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Snowmobiling is a popular winter activity in the United States. Snowmobiles are only allowed on specific snow trails; therefore, some may think the snowmobile trails are only for snowmobiles.
You can walk on snowmobile trails and use them for other winter activities, such as hiking, dog sledding, and skiing. Since different levels of government have an association with the trails, most of them are public, and recreational activity is allowed.
The rest of this article will explain topics related to walking on snowmobile trails, such as how to walk on a snowmobile trail, the dangers of walking on the trail, the best trails to go to in the United States, and some snowmobile trail apps to help you navigate the trails.
Can You Walk on Snowmobile Trails?
You can walk on snowmobile trails since snowmobiles usually don’t have exclusive rights to a public trail. The only time you can’t walk on a snowmobile trail is if it’s private property and the owner hasn’t permitted you to do so.
In North America alone, nearly 230,000 miles of snowmobile trails are maintained by various snowmobile associations and clubs. These groups often work in conjunction with local governments to accomplish this.
Other Winter Activities Permitted on Snowmobile Trails
Usually, snowmobile trails aren’t usually exclusive to just snowmobiles unless it’s private property. Snowmobile trails receive funds from snowmobilers, but they share with other winter recreationists. The trails are an excellent place for numerous winter activities that anyone can enjoy, and winter recreationists can use them for other activities such as:
- Dog sledding
- Winter Hiking/Walking
- Winter Bicycling
It should be noted, however, that other non-snow-related vehicles are prohibited from being on snowmobile trails.
Is Dog Walking Permitted on Snowmobile Trails?
Dog walking is permitted on snowmobile trails. As long as it’s a public trail, a private property owner has given permission, or there are no signs saying dog walking is prohibited, then dog walking is allowed on the snowmobile trail.
I recommend keeping your dog(s) on a leash since snowmobilers, skiers, and sledders will also use the trail. Using a leash will ensure your dog’s safety from getting hit by another trail user.
Using a dog leash will also prevent a snowmobiler from swerving and possibly crashing to avoid hitting your dog if it runs out in front of the person.
Hunting While Walking on Snowmobile Trails
Hunting on a snowmobile trail is usually prohibited. However, it may be allowed both the following are true:
- The trail is private property and you’ve been granted permission to hunt by the landowner to hunt
- It’s hunting season for the wildlife you’re hunting
There are different laws regarding hunting on snowmobile trails, depending on the state you live in. However, most states don’t allow hunting on the trail.
Using a snowmobile trail to get to a hunting ground is allowed, but hunting wildlife off of the trail usually isn’t.
People may use the trail for hunting during other seasons or times of the year, but it’s up to the state and land laws.
How To Properly Walk on a Snowmobile Trail
Before heading out to the trail, keep these tips in mind to stay safe:
- It can be helpful to know when they’re grooming the trails. Snowmobile trails are groomed with mechanical equipment to pack the snow down to make the trails easier for use. It is best to go 2 hours after the trail has been groomed.
- It’s essential to stay out of the groomed ski tracks when walking on the trail. Skiers need regular traction and smooth forward motion to ski with ease.
- Just like on regular hiking trails, certain users have the right of way. When walking or snowshoeing, the uphill travelers have the right of way.
- Give a skier, dog sledder, or snowmobile going downhill the right of way. This is best because it’s harder for them to stop quickly when traveling downhill.
- When stopping for a break, move off the trail to stay out of the way. Always pick up any trash or items to not leave them on the trail.
Is It Dangerous To Walk on Snowmobile Trails?
It can be dangerous to walk on snowmobiles, same as any other trail where motorized vehicles are in use. Those operating snowmobiles should slow down when near pedestrians; however, not everyone abides by the rules, just like on a regular road.
When walking on a snowmobile trail, keep an eye on your surroundings if some snowmobile operators aren’t following the rules or paying attention. It may also be helpful to stick to one side of the trail so that snowmobile operators can easily pass by you to avoid a collision.
There’s also the possibility of an avalanche occurring on the trail. Even if you’re not traveling through avalanche terrain, it’s wise to check the snow conditions for that day and consider avalanche training.
Best Snowmobile Trails in the United States
There are so many snowmobile trails in the United States it’s hard to know which ones are the best or worst. I’ve listed the top 3 snowmobile trails in the United States that seem perfect for snowmobiling or walking.
- West Yellowstone, Montanna. Getting an average snowfall of around 143 inches (363 cm), West Yellowstone has 400 miles (643 km) of groomed snowmobile trails with a beautiful scenic route making it one of the top choices for the best snowmobile trails.
- Eagle River, Wisconsin. Known as the snowmobile capital of the world, the Eagle River 500 is 500 miles (804 km) of trail that travels through frozen lakes, valleys, hills, and forests. There’s even an annual Eagle River Championship Snowmobile Derby, and the city hosts the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame.
- Western Upper Peninsula, Michigan. Ranked one of the best places to snowmobile by multiple magazines, there are over 2,000 miles (3,218 km) of trail and around 200 inches (508 cm) of snowfall every year. The trail has been named “Big Snow Country” due to snowfall.
Snowmobile Trail Apps
Trails can often be very long, and it can be easy to get lost, especially if you haven’t been on one before. There are numerous apps to help you navigate snowmobile trails.
- Polaris Ride Command. It’s one of the top used snowmobile apps. The app acts as a GPS, telling you where you are and where you need to go. There’s also a group ride feature that tells you the location of your friends who are also using the app on the trail. This feature is beneficial if your group were ever to get separated.
- BRP GO!. It’s another app, and Skii-Do runs it. There are 20,000 trail maps on the app which can help you plan a trip. The app also has an offline navigation feature so you can download the map and still know where you are when traveling deep into the backcountry.
Snowmobile trails are not exclusive to just snowmobiles. Other activities such as walking, dog walking, hiking, dog sledding, and skiing are allowed.
The only time these activities aren’t permitted is when it’s private property and you don’t have permission from the owner. It’s also essential to follow trail etiquette when walking.
Hunting on a snowmobile trail is usually prohibited, but to know for sure, look up the state and trail laws regarding hunting. There are many trails in the US to choose from, and using a snowmobile app can help you choose the right one for you.
- BRP GO! : Navigation App
- DooTalk: People Walking, Skiing, Etc on Trails
- Eagle River: Snowmobile Trail Conditions and Trails Open
- Markel: Top Snowmobile Trails in the U.S.
- Northwoods Star Journal: Can Pedestrians Use Snowmobile Trails
- OFAH: Snowmobile Exemptions for Hunters
- Polaris Ride Command: Navigation App
- REI: Your Guide to Winter Trail Etiquette
- Snowmobile How: 4 Best Snowmobile Trail Apps That Still Work
- Snowmobilers: Facts and Myths About Snowmobiling and Winter Trails
- West Yellowstone Montana: Snowmobiling
- Western Up: Snowmobiling Big Country Style
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