Snowmobilers will run out of winter before they run out of places to ride in Upstate New York
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
New York boasts more than 10,000 miles of designated snowmobile trails for enthusiasts to enjoy each winter. From the Tug Hill Plateau to the Catskills, Adirondacks and Great Lakes region, snowmobilers will run out of winter before they run out of places to ride.
Snowmobiling is more than the thrill of skimming over the trails. It’s also developing a sense of camaraderie among other riders in the group and exploring small towns along the trail. Snowmobilers spot wildlife in their natural habitat and viewing sparkling winter landscapes as well.
If you’re new to snowmobiling, consider joining a club to learn where to go and to make friends with fellow riders. The New York Snowmobile Association (https://membership.nysnowmobiler.com), based in Central Square, lists more than 230 local clubs on its site. The site also guides sled riders to places of lodging and dining along designated snowmobile trails.
The snowmobile page hosted by the Department of Environmental Conservation (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7718.html) shares information on where to go and rules of snowmobiling in New York, including the New York State Snowmobile Trail System, Forest Preserve Lands, state forests, Wildlife Management Areas, and conservation easements.
Top places to ride include Old Forge, which hosts Snodeo Weekends in December and offers 500 miles of Adirondack Park trails.
Winona State Forest (www.dec.ny.gov/lands/8072.html) in Lacona offers 8.7 miles of snowmobile trails winding through spectacular forest land.
Tug Hill Plateau (https://tughill.org/links-local), with an average of 200 inches of snow annually, seldom lacks fresh snow on the trails. The region is home to numerous snowmobiling clubs.
Another hotspot—or should it be “cold spot?”— is Allegany State Park (https://parks.ny.gov/parks/1/details.aspx) south of Salamanca, boasting 90 miles of groomed trails. Make it a snowmobiling weekend by reserving lodging at any of its 150 winter-ready cabins.
Letchworth State Park (https://parks.ny.gov/parks/79/details.aspx) in Castile is noted for its spectacular views from summer through autumn; however, the show’s not over after the last leaf falls. The “Grand Canyon of the East” offers 25 miles of snowmobile trails.
Snowmobiles ridden in public areas must be registered; however, out-of-state registration fees are waived in New York the first full weekend of March. Invite out-of-state friends to join you on the trails. Always ask permission when riding on private land and in public areas, stay on designated trails. Wait until snow is at least three inches deep or you could damage your sled and the ground. Do not cross bodies of water unless the ice is at least 5 to 7 inches thick. Thaws can happen quickly, so check conditions frequently.
Wear adequate clothing and protective gear, including ski goggles and a helmet. Avoid substance use while snowmobiling, just as you would while driving. Carefully supervise youth while snowmobiling.