There is still just a smattering of snow on the ground, but it’s only a matter of time before local snowmobilers will be able to hit the trails.

“If we get a little more snow, they’ll probably start grooming soon,” said Scott Allen, a member of the Eastern Ontario Snowmobile Club (EOSC) and landowner with trails running on his Vankleek Hill farm property.

Allen said it has been perfectly normal for trails to only open in January, particularly over the past few seasons. He expects area trails to be very busy once the season starts, due to the high number of snowmobile sales over the past two years.

The EOSC is part of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), which is comprised of 16 districts and 184 member snowmobile clubs, who work with more than 18,000 landowners across the province. The EOSC maintains snowmobile trails from Embrun to Chute-a-Blondeau.

A pass to use OFSC trails is available for an annual cost of $275, plus HST. Passes for ‘Classic’ snowmobiles (1999 or older) are available for $185 per year, plus HST. For those who wish to use the trails only once or twice a season, multi-day passes are available for $45 per day, with a two-day minimum. More information on OFSC trail passes is available here.

It is important for those who use the trails to follow all of the rules, particularly in regards to staying on the trail. Snowmobile clubs across the province have struggled with snowmobilers conducting off-trail excursions on private last over the past several years. In order to ensure continued cooperation from landowners who allow the use of their property, everyone who uses the trails should stay on the main track at all times.

“Our trails are really fragile with the landowners,” Scott noted. “They don’t mind giving up 12 feet of space across their property, but they don’t want to give up the whole property.”

“To stay on the trail is the biggest thing we can do for all of our landowners and snowmobilers. If you’re on the trail with a pass, it’s great – the landowners have no problem with that. If you go off the trail, you’re trespassing.”

Another issue clubs have had to deal with is younger riders using the trails without supervision. Although the OFSC allows licensed drivers between the ages of 12 and 16 years to use the trails, they are not allowed to do so without adult supervision.

“You must have a fully licensed driver with you on the trail,” Allen noted.

There is a large social aspect to getting out on the trails and the avid snowmobiler is hopeful that restaurants and other establishments that snowmobilers frequent will be open in 2022.

“We depend a lot on the restaurants to be open and hopefully they won’t be under lockdown like last year,” the avid sledder noted. “It’s not much fun when you go to Tim Horton’s and have to sit outside in the cold weather to drink your coffee.”

“When you go out with family and kids you want to be able to find a spot to get warmed up.”

More information on the Eastern Ontario Snowmobile Club can be obtained by visiting the group’s Facebook page.