Snowmobile Trails

There are an estimated 230,000 miles of signed and maintained snowmobile trails in North America that have been developed by snowmobile clubs and associations, usually in cooperation with provincial, state and local governments.

Design


The ideal snowmobile trail system is designed to meet multiple criteria:

  • Safety – It is designed, signed and maintained to specifications which will eliminate or identify hazards.
  • Environment – It is designed to avoid environmentally sensitive areas and built to strict environmental standards.
  • Destination – It is designed to go somewhere (to a point of scenic interest or recreation site, to connect nearby towns, etc.).
  • Integrated Network – It is designed to be part of a formal, long-distance, integrated network which links towns, countries, states and provinces. A number of jurisdictions are now working to develop international, interstate and inter-provincial systems. It is now possible to ride 70% of North America’s snowmobile trails through the continuous interconnections that exist, especially in the eastern half of the continent.

Funding


Snowmobilers have historically “paid their own way” for the development and maintenance of snowmobile trail systems. Funding for public snowmobile trail systems, all paid for by the snowmobile user, include:

  • Snowmobile registration fees;
  • Snowmobile gas tax rebates;
  • Trail Permits
  • Volunteer trail construction and maintenance;
  • Snowmobile user permits.

Other Funding Programs


Many snowmobile trail systems have been developed through programs, known in some jurisdictions as “grant-in-aid” programs. They allow a province or state to use snowmobile funds to develop and maintain trails not only on provincial or state-owned lands but also on private lands and lands owned by local governments – thus making possible the development of a comprehensive, interconnecting system.

Under these grant-in-aid programs, snowmobile funds can be distributed to local governments or recognized snowmobile clubs.

Funds may be provided on a cost-sharing basis or they may allow for 100% funding up to a maximum limit.

In many jurisdictions, donated labor and materials are applied toward the “costs” incurred by local governments or clubs.

Local governments and recognized clubs must meet certain criteria and comply with trail requirements to receive these funds.

Many areas have been very effective in developing a shared financial responsibility for trails with other user groups, benefiting business partners and tourism organizations.

Multiple Use Trails


Trails developed with snowmobile funds directly benefit other outdoor recreationists. During the non-winter months, many of these trails are used for hiking, horseback riding, bicycling and other trail-based activities.

Because development of snowmobile trails is compatible with many other trail-based activities, and because snowmobile registration fees, snowmobile gas taxes and user fees provide a ready source of trail funds, other recreational organizations often support snowmobile trail development.