Follow designated trails, avoid frozen bodies of water
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is reminding snowmobilers to “ride responsibly and put safety first, as they enjoy the state’s outstanding snowmobiling opportunities.”
Snowmobilers can monitor trail conditions on the NYSSA snowmobile map.
State Parks said the two leading causes of injury are excessive speed and operator intoxication.
It offered these safety recommendations:
√ Slow down. Ride responsibly. Ride within your ability. Ride to the right. And always operate at a safe and prudent speed.
√ Stay on marked trails, respect landowners, obey posted signs.
√ Never drink alcohol or use drugs and ride.
√ Check over your snowmobile; make sure it is in good working order and carry emergency supplies.
√ Always wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet and make sure you wear the proper snowmobile gear, including bibs, jackets, boots and gloves.
√ Always ride with a buddy or group and tell someone who is responsible where you will be riding, and the expected return time.
√ Riding on ice that is not thick enough can lead to tragedy. Frozen bodies of water are not designated trails; if you choose to ride on ice, proceed with caution and be aware of potential hazards under the snow; wear a snowmobile suit with flotation built in, and carry a set of ice picks as a precaution.
State Parks said, “Everyone operating a snowmobile should be familiar with safe riding practices and all applicable laws, rules and regulations. The best way to learn is by taking a snowmobile safety course found here: https://parks.ny.gov/recreation/snowmobiles/education.aspx.”
A safety certificate is required for youth from age 10-17 if they want to operate solo on a state trail.
Before heading out, riders are reminded to check trail conditions with local snowmobile clubs. To find a club, visit the New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA) website at www.nysnowmobiler.com.
A press release said, “Joining a snowmobile club helps support snowmobiling in New York state. Club members receive a discounted registration fee, and help support the clubs who make up the backbone of the New York state snowmobile trail system.”
Statewide, snowmobile trails traditionally open after the close of the regular deer hunting season, which ended in early December in Northern New York and mid-December in Southern New York, and when trails are covered with 3 or more inches of snow or ice.
Snowmobile trails in State Parks and on Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) lands are now open, where snow conditions are appropriate. In state parks and on DEC state forests, snowmobiles can be used on designated snowmobile trails whenever the trail is completely covered with snow or ice.
On private lands, trail networks are coordinated by local snowmobile clubs who determine trail open periods and closures based on snow conditions and landowner agreements, and are not limited by hunting regulations.
The press release said, “DEC and State Parks remind everyone enjoying the outdoors to respect other users, and to ‘Share the Snow’ this and every winter. Snowmobiling, hunting and other winter pastimes like hiking, skiing and snowshoeing are compatible activities that have safely co-occurred for decades.”
Before heading out, riders are reminded to check trail conditions with local snowmobile clubs and to confirm that their local trails are open. Though there is no requirement for snowmobile trails to close during the “Holiday Hunt” period (Dec. 26, 2022, to Jan. 1, 2023), confirming trail openings is particularly important in the southern zone, where hunting seasons are ongoing during the last week of December.
The press release said, “In addition to checking with local clubs, you can also check with your county sheriff’s department to see if your local trail is open.
“New York has 10,500 miles of state-designated snowmobile trails. It is a premier destination for snowmobiling. Knowing the safety regulations and following them will help ensure riders and their families have a great time.”
State Parks oversees the development, maintenance and oversight of a statewide snowmobile program, which features approximately 10,500 miles of state-designated snowmobile trails. For more information on snowmobiling in New York, visit https://parks.ny.gov/recreation/snowmobiles/.