack of snow in Massachusetts.
to go as far north as they have to," he said.
Higgins' showroom is packed
with all levels of snowmobiles and snowmobiling gear, including clothes. There
are basic machines good for traveling around on groomed trails and there are
machines designed to go through the deepest snow, allowing riders to get off
trail and into areas they never would have seen a generation ago.
Colella of the Higgins sales department said the newest hot products include
mountain sleds, which can be used in deep powder. The sport is family-friendly
and so is the equipment. Higgins also offers touring sleds, with more
comfortable seats front and back, and storage spaces for long trips.
they get the snow, Mr. Higgins said snowmobilers can literally drive out their
front door and onto trails that will take them all the way to Canada. Throughout
Massachusetts there is a network of trails maintained by the Ware River Club and
the other clubs, which allow snowmobilers not only the ability to travel from
town to town, especially here and in Western Massachusetts, but throughout New
England. There are about 1,000 miles of groomed trails and 1,000 miles of
ungroomed trails in Massachusetts alone.
The Ware River Club's trails begin
behind Lazy Mary's Pizza in Hardwick and continue through New Braintree to
Rutland State Park, where they link with the Coldbrook Snowmobile Club's trails.
The Coldbrook trails go all the way through Barre, Hubbardston, Templeton and
Winchendon to the New Hampshire border.
There are 30 snowmobile clubs in
Massachusetts, including nine covering most of Central
Mr. Pease of the Ware River club said snowmobile clubs' expansion and
maintaining the trail systems is part of the mission of the clubs, along with
promoting snowmobiling and working with landowners to get them to open their
properties to enthusiasts. He said he has been riding snowmobiles for more than
40 years. He said when he was young his parents were involved with a local
snowmobile club, but they pretty much could ride wherever they want.
Today the rules have changed. To use private property, clubs need verbal
permission from the owner, and individual riders need written permission. Those
who use the network of trails maintained by the clubs need a trail pass. The
pass costs $35 and is issued through the state organization. They also need to
be a member of a club. The club memberships vary.
Trail passes are
available through the clubs and snowmobile businesses like Higgins Powersports.
The money from the passes goes toward the cost of grooming and maintaining the
Not every club has its own trails. Herb Hilton of the
Easy Rider Snowmobile Club in Marlboro said his club no longer has its own
trails to ride on. He said it used to, but through land sales and construction
lost the ability to use them.
"Out biggest challenge right now is to
maintain our right to ride on the trails we maintain," he said.
Hilton said most of the riding is now done west of Interstate 495. He said clubs
need to be vigilant in tracking land sales and working with new owners to ensure
their permission to cross property on their trails is continued.
Marlboro club has about 50 members. They use trails maintained by other clubs,
both locally and throughout the Northeast.
"Our club travels a lot," he
said. "We go up north to Quebec, New Brunswick. We also travel to Vermont and
New Hampshire. I like going to Maine."
Like many of the more dedicated
snowmobilers, he goes where the snow is.