Trail-grooming operations do not begin until close of big game hunting season

The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Snowmobile Bureau reminds snowmobilers to exercise caution after this weekend’s snowstorm. Despite the large snowfalls in the Tug Hill and western New York areas, snowmobile trails are not open.

For public safety, grooming generally may not begin until the close of big game hunting season. Snowmobilers should exercise restraint when operating snowmobiles before the start of the season.

Operators must always wear a helmet, stick to designated trails and avoid riding on ice. The Snowmobile Bureau advises that snowmobiles should never be ridden on ice. All frozen bodies – regardless whether rivers or lakes – are dangerous, as the thickness of ice is not uniform, and ice doesn’t even form evenly across the surface of water bodies.

When covered by snow, the lake’s surface may appear ridable. It is not. Ice thickness can vary on every body of water or even within the same body of water. The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions; riding on ice that is not thick enough can lead to tragedy.

New York has 10,500 miles of state-designated snowmobile trails. It is a premier destination for snowmobiling. Knowing the safety regulations and following them will help ensure riders and their families have a great time.

Everyone operating a snowmobile should be familiar with safe riding practices and all applicable laws, rules and regulations.  The best way to learn is by taking a snowmobile safety course.  To find a course, go to  A safety certificate is required for youth ages 10 to 18.

Before heading out, riders are reminded to check trail conditions with local snowmobile clubs; to find a club, visit the New York State Snowmobile Association website at

Joining a snowmobile club helps support snowmobiling in New York state; club members receive a discounted registration fee and help support the clubs and volunteers who form the backbone of the New York state snowmobile trail system.

Top safety recommendations include:

  • Inspection your snowmobile to make sure it is in good working order, and carry emergency supplies.
  • Always wear a helmet and make sure you wear the proper snowmobile gear including bibs, jackets, boots and gloves.
  • Always ride with a buddy or at least one other person.
  • Ride responsibly. Ride within your ability, ride to the right and operate at a safe and prudent speed at all times. Respect landowners, obey posted signs, and stay on the marked trail.
  • Frozen bodies of water are not designated trails; if you plan to ride on ice, proceed with caution, and be aware of potential hazards under the snow. It is recommended that you wear a snowmobile suit with built-in flotation capability and carry a set of ice picks as a precaution.
  • Never drink alcohol or use drugs and ride.

By martha

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