Snowmobile trails are ready for riders

News Photo by Beth Gohs As the region continues to get snow, snowmobile users are taking to the trails to ride. Those affiliated with the industry are urging users to obey laws and be careful on the trails.

ALPENA — As the snow flies, so do the snowmobiles.

One group comprised solely of volunteer snowmobile enthusiasts, Alpena Snowdrifters, donates time, effort and energy to maintaining 90 miles of northeastern trails.

Removal of brush, trees and trail grooming are a few of many services the Snowdrifters provide. The group is among 68 other collective groups that serve the state through their partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“I have been doing it for well over 25 years,” Snowdrifters trail coordinator Bob Eller said. “One of things I do is I like snowmobiling, love grooming and really enjoy being outside in the woods. It is an opportunity to go out in the woods and find brush and cut trees. It seems like work but it’s a lot of fun and there is a great group of people in snowmobile club enjoy working.”

Private land owners allow easements on their property to allow continuation of the trails. Complaints regarding straying off the trail while on property is trespassing. Such complaints could result in the landowner denying access through their property and breaking up trail systems.

The Alpena Sheriff’s Office hosts a youth safety course overseen by Sgt. J.P Ritters. Online courses also are available.

“Snowmobiles are getting bigger and more powerful and everyone wants to be NASCAR driver,” Eller said. “Slow down and take it easy. A few years back we changed all signing by the trails so we don’t have every curve marked anymore. So people have to drive more carefully.”

Volunteers give endless hours, effort and love to the trails. As advised by msasnow.org, be wary of oncoming vehicles, road crossings, brush and hikers and wildlife.

Doreen Kriniak of Sports Unlimited said she sees a spike in sales this time of year.

“Wear a helmet, don’t drink and drive, ride with someone, don’t go out on the ice until it is thick, know the trail, stay on the trail and stay off private property,” she said.

Beth Gohs can be reached via email at bgohs@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693.