Snowmobiling tips from Gogebic Range Trail Authority

Western UP

BESSEMER, Mich. (WJMN) – Last week the Gogebic Range Trail Authority shared with us some difficulties low snow and COVID-19 was posing this year.

President of the club, Steve Hamilton, says they’re facing good problems because it means they have riders visiting the area. He shared some tips for being a good trail steward for riders.

“All of the clubs and the DNR, we’re all working very closely together and we have a lot of really really good things going on right now in the Western U.P. and you know this will be just a blip on the radar an issue caused by a very limited amount of riders you know the vast majority are law-abiding family riders up here enjoying their family vacations,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton says the best thing is for people to understand where they are riding.

“Over in our area here in the far western U.P. I have three towns that are separated by some very large river valleys or mountain ranges that kind of give people the sense that they’re in the middle of nowhere,” said Hamilton. “Well in fact you’re just a stone’s throw from the next town.”

Riders who want to ride off trail should use maps and research where they are going.

“Public land is the only available land for off-trail snowmobile use,” said Hamilton. “Here in our area, the Ottawa National Forest is a 990,000-acre national forest that permits over-snow vehicle use, a snowmobile, if there’s more than six inches of snow you can navigate without a road or a trail.”

The Ottawa National Forest offers free maps in PDF format. You can download it into an app like the Avanza maps. Hamilton also recommends resources like Onyx Offroad, Onyx Hunt, or Polaris Ride Command.

Another important guideline Hamilton reminds riders of, is to stop at stop signs.

“Stop at stop signs, that is definitely a huge issue it can be a desolate-looking area when everything’s covered in five feet of snow and there’s forest road after forest road plowed for our wonderful friends logging the woods,” said Hamilton. “Definitely stop at those stop signs you never know when a 18-wheeler full of logs is going to be coming down it to haul some timber out of the woods.”

Hamilton says being a good neighbor and keeping the noise down in town is another good thing to remember. Following the rules of the road when on the side of roadways is also important for safety.

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