by Cindy Goff
Winter in New York State may seem long, But if you snowmobile, it doesn’t seem long enough.
More than 230 snowmobile clubs throughout the state are overseen by the New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA), a non-profit organization organized in 1975. This state program is not “taxpayer supported,” but “user supported.” Members of each local snowmobile club maintain their own trails, bridges, grooming equipment and signage, which is funded in part by snowmobile registration fees. Individual clubs also hold fundraisers to help with the costs of maintaining secondary trails and purchasing grooming equipment.
Snowmobiling generates an economic impact of approximately $868 million annually.
With snow covered valleys, rural terrain and scenic beauty, the Finger Lakes Region is an excellent area for snowmobiling. Twenty-five clubs in the region maintain the trails – trails that connect snowmobilers to any place they want to ride throughout the state.
Small villages and towns support the clubs by opening up their parks and even their school grounds to make way for trails. The clubs also rely on private landowners to allow them to create the trail system. John Mueller of Willow Bend Farms in Clifton Springs is one of them. His support for the Lehigh Valley Snow Riders Club, out of Shortsville, allows the C4 trail to connect Ontario County to both the Wayne County’s northern trail system and Steuben County’s southern trail system.
One winter Sunday afternoon, John’s children set up a hot chocolate stand on the corner of their property where the trail goes through. “We had great fun visiting with all the travelers and listening to quick stories about far-off trips. We met lots of our neighbors as well!” says John. “We really enjoy being stewards of this great resource, and meeting the people who take advantage of it.”
Members of the snowmobile club have even made improvements to his property. “They have installed a bridge across our little creek, Rocky Run – twice!” he adds.
Landowners like John are an essential part of the trail system. That’s why it’s crucial for everyone snowmobiling to respect the property they are riding on by staying on the signed trails when they are open, and staying off the trails when there is not enough snow. That way, clubs earn the privilege to continue to utilize the land each season.
The Lehigh Valley Snow Riders Club is one of three clubs that maintain the trail system in Ontario County. Their system runs throughout parts of Farmington, Canandaigua, Shortsville, Manchester, Clifton Springs, Phelps and Gorham. It features a variety of great places to eat and gas up, and serves as a major artery with the C4 trail that connects Wayne County to Steuben.
The club recently established a new trail from north of Canandaigua to Branchport and Penn Yan in Yates County. The importance of this trail through Yates County is that it connects back into Ontario County through Naples Valley, and into the Honeoye Lake Region trail system, which is well maintained by Hill and Valley Riders out of Richmond. Through that region, snowmobilers can connect to the Finger Lakes Snowmobile Club trails that run from Richmond to Canandaigua, and connect back to Lehigh Valley Snow Riders’ trails. This gives riders more scenic, well-maintained trails to choose to ride throughout Ontario County, along with supporting local businesses along the way.
Because the New York State trail system is as large as it is, everyone who snowmobiles should join a local club and participate in the trails’ maintenance. Volunteers are always needed in most clubs. It assures fun in the snow for everyone.
To locate your local club on the NYSSA website, visit nysnowmobiler.com.