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Tom's Western NY Trail Conditions

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Anyone riding the trails, please email reports and I will post them below

These reports cover the trail system centered in the Varysburg/Strykersville region about 35 miles southeast of Buffalo, NY. Many of these trails are part of the Folsom Trailblazers Snowmobile Club system, though this webpage is NOT formally associated with that club.

 email: camplongacres@yahoo.com

Phone - 716-652-9495

Latest Trail Conditions

Tom's article on a "wish list" for grooming - discussion of what we wish WNY grooming was like

Archive of 2006/2007 trail condition - 2007 reports (what newcomers to our trail system can expect over a season - many pictures) – Scroll down this very long page for daily trail reports from the past several years for historical data

BELOW: Links to and comments on some area Club Websites:

Oatka Valley Snowmobile Association - this club maintains the trails to the east of the Folsom club from Java and Attica east through Warsaw to Letchworth Park. This club maintains a fairly simple website, but often has recent trail conditions posted. Did not post very regular reports in 2010/2011 winter. Well groomed trails when they have enough snow.

Tri-County Drift Hoppers - this club maintains the trails south of the Folsom system towards Arcade. The club's website is fairly extensive. This website was not updated often in 2010/2011 winter season . They do a nice job grooming.

Folsom Trail Blazers - This club maintains the trails reported on by this independent website, in the Varysburg, Java, Strykersville area. The trail guys and groomer operators do a great job. There was a new webmaster for 2010/2011 season, and this site is becoming more active. Many thanks to Jim S. who relayed very regular reports on grooming to our website!

Holland Sno-Rascals - This club maintains trails to the southwest of the Folsom system surrounding Holland. The club maintains a pretty good website with an online forum. Trail reports are usually current, if not very detailed.

Colden Trail Riders – This club has been doing a great job, especially the past two seasons. We didn’t have a link to this club before this year, but it’s time we do – many ride from the Folsom system over through Holland and onto the Colden Trailriders trails. The trail system includes Holland to Hamburg and Boston trails. Their website updates were excellent for the 2010/2011 winter season. What a club website should be.

Tug Hill Trail Info – I was really excited by this trail condition Blog, SledTug, new this year. Dana, the guy who does it, was doing a bang up job early this season. Unfortunately, the number of ride reports trailed off by mid-season. Hopefully he or someone else will pick up the ball again next year.

Old Forge Town Reports – Although this is the trail condition report posted by the town for their own trails, they are very honest about conditions. I trust them, but do a check on the weather reports for that area as a backup before I plan a trip. The Town of Inlet at the other end of the Old Forge system often posts a detailed trail condition report on the New York State Forum of Hard Core Sledder.

HCS New York Region – this is the link for the Hard Core Sledder forum for New York State and often has useful information.

Jim’s Western NY Snowmobiling FaceBook Page – Facebook is maybe the future of trail condition reporting – so easy for anyone to contribute in real time. This Facebook page did not have as many reports this year as last, at least when I logged on.

 

 

2012 – 2013 Season Post

Tuesday, Dec. 11th Late Update:

Hey guys, want to be teased a little? Check this link for pictures taken by “Token” this morning in the North Bay, Ontario area. Token is a young guy who regularly posts on the Hard Core Sledder Ontario forum. Thanks, Token.

 

Tuesday, December 11th Update:

The first ridable snow within reasonable driving distance might be North Bay / Bonfield area. They have snow on the ground and even during the warmup late this week, their day time temps will only hover a couple of degrees above freezing with cold nights. Groomers are moving, brushing, and soon will be packing. I’m guessing that they will have riding before Old Forge – Tug Hill, but I’ll report when I hear for sure.

Still nothing in site for western New York – bummer. I heard on the news last night that we are actually behind last year in snow as of this date – and we know what last year was for riders &%$#(&$#@!

Monday, December 10th Update:

Nothing much in the local forecast.

Record breaking early winter snow in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Old Forge and Tug Hill having some snow and cold nights, but still pretty warm during the day, so nothing yet up there.

Reports coming in from up north of a foot or more of snow in places near and around North Bay. Some guys there are doing some informal riding, but no trails open yet for a while.

Very cold temperature continues in the far north of Ontario around Cochrane. If we get a good dump of snow up there, and some trails will begin to open up.

 

 

Friday, December 7th Update:

Hi Guys,

Ready for another fine winter of riding? LOL - It CAN’T be worse than last winter. But it is not promising for the next week or ten days here in western New York. After some chilly days early next week, it looks like it will be back into the 40’s. Not promising for any real snow on December 19th when many local trails officially open, though we could get a sudden lake effect dump by then. But the base will not be very well frozen.

Far North

As usual, the best prospect of some early riding will be in far northern Ontario. The coming week is all below freezing in the New Liskeard / Cochrane area, with temps over this weekend below zero at night. There is little snow there yet, so the base is freezing up nicely.

Shoot me an email if any of you are checking in here early, just to encourage me doing updates. Any of our regulars online yet?

  

 

 

 

2011 – 2012 Season Posts:

Monday, March 19th Update:

She Has Sung

Sometime over the past 24 hours, the last trails up north closed completely. As is often the case, Hearst, Ontario was the final spot with “Limited” riding up until today. See you guys here next year – it HAS TO BE better than this year!

 

Paradoxically, Meghan and I did have one of the best five days of riding ever on our long trip to Cochrane, Kapuskasing, and Hearst. Glad we at least got that one in!

 

Thursday, March 15th, Maybe the Final Update:

The Fat Lady Sings

Old Forge is still reporting “spring conditions with bare spots”, but I can’t imagine much worthwhile riding there.

Ontario closed nearly all trails overnight, including the Cochrane area and the trails to and from Abitibi Canyon. Major sections of the rest of the far northern corridor are now closed, with one last short green “open” section near Hearst and the Hearst area club trails shown as “Limited” for maybe another day. If you left today, all trails would likely be closed by the time you got up there.

Of course, snowmobiling does not completely stop yet. Many years there is riding on the Gaspe peninsula into April and I saw a post the other day from a guy in Greenland who rides well into May most years. Anyone want to drive & ferry boat to Greenland for a ride? There may be other spots in far northern Quebec still open – give me a shout if you know.

 

Thanks to Dan and Greg for each writing in and letting me know a few diehard snowmobilers are still checking this Blog. See you guys next year and we will hope for a better local riding season. I don’t think it could possibly be as bad as it was this season, so we are pretty safe with that wish!

 

I may post again here and there over the coming weeks, but today is officially the end of my season. I kind of want to write a full article on riding in the far north with Motel recommendations and more. Hope I get around to it.

In the meantime I will take advantage of this amazing (not for snowmobiling) weather and head outdoors to fly my RC helicopters!

 

- Tom

 

Tuesday, March 13th Update:

The Fat lady is Humming

You may be able to find a few patches of ridable snow on Tug Hill.

Old Forge is still reporting their trails to be open – “Spring Conditions” on the inner trails, but that won’t last more than a day or two longer.

Most of Ontario has gone “Closed”, with pockets of “Limited” here and there for a day or two more. All of North Bay is “Closed”.

The far northern corridor from Cochrane to Hearst is “Open” as of 2PM today. That will change fast, with temperatures from fifty to sixty degrees or more for the rest of this week in Cochrane. Iroquois Falls is “Closed” already. They have thick base on those northern corridor trails and may stay “Open – Limited” for a while, but at 60 degrees, the trail surface will be mush in the afternoons. Meghan and I feel smart for going up there two weeks ago!

 

PS – Is anybody reading my posts? With this crappy snow year, I don’t get as much feedback as usual. Bet most of my regular readers are out on their street bikes this week with snowmobiles a distant memory!

 

Friday, March 9th Update:

The Fat Lady is Clearing Her Throat:

Old Forge has been claiming “Fair” conditions the past few days. They are getting some light snow today and tonight with cold temps tonight. I expect riding will be “Fair” to “Good in Spots” tomorrow, Saturday, and again early Sunday morning before the thermometer soars to the mid 50’s and stays there or the high 40’s most of next week. Load up right now if you want a last ride in New York State. (We all know that a freak mid to late March snow storm is possible throughout NY, but THIS winter?)

 

Ontario:

Trails are rapidly deteriorating throughout all but the far north of Ontario, and the days are numbered even on the far northern corridor.

Everything from North Bay on south is rapidly going to “Limited” or “Closed”. There are a few trails still “Open” so check the OFSC website if you want to try to sneak in a ride in that area. The OFSC website is updating regularly this week.

Many trails in the New Liskeard area are going to “Limited” and they have thin snow – I expect some to even be “Closed” very soon.

Even the trails in Iroquois Falls are all now “Limited”.

Northern Corridor trails from Cochrane through Kap and Hearst and west are all still showing “Open”. They are getting some snow and cold today and tomorrow (Saturday). I expect some excellent riding Saturday and again early Sunday. But even in Cochrane, temps will ride well into the 50’s Sunday and will be warm during the day much of next week. Even with the good base in that region, trails will go down hill quickly. But there is a lot of base and some colder temps in the long term forecast. There’s still a chance of another snow and some decent riding for several more weeks.

 

When Meghan and I were in the Cochrane to Hearst area a week ago, we found the deepest snow in the Kapuskasing area and if I were driving up for a last ride next week, that is where I’d base myself.

 

Wednesday, March 7th Update:

Bad News is Coming in Fast

Ride soon if you want a final fix this year, barring the unexpected. The long range calls for 60 again next week here in western New York.

 

Old Forge is reporting “Fair” conditions and those will fade fast.

 

Tug Hill also reporting very spotty riding and going fast.

 

A picture was just posted online of the “D” trail in Bracebridge by Muskoka Man – almost gone, slushy and dirt showing through.

 

Brian, president of the North bay Snowmobile Club, just posted that unless the forecast changes, they are probably done grooming in the North Bay area. Trails expected to go from the current “Green/Open” down to “Limited” very soon.

 

Further North, New Liskeard is a hair colder, but already had kinda thin snow. I expect them to be “Limited” soon.

 

The far northern Corridor, Cochrane to Hearst, will, as usual, be the last bastion of riding outside of Quebec and the true far north. There’s lots of snow there and cold night still, but there are frequent warm and above freezing days in the 14 day forecast. They will have a base for a couple of weeks or more, but with the Mid March sunshine and warm days, all roads, parking lots, etc will be bare soon and trails will be frozen hard with lube problems in the morning and slushy in the afternoons.

 

That said, you can still get good riding up north this week and early next. But glad that Meghan and I got in our five day ride last week!

 

Friday, March 2nd Update:

Amazing Riding Up North!

I just got in from a 12 hour drive home from Cochrane and am pretty beat, but I’ll post an article and some pictures tomorrow. Meghan and I had the best five days of riding of our lives this week. Just wonderful. Conditions should remain good up there for much of March, barring a fluke meltdown.

There is spotty riding with a few good spots on Tug Hill, and Old Forge is reporting “good” conditions.

 

Saturday, February 25th Update:

Tri-County’s Trails are Open

Snow was very spotty across western New York Friday night, but Tri-County’s area got their share, enough to Open those trails today. Enjoy! Temperatures expected in the 40’s Monday will quickly end riding in the few places that are open over the weekend.

 

Our truck and trailer are packed and we’re headed north in the morning. We may do a few updates while we’re up north and post them at this link. I can’t update this Blog from the road. (Don’t be surprised when you click that link and read about the horse camp – that is our other business.)

 

Thursday, Feb. 23rd Update:

Another “One Day Wonder” of Open Trails?

Maybe even two! A lot still depends on how much sleet and how much snow we get tomorrow, for possible riding locally this weekend. Also, the ground is not as well frozen as it was the last time we had “one day” of local riding ten days ago. But I can see trails maybe opening Saturday morning, more likely Sunday morning. Then temps up to 44 degrees again on Monday. That’s 2012 for you! I know guys who have put their brand new sleds away for the season already, with no miles on.

 

Wednesday, Feb. 22nd Update:

You guys are probably following the same forecasts I am – very unsettled forecast for western New York for the weekend, but at least a chance that we could get enough snow to ride, and it might stick for a while, depending on the strength of an expected Monday warmup. Chances are better for good riding next weekend and into the following week in Old Forge. They have been riding right along, so have a hard packed and frozen base and the snow expected over the next few days and the weekend should give them decent riding – high altitude really helps!

As reported yesterday, Meghan and I are off to the north country and almost guaranteed fine riding for next week. We will report some while we’re up there.

 

Tuesday, February 21st Update:

Anyone for a Far North Trip?

Meghan and I are planning to head north again for a second ride of this awful winter in far northern Ontario. We plan to be in Cochrane Monday the 27th, then Hearst and Kapuskasing Tuesday and Wednesday, and back to Cochrane Thursday & Friday. Although we generally like to ride alone at our own speed, we’d enjoy meeting up with any “Tom’s Trails” readers for a drink or an afternoon ride. Let me know if you are thinking of a road trip next week.

There will probably be good riding in the far north for most of March. Last year they had riding into April! We thought of waiting longer for traditionally good mid-March conditions around Cochrane, but reports of current riding conditions are too good to put it off any longer.

Locally:

We’re watching the same forecasts as you all. Possible lake effect snow on Saturday, so maybe we’ll be able to add a day or two to this winter’s total of three days of open trails locally all winter! But it sounds like temps well above normal again at the beginning of next week after two quick days of snow.

 

Saturday, Feb. 18th Update:

If you absolutely MUST ride in New York State this weekend, you may find a few snirty trails on Tug Hill. Old Forge officially lists their trails as “good”, but below is a report first hand from a rider from yesterday:

“I just got back from a day trip to Old Forge. Did about 120 miles. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being terrible trails, and 10 being excellent, I would give the overall trails conditions a 5. Trail 5 was a 1 to sometimes a 2. The loops just North of Old Forge were a 6. Moose River plains was a 6. Trails around Inlet were a 7(best I found today). Trails close to Old Forge were a 3. The best riding was on the Lakes. Unless you just want to go to say you got some riding in, I would stay home. Wasn't too bad for me, because I had to only drive 50 minutes to get there.”

Muskoka Region of Ontario reports are of thin snow, rocks showing, icy, etc. Some good sections here and there.

North Bay and up still good, though Monday will be warm for a day.

Far North (Cochrane to Hearst) still very good and likely to stay that way – snow all the last half of next week.

 

Tuesday, Feb. 14th, 11AM Update:

Happy Valentine’s Day

At least you won’t have the excuse of being out riding your sled to get out of being nice to your honey this Valentine’s Day. All of us in the trail reporting business seem to be thinking alike. As far as I know, all club trails in the area closed again last night. Keep your fingers crossed for a slightly cooler and drier Wednesday night – Thursday than is now forecast. The trail base will likely be washed away back to ground zero if the NOAA report is correct.

Old Forge

Old Forge website reports “Good” conditions over a 4” base, but I can’t imagine that it is wonderful there. If anyone has been up there the past few days, let me know what you saw.

Tug Hill

SLedTug Blog reports nothing good and no news at all since last week’s melt.

(Here’s a reader submitted Tug Hill report, first hand.

Hi tom...my son and i just spent 2 days on the hill....most trails had enufe snow to keep the sleds cool..snow cover was 1-2 inches at best...ice base made for slow going around corners and the trails were very rough ...some trails were not to bad(culpepper rd..forks) but you just have to make the best of it this year..still hade a great time and if they get any snow they can start to groom the trails......110 miles in two dayes on icy trails is not to bad...most of the snow is on the top of the hill...south of highmarket got thin so we turned around...barnes corners very thin...met several guys in the montaque inn said they went tried to go to redfield but turned around also...hope this helps!!!  thanks...Don)

 

Ontario:

Conditions reported icy and bare spots in Muskoka, at least around Bracebridge, with a warm day coming Thursday.

North Bay is better, and should survive this week’s warmer weather OK.

New Liskeard has been getting snow regularly and will only be above freezing briefly this week.

Cochrane and the far northern Ontario Corridor are the Gold Standard for riding this year.

Quebec: I have not been doing as good research on Quebec this year as I did last, but during the “Permit Free Weekend” last weekend, many riders went into Western Quebec around Val D’or and Rouenne-Noranda and reported excellent conditions. (Many riders reported Freezing their asses off on Saturday! Took two hours for one group to get all their sleds started, and another group reported riding at top speeds under 40mph or suffering frostbight.)

 

Monday, Feb. 13th, 5PM Update:

Just heard from Lee that Tri-County trails are closed again. I expect the rest will be also very soon. Keep your fingers crossed for next weekend when it is supposed to be colder again.

 

Monday, Feb. 13th, Noon Update:

That nice bright sun, along with the just above freezing temperatures, is beating down the thin snow cover we got over the weekend. Enjoy your riding today. A good case could be made for closing the trails again at the end of the day today. With snow/rain mix several days and temps well into the 30’s or even 40’s the rest of the week, we might just keep some of the base on the trails through the week if we stay off them. Colder temps coming on the weekend, so maybe that could be the start of our long delayed “winter”. Just a thought. I’ll post tonight if I hear anything from the clubs, or you check their websites before planning any riding this week after tonight.

 

Monday, Feb. 13th, 10 AM Update:

Get on out there! Bright sun and trails in many clubs open again. The snow is thin, but this should be a nice day to get in a rare-this-winter local ride. Send in a ride report if you have time.

 

Sunday, Feb. 12th, Noon Update:

Meghan and I just got home after doing a “drive around” look at area trails. Check some pictures at this link.

We saw not a single trailer or snowmobile track out on the Folsom trails. Nobody at Byrncliff. There is still a lot of blowing snow and some white out driving in Wyoming County. There is certainly enough snow to ride, though some hilltops and fields are thin or even blown bare. You know what the trails are like in this kind of weather with n built up base. But I would ride if I were as deprived as most in western New York are during this winter!

We saw a few more sleds out over in the Colden Trail Riders system, with three trailers unoaded at Emery Park.

My pictures will be up a few minutes after this posting. If anyone rides and wants to send in a ride report, I’ll post it.

 

Sunday, Feb. 12th, 8:30 AM Update:

Jim just called, and the Folsom Trailblazers trails are also going “Open” today. He reminded me to ask people to try to go easy on the corners and not blow all the snow out of every corner you come out of. Although there is some snow and frozen ground, the snow is very light with no packed base yet.

 

Sunday, Feb. 12th 8 AM Update:

Tri-County is also opening trails, at least for today.

 

Saturday, Feb. 11th, 11PM Update:

Colden Trail Riders see it the same way I do. Their website lists their trails as “OPEN” with unknown conditions – spotters have not been out around the trail system – they are opening based on frozen ground and 5” plus of snow.

 

Saturday, February 11th, 3PM Update:

Looking Better!

Steady snow continues across the area and the forecast totals for tomorrow are up. Would not be surprised to see some clubs opening trails by tomorrow afternoon for a few days, depending on how the temperatures hold up this coming week. Could double the number of riding days for the season this week!

 

Saturday, February 11th Update:

Hey, Boys & Girls, SNOW!

A little bit anyway. I have three inches here in East Aurora as of 11AM Saturday. Not much, but the good news is that the ground has nicely frozen up after a colder week with no insulating snow cover. If the expected lake effect bands materialize through tomorrow, maybe, just maybe, a few clubs will be able to open some trails again, even if just for one more day. (Already our total club riding days for the year are just two or three! And with temps rebounding to near 40 for several days the coming week, any riding will likely be for just one or two days.)

Following is a rider report from one of our readers who put on some miles in the North Bay area last week.

 



Hi Tom,

 

Last weekend, Friday thru Monday, Nathan and I went to North Bay.  We stayed at the Travelodge.  It was relatively convenient being just across the road from access to the lake and thus the trails.  It seemed that more snowmobilers were staying there than in the neighboring hotels/motels.  I am not sure why but they did have a larger parking lot, and a special of one night free for snowmobilers.

 

On Saturday we rode south on D.  It was an old railroad bed.  It was in pretty good shape and we could cruise comfortably at 40 mph.  We circled back up to the Diner Bell for lunch.

 

On Sunday and Monday we rode north on AD and A.  They were in good shape both days.  D west is closed.

 

Overall we were pretty happy with the trip.  Nathan even said he would prefer to go back to North Bay as opposed to Bracebridge.  He thought the extra two hour drive was worth the "nicer" (more open, less woods) trails.

 

My lady friend, Tina, and I are traveling back up on Sunday the 19th.  We will ride the 20th, 21st, and 22nd.  Then return on the 23rd.  We will stay at the Travelodge again.

 

I know where Bonfield is (the Dinner Bell) but I can't find New Liskeard on the map.  I thought I had seen it before but now I can't find it.

 

Any chance of running across you and Meghan?

 

Dan W.

 

Pee Stops:

I (Tom) posted the following comments on the HCS Ontario Forum, see what you guys think:

 

Dinner Bell - To Pee or Not to Pee

 

I do not intend this post to be a disagreeable rant, but would like to express my opinion on my stop at the Dinner Bell facility in Bonfield last week. I have heard great things about them on this forum. Brian and others have given them very good publicity and I understand that they are sold out now most of the time. So my wife and I headed there last week for a day ride. We planned to ride and then have a late lunch in their restaurant. We unloaded and then headed over to the restaurant to take a quick whiz before the ride.

 

We were met at the door by a big sign proclaiming, "Our rest rooms are for our PAYING customers."

 

Well, we figured that wasn't too inviting, but it wasn't worth an argument. We turned around and went on our ride, stopping around the first corner to pee in the snow. Been there, done that many times, and my wife is not too proud to "pop a squat" when necessary!

 

We had a good ride (great job, Bonfield Club), and put on more miles than we had planned. We got back hungry, loaded up, then looked at each other and both of us agreed, we'd rather eat someplace that was a little more inviting.

 

Now please understand me, I can understand that it is inconvenient in a small restaurant if a gang of a dozen or more sledders pulls up, stomps in, lines up and uses your rest rooms, and then heads on down the trail without spending a penny. That's frustrating. I know. I run a summer resort down in New York State and we host horse shows every other week. We have toilets, a snack bar, and other stuff for sale. We are open to the general public and many bring their own food and never spend a penny with me. But I would not dream of telling one of those guests that they weren't welcome to use my bathrooms.

 

Yes, it is good manners to spend a few bucks if you want to use a facility's toilets. Tough on the facility to pay for cleaning and maintenance "JUST FOR THE CONVENIENCE" of the general public. But you know what? They call it "the hospitality business" for a reason. The group of twelve guys who pees in your potties without spending any money one visit may be back to stay overnight and eat three squares the next visit - IF they are treated well the first time.

 

Just my opinion.

 

Maybe one of you guys who is a big booster of the Dinner Bell could bring this up with them.

 

Tom

 

PS - I just showed this post to my wife, and she said, "Hell, if a total stranger pulled into our riding resort at lunchtime during the summer and said they'd been driving and they all needed a place to pee, I'd drop what I was doing and show them where the bathrooms were."

 

Thursday, February 8th Update:

And On and On it Goes - - -

Finally we’ve had some cold nights locally the past few days, but not a drop of snow. I guess we’re supposed to have some light snow over the weekend and maybe even a little lake effect. Then temps back to near 40 by the middle of next week? Come on!

Old Forge & Tug Hill

The SledTug blog (link above) reports poor conditions on the hill. The Old Forge town website says, “fair to good”, but I wouldn’t make the drive, based on what I’ve heard. At least there is some base left on the Hill and at Old Forge, so a dump of snow would quickly result in good riding.

There IS Great Riding Available

You just have to be willing to drive a bit north. Winter came early to parts of Ontario and it hasn’t let up. Decent riding is as close as the Muskoka area (Bracebridge – Port Sydney – Huntsville – Dwight, etc). Excellent riding is a little further north in the North Bay area. (about 330 miles from my place in East Aurora to North bay. Call it 7 hours of driving including border crossing time. And don’t forget the $250 permit fee) Guys I know well from the forums are posting great trail pictures and reports on the Hard Core Sledder Ontario forum.

 

Meghan and I rode last week in New Liskeard and in Bonfield (just east of North Bay). We can vouch for the very good riding conditions. We’re headed back next week, depending on a report that includes some sunshine.

 

A “Findo”

“Findo’s” are unexpected finds while traveling. Meghan and I were exploring the Bonfield, Ontario trails last week and stumbled across a sign for “Boulter’s View” pointing down a branch trail off B205. We took a detour up the hill and through a switchback until we came out on the very top of a small mountain ridge line. We could see for miles and miles. What a great spot! Check it out if you are in that area.

 

Saturday, February 4th Update:

New Liskeard a Mixed Bag

Meghan and I are heading home to Buffalo this morning after riding the New Liskeard area this week. We've seen varying conditions. I feel I should give the local clubs the benefit of the doubt since I have been here before with great grooming. I don't know if they have a groomer down or other issues. But we have been disappointed that the trails were not groomed much while we were riding during the week. There were two periods of fresh snow, dropping a couple of inches or more of powder on the trails each time. We hit lots of drift bumps, some for long stretches at a time. I kept hoping the next morning I would wake up to widespread grooming. Hasn't happened yet, though we did a late night ride last night as a goodbye ride and did run across active grooming, though too late for us.

 

That's the "glass half empty" part of my report.

 

We did have some great riding, especially west of here in the Elk Lake and Charlton areas on the "A" and L162, L161 trails where traffic was lighter and many trails were in forest so that the wind driven drifts didn't build up. Thursday's ride over those trails was one of the best we've ever had with mostly three to four inches of fresh powder over a very smooth base.

 

New Liskeard is often lightly traveled, with many riders not coming this far north, and many of the die hard riders going another few hours north to really consistently great riding on the northern corridor.

 

Though we have many favorite trails in this area, we are leaving a bit disappointed, and when we come back north in a couple of weeks, we'll likely put in the extra driving hours and go to Cochrane instead.

 

Thursday, February 2nd, 8PM Update:

New Liskeard

Meghan and I got in a while ago after 151 miles of mostly stellar snowmobiling conditions. Check this link for some pics taken during the day. There was still no grooming after the light snow two nights ago, and there were bumpy spots near New Liskeard. But out on the trails north and west of town, the base held up and there was light traffic through the fresh powder. We had some amazing riding! We finally ran into groomer tracks near town on our way home tonight – tomorrow should be mint.

 

Wednesday, Feb. 1st, 6PM Update:

New Liskeard Ride

We were tired from the long drive when we got into New Liskeard early this afternoon. It was very overcast, so visibility was not good and there was several inches of fresh powder blown across the trails. We planned to go out for “five or ten miles just to check out the sleds”, but you know how that goes! Five miles turned into fifty pretty easily, even with only moderately good conditions. We came for the sunny weather promised for tomorrow morning through Saturday, and if the groomers show up tonight, conditions for the rest of the week could be primo.

The base is good most places, and my only complaint with the trails was all the loose powder and drifts that had not seen a groomer since yesterday’s snowfall. It was fairly windy today and more wind was expected this afternoon, so it would make good sense for the groomers to hold off until tonight. We will keep our fingers crossed that they don’t disappoint.

I’ll post a few pictures from today at this link later.

For those of you who know new Liskeard, the river from town out to the “A” trail and #189 junction is as good as it gets. Very few moguls, only a couple of slushy spots on the edges, and no bad pressure cracks oin the ice, the way it gets many winters! A nice ride!

 

Wednesday, Feb. 1st, 3AM Update:

We just checked into a motel in North Bay. Heading further north to New Liskeard tomorrow morning. We had planned to stop for the night and have a morning ride around Muskoka, but it was 42 degrees and raining when we passed through there tonight! This warm front was stronger than expected.

 

It stayed above freezing until just south of here in North Bay. It’s supposed to be around freezing tomorrow, so we will definitely go on to New Liskeard where it is supposed to be ten degrees or more colder. We’ll report again from there.

PS – Pat, you timed your trip just right!

 

Tuesday, January 31st Update, 11AM:

50 Degrees Already!

It’s very warm here at my place in East Aurora and the ice is going out on the little creeks next to my house. I expect all snow to be gone by tomorrow. Sigh.

 

Road Trip Time!

Meghan and I are loading up this afternoon and are off to the North Country of Ontario this evening. We’ll be checking out the Muskoka region on our way up, perhaps stopping for a ride in North Bay, but then spending a couple of days in the far north, at least New Liskeard and perhaps Cochrane. There is four days of bright sun forecast beginning Thursday, and that’s my kind of conditions!

 

Here is another report from Pat, who just got back from the Dwight/Dorset/Huntsville area:

Tom,

 

Got back last night from our trip up to Muskoka.  The trails were in overall great shape.  Lots of snow, they had around 18" when we got there on Friday, and buy the time we left yesterday afternoon there was another 18" on top of that.  There was even more snow as we headed north towards Kerney.  Had a guy in our group get buried turning a round, snow was waste deep!!  The traffic was very heavy in the area.  Busier than I have seen it in years.  The secondary trails got a little beat by Sunday afternoon. The main corridor trails were still great. The lakes are still a little iffy, some are staked and great and some have slush sitting on top the ice.  All in all trails were great and weather outlook for this weekend sunny with temps in the single digits and night in the twenty's in the day.  This little warms up today and tommorow should not hurt them to bad. 

 

 

P.S.,

The Algonquin snowmobile club has a great site with two web cams.  If you are looking for accurate weather up there (not from muskoka airport) try Environment Canada's site and check the weather for Oxtongue Lake, much more accurate to actual temps up in the bush.  Also if you are looking to for somewhere to stay, Try the Dwight Village Motel, I have been staying there for 15 years.  There is a great restaurant next door for b-fast and lunch called the Moose Cafe, the women love the gift shop there! There is also The Bush Company nearby with great food and bands play there every Saturday night.  Gas is also nearby.

 

http://www.dwightvillagemotel.com/

 

I attached a quick video of some fun at the Oxtongue Narrows down on lake St. Nora...

 

Thanks, Pat

      

 

Monday, January 30th, 8PM Update:

Tug Hill:

The Sledtug Blog is being kept up regularly this season so far. He just posted a good report with pictures from today. Conditions range from bad to excellent on the hill. Go to SledTug for details.

 

Monday, January 29th, Noon Update:

Local Trails Open for One Day

Better than nothing! Folsom, Tri-County, and Colden clubs have opened their trails for today and tonight, only, after the snow last night. Good decision, I think, to at least take advantage of the riding opportunity today. It will also serve to pack in a tiny bit of base, in case the rest of this week turns out to be a few degrees cooler than expected, and we keep a bit of frozen base to start next weekend with.

 

Check this link for a couple of pictures I took an hour ago.

 

Sunday, January 29th Update:

Mother Nature, You can be a Teasing “Witch”!

Here we finally have a decent little snow event on Sunday night, with some more promised tomorrow. Then temps expected to close in on 50 Tuesday! Seems that we just can’t catch a break. I’m sure that many of us will be out tooling around our back yards tomorrow morning. Colder temps expected by next weekend – maybe then. The optimist in me keeps saying, “We could still have six weeks of perfect riding until mid March.” But each week that goes by makes that less likely.

 

Out of Town

Tug Hill – got snow tonight, but no base left and warm temps during this week.

Old Forge – spring conditions now, snow tonight, and marginal most of this week. Could be good by next weekend.

Southern Ontario – Some trails are showing as “Open” from about Bracebridge on north, though you have to get to the North Bay area for consistent good conditions.

Pat, one of our regular readers, spent this past weekend in the Bracebridge – Huntsville area and sent in this report and some nice pictures.

“Tom,

 

Just a quick Muskoka trail update,  trails are in great shape,  I would say an 8 out of 10.  We have been from Dwight to Dorset to the haliburton area.  We are heading north tomorrow from Dwight to Sprucedale and around to baysville.  Reports are those trails are in good shape also.  It has been snowing all day and supposed to snow through the night.  There is currently 18" on the ground in most spots.  Some icy spots but not many.  Well worth the trip.  I will give you another update with some pics tomorrow. 

 

Thanks, pat”

Pat’s first hand report indicates better actual conditions in this part of Ontario than you would think from looking at the OFSC trail conditions site. That is good news.

Far North in Ontario:

The mid week warm front is expected to stall out around the North Bay area. Conditions there remain good and get better as you go north. The far northern corridor from Iroquois Falls through Cochrane and on to Hearst sounds like it is excellent. First time I get a weather report showing a couple of bright, sunny days up there, I am out of here!

Friday, January 27th, 11PM Update:

Locally – This winter sucks! And nothing better in sight.

Tug Hill – some trails now closed, 1” of rain in past few days, what remains open is icy and down to dirt many places

Old Forge – reports marginal spring conditions

Southern Ontario – mostly very wet trails – they have had weather similar to ours, a few degrees colder with some base on trails.

Far North Ontario – Cochrane to Hearst, Etc: Conditions reported to be excellent, with nearly all trails now fully open. Their temps have remained below freezing except for a few very brief hops into the 30’s. I may go this week, next week for sure!

 

Sunday, January 22nd, 8AM Update:

If you are like me and enjoying a couple of days of back yard riding (not on the closed trails), let’s enjoy the next few hours before it warms up above freezing later today. You also have a chance to ride in the Franklinville area.

Below: Posting on the Franklinville Snowmobile Club’s website yesterday morning for this weekend:

Winter arrives..... temporarily

The last few days of snowfall, combined with the cold temperatures, has allowed us to open up the trails this weekend. Monday may be a different story with rain in the forecast and a high of 45 degrees.

If your headed out this weekend, please be extra observant for hazards. With the high winds over the past few days the possibility for downed trees and branches exists. Since there is a very limited, if any base, ground hazards (rocks, stumps, water.....) will also be present.

Saturday, January 21, Noon Update:

Just got back in from a short, but really fun ride around my farm. Bright sun and fresh snow – what can be better in winter, besides a solid base and a lot MORE snow? But I had fun. Yes, when I poured the coal to Mr. Turbo, I made piles of grass that the “landowner” will be sorry about later, so the clubs call on keeping local trails closed is probably right. In this case the landowners are Meghan and I, and she is worse than I am about “making piles”, so no harm done.

Hope that many of you have found local spots to get a tiny bit of a ride fix.

Saturday, January 21, 11AM Update:

If you are desparate for a legit ride, Franklinville trails are reported to be open today. Other reports confirm a little more snow just to our south, so that makes sense.

 

Local trails (Folsom, Tri-county, Colden, etc) have all chosen to remain closed for the weekend. Colden’s website explains the reasoning well. They agree that their higher elevation trails have enough snow so that they could be opened, but where the trails dip through valleys (most road and land owner lawn crossings), the snow is thinner and not enough to ride without doing damage.

 

So head to Franklinville if you want a real ride today (maybe tomorrow morning, as well), but stay off all the closed trails.

 

If you are lucky like me and have a farm of your own, there is certainly rideable snow today – I’m about to go out and put a few more early season shake down miles on my Turbo, since I think the only good riding for some time is going to require a LONG drive, and I don’t want some dopey little problem on my sled to take me by surprise after a 10 or 12 hour drive.

 

Think snow, even though it does not sound like it will come anytime soon.

 

Friday, January 20th Update:

After the very brief heavy snows last night, we have between 3” and 4” of powder over a thinly frozen ground here in East Aurora. Just enough that I am about to go out for my first ride of the year around my farm. I doubt that this will be enough for any club to open their trails, but each club will decide whether their trails have a hard enough frozen base and enough snow cover to keep their landowner’s fields from being damaged.

 

The 2” to 4” of additional snow expected tonight area wide may be just enough to open a few trails “limited” for the one day until it warms up again Sunday and Monday. Bummer. Check your club’s websites and let me know if anyone opens.

 

Thursday, January 19th Update:

News – Good, Bad, and Fair

The bad news first – we’ve had only very minor snow accumulations most places around western New York so far this week. There is still some chance of getting enough on the ground tonight and tomorrow to do some riding on the weekend.

 

The good news – the nearly bare ground is letting some frost get into the ground. I don’t know if it will be enough, but at least it is better than a huge dump of snow on the unfrozen ground we had at the beginning of this week. Best possible outcome would be for the cold expected tonight to continue freezing up water holes and mud and then getting more snow than expected tonight late and tomorrow. Just maybe could get some open – limited trails for the weekend.

 

The “fair” news – the big warm-up that has been advertised all week is showing signs of weakening. Maybe only one day in the 40’s, but several above freezing. Does sort of look like we’ll be going back to square “one” – again.

 

Out of Town:

Old Forge and Tug Hill are very marginal, with some new snow coming the next few days and fewer warm days at the beginning of the week. But nothing wonderful expected soon.

 

Same conditions in southern Ontario.

 

Far north Ontario will get only one day just above freezing at the beginning of next week and should continue to have more and more fully open trails with some excellent, excellent riding!

 

Tuesday, January 17th Update:

Fun Wow!

I took my first official trail conditions drive late this morning, just to say I’ve done one this winter. Sure enough, there was mostly green grass and bare dirt fields around the Folsom area. I snapped a couple of traditional Byrnecliff pictures while I was driving around, but they are too depressing to post.

 

The outlook for the rest of the week is pretty wild. You all know what I know from watching TV. Lake effect tonight through tomorrow, a lull, and then maybe more lake effect Thursday. Depending on the impact of all today’s flooding, I can imagine the possibility of a little more local riding Friday and Saturday. Then it all melts again with a predicted major warmup beginning Sunday.

 

Monday, January 16th Update:

FINALLY! An Update!

Sorry, guys, but when I left on vacation I forgot that the laptop I took with me did not have an FTP program for updating this website. I did get good reports on the BRIEF trail openings this past weekend from Jim at the Folsom Clubs and Lee at Tri-County. Also one of the few ride reports of this terrible early season from Jay. Thanks for keeping me posted and I would have posted your reports here if I hadn’t inadvertently left the updating software at home.

 

I Didn’t Miss Much

That’s for sure! I understand that most area clubs opened Saturday through early today with limited conditions. I’ll post an update if I hear for sure, but I figure trails are all closing tonight with the warm weather and rain. So I sure didn’t miss much being out of town the past two weeks. I got home from the airport about lunchtime today and the snow was still hard from the very cold weather over the weekend. I thought about tooling around my farm for my first ride of the season, but Meghan and I were exhausted from flying across the country all day, so we took a nap instead. Now everything has turned to slush.

 

Very Bad Long Term Outlook

The weather this week looks to hold wild swings between the high 40’s tomorrow, another arctic blast with some lake effect for a couple of days, then a bigtime warmup again next weekend. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Friday night and Saturday might offer a little local riding, but I’m not holding my breath. As most of you probably know, the ten day to two week outlook is for well above normal temperatures in our area.

 

Tug Hill & Old Forge

Check out the link at the top of the page for the Sledtug Blog. He is putting up frequent posts early in the season, and reported fair conditions earlier today. Not sure how they will survive the brief thaw, but maybe they will get a big lake effect dump late in the week. Could be decent riding on the hill early in the weekend before the warm front fully gets here. Old Forge is reporting “Fair” conditions with very thin base. They will stay colder than we will during this week with the higher elevations. We’ll continue to monitor reports out of that area.

 

Ontario

Trails across Ontario are beginning to open up in small sections, but there are still lots of closed areas. Go to the OFSC interactive trail conditions page and you will find places you could go to ride in certain areas. The far north (Cochrane through Hearst and on west) is enough colder that they haven’t had the meltdowns and are slowly getting better and better. Some great riding is reported there. I will probably head up there myself in a week or so if conditions hold there and don’t get better closer to home.

If anyone has a western New York ride report, send it in and I’ll post it. I will be around for the rest of the (winter?), except when I am out of town riding in Ontario.

 

PS: Here’s a quick quote from one of the guys who was riding up north in Cochrane the past weekend:

“X2 on ribs at JR's....damn those were good. Terry's Steakhouse also great spot to eat in Cochrane.

 

We did 550 miles in 3 days. Riding is absolutely stellar in Cochrane. We'll be back for sure.”

 

Sunday, New Year’s Day

Happy New Year!

You don’t need me to read you the weather bulletins. Sounds like a major snow event finally, with two feet or more on Tug Hill. Hopefully enough to set up a base there for some time. Enough snow is expected across western New York so that we should see some trail openings after the storm.

BUT – Long range forecast calls for highs of 44 and 45 Friday and Saturday. Keep your fingers crossed that this warm prediction is brief and that we retain a base for the trails.

 

Saturday, New Year’s Eve:

With snow on the way, I hope to have good riding reports from close to home soon. In the meantime, read the following ride report from Muskoka Man after his trip to the Cochrane area in the far north. He also has video posted on the HCS Ontario Forum:

Today, 09:39 AM

  #7 (permalink)

Muskoka Man

 

Advanced Member

 

Join Date: Oct 2009

Posts: 84

 

 

 

smoothy

cochrane to kap were mint , the 101 loop and 103 were flawless , we did 800 ks of perfect trails , lots of snow , and groomed to perfection and cold , no snow on the way up untill iroquis falls , canyon not open , mid season cconditions up there in my mind , im trying to post some vids from my new drift , not winning , if i do win the vids speak for themselfs

go for it

 So here’s the link. If you guys want to see what you could be riding in tomorrow if you take a short little 12 hour drive north from western New York to Cochrane!

 

Thursday, December 29th Update:

Still Closed in Western NY

Although there are a few inches of snow on the higher elevations and some guys are out zooming around, Jum from the Folsom Club called and asked me to remind everyone that trails are still CLOSED and there is not enough snow to protect land owners fields. Stay off until the trails open.

 

Road Trips

We are getting reports of good riding on the far northern Corridor of Ontario (Cochrane to Hurst). Not all of the “A” trail is formally open, but most is at least open “limited”. Things are freezing up and some guys have gone out around North Bay, but trails are not open and some lakes still have open water.

 

Some Quebec websites and forums report fair to good conditions and open trails, but mostly in the mountains at high elevations. Mount Tremblant Park reports “excellent” conditions in the park at high elevations. Other trails have been open for a while northeast of there (near Lac St Jean).

 

The current cold snap is putting some frost in the ground and we’ll have to hope that the weekend warm-up is short and with little sunshine. Another arctic air mass is due early next week – keep your fingers crossed for a big dump of snow.

 

If trails open next week, I will try to make some updates here while I am traveling. I will be out of state for ten days just when trails may be opening. Bummer. But hopefully you guys will have packed in all the mud holes for Meghan and I by the time we get back in town.

 

Friday, December 23rd Update:

Some Early Season Riding, but FAR from us!

You want to travel REALLY far? Read Mike’s message below about West Yellowstone:

Hi Tom,

 

Just a quick line on trail conditions in West Yellowstone area! We just got back Monday from riding out there, although snow was a little scarce in Yellowstone there was still plenty to ride quite well! The mountains of Idaho and Montana were very nice with 1' to 3' depending on where you were and  were flat and fast ! More snow was on the way when we left on Monday but all in all was very good to get our first fix of riding for the season. Yellowstone park itself however was really sparse on snow and didn't have enough on the roads to let in sleds yet from the Yellowstone end.

 

Hope all is well with you and Megan and hope we can get together for a ride again this season. I do want to extend the offer to join us anytime this winter at our camp in Osceola, NY www.campnearwater.com we frequently ride there during the winter.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Mike

Mike is a Serious snowmobilier!

 

A bit closer to home, but still 10 to 12 hours north, is the Ontario Northern corridor. Those trails are opening a little more each day, with most sections between Iroquois Falls and Hearst and on to Hornpayne now open “limited” or even fully “open” near Kap (Kapuskasing). It will be crowded there after Christmas, since it is the only good riding in the east so far.

Closer still to home, some snow is falling on Tug Hill and at Old Forge, but I have not heard any reports of riding there yet. And it does not look good for the next few weeks.

Long Range Forecast

Some of you read the NOAA forecast discussion pages, like I do. You may have seen in this morning’s discussion the phrase “unbelievably progressive and mild” weather through the first part of January due to world wide weather patterns. These patterns are expected to block arctic air from dropping down out of Canada for some time to come.

Plan on long trailering trips if you want to ride anytime soon. But be patient – we always seem to come up with three or four weeks of good riding sometime during the winter in our part of the country! It just looks like it will be late again this year.

 

Scroll down this page if you want to compare this year with previous seasons. All my trail condition reports are here for several years back. We historically usually get only “teaser” bits of riding in before mid January. But those teasers are fun – better than the NOTHING it looks like we’ll have for a while more this year!

 

Folsom Meetings at 7PM This Year

Jim wrote and asked me to report the new meeting times. Done.

 

Tuesday, December 20th Update:

The far northern corridor of Ontario continues to open in local sections. A portion of the “D” trail near Wawa is now open. “Groomer Guy” has some sweet pictures posted on the HCS Ontario Forum! The whole section from Wawa through Hearst to Cochrane should open before long.

 

Nearer to home, you all know how sucky things are! Colder temps after Christmas should bring riding to Tug Hill and Old Forge before long – maybe?

 

Saturday, December 17th Update:

It looks like the first riding of the season is available in far northern Ontario if you don’t mind the 10 to 12 hour drive. The OFSC trail conditions map shows the “A” trail as Open – Limited around Kapuskasing and another area near Hearst. There was a nice picture posted on Hard Core Sledder showing a groomer packing plenty of fresh snow in Cochrane, so the whole far northern corridor of the “A” trail should open up soon if we don’t get a warm-up there. So far, temperatures look to stay well below freezing the coming week, with below zero temps some nights.

Send in reports of available riding if you hear any news that I’ve missed.

My trailer is all refurbished and Meghan and I have a “new-used” truck, so we’re ready to travel!.

 

Thursday, December 8th Update:

Hello Snowmobilers! With the first real lake effect storm of the season upon us, it’s time to start thinking about riding and trail reports. Who will be the first to send in a ride report for the coming season? There should be a little local ditch banging in rural areas over the next few days!

 

2010 – 2011 Season Posts

Wednesday, April 13th Update:

Drifthopper is doing a good job of finding very late season ride reports. Following is a link he sent in about riding in northern New Hampshire – they have had lots of big dumps of snow this winter!

Here's another one.... closer, say in the States...!!!

 

http://www.ultimatesnowmobiler.com/board/index.php?topic=21947.0

 

Monday, April 11th, 2PM:

All Done - officially

The OFSC trail status map was updated this afternoon showing ALL Ontario trails now “CLOSED”. BUT – the following message was posted on a forum this afternoon. Searchmont is maybe 50 miles northeast of Sault Ste. Marie. “Half Way Haven” is up the “D” trail half way to Wawa.

Ended up driving out to Searchmount and riding from there and we just made it to the haven on fumes (riding hard). Trails were AWESOME, some really great riding.”

There will still be some decent spring riding in the far north for most of the coming week – very cold nights and warm days forecast.

- Tom

 

Monday, April 11th Update:

Hearst area trails on the far northern “A” trail corridor closed this morning. A small area of trails to the west of there around Hornepayne are still shown as “OPEN” on this morning’s OFSC map. I have no first hand rider reports. Not a bad season in the north to still have a few fully “Open” trails on April 11th!

 

Thursday, April 7th Update:

Many thanks to “Drifthopper” (from Tri-County) for sending the following link. The link is to a trail condition forum thread on the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec where they are still riding AND grooming this week! Lots of great pictures in the posts. Several years ago Meghan and I took the RV all the way out the Gaspe during the fall scouting out the area for a possible snowmobile trip. It is definitely on our “bucket list”, though we have not made it yet.

Cochrane Now Closed

All OFSC trails through Cochrane and Kap are now shown as closed, with only a few loops in Hearst and down towards Wawa still listed as open. Daytime temps around 50 the rest of this week should finish things off in the far north. Heavy rain is forecast up there for Monday.

 

Wednesday, April 6th Update:

One More Update on Hearst Area Trails

Sure enough, there was a flurry of online forum posts yesterday confirming that the OFSC kind of jumped the gun on closing ALL trails in the far north. One rider had just done a Cochrane – Hearst – Cochrane ride Monday with great conditions and more snow fell yesterday. The Hearst area is now again listed as “OPEN” on the OFSC interactive map.

It was 9F a few minutes ago in Cochrane (7AM today). It will be 14F tomorrow night. Trails should hold up a few more days. Riding should be great sweatshirt or even T-shirt riding tomorrow afternoon, with trails decent from the 14F overnight temps, but temps rising to near 60F by mid afternoon under bright sun!

Warm afternoon temperatures all week should pretty well finish off even the pockets in the far north.

 

Tuesday, April 5th Update:

The End!

Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) officially shut down their whole trail system as of yesterday, including the far north. The Cochrane to Hearst northern corridor went out on a high note. I figure there was still very good riding there right through yesterday. And it is snowing there right now (here in East Aurora, too, a few minutes ago!!!!).

There will be spring condition riding unofficially up there for another week – lots of snow – but gates will be closed and no grooming. Daytime temps will be in the 40’s most of this week, so it is time to give it up, I guess. They had a great season up there.

 

See you guys next year. Thanks to the half dozen guys who wrote me last week that they were still reading the updates to get a little snowmobiling “fix”.

 

- Tom

 

Sunday, April 3rd Update:

Old Forge trails are now closed for the season.

Far North:

The far northern Ontario trails from Cochrane to Hearst just won’t quit! They still show as fully “OPEN” on the OFSC interactive trail map. They are getting warm temperatures during the day but well below freezing at night, resulting in a slow melt down of their very good base.

Today Cochrane is picking up a fresh 4” of mixed snow and sleet. Not the best kind of snow, but enough to freshen up what is there. Tomorrow will be a colder day and then daytimes in the low 40’s and below freezing nights for the rest of the week. I expect there will be riding up there through the 10th, at least in some places.

Rider reports indicate the snow is thinnest around Kapuskasing, and a little deeper base in Cochrane and in Hearst to the west. Kap may close before the trails to the east and to the west.

 

Wednesday, March 30th Updae:

Old Forge is still reporting fair to good spring riding on their inner trails this morning.

Far North:

Following is a fresh rider report reflecting northern Ontario corridor conditions as of this past Sunday (three days ago). They rode mostly east into northern Quebec, but also the Cochrane area. Watching the weather, I’d say those conditions will prevail through today and tomorrow and then the trail surface will get soft in the afternoons and crusty in the mornings. Certainly there will be northern corridor riding through next week. The rider report below mentions the thin snow from Cochrane down to Timmins, but that has been “limited” for a week now. Snow is better Cochrane to Hearst.

The rider report starts with a report on the east side trail up to Abitibi Canyon, which was closed for a while and recently went back to “limited” on the OFSC website.

“The red ribbons etc were still there just before the bridge but the workers waved us through and said we were good to go. We had actually started to turn around when they waved us back. (trail to Abitibi)

 

Trails were still 100% as of Sunday, east down the A105Q had received about a foot of fresh snow Thursday that was groomed Friday and was in excellent shape. Lasarre, Amos, Senneterre, Val Dor all 100% Rouyn is a little thin but still 80+% excellent, Kirkland Lake is marginally better than Rouyn. Cochrane to Timmins via trail will doubtfully survive more than a couple of days of warm weather but a few guys rode the powerlines from Cochrane to Timmins/return and said it was excellent.”

 

Monday, March 28th Update:

The Far North

Cochrane Weather as of March 28th:

 

Tuesday

Mar. 29

Wednesday

Mar. 30

Thursday

Mar. 31

Friday

Apr. 1

Saturday

Apr. 2

Sunday

Apr. 3

Conditions

6am - 6pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scattered flurries

Mainly sunny

Snow-rain showers

Wet flurries

Variable cloudiness

Mainly cloudy

P.O.P.

40%

10%

40%

40%

20%

40%

High

32°F

39°F

45°F

37°F

37°F

43°F

Low

14°F

9°F

14°F

23°F

25°F

27°F

Wind

NW 6 mph

NW 3 mph

SW 3 mph

SE 3 mph

N 3 mph

W 6 mph

24-Hr Rain

-

-

trace

-

-

-

24-Hr Snow

0.4 in

-

0.4 in

-

-

-

First hand ride reports are getting hard to come by, since most riders in the US and southern Ontario have parked their sleds for the year. But watching the weather daily and checking what reports I can find, there’s no reason to think that riding all across the northern Corridor from Cochrane to Hearst will not still be excellent for two more days. You will have the trails mostly to yourself if you head up for a final season ride. Very light traffic is reported. A guy recently rode from Cochrane to Hearst and back and passed exactly two sleds in those hundreds of miles.

I think Wednesday riding will still be very good everyplace up there, with a morning low of 9F and afternoon highs in the upper 30’s for the first time in a long time. The trails will be fine. They’ll get a little soft on Thursday and probably pretty crusty Friday morning. I’ll be interested to see if the OFSC website downgrades some of them to “Limited” Friday or if they keep them listed as “Open” through the weekend. Depending on how many days the temperature stays below freezing at night, they will probably have spring conditions riding for at least another week, maybe more.

Closer to home, Old Forge is still posting reports every morning and reporting fair to good spring conditions on their inner trail system. Certainly adequate for a fun day of zipping around or sled testing.

 

Sunday, March 27th Update:

Still Some riding, But This Week is Nearly the End:

I had my last ride of the year this morning around my own farm in East Aurora. I had to ride across a few bare patches on south facing hills, but there is still good snow in my woods and on my fields and pastures. I have a few spots where I’ve had bulldozers in and built nifty little launch ramps where even old dudes like myself can get a little air (or at least get the front end off the ground!). I had fun. But this was the last of it. My rides yesterday and today tore up the best of the snow and the bright sun today will melt away enough so that I’d be tearing up my grass if I ride again tomorrow. It was a good end to my season.

Needless to say, all real trails in western New York are closed and the only riding is on private land.

Old Forge:

Old Forge is still reporting fair to good riding on their inner trails if you drop off right at the trailheads. With gradually rising temperatures, they have maybe one more week of spring conditions riding there. Night time temps will be below freezing all week but temps in the day will be in the 40’s – as they will almost everyplace by the end of the week.

 

Far North

That includes Cochrane and the far northern corridor in Ontario, which has held up so long this late winter. Conditions are still excellent there as I write on Sunday and they will have very cold nights the next few days. Temps will go to 34 tomorrow, 37 Tuesday, and then rising daily and be 45 by next weekend. If someone were to jump in their truck today in western New York and drive all day and into the night tonight, you could expect grand riding in Cochrane Monday, Tuesday, and probably most of Wednesday. By Thursday morning, I expect they will have icy morning conditions many places, with the warm days and very cold nights. I expect they will have at least limited riding through the middle of the following week – there is a lot of snow up there! It’s been a VERY good season in the far northern corridor.

 

Why Didn’t I Go to Cochrane Again?

I’ll tell you how close I came to making a second trip to the far north this month after the wonderful week Meghan and I spent up there snowmobiling at the beginning of the month. I have been spending as much as an hour a day online reading forum reports, checking the weather in multiple Canadian towns, and looking at the OFSC trail condition website. I know it’s still very, very good riding up there! And until yesterday, my trailer was still hooked up and most of our gear was still packed in the truck. We could have been ready to hit the road in an hour this week.

This is how close I got: Thursday I went out to the truck, brushed the snow off the doors and windshield, got in and started the truck, and sat there thinking while the truck warmed up. I thought of the great riding and the perfect weather up there this past week and through this weekend. (I am a sucker for bright sunny riding days with temps in the high teens to low twenties. I’d rather ride a 1400 mile year in great conditions than a 3000 mile year going out every time there’s snow. I like to collect “Great Rides”!) I knew that Meghan would go along if I pushed for it. She loves it up there, too. I thought about how we could be on our way in an hour, now that I was already warming up the truck.

But I also thought about the money. I certainly could have gone if I chose. But I would have had to cut some other corners. Realistically, you’re looking at $1500 bucks for a couple to spend five or six days in Canada riding; more if you eat , drink, and are merry!

I also considered that there is always a chance of a breakdown on a long drive. I use the work truck from my farm for towing. It’s a well maintained old Chevy, and has never let me down yet in thousands of miles of snowmobile trips the past few years, but there is always a first time with an older vehicle, and that would not leave a nice taste as an end of season event. We’ve put a new (er) truck in our budget for next year, so this factor had an influence. If I do two far north trips in a season, maybe it’s smarter to do it next winter with a newer truck.

What finally tipped the scales and convinced me to shut of the ignition and leave the truck and trailer parked was the distance. I’ll drive 250 miles to Old Forge or to Muskoka in Ontario on a whim if I see that they have a few days of bright sunshine with good trails. I can make that drive with Meghan in half a day, get on the trails, then ride the morning I plan to leave and be home by dinner time. No big deal!

But the Ontario northern Corridor is another thing all together. The way we drive, it’s nearly 12 hours of actual driving time – EACH WAY. At my age, even sharing the driving with Meghan, I can’t do that in one long stint without exhausting myself. I need to do 7 or 8 hours, take a break in a motel, and finish the trip the next morning. Even then, I ride only a short day my first day up there. It’s not until my third day away from home (including the driving) that I’m settled in and rested up enough to put in a 200 mile day of riding. I envy you young guys who can drive straight through if you get an early start, unload, and put 100 miles on your sled your first night up there. I once could do that.

So all things considered, I passed up another trip to the far north this week. But I’m dreaming about what it would have been like to have a few final great days riding up there near April 1st. As I road around the Longacres Horse Farm trails here in East Aurora this morning with my sled running really well, I came up over a perfect hill with that great snowmobile feeling like you’re almost flying, made a pillow soft landing on a bright, snowy field, and for a second I imagined that I was back on Cochrane trail L103, my designated “Trail of the Year” this season. It was a great little memory and a great way to end the 2010/2011 snowmobiling season. NOT as good as really being there, but nice!

 

Friday, March 25th Update:

There is decent riding on my farm in East Aurora! Damn western New York weather, melting off all our trails and then giving us this late season dump and nearly a week of cold temps!

Old Forge is still reporting fair to good spring conditions if you trailer to the trail heads and ride the inner loops. They did not get much of the snow that hit us in western New York.

Far North:

The beginning of the end is in sight. It has been killing me to correspond with guys riding in the Cochrane to Hearst corridor and read the fantastic weather reports day after day this week and not go north again. But I have stayed home and stayed within my budget. Riding conditions remain excellent in that area. There are some reports of the trails hardening up, but they are table top smooth with almost no one riding. (I’ll bet there will be a good number out this weekend for their final ride of the season.)

Great conditions will remain through this weekend. Then daytime temps go to 37F next Wednesday and Thursday and 41F by Friday. With night time temps still cold, and all the snow up there, there will still be riding, but the trails will get harder in the mornings and begin to melt. Trails will probably be downgraded to “limited” by the end of next week, and we’ll have to see if the temperature trends warmer the following week.

(Anyone still reading this Blog this late in the spring?)

 

Tuesday, March 22nd Update:

Cochrane, Ontario weather for the coming week:

 

Wednesday

Mar. 23

Thursday

Mar. 24

Friday

Mar. 25

Saturday

Mar. 26

Sunday

Mar. 27

Monday

Mar. 28

Conditions

6am - 6pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloudy periods

Variable cloudiness

Variable cloudiness

Variable cloudiness

Cloudy periods

Cloudy periods

P.O.P.

20%

20%

20%

20%

20%

10%

High

16°F

16°F

18°F

19°F

25°F

28°F

Low

-11°F

-6°F

-2°F

-0°F

-0°F

9°F

Wind

NE 6 mph

N 6 mph

NW 6 mph

N 6 mph

NW 6 mph

NW 6 mph

There will continue to be some of the best riding of the year for the rest of the week in the Cochrane to Hearst northern corridor. Not only are they likely to have riding through the first week of April, but very good riding, depending on how fast it warms up next week.

 

Monday, March 21st Update:

There’s been little change over the past two days. Old Forge still is open with spring conditions. They got 4” or so of snow today and it will be cold from tomorrow through the end of the week, so you can still get a riding fix there, and maybe in places on Tug Hill.

Much of Ontario is now closed, including all the trails around North Bay. Limited conditions go north past Timmins and Iroquois Falls. You have to go all the way to the northern corridor from Cochrane west to Hearst for “OPEN” trails and good riding conditions. Those conditions should remain very good for at least another week. They got a couple of inches of fresh snow last night and today and the forecast is wonderful for riding for the rest of this week, with bright sun and cold temperatures under a large Canadian high pressure system. The bright late March sun will likely melt off some of the road crossings and the few sections of trail that run on roads, but there are not many of those on the northern trail systems. I am dying to go north myself, but will probably stay here to work L

Check out this very nice video taken by some guys from Ontario’s Port Parry club while they were in Cochrane on Friday! (They are teasing a guy who decided not to go!)

Sunday, March 20th 1AM Update:

Guys who are reliable on the forums are in Cochrane now reporting terrific conditions after 6” or more of new snow yesterday. A picture is worth a thousand words – check this link for a picture taken yesterday just west of Smooth Rock Falls.

 

Saturday, March 19th Update:

Old Forge is still reporting fair to good riding on their inner trails.

Very good riding is still available in the far north between Cochrane and Hearst. They had a few warm days this week, but will be getting 3 to 4 inches of fresh snow Sunday and Monday and cold temperatures (near zero at night to low 20’s daytime all through this coming week with another shot of snow at the end of the week. It now looks like they will have riding into April. Stay tuned.

If I was going again, which I might, I would stay in Cochrane or Kapuskasing and ride between the two or over to Hearst. Too bad it’s a 12 hour drive!

 

Friday, march 18th Update:

Old Forge still claims “Good to Fair”, but recommends trailering to the trail heads – snow in town is gone. Spring conditions.

In northern Ontario, trails have just gone from “open” to “limited” just south of Cochrane towards Timmins and Iroquois Falls, and a short section between Kapuskasing and Hearst has been downgraded to “limited”. The end is getting closer, but not here yet. Next week will be very cold up there in the northern corridor (near zero at night), so I expect there will be decent riding there for another solid week most places.

UPDATE Late Friday: I just checked the Cochrane weather again – light snow Sunday and Monday, then three days of bright sunshine and perfect riding temperatures Tuesday through Thursday – damn tempting – the trailer is still loaded from my last trip!

 

Wednesday, March 16th Update:

Old Forge and Tug Hill will have a few cold nights over the coming week and there should be ok spring conditions riding this weekend, at least. Maybe one more week up there?

Ontario continues to go away fast. All Timmins area trails went from “Open” to “Limited” today and some side trails even further north are closing, including the eastern side loop to Abitibi Canyon. The far north in the Cochrane area will have big temperature swings over the coming week, with some rain showers, some warm days, and some very cold nights. This Saturday and Sunday look to be great riding up there with a sunny weekend and cold enough temperatures for grooming. The following week things will start to go down hill faster.

I’m thinking still decent riding conditions across the northern Ontario corridor most of next week, and some limited riding through the beginning of April. I’ll make a wild guess and say the last “Open Limited” OFSC trails will be around Kap or Hearst on April 7th. Stay tuned.

 

Tuesday, March 15th Update:

Old Forge has upgraded their trail conditions from “fair” to “Good to Fair”, after getting in a good night’s grooming. They will have another cold night tonight, so riding should be decent there a few more days.

One of our readers sent in the following long rider report from a Tug Hill ride just yesterday. Thanks, Cam!

“Tom,

 

your reports are great, keep up the good work!

 

I thought i would toss you a quick email about tug hill, i rode up there yesterday (3-14-11) for a touch over 100 miles. They have no shortage of snow thats for sure! All the plowed snowmobile roads are shot (no surprise there) i launched out of winona forest and there was a dog team getting ready to head out for one last trip also. all the trails in winona had TONS of snow and besides the dog team i never saw another soul out there. i headed over towards the lake effect inn in Boylston and then over to little john rd, from there i picked my way over to the Montague Inn all the trails had PLENTY of cover, no bare spots anywhere (except the roads!) anyway the montague was closed. i ran into another rider there and that was the first sled i has seen up to that point. BC's groomer had just hit parker rd so it was good for some way north of the speed limit riding! Then i headed over to flat rock to grab a quick snack, tons of snow, and TONS  OF MOGULS, it

was brutal over there, talking to the girl at flatrock she said it had been 10 days since it was groomed last, pretty sad with the amount of snow over there that it has to be that bumpy. after there i hit a few trails around flat rock and then headed back towards the tug hill inn since i was hoping that was the way the BC groomer went, luckily i was right so i got some more fresh grommed trail up to there.  Then i headed over towards the worth RD area, again tons of snow and the trails there were pretty darn flat, again abusing the speed limit! at this point i had about 75 miles on and had seen a grand total of 10 sleds on my journey. once i hit the end of the worth area it drops you on a plowed rd, luckily the snow banks were big and there was some snow left on the shoulder of the road from the past 2 days new snowfall, i had last years carbides on the sled so i did a little road grind and jumped the snow bank every now and then and picked my way back

to the winona area to check out the remaining trails in winona, all of which were pretty flat and well covered. There is some down trees in there though, one is just after a corner and can come up on you real quick! all in all 100+ miles so it was a good end to the season, sure beat going to work. i left my house in rochester at 7:45am and was back home by 5:30pm check out the pics of the ride.

 

Cam”

I will try to post Cam’s pictures at this link – they show some sweet late season riding on “the Hill”. (Cam’s picture #5 makes me want to jump right in my truck and fly to the hill! But as I read the weather report, this morning (Tuesday) was probably the final really nice riding day up there, though you will be able to ride for a while longer. I think Cam timed his final ride of the year about right.)

Ontario:

The OFSC trail map shows nearly all trails south of Bracebridge now closed. A few in Port Sydney and Huntsville are still shown “open”. All North Bay area trails were just downgraded to “Limited”, which is consistent with forum reports I am seeing.

Trails from New Liskeard on north are shown as open, but New Liskeard has been thin all winter, and I would go a little further north to drop. Anything from Iroquois Falls north should still be very good.

Cochrane and the far northern corridor should still be very good, but Cochrane is getting up to 45 degrees today and around forty for another day and a half. The end is in sight even in the far north, though not quite yet!

Cochrane is expecting several inches of fresh snow and cold temperatures from Thursday through the weekend. I would expect “Excellent” conditions in the area over the weekend.

Temperatures will rise above freezing briefly Monday and then settle into an early spring pattern of above freezing days and cold night through next week, if the long range forecast is right. That should allow decent riding in the far north through near the end of the month. We’ll monitor condition reports here. “Go North, young men!”

 

Monday, March 14th Update:

Winter isn’t giving up Easily!

I woke up to fresh snow at my place in East Aurora, so I took a little drive after breakfast. Check this link for a few pictures. Although trails are closed, they look inviting in a few spots. The pictures were taken up in Colden on the powerline trail not far from Colden Lakes. Those high elevation Colden trails still have a pretty decent base in some spots and the fresh snow made them look appealing. But they are closed, and there are lots of washouts and obstacles on all area trails.

Far North

Ontario trail conditions are rapidly deteriorating in all but the far north. North Bay is about the southernmost area with trails still open, and they will have warm temps all week after today.

Even Cochrane will have temperatures in the 40’s tomorrow and Wednesday, but their base is still great, and they expect five inches of snow and falling temperature on Thursday and through the weekend. Riding will be very good to excellent in that northern corridor for another week, at least, after the trails set up again on Thursday and Friday.

 

Sunday, March 13th Update:

We’re about done in New York State. Old Forge is claiming only “fair spring conditions” and we’ll have spring weather after this weekend.

Ontario is melting fast. Nothing worth riding south of North Bay, and they will have temps in the forties next week.

Even Cochrane and the far north will have daytime temperatures near 40 for a couple of days this coming week. They will have good riding for a couple more weeks if you want to make the drive. Still excellent as of this weekend.

Check back once a week or so if you’re interested. I plan to post some thoughts and trip stories when I have time. See you next year!

 

Wednesday, March 9th Update:

Here on “Tom’s Farm”, there is decent spring riding early this morning before the temperatures go above freezing, and I expect the same tomorrow morning. That should just about do it for the year I expect, with rain the rest of the week and warm temperatures. There’s an expected cold front over the weekend, but it doesn’t look like much snow with it, and then warming again quickly.

Old Forge got two feet of snow, and is reporting good conditions still today, but the Fat lady is getting ready to sing. They will have some rain and warmer temperature for a couple of days. Their trails should survive until the cold front this weekend, and then they’ll have fair to very good conditions over the weekend and early next week. But the next warmup should do them in. Still, not a bad season for Old Forge. We’ve gone three times, and might go once more, though I’m pretty much ready to call it a year after my ride yesterday on the farm.

The Ontario conditions will be quickly retreating north over the next week and a half or two. Bracebridge barely survived the recent rain with limited conditions. They will be very warm with rain the next few days and I expect that for weekend riding you’ll have to go north at least to North Bay.

Cochrane and the far northern corridor is doing fine, but they are now experiencing two days with daytime temps just above freezing, and the trails will begin to soften up. It’s getting very cold for the weekend again, and there should be great riding over the weekend and into the beginning of next week.

At this time of year, even Cochrane and nearby northern areas will start to get warm fronts, and a two or three day stint of 40 degree weather will hit them hard. That’s not in the forecast yet, but it will be coming soon. So if you are heading far north, you can expect more great riding through this weekend and into the middle of next week. I’ll keep reporting here until they have a serious meltdown in the far north.

 

Tuesday, March 8th Update:

Lots Of Snow Here and There Still!

As far as I know, all trails in our area are closed temp or closed for the season. But there is plenty of snow most places for back yard riding or ditch banging. Today and tomorrow will be the best days, with temperatures expected above 40 every day this week.

Old Forge got 15 inches of snow yesterday, and reports good conditions still. They have one more day of fine riding, then rain and warm temperatures from Thursday through the weekend.

Tug Hill should be much the same as Old Forge – final week for good riding.

Ontario has trails listed as “OPEN”, which means pretty good, from Bracebridge on North with some areas thinner than others.

The far northern Corridor where Meghan and I were last week from Iroquois Falls through Cochrane, Kap, and Hearst remain near perfect conditions right through the end of this week. They will have one day above freezing (36 tomorrow), then below freezing every day with frigid nights. Partial sun most days with a little snow every day. Wish I could teleport myself back up there for another few days, but I’ve shot my budget and my energy for very long drives! Still, if you are thinking of a long drive for great riding, you will find it in that corridor for the next week, at least.

 

Sunday, March 6th 8AM Update:

Enough to Make Your Head Spin!

It makes me mentally dizzy reading my various weather reports and trail forums this morning. Heavy rain yesterday, with bare ground showing most places last night when I arrived back in town after the drive from hell – more on that in a minute! Then I wake up to significant snow all over western New York and plunging temperatures.

Locally, we’re certainly into spring conditions and most riding will be limited to just guys with local knowledge. I plan a spin around my farm tomorrow. I doubt we’ll hear of any open trails in western NY this week. Local temperatures back in the 40’s with rain by the end of the week.

Old Forge

In spite of the rain hitting Tug Hill and Old Forge hard yesterday, they are getting this same winter storm today and tonight, along with below zero temperatures tomorrow night and Tuesday night. My prediction is that Old Forge, at least, will be grooming heavily and with the return of sunshine, there should be a last really mint ride in Old Forge Tuesday and Wednesday – hmmmmn?

Ontario

My last update Friday reported highway #11 closed for more than 13 hours Friday night. We hunkered down in a motel Friday night, getting up at 4AM. The highway was still closed due to the very bad tractor-trailer wreck, so we headed east into Quebec during a steady snowfall. It was a slow but very pretty drive down Quebec 101 to North Bay as it slowly got light on our 130 mile detour.

New Liskeard got some snow from this storm – they have been open and open limited, but with bare and icy spots showing where we drove around that area Friday. This storm should give that area just enough snow for half way decent riding, but still a bit thin snow.

We drove through a near blizzard in North Bay yesterday morning. Most of their trails were already good – they will be great for the next few days after this snow event. (not fun driving yesterday, though!)

This weekend’s storm was mostly snow from North Bay on south to Huntsville. Muskoka got heavy rain on and off, then a little snow late. We got off the highway and had lunch at our favorite bar in Baysville to talk to people about the trails. A base will survive in that area. I expect limited conditions in Muskoka this week. I’ll try to get a first hand report in the next few days.

South of Bracebridge, the snow rapidly disappeared on our drive yesterday. Gravenhurst was spotty, Orillia worse, and from Barrie south it was mostly bare fields.

The Far North

I just checked the weather back in Cochrane where we’ve just spent a wonderful week riding. Temperature this morning is a balmy 18 below zero! The next three days will be bright and sunny, with cold nights and good riding temperatures during the day. More snow later in the week. Mint riding conditions should continue on that northern Corridor of Ontario for at least another week and a half. If any of you plan a trip up there, feel free to contact Meghan and I for recommendations on places to stay and riding destinations.

And so it goes.

 

Friday, March 4th Update:

A Fun Drive

When I left home five days ago for my snowmobiling trip in northern Ontario, we had perfect weather for the drive all the way north. We gave thanks. We knew that the weather on the way home might not be as appealing at this time of year. It isn’t!

We knew that a winter storm could hit us on the way back south. It has!

We knew that the driving might really suck. It does!

We knew that sometimes these winter storms in Canada can close major highways – This storm has, after two tractor trailer trucks hit head-on closing highway #11.

We knew that in sparsely populated northern Ontario, sometimes there aren’t any alternate routes if a road is closed. There aren’t! Not for a couple of hundred miles, anyway.

We knew that if there was a storm and highway closing, motel rooms might be hard to score. Good luck on this one – we got one of the last rooms in town in new Liskeard.

(Final Bonus Points: There is a kids hockey tournament in town – the little urchins are holding practice in the hall outside my room as I rest up for the early morning drive. Hope they tire soon!)

 

Friday, March 4th, 10:30 AM Update:

Good News & Bad News

Good News: We weren’t even sure we would ride today, but we woke up to three + inches of fresh powder and just had to go out. We put on about 45 miles. We did a total of 550 miles in three full days and two half days this week. We got late starts two days when the temps were way below zero overnight, and had the one long day yesterday to Abitibi. Great week.

Bad News: I gave myself a mild concussion putting Meghan’s sled on the trailer as we were loading up. I’m not used to loading her new sled yet. Usually I loaded her ZRT on the right side, and it is much lower. I was wearing my helmet and still knocked myself silly! Learned a lesson the hard way.

Long drive today. We’ll probably stay overnight along the way instead of killing ourselves, especially with my little headache.

More ride reports and an article on Abitibi coming soon when I get home. In the meantime, search on YouTube for Abitibi Canyon. You’ll find dozens of entertaining videos.

 

Friday, March 4th, 7AM Update:

Saying “Goodbye”

Goodbye to an amazing place to ride and “goodbye” to snowmobiling for the year, most likely. We’re heading out in an hour for one final short ride up here, and then starting the drive home. This may be our final ride of the season, though a shot of March snow around home isn’t out of the question. I’ll be posting about far north riding conditions and whatever else I hear as long as there is riding.

Conditions up here in Cochrane and the northern corridor will be EVEN BETTER next week than they were for us this week. Wish I could stay or come back next week, but there is just so much time & money available for riding and we need to work at our business the next few weeks and save our pennies! The Cochrane area is getting a little fresh snow this weekend, then bright sunshine all next week with very cold nights and good riding temperatures during the day. If you decide to make the trip next week, you won’t be sorry.

NOTE: MUCH closer to home, Old Forge reports 5” of new snow in the past 24 hours and very good conditions.

Weather in western New York? Get ready for a monsoon that looks to be worse than last week’s! Just what I want to see when I get home Saturday night!

 

Thursday, March 3rd Update:

An AWESOME Day of Riding In Cochrane & Abitibi!

Just got in from an amazing day of snowmobiling after riding a 188 mile round trip up to the Abitibi Canyon; I knew someone from home would call me a wimp if I didn’t do a 200 mile day while I was here, so we drove around near the motel until my trip odometer clicked over 200.

I’ll write more later tonight and you will be able to see some pictures at this link. Meghan says, “If you are a serious rider, dig around under the couch cushions or whatever you have to do to find the money and get your ass up here. This place is amazing!” Just great conditions this week and it looks like all of next week too. Maybe longer. They sometimes ride into April up in the Canyon.

 

Wednesday, March 2nd, 6PM Update:

Cold Day!

Meghan rode more than I did. Young and tough! She spent a couple of hours exploring the local trails and businesses while I stayed warm until after lunch.

I did put on about 60 miles, including a run down to my favorite local trail, L103. As luck would have it, I met a groomer at the beginning of L103 just after he had finished two passes over the length of the trail.

Now as someone who is sort of in “the trail business”, I know that you are going to damage a trail if you run it immediately after a grooming pass and before it has had a chance to set up. On the other hand, I’m a rider and I also lick my chops when I come on a pristine trail, just like most of you would. I compromised – I ran the trail but stuck mostly to the side that had been groomed first. Check out some pictures at this link.

Weather up here, according to the 14 day forecasts, continues to look very good for continued mint riding conditions!

 

Wednesday, March 2, 11AM Update:

Sounds like all trails near home are closed and the remaining snow is sparse.

Old Forge kept enough snow through Monday’s rain event to remain open “Fair to Good”.

Southern Ontario is pretty well washed out with similar weather to what we’ve had in western New York.

Here in the far north where we are this week (Cochrane), conditions are perfect. We had a snow squall last night that dumped several inches of fresh powder across the region. Only problem is that it is kind of cold today for wimps like me! Still below zero at 11AM.

It’s a nice luxury for a soft old guy like me to have a stay of five days to get in my riding on a trip like this. I had planned an easy day on Wednesday anyway to give the old muscles a little rest. With last night’s frigid temperatures, it’s worked out well. A late breakfast and a drive around town in the truck to explore and get to know where everything is. I do plan to head out for a ride this afternoon with Meghan, who is chomping at the bit to be on her sled again! (In fact, she just got suited up for a short solo ride without me.)

Tomorrow is going to be about 15 degrees warmer in the afternoon than today, with bright sun and very little wind. I’m looking forward to a lot of miles and some good pictures.

Winter looks to be planning to stay here (up north) at least another week. Anyone wanting some great riding, head on up! Be sure to drive at least as far north as Iroquois Falls, preferably to Cochrane, Kapuskasing, or Hearst.

Many Thanks to Tim F. for the following message. It really makes me feel it is worth the time I put into this to hear that guys read me regularly.

Hi Tom,

Just wanted to drop you a line to say Thank You for your trail reports all year.  I read them everyday to see what trails are open, where the best trails are and I also use the links to the specific clubs that you have on the site.   The website is part of my morning ritual when I log on to my computer.  Very informative information that is on one web page.

Thanks Again,

Tim F. 

 

Tuesday, March 1st, 6PM Update:

Great Riding Today!

We put on about 150 miles on an easy day. Got a late start because our sleds were buried in the middle of the heated garage sled storage building and some guys blocking us in slept late. We hogged a spot by the door this afternoon to avoid that problem tomorrow. Everyone may start late tomorrow morning – 15 below zero overnight tonight!

We took a perfect, freshly groomed “A” trail west out of Cochrane this morning, took the L105 detour into a beautiful Green Water Provincial Park, and on to Smooth Rock Falls for a great snack at “Smoothies”.

From Smooth Rock, we took a near perfect “C” trail towards Timmins, but cut off east on a rocket fast A106C back towards Cochrane. On the way back we did a detour on the L103 trail where Meghan rolled her sled yesterday. The western half of that L103 trail actually gets my Award for 2011 “Trail of the Year”. It was groomed to perfection today as were most of the other trails we rode. It is also a gorgeous combination of great scenery, very fast sweeping turns, and just enough hills to be interesting. I had a really great ride on that section and plan to revisit it tomorrow or Thursday.

Check my pictures from today at this link.

Our “Find” of the day was Smoothies, a combination gas stop, convenience store, and very attractive restaurant. We will be back there for sure and highly recommend them.

Bottom line: If you don’t mind a mere 12 hour drive from western New York, great riding is far from done for the year! Absolutely terrific trails and grooming!

 

Tuesday, March 1st, 8AM Update:

I haven’t heard anything from home, but from the weather reports, it sounds like most of the snow is gone and the rest will go at the end of this week. We had a not bad season, though the steady light snows did not build up enough base until later than we would have wished.

Cochrane

We arrived here about lunchtime yesterday. Three facts about snowmobiling up here in the far north:

1) The riding conditions are MINT! According to the forecasts, conditions will remain like this or get even better through this week and likely at least through next week.

2) It is a LONG drive from western New York! 552 miles for us.

3) It is often COLD up here! Zero this morning – no big deal. Ten below zero tomorrow morning – chilly, but been there, done that. Fifteen to twenty below Thursday morning – that is too cold for me! We’ll have a long sleep in to rest up for an afternoon ride.

I’ll post a few pictures at this link from yesterday’s ride. All trails were nearly flat. We were beginning to see some rough corners on the “A” trail, but almost immediately met a groomer cleaning it up.

Meghan’s Crash:

Meghan has been riding for 10 to 12 years and never had an accident. She flipped her new sled yesterday when she came off a snow trail onto an icy section of plowed road. Her new sled has dually carbides on the skiis for steering, but no studs. Sure enough, when she hit the ice, it swapped ends and rolled. Fortunately, she was still going slowly and is not hurt. Broken windshield and minor scratches for the sled, but she finished the ride OK. It dealt her confidence a bit of a setback, which is not all bad. She was beginning to feel pretty brave.

Here are a few of Pete’s Pics from home before the meltdown.

 

Sunday, Feb. 27th, 8PM Update:

Thanks to Pete Z. for a quick update from the southern tier trails

HEY TOM, MY BROTHER AND I TOOK A RIDE SAT. MORN LEAVING FROM EARLS IN RT. 16 DOWN THROUGH FRANKLINVILLE THEN OUT TO ELICOTTVILLE AND BACK UP THROUGH.  TRAILS WERE IN GOOD SHAPE LOTS OF POWDER TO PLAY IN. WE TOOK SOME PIX AND THOUGHT WE WOULD SHARE THEM WITH YOU.  GREAT JOB TO ALL THE CLUBS. 

I’ll try to post some of Pete’s pics tomorrow.

Meghan and I left home in East Aurora at 6:40 AM heading for the far north. Traffic and weather were perfect for the long drive. Can’t beat early on a Sunday morning for driving through Toronto!

Southern Ontario got much the same snow that we did the past couple of days, and they needed it. Muskoka, which has been hurting, had a fresh several inches, and people were out riding, though traffic was light.

Snow cover was OK from Barrie Up to Burk’s Falls. The 20 miles or so just south of North Bay was very thin with bare fields and dirt showing many places on the trails we could see.

Conditions were quite a bit better from North Bay all the way up to Temagami. People were riding and there was decent but thin snow.

My favorite riding area most years is New Liskeard, but they have been hurting for snow all year. There was very little there today, with dirt patches visible almost everywhere we stopped to look. Definitely a base in places, but they will need more snow (which they may get over the next week).

Just north of New Liskeard, snow cover rapidly increases. We pulled into the very nice Comfort Inn in Kirkland Lake (highly recommended) at 6:45 this evening after driving since 6:40 AM with maybe an hour and a half of stops for lunch and to look at trails. Guys at the motel report good grooming in this area with very good riding conditions.

We’re getting up early to drive on another 90 miles north to Cochrane, where conditions are reported to be very good, with snow off and on this week. We’ll definitely plan to post some pictures and ride reports. We’ve got five days of riding planned. We should be riding between Iroquois Falls, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Hearts, and Timmons (if my old man body holds out!) If any of our readers are tempted by our reports, the long range is looking very good. There should be at least two more weeks of very good riding up here if the reports hold true.

Tom

 

Friday, 10 PM Update:

Here’s a fresh ride report from Brian:

Tom,  Took a ride from west hill in warsaw down to the lodge. Conditions are good,there is a lot of ungroomed snow so you need to work the turns hard. Also very light traffic. Tom this was my first year I volunteered a small portion of my time to help the club out working the groomer. I wish everyone could see the time that some of these volunteers are putting in to keeping the groomers running,cleaning ,staking trail, grooming ex... so that all of us can enjoy the trails. On my way down to the lodge I couldn’t believe that not one of the dozen of sleds that traveled before me could take a second of their time to get off their sled and remove branches that had fallen on to the trail .But rather go out of their way to go around them. I guess the attitude is I paid my 20 bucks f#!* the guy behind me. We all need to help to keep the trails safe !  Thanks Brian 

(Brian is right on about stopping to move a fallen branch – simple courtesy and a small, easy way to help out all of us. On the other hand, I am afraid that I can remember once or twice passing up an opportunity to stop and move a branch myself. But I felt bad afterwards!) 

 

Friday, February 25th, 1PM Update:

I just got word that the Folsom Trailblazers have opened their trails, “Limited Conditions”, as of noon today. They ask me to emphasize that EXTREME CAUTION should be exercised by all out on the trails this weekend. Many down tree limbs from recent storms and washouts across the trails exist and may be obscured by the fresh snow.

Holland Sno-Rascals trails are also open, (use caution), as of this morning. Let me know if any other clubs announce official openings.

There should be decent riding opportunities across our region through Sunday, when temperatures will begin a dramatic one day rise late in the day. The weather service thinks all the snow will melt in Monday’s rain. We’ll see.

Some clubs may do a little grooming this weekend, others not. Count this a “bonus weekend” at the end of our season locally.

Meghan and I are off Sunday morning for a week in the far north, staying in Cochrane, Ontario for the week. I hope to be able to update and post some pictures while I’m there. It will be plenty cold enough, that much is for sure!

 

A “Thank You” to Jay Such, Colden Trail Riders Club:

Before people quit reading this Blog for the season, I’d like to send out a “Thank You” to Jay from the Colden Trail Riders club for his contribution to our sport. Jay is one of those guys who is pretty handy to have in a club. I think his official title is Membership Coordinator, but he’s a lot more. One of the Colden groomers lives at Jay’s house, he’s involved in the grooming, and most noticeable to someone like me, he does a bang up job of posting trail updates on the Colden club website.

I recently wrote to Jay and told him that if every club had someone like him, nobody would read my trail conditions website. Jay writes regularly, often posting something every day. The regular information is valuable enough, but Jay puts together a good sentence and knows how to spell. (You think that’s nothing? Read many of the blogs and forums out there!) He is often entertaining reading.

Jay and I traded e-mails recently, and we both think that many area clubs have stepped up their efforts in all areas the past couple of years. Not so long ago, riding distances in western New York was a crap shoot even when all areas had good snow conditions. One club might be well groomed and then you would run into 20 miles of bad trail before getting back on another clubs well maintained trails. But in the past couple of years, when snow was good, you could pretty much count on decent grooming on a long multi-club loop ride.

Trail condition reporting, though, is still spotty. Some of the clubs I list at the top of this page go days or even weeks between trail condition updates of any kind. The Folsom Club got a new website up and running mid season this year, and they’ve been pretty regular since then. But the gold standard this year in Club Website Reports has been the Colden Trail Riders and Jay’s updates. I hope more clubs are able to recruit guys like Jay Such who can write and who are interested in putting in the time to keep their websites up to date. Thanks, Jay.

 

Friday, February 25th Update – 8AM:

Colden Trail Riders trails have been mostly OPEN and in fair to good condition for the past two days. Some grooming. They just got a new groomer, so I am sure they wanted to get out and give it a test!

 

Other clubs may open today if enough snow comes down so that everyone can have a last blast through this snowy weekend before an expected thaw Monday. (Some doubt on how much rain Monday in latest forecast, so possibly some western New York trails may survive, since it is quickly cooling down again Monday night.) I will post any other trail openings as I hear of them. Steady snow here in East Aurora still coming down strong.

 

Thursday, Feb. 24th (My BIRTHDAY!), 7AM Update:

Many thanks to Jay for sending the following very encouraging report on nearby riding:

Hi Tom. I emailed u last year. Sorry I lost touch. I've done 2500 miles this year and had great rides that I should hav shared. But yesterday may hav been the best all year. 10 inches of new snow in so. Tier on not washed out trails. Trailered to Franklinville from EA. Went south on totally groomed trails on a 20 degree sunny morning. Yes! No one on these trails, they were all mine. Went to Hindsdale to Cuba to PA line to state park and back to F-Ville. Then trailered back to closed trails at home in Holland. U wouldn't believe it, but it was the best ride all year. And I rode almost every possible day. I'm a big fan of Folsom and Wyoming county trails but I found a new late season sweeeet spot down south.  Old Forge didn't get a foot of snow and nobody rides in Allegany and Catt. Counties. Which has a good base too. Lookin for a good ride? Go south! Before its gone.  WNY trailblazer Jay.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thank you, Jay! This report, along with as much as ten or eleven inches of new snow coming tomorrow should give lots of nearby riding opportunities for the weekend. All bets are off after Sunday, with the weather service increasingly confident of a major warm up AND rain event Monday.

Wednesday, Feb. 23rd, Update:

I understand that most western New York club trails remain closed in our area. Don’t know about Chautauqua trails first hand. Although some snow may come in the next couple of days, it looks like another major warmup and rain event on Monday. That may do it for the year locally. (Depending on what we get from the “winter storm” Friday, some clubs may open their trails one final time over this weekend before the big melt on Monday.)

Meghan and I are enjoying a couple of days in Old Forge. There is heavy traffic with the school vacation week and holiday on Monday. Conditions here vary from terrific to fair depending on the trail and time of day. It’s been a good time. Old Forge is also expecting a winter storm Friday with heavy snow. Unlike western NY, where all the snow is likely to melt on Monday, Old Forge should survive the Monday rain and thaw and have decent riding through next week.

We’re headed way north to Cochrane, Ontario next week in hopes of a final quality ride for the season.

Anyone with news or a report of a good ride, send it in, and I’ll pass it on.

 

Tuesday, Feb. 22nd Update:

We pulled into Christy’s Motel in Old Forge this afternoon and someone walked up and asked, “Are you Tom from Tom’s Trails?” Small world! They are from Ransomeville and spending the week up here. (HI, Paul & Sue!)

We have enjoyed some perfect trails but also some that were getting pretty beat late in the day. LOTS of sledders up here for the holiday week. It was a picture perfect day for sledding with very light wind and bright sun. More of the same tomorrow after a -12F night tonight.

 

Monday, February 21 Update:

Earlier this morning I heard from a Folsom Club member that their trails remain closed for now. They are still evaluating the trails system.

The Colden Trail Riders club website (which has done a fine job of updates and trail condition reports this year), posted a nice write-up explaining why their trails will remain closed. A good read. Riding conditions around western New York appear to vary from great to dangerous mile by mile. Ride with great care if you ride.

I stopped by Jancen’s this morning for parts and heard that a bunch of guys had ridden last night after the first batch of snow was on the trails, and they had a great ride. (remember, you are trespassing if you ride on closed trails – I’m just reporting what I heard)

I also heard this morning from a guy with a cottage down in the Chautauqua hills and he said they still had over a foot of old snow on the ground after the thaw. That, plus the fresh snow, should make riding available in Chautauqua County. Send in any first hand reports.

Meghan and I are off tomorrow morning for a couple of sunny days riding in Old Forge. Conditions are back to “good” there.

The Muskoka region of Ontario near Bracebrdge is pretty beat from the thaw. Some snow due this week, but things are not looking good there.

Meghan and I have reservations for the far north in Cochrane from the 28th through March 3rd. Snow should still be good there and we’re hoping for some sunny days for what could be our last real ride of the year.

 

Sunday, Feb. 20th, Noon Update:

Heavy Snow?

I hope so, because that’s what we still need. As those of you who follow the NOAA weather discussion posting, or the other weather blogs know, there is a tricky weather system coming tonight. A few miles difference in the placement of a relatively narrow band of heavier snow will make the difference between 3” to 4” or possibly 10” or more for us. I figure we need 5” or 6” to make our Folsom area trails a decent ride.

 

I took another drive around this morning. I was surprised that there wasn’t a bigger change from yesterday after a nearly all day lake effect plume was parked over the Folsom area yesterday. There is now snow in the woods and on east facing hills and in sheltered areas, but the fields are just lightly dusted, after most snow blew right across the fields. Check these pictures from this morning.

Good news is that I still think the base looks very good most places and I see no reason why the trails can’t be “open limited” right after the coming snow if we get those 5” +. But it’s not my call. Check the club websites tomorrow or back here where I will report what I am hearing.

 

Saturday, February 19th, Noon Update:

Good News & Bad News

The bad news first: this was a near total melt down of snow in the fields, and there was heavy flooding run off and washouts exist across the trails in many places.

 

The Good News? I just got back from a pretty extensive drive around the Folsom trail system. A frozen snow and ice base survived on as much as 90% of the trail system. With three or four inches of new snow on that base, the trails could be ridable again. (The kicker is that the other 10% where the trails are bare or badly washed out could prevent the club from opening trails.) Check this mornings pictures at this link.

Also Good News: It has been snowing steadily all morning across the Folsom trail system, and there is a heavy band of lake effect snow right smack over our trails as I write. We may get several inches today. There may be four to six inches tomorrow night, depending on exactly where a warm front sets up and the line between sleet and all snow turns out to be.

 

More Bad News: The high winds today are NOT helping. Sometimes blowing snow does help trails when the trail surface is lower than surrounding snow and the wind drifts fresh snow onto the trails. Today, the frozen trail base is higher than the surrounding bare fields and the wind is blowing the snow right across the trails and on across the fields. We will need to have some luck with the more general snow fall in the next couple of days to get much snow on the trails.

As you wait for word on possible trail openings, remember that there are land owner issues to consider – the clubs need key landowners to be happy with the amount of snow where the trails cross their land. Also, my quick drive around the roads doesn’t let me see the extent of serious washouts that could keep the trails closed even if there seems to be good enough snow in many places.

Bottom Line?

Don’t give up on local riding just yet. There is serious frost in the ground and just the one cold night last night stopped the flooding and runoff in its tracks. We need a few inches of snow that will stay on the trails and even then the best we can hope for is “Open Limited, spring conditions and WARNINGS of hazardous washouts”.

 

Friday, Feb. 18th, 4PM Update:

Trails Pretty Well Wiped Out in WNY!

I took a drive today down through southern Erie County and part of Chautauqua (Cherry Creek area). Not pretty. Check this link for a few pictures. Fields are mostly bare and even the frozen trail base mostly gone in Erie County. There is still some snow in the fields and a solid packed snow/ice trail base in parts of Cherry Creek, but water is deep in many fields and running over the trails in many places.

I will check Folsom area “trails” tomorrow morning, but I expect they are gone, like those in southern Erie.

Prospects for further riding in our part of the state are dim, though not statistically impossible.

My attention after the cold front arrives tonight will turn to inventorying riding possibilities on road trips.

Old Forge: Should survive this and with snow during the next few days, should provide decent riding.

Tug Hill: Plenty of snow, but road riding will have been hit hard and we’ll need to get some first hand reports.

Muskoka Region of Ontario: Hit hard by the warm-up; all their trails were in great shape but have already been downgraded to “limited”.

Far North Ontario: New Liskeard had thin snow to begin with and just went fully “open” this past week. Trails from there south to North Bay were just downgraded to “limited” again. As of today, trails from New Liskeard north were still open, though they will be icy after the flash freeze tonight. More snow is coming and there is a good chance of decent riding in that area for a couple of weeks.

Quebec: As of yesterday, many trail systems in Quebec were still reporting “good” conditions, though the snow has been thin in the Montreal – Quebec City region and you had to go further north to get good snow even before this thaw.

I’ll see what I can find out the next few days. I plan another road trip myself, so I will be working hard!

 

Wednesday, February 16th Update:

I have not heard directly from all clubs, but I think it’s safe to assume that all area trails are “CLOSED” until further notice. We could be done for the year in this area, but another winter storm is certainly possible.

 

Meghan and I rode in old Forge yesterday and today and conditions were outstanding. I’ll post a few pictures at this link.

There’s a lot of snow in Old Forge and on Tug Hill, and some base should survive this meltdown. There will be some riding after Friday, but I don’t know how good it will be. We’ll scout around and try to get reports of how the trails survived in that region as well as across Ontario on the weekend when the next cold front arrives.

 

More to come soon.

 

Monday, February 14th, 8AM Update:

 

Sunday, Feb. 13th, 10 PM Update:

Meghan and I are driving down state to pick up a new (used) sled for her the next two days. Amazing where you find deals in this new age of online shopping. Watch the club websites for any trail closing info.

I have been asked to post the following:

Tom,

 

Can you PLEASE post the following information on your trail report site:

 

The Bennington Vol Fire Co. will be having a snowmobile accident/ drill on the trails behind the Bennington Highway Garage (near the Rte 77 cross over) tomorrow night (Monday 2/14), after 7pm. Watch for emergency vehicles and personnel if riding tomorrow night in this area. PLEASE use extreme caution, drill should be clear by 8:30pm. Flares will be on the trail marking the approaches....

 

Thank you,

 

Jim Dick, 1st Asst.Chief

Bennington Vol. Fire Company

 

Sunday, February 13th, 11AM Update:

I just did a quick 45 mile run around some of the Folsom trails this morning. The Bennington Loop is freshly groomed in most places and is good to excellent.

The west side trails including C4B through Sheldon and down towards Strykersville are fair to good, with many corners whooped out and bumpy conditions on some straight sections.

The east side trails including S43 over the hill and C4 from Java up through the rail line trails and over the hill to Byrncliff are good to very good. The A&A rail line trail is very good.

Temperatures are rising quickly, but the snow so far (as of 11AM) is holding up. The surface may turn sugary by later this afternoon. Traffic is getting heavy as of half an hour ago when I left the trails.

Thanks to the Byrncliff maintenance crew for coming up with a jug of gas. Meghan knew that she was cutting it a little close making the second loop of our ride. She ran out of fuel 500 feet from the Byrncliff parking lot at the end of our ride!

Be sure to read the rest of today’s updates below about possible trail closings to save the base.

 

Sunday, Feb. 13th, 7AM Update:

Warm-up Watch:

If it’s possible to find good news in any forecast that includes a 50 degree day (Friday), there is some. The long range forecasts I watch both locally and for Ontario are indicating another sharp cold front is possible by next Saturday, MAYBE just in time to save our trail base!

This has a big impact on riding recommendations for this week, since it now looks as though it is worth sacrificing some riding time this week to keep the trail base intact for the future. With that in mind,

SOME RIDING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THIS WEEK:

Head on out for a good ride this morning (Sunday).

Get off the trails after lunch today when it will be in the upper 30’s with some rain showers.

Stay off the trails Monday.

Grooming will be possible and highly recommended Monday night and Tuesday.

There should be good riding on Tuesday and Tuesday night.

Although riding Wednesday morning would not be a killer, I now highly recommend closing all area trails Wednesday through Friday to save the base, since we can expect the cold front by next weekend. With the very warm temperatures Wednesday through Friday and a sharp freeze on Saturday, any moguls that develop late in the week will be hard to groom down when they freeze again.

These recommendations are based on the current long range forecast and are subject to change if the forecast for next weekend changes. Watch the weather.

 

Saturday, February 12th, Noon Update:

Where’s THIS come from?

We were expecting 1” to 3” overnight last night and woke up to a significant snow event with 5” to 7” or more so far. Nearly all area trails were groomed very good to excellent by last night, all set for the weekend. I hope lots of you rode at the end of the week like I did and got your fix! Although the trail base is groomed flat and packed most places, all that new powder along with a windy day will slow everyone down a bit in their speed riding mode. Still, there should be good riding out there today.

The Coming Week in Review

Tomorrow looks like a mid to upper 30’s day with some mixed precipitation. Riding conditions should be OK if you don’t mind occasional possible rain.

With rain showers likely Sunday night and early Monday, I suggest staying off trails from Sunday afternoon through Monday. Some clubs may close their trails.

Another shot of cold air arrives Monday night and will stay through early Wednesday morning. It will certainly be possible for clubs to groom Monday night and Tuesday morning to clean up the mess from the warm Sunday riding. There’s no reason not to expect good riding Tuesday and again Wednesday morning if the current forecast holds up. (Calling for 20 degrees Tuesday night)

The Big Question – Are we Done or Not?

It is too early to make this call now, but clubs will have to take a hard look at the long range forecasts by Tuesday night. The long range will be out for the coming weekend and into next week by then.

If the thaw is expected to continue beyond next Wednesday through Friday, an argument can be made for leaving the trails open during the latter half of next week and let people go on and ride, every man for himself, figuring it could be the end of the season. Go ahead and use up the trails if it is likely the end of the season anyway.

But there are early indications of another cold wave possible beginning over next weekend. If that is in the forecast by this Tuesday, then it makes sense to close the trails after it starts to warm up Wednesday morning and let the base sit undisturbed until cold weather returns. The trails would probably survive in reasonably good shape except for some streams and drainages starting to open up. Then, if cold weather returns, we’d be back in business for another period of good riding.

Stay tuned for the long range weather outlook at mid-week. This is something for clubs to be talking over and perhaps checking with one another so there will be a unified decision.

 

Friday, February 11th Update:

There’s not very much to update today, except to say, “Get on out and enjoy very good to excellent conditions throughout our part of western New York!” We are at the peak of this year’s trail conditions. And it may go down hill fast after Tuesday. Enjoy.

 

Thursday, February 10th, 8PM Update:

Oatka Valley & Tri-County Drift Hoppers Get “A++” with Folsom Close Behind!

Meghan and I just got back from a 90 mile afternoon from Byrncliff down through Strykersville and Java, over to the Milestone in Chaffee for lunch, a zoom down C3 and S30 to Bliss (Fast!), then back up through the secondary trails to Java and through Sheldon again to Byrncliff. The Folsom trails were very good going out and a little bumpy in places late in the day coming home. They have an excellent flat base most places but have been dealing with drifting snow all week.

The Tri-County and Oatka trails were nearly all MINT! Just a wonderful job building a solid base everyplace. They have an advantage over Folsom in that they are further out and most trails get a little less traffic than the ones near Byrncliff.

I figure all area trails will be excellent for the start of the weekend. How they will hold up is another question. I would expect VERY heavy weekend traffic on the trails since everyone will be aware that our season is in danger with the very warm temps expected by the end of next week. This could be the final good weekend of the year, though another cold spell and more snow is still quite possible by the end of the month.

We should have very good riding through Tuesday, and with freezing temperatures overnight Tuesday night, the trails could even get a last grooming with good riding holding up through Wednesday and Wednesday night. All bets are off by next Thursday. Pray that I’m wrong. (For the record, we finished decent riding conditions in our area between March 5th and 7th last spring, and on February 25th in 2009.) Pictures from today at this link.

 

Thursday, February 10th, Noon Update:

I expect that there are very good riding conditions across most parts of western New York today. I rode much of the Folsom trail system myself yesterday afternoon and found the trail surface to be about as good as I’ve seen it almost everywhere. (Can you sing “O Canada?” The guys have been grooming so regularly on the Folsom system that the little gentle bumps that are so persistent have finally firmed up into a very sturdy, level base over most of the trail system, just like in Canada where they groom daily many places.) Reports from nearby clubs trails also tell of nice riding conditions.

With all the wind the past few days, there is powder drifted across the trails in many places, and you want to look out for unexpected big drifts near tree lines and hedge rows. We took a couple of unexpected leaps yesterday, but we were moving right along!

Bad News Seven Days Out

The long range forecast has been back and forth the past few days about just how bad the warmup is going to be. For a while the temperature forecast for the beginning of the week was coming down and it looked promising. It still is – for the BEGINNING of the week. But they are now expecting an extended warming trend with temps near 50 late next week. Ride your hearts out now through Tuesday or so!

 

Wednesday, February 9th, 11AM Update:

We got another “grooming report from the cab” this morning as Jim was headed back for a second pass on the C4 trail. The club is out in force grooming some of the trails for a second time in two days because of all the blowing snow yesterday. I may head out for another afternoon of riding myself soon. I had not planned to ride today because of the strong wind gusts forecast, but so far I’m not seeing any of the 38 to 40 MPH gusts that were in the forecast. Just a typical sunny and breezy winter day. But I’m holding off for another hour or two in case the weather guys are right about the wind.

 

Thanks to Jim for his efforts to keep all of us informed about grooming and trail conditions!

I get quite a lot of rider reports phoned or emailed to me. One of the most regular reporters is Jim Skoczylas, Trail Coordinator for the Folsom Trailblazers Snowmobile Club. Jim is also a Trail Boss and a busy groomer operator. And a nice guy. Just moments after I told him I was going to post a “thank you” on the website, he emailed to make sure I mentioned the other groomer operators in the Folsom Club:

“Tom here is the list of our operators by section Attica/Bennington 110- Rich,Nate,John,Jeff. South side 130, Jim,Adam,Rich,Dave,Chris, and Leon. Northwest, Tucker Snocat- Mike, Ryan, and Joe.”

All snowmobilers know what a debt we owe the small group of guys in each club who do most of the work and get the trails marked and groomed. Many of the clubs in our part of western New York are doing a fine job with their trails in this (so far) good snow season.

But that’s not what this tribute to Jim is really about. Yes, Jim is just one of many hard working club members when it comes to taking care of trails. But Jim is unusual in his willingness to share up to date information on trail conditions. If more clubs and more guys who are involved with the grooming were interested in taking the time to call in trail condition reports, those of us who manage websites could do a better job of giving riders accurate trail reports. And that is good for the sport.

Jim doesn’t give me much exclusive information. His reports also go to the Folsom Trailblazers club website. But he has my cell phone and he knows that I will pretty quickly get his information online. I particularly enjoy his sometimes hard to hear or dropped calls from the cab of a groomer giving real time reports!

Jim spends a lot of time working for the club and doing grooming. He’s also a regular guy who likes to ride. He’s often seen on the trails on his Bumble Bee black & yellow BRAAAAP machine! (Pssssssst – Jim often asks me to post warnings for riders to take it easy on the corners and when coming onto fields so they don’t blow away the snow and hurt the trail base – I hesitate to venture a guess as to whether Jim always practices what he preaches!)

A good guy to know and a good guy for the sport of snowmobiling in western New York. Thanks, Jim.

 

Tuesday, February 8th, 5:30 PM Update:

I just got in from a 75 mile ride around a good part of the Folsom trail system. I did the Bennington Loop one and a half times out of curiosity, plus riding to Strykersville, out towards Java, and up the rail bed trail on C4 back to Byrncliff.

The condition of the trail surface is generally very good to excellent. But most places you wouldn’t know it because of very heavy drifting snow today. Which surprised me, after the drizzle yesterday and the heavier granular snow the past couple of days. But there is still plenty of powder in the fields and it sure was blowing around this afternoon. Several times I turned around and rode back on trails that were heavily drifted in just fifteen minutes after I had come the other way. Same thing with groomers. I gave a groomer a fifteen minute head start on the Bennington loop leaving from Byrncliff and when I left to follow him there was so much drifting over the trail that you wouldn’t know a groomer had just been by if you didn’t look closely between drifts.

That said, the trails in the woods and sheltered sections of trail are very good most places. With a groomer working the Bennington Loop as I write this evening, most of the trail system will have been groomed today or last night. Just don’t expect smooth high speed trails in open fields, or anyplace it has drifted in.

The best trails were C4B from Sheldon down towards Strkersville, with very fresh grooming at 3PM; S43 up over the hill across #77; and C4 from near Java back to Byrncliff at least in places where it wasn’t drifted. The rail bed sections were very good with just light stutter bumps.

(If you like drift busting, you’ll LOVE the conditions tonight! Very, very fine powder in all the drifts across the trails.)

Check this link for some pictures later this evening.

 

Tuesday, February 8th, 5AM Update:

The Folsom Trailblazers system will be mostly freshly groomed by this afternoon. Most of the northside trails including the Bennington loop and Attica trail were reported to be done last night. The east side trails from Java up through Byrncliff are being done this morning and afternoon. I have no reports on the west side trails from Sheldon through Strykersville.

I have some reports that the recent very granular snow is not holding a “set” very well after grooming, so riders are cautioned to PLEASE go easy on the rooster tales coming off of corners, etc.

Mother Nature Giveth and Mother Nature Taketh Away

Although we could have used a little more snow in our part of the state this winter, it’s been an excellent winter as far as temperature is concerned. It’s been a LONG time since we could report a winter with snow on the ground and constant below freezing temperatures from early December straight through to the second week in February, but we only had that three day thaw at New Years so far. Very good. And with the snow over the past two weeks, trails are finally very good across western New York.

Until next week. The long range forecast for the past two days has been consistently reporting a major pattern change to northern hemisphere weather beginning this Sunday and lasting perhaps for a good while. Temperature forecast for Monday is now 40 degrees. Our western New York snow pack is good enough to survive a couple of days in the 40’s, but not a lot more than that.

I’d say ride your hearts out this coming weekend. The depressing thing about our climate in this region is that it is not inconceivable that we could be done for the year by late next week. Of course we’ll hope for only a few days above 40 and another cold wave, but I am not feeling good about the long range weather.

Out of Town Riding

Old Forge and Tug Hill now have plenty of snow and more of it coming during the next few days. Riding should be good there all week.

Trails all across Ontario are mostly open and in good condition now. Conditions are reported excellent in the Muskoka area (Bracebridge through Huntsville). Excellent in the far north from Kirkland Lake on north through Cochrane and Kapuskasing. (Snow is still very thin in the central region from North Bay through New Liskeard, which is one of my favorite riding areas when they get enough snow.)

We may come to depend on those far northern Ontario trails if the extended warm spell comes to western New York sometimes when it is in the 40’s here, the mountains and northern Ontario are just enough colder to hold their snow. Next Monday when it is supposed to be 40 here in western NY, it will be 36 as far north as Bracebridge, but it will only be 26 and snowing in New Liskeard. Sounds like time for a long “road trip”!

 

Sunday, February 6, 8AM Update:

Thanks to Jim from the Folsom Club for this update:

The Folsom groomers have been working all night to groom the fresh 5” to 6” of snow that fell since yesterday. All the east side trails from Java up through Byrncliff are freshly groomed and mint as of this morning. The north side Bennington loop is being groomed as I write. The trail to Attica will be groomed this morning. We have no confirmed word on grooming of the west side trails between Sheldon and Strykersville.

I got a report that the Colden Trail Riders trails have been phenomenal lately, so expect good conditions there!

Enjoy your riding today.

 

Saturday, February 5th evening Update:

I just got back in town from a quick two days in Old Forge. Conditions were not bad, but riding might actually have been better here the past two days. The fresh snow Old Forge got just before we went up Thursday was not setting well after grooming, so the trails were very loose our first day. They set better last night and we had a good ride this morning, but with very heavy weekend traffic. We did go out very early, so the first part of our ride was wonderful.

I will try to get some good local reports tomorrow and I hope to be out on the trails myself Monday and Tuesday. But I have no up to date first hand trail reports for you tonight.

I am happy to report that it’s snowing like crazy at my farm in East Aurora right now! I bet we get close to 5” tonight of the 3” to 5” they are forecasting. That should pretty well make up for what we lost due to traffic and the warmer weather today. It’s a good, heavy snow, excellent for the trails.

 

Wednesday, February 2nd, 8PM Update:

I did not go out around any trails myself today, but talked with some riders and checked in with the other club websites. (The phone JUST rang, and it was Jim from the cab of one of the Folsom groomers!) Trail conditions appear to be very good all across our part of western New York. Jim says the whole south side of the Folsom system will be freshly groomed by noon tomorrow. The other area clubs all sound as though they are grooming. Riding should be mint in our region Thursday and Friday!

Which bums me out, because I made reservations for my first ride of the year up in Old Forge tomorrow and Friday. I hate to miss the really good riding here. But I like the Old Forge restaurants and the atmosphere. Time to make use of my permit.

Ontario Riding

Most trails in the Muskoka snow belt region of Ontario are finally fully open. Here and there some are still limited, but they got about the same new snow there this week that we did in western New York. The OFSC interactive map shows all my favorite trails in the Bracebridge – Port Sydney – Baysville – Huntsville – Dorset to Dwight triangle fully “Open – Green”. I’ll probably head up there late next week if there are a couple of sunny days in the forecast. I highly recommend riding in this area.

The far north from Kirkland Lake through Cochrane has been open for a while and is getting even better. Trails are still not fully “Open” in my favorite far north destination of New Liskeard, but they are beginning to open “Limited”. I was feeling bad about this tonight until I checked my posts on this website from the last two years. I don’t normally go to new Liskeard until March 1st, anyway! I guess we’re right on schedule.

Remember the North Java Inn Benefit Ride Saturday

It leaves Byrncliff at about 12:30 and probably about the same from meet up points on other club’s trails. Plan to arrive at the burned North Java Inn around 1:15 or 1:30 to show your support. I will be on my way back from Old Forge and hope to make it just in time to join the ride.

 

Wednesday, February 2nd, 8AM Update:

WTF? They call this a major winter storm?

LOL – the poor weather service guys were so sure that we would get significant snow from this storm, but it sure doesn’t look like it. There still may be a bit this afternoon, but not the big event we hoped would set us up with enough snow for the month.

The good news is that there’s a good bit of snow out on the trails already. I rode from Byrncliff over to Chaffee and had a beef on weck at the Milestone yesterday afternoon. The Folsom trails were generally very good to excellent in a few places. On the west side of the system towards Strykersville I found gentle ripples even where they had been groomed recently; could use more passes. But on many parts of the trails and especially on the east side, the base is smooth and well packed. The railbed from Java up to Varysburg was nearly flat; as good as I’ve seen it very often. I enjoyed riding over very smooth trails with a light cover of fresh powder.

The Tri-County trail from Java over to the Milestone was not as good, with some bumps and a good five inches of fresh powder on most of the trail. It will be sweet when they get a groomer through after this “storm”.

How About a North Java Inn Tribute Ride?

Read the following announcement sent to me yesterday by Kevin Knarr. It sounds like a great idea to me. Pass it on to every rider you know. Let’s see if we can get a long line of sleds heading out of Byrncliff at 12:30 Saturday. If you ride from other club’s trails nearby, get your own group together and try to arrive at the Java Inn site at maybe 1:15. I am sure someone will have a donation jar or some way for you to make a donation if you are so inclined, but don’t worry about that. Just showing up for the ride will mean a lot to Paula and Ken!

Hey Tom,

 

It is very sad to hear about the North Java Inn. I just got off the phone with Paula who is just devastated. You couldn’t meet anyone nicer than Paula and Ken. Paula was in tears while talking with me on the phone. I am trying to get a benefit “ride” arranged for Saturday at noon. My idea was to have whoever wanted to meet me at Byrncliff around noon. We would wait until about 12:30 before riding out as a large group to where N. Java once stood. There we would show our support for Paula and Ken. Paula absolutely loved the idea and was very thankful. She said that the tenant who lived upstairs lost everything and is in need of everything. If you can please pass this along to everyone that would be much appreciated. I am hoping that we will have a huge turnout for Saturday to show them much needed support.

 

 

Thank You, 
Kevin Knarr  

 

Tuesday, February 1st Update:

North Java Inn

We send our condolences to the owners and friends of the North Java Inn, which burned completely yesterday. We’re glad there was no loss of life, but it will be a loss of lifestyle to snowmobilers and everyone out in the Java community.

Riding today should be good after the light snow overnight. That snow is moving east faster than forecast, so most of today will likely be pleasant before the big storm arrives late tonight.

 

Monday, January 31st, 5PM Update:

I did not go out myself today, stuck in the house dealing with some remodeling and plumbing issues. But I read all the other sites and got a good Folsom groomer operator report. Most Folsom trails will have been groomed up from the weekend by late tonight. Other clubs in the area also report ongoing grooming and good conditions.

And – Tada – The winter storm “watch” is now a “warning”. As Jim from the Folsom club said to me, “This storm should be the signature event of this winter.” It should set our trails up for as long as the cold temperatures hold out. Take care during the worst of the storm, on the trails or on the highways! But plan to ride late in the week and next weekend. Conditions in western New York should be primo!

Saturday, January 29th, 8PM Update:

Brian from the Oatka trail system sent this grooming report this afternoon:

Oatka trails are in good condition; just got back from 8 hours of grooming. covered most of our south trails and another operator took over and was heading to Attica. Groomers were out all friday night also.  Trails out here are holding up a little better then the bar hopping trails to the west. A little less traffic. Also watch trail behind the lodge very very icy hill tough to get up and down without picks.  Brian

Thanks Brian!

Jim called in a ride report from this afternoon after he and a few people rode from the Byrncliff area down through Strykersville, over to Colden Lakes for the vintage sled ride, and back again. Jim says there wasn’t a bad trail on the ride between the various clubs. Enjoy your riding tomorrow when it will be a little colder and some of the soft stuff from today will set up. Weather for the whole next week looks colder with bits of snow (maybe a big snow??!??) most days. Shaping up to be a decent winter after a slow start.

 

Saturday, January 29th, 3PM Update:

Byrncliff area conditions today look good to very good in some places, but deteriorating with the warmer temperatures. There is moderate traffic on the trails and stutter bumps are forming in many places. With the warm day earlier this week and nearly 30 today, a few water courses and mud holes are opening on some trails according to rider reports. As you will see from my pictures, trails near road crossings are getting a little slushy and tinted with dirt.

It’s good to be home from my vacation and able to see trail conditions first hand again. Check this link for some pictures from this morning around the Folsom system. I did a tour by car, but I did go to most parts of the system and talked to several riders I met along the trail at road crossings.

If you plan to ride tonight or Sunday, expect decent conditions but not as good as earlier this week. Also note that one of the Folsom groomer tractors had an electrical short yesterday and is headed for the barn on limp mode. It should be back in service soon. It was grooming on the way to the shop this morning.

Out Of Town Riding:

Old Forge continues to report “good” conditions and I trust their reports. Tug Hill is a mixed bag, as always, but is reporting good riding in many spots. Keep checking SledTug for the most reliable condition reports and pictures.

Ontario is opening more trails all the time, but needs more snow. They range from some important trails still “CLOSED” to some reporting great mid winter conditions. Check the OFSC reports and maps and plan your riding accordingly. One of my favorite areas around New Liskeard is still not fully open. Further north around Cochrane reports excellent riding.

 

Sunday, January 23rd, 7:38PM Update:

Kind of cool to be able to post a grooming update coming directly from the groomer’s cell phone in real time. Jim just phoned in from the cab of the groomer as he was crossing Maxon Road on the way over towards Varysburg and the rail bed trail towards Java. He reports a pretty good turnout for today’s dice run in spite of the very cold temps. The Folsom club had their trails in very good shape and are already out grooming to clean up from the weekend traffic. The south side of the system should be in good shape by late tomorrow or sooner. He wasn’t sure about the schedule north of #20A but thinks they are out working also.

Day Old Info

Jim reported conditions from a 150 mile ride around Erie County and south yesterday. Those condition reports are now a day old, but I’ll post them here to give you an idea of how things are in various areas. Jim reported Tri-County trails to be at least a 7 out of 10; Franklinville excellent; Ashford very good; Sardinia not good; and Boston back to Folsom good conditions. Even trails not freshly groomed had been groomed recently and just had the 8” to 10” of fresh powder from this weekend on top of the base.

Jim reports an 8” to 12” base on most of the Folsom trail system.

I am bummed that I am ouit west missing all this, but it sounds like conditions will only get better by next weekend when I’m coming home. Meghan and I are in Las Vegas right now watching football playoffs and heading out for some nightlife later.

Take good care of that snow until we get home!

 

Sunday, January 23rd Update:

Hope the Dice Run at Folsom is going well. Damn cold, I bet!

Below is a user ride report sent in this morning to give you an idea of some nearby riding conditions:

Hi Tom

 

Rode from Langford-Arcade-Machias-West Valley- Zoar Valley-Langford

 

Sorry I don't know trail numbers Just know where I’m going after 25 years of this.

 

Trails through langford very rough with a foot of snow friday and windy conditions 1-2 foot whoops. Sardinia through Genesse Rd county  park rough weren't groomed yet.

Arcade trails were pretty good at least had been groomed about a 6 of 10 rail trail good to Machias. Ashford club trails to west valley rough not groomed yet. Zoar to Langford rough.

 

There is plenty of snow now they should be all groomed up by mid week to bad I work for a living to afford this hobby. Hopein for a trip to Quebec in a few weeks for the best riding for the big Apex.

 

Thanks Tom for your reports.

 

Saturday, January 22 Update:

Thanks to groomer operator Jim, from the Folsom Trailblazers, for the following grooming report, as of 7AM this morning:

We got a good blast yesterday onthe Folsom System average around a foot across the whoe trail system. Dave and Leon are working around Strykersville with the 130, Rich did C-4 to S-33 up to Sodom Rd. last night. Chris took the 110 and did the whole NW side of Rts 77 and Rts 20A,S-41,C-4B, S-45, and S-46 out to Schoellk...opf rd. When he finished up Rich jumped in the 110 and is grooming C-4H (lower A&A/Cotton Hill Rd). out to Attica. Then he is heading up to the Bennington Lanes on C-4 when he is finished with Attica. As of 7:40am he is just crossing Clinton St. heading towards Church Rd. so if riding out that way be very very cautious as he will be out for several more hours.

 

More Ontario trails are opening every day, and the Muskoka region between Bracebridge and Huntsville has most trails now open and well groomed, but not all. Much of Ontario still needs more snow.

Old Forge now reports a good base and “GOOD” trail conditions. Many trails on Tug Hill are now in good shape, but check “SledTug” above for first hand reports.

Friday, January 21st Update:

Looking Good!

The Folsom Club website has been updated (whole new website), and there is a current good trail condition report from Jim. Use the link at the top of this page. He reports very good conditions now and LOTS of fresh snow. It should be a fine weekend!

Don’t forget the Folsom Trailblazers Dice Run this weekend. Nice timing with the weather and riding conditions! Registration at Byrncliff at 11AM Sunday.

Check the Colden Trail Riders website for another thorough and up to date trail condition report.

I am jealous of the good riding conditions while I am on vacation out in Arizona. Can’t wait to get back next week and get out on the trails myself.

Out of Town

Conditions are looking up everywhere. Old Forge and Tug Hill have been getting snow and getting caught up on grooming. Ontario trails are opening many places, though still with many sections “LIMITED”. Winter. Yeah!!!!!

 

Monday, January 17th Update:

I’m out of town for ten days and relying on reader reports for trail conditions. Jim from the Folsom club called me and reports Folsom trails as “Good to Very Good” as of today after a night of grooming. He said the railbed had been really beat up over the weekend, but most south of #20A trails are now good.

Jim road down to Franklinville over the weekend and reports conditions pretty good in that direction.

Brief Warmup:

Weather looks like a very brief warmup just tomorrow. Suggest all stay off the trails Tuesday afternoon as a common sense way to avoid trail damage! Just one day.

Check out some of Jim’s pictures at this link.

If anyone else has ride reports, email them and I’ll try to post them while I am traveling this week.

        

The Town of Webb is finally reporting Old Forge trails to be in “GOOD” condition. They are usually quite accurate with their reports, so anyone wanting nice riding conditions should feel comfortable heading up that way. Good conditions are coming soon all across New York State.

 

Friday, January 14th, 3PM Update:

I made another couple of loops around the Folsom trails near Byrncliff this morning on my sled. The Folsom club groomers are busy working on all the trails and they are dragging loose snow into the low spots. The trails are getting better, but it is still a trail base building process and conditions are fair most places to “Good” in short stretches where more snow is available. More snow is on the way, the base is firming up well, and good to excellent conditions will arrive next week and perhaps stay for a while. There is no major warmup in the long term forecast!

I continue to see the best riding conditions in the Folsom system on the Bennington Loop north of Rte #20A.

If I have time, I’ll post a few more pictures at this link later this evening.

Following is a report from a reliable contributor confirming what we are seeing:

I took a little ride around the west hill in Warsaw. Conditions are very similar to what you described. There is probably enough snow to groom on the hill but thins out quickly east and further west towards Folsom trails. I also heard cherry creek trails have plenty of snow. A better choice if you don't like beating up your sled before the prime season starts.    Brian

 

Friday, January 14th, 8AM Update:

Progress

Jim from the Folsom club sent me a bunch of pictures early this morning taken last night from the cab of a groomer showing the grooming taking place last night between Java and Byrncliff where things were kind of rough yesterday. The pictures seem to indicate that there was enough snow for the groomers to do a pretty good job on many parts of the trail. Even where the snow was still thin, this helps set a good base for the additional snow expected over the next few days. Some very good riding is just around the corner!

Most area clubs are in about the same situation – thin snow now, but just enough to begin grooming, with more snow and continued cold temperatures next week.

 

Thursday, January 13th, 7PM Update:

Ride Report: Disappointing – We need more Snow! (A few pictures from today here)

I rode both the Bennington Loop and C4B towards Strykersville, then S43 up over the hill, and C4 back up the railbed trails and back over to Byrncliff this afternoon. From Byrncliff north on C4 towards Bennington a groomer had made a pass not long before my ride. That part of the trail was actually pretty good – there is just enough snow to groom many places, especially north of #20A. The groomer had gone towards Attica, and I did not follow, since I planned to do the Bennington loop and then some of the south side trails.

There had not yet been a recent groomer pass on the rest of the Bennington loop and conditions were bumpy, but I think there is enough snow to groom and conditions will be decent after a pass.

Conditions on the trails I rode south of #20A were much worse. There had been some groomer passes panning and packing the snow, which helped, but the snow is just very thin still many places. The corn fields are still brutal. More snow will be needed before conditions get much better. Fortunately, some snow is coming over the weekend.

If you need a riding fix, trails are certainly passable. Most mud holes have frozen up, though there are still a few here and there. But snow is thin. Grass and corn stubs are showing through the trail in many places. You’ll here your carbides hitting rocks a lot of the time. We’re getting close, but we’re not there yet.

Most clubs nearby report similar conditions.

Following is a report on Chautauqua trails that was mailed in today:

Hey Tom,

I dropped off at Shur-Fine in Cassedaga yesterday and rode over to Cherry Creek and back, a 50 mile ride. It was snowing pretty good the whole ride. There were only a few sled tracks on the trail, so most of the time I was breaking the trail through all the fresh powder. They had to easily have anywhere from a foot to 18inches+ of new snow down there. They are going to be in awesome condition once the groomer packs down the fresh new snowfall. - Kevin

 

Wednesday, January 12, 11AM Update:

Grooming Begins

I have word from the Folsom club that grooming is beginning today and that nearly all Folsom trails will have been groomed by the weekend. With some snow in the forecast from now until then, it looks like a good time to make sure your sled is ready if you haven’t yet been out this year. The snow will still be a little thin on plowed fields, but I expect to be reporting “GOOD” conditions very soon!

I also got a second hand report this morning that Cherry Creek area trails in Chautauqua County are in very good shape and being groomed. I do not have a reliable regular source of trail reports in Chautauqua, so anyone who does a ride down there, please send in a report.

Oatka Valley Club out towards Warsaw and Bliss has just opened their trails, the last area club to get enough snow, so you should be able to ride just about anyplace now.

 

Wednesday, January 12th, 9AM Update:

Frustration, But it’s Coming to an End Soon!

We are certainly frustrated riders here in western New York as we watch CNN and see that 49 out of the 50 states have snow on the ground right now, including considerable snow across the south and all up the normally snow free east coast, while we have struggled to get in spotty marginal riding conditions in all of the normal snow belts of New York State. But that may soon be changing.

Here in western New York there was widespread snow yesterday and ongoing today. It is heavier snow than the fluff we’ve had the past few weeks and should be good packing on the trails. I have heard that several clubs may be able to begin grooming tonight and tomorrow. There should certainly by fair to good riding this weekend, though still a little thin on snow.

Old Forge is getting good snow out of this storm and will soon improve from the current “FAIR” conditions. Tug Hill is also getting good snow out of this storm.

Many more Ontario trails are soon to open, though they need more snow.

Best news is that cold weather continues with no end in sight.

Worst news is that I leave Saturday for ten days vacation and I’ll miss the first decent riding of the season! (Guess where I’m going? Tucson, Arizona. Plans made long before the current unpleasantness there.)

 

Monday, January 10th Update:

Cold temps and light wind along with abundant sunshine will offer some very pretty, though slightly bumpy riding conditions around area trails today. I saw some amazing images of early morning ice on trees as I took a drive after breakfast.

The short term forecast indicates some widespread snow Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday. Though not a major snow event, the 3” to 6” predicted should be just enough to bring “GOOD” conditions to many area trails for later this week. This is not lake snow, so the benefits should impact much of western New York. We are probably another week away from “GOOD to EXCELLENT” riding conditions.

The internal weather service “Forecast Discussion” for this morning was very interesting, indicating a good chance of well below normal temperatures and above normal snow for the January 20th to 30th period. Not a sure thing, but better than the opposite prediction!

Enjoy the open trails. Take care with the thin snow cover and exposed hazards.

 

Sunday, January 9th, 2PM Update:

Nearly All Area Trails Now Open, Limited Conditions

The Folsom Club and most others in the area, including Holland and Marilla, opened their trails officially this afternoon. Few have enough snow to make any grooming effort worthwhile yet. All warn of early season conditions with open water drainages, heavy ruts in plowed fields, etc. Ride with caution.

The weather is expected to stay cold for at least the next week, though no heavy snow is in the forecast. Light snow showers most days may slowly add up, though. Keep your fingers crossed. I have a few pictures from Byrncliff area trails this morning at this link. There were three trailersi n the Byrncliff lot late morning.

 

Sunday, January 9th, 8AM Update:

Scattered snow showers crossed most of western New York overnight, giving us just a little more badly needed snow cover. Riding conditions continue to be fair to poor over most of the region. However, more clubs are expected to announce their trails as “OPEN LIMITED” sometime today. Check the websites or back here later in the morning.

I have an unconfirmed report that some Chautauqua clubs will begin grooming this morning. Anyone with hard information, write and let me know.

Saturday, January 8th, 10PM Update:

Rider reports from today around the area indicate some pretty decent riding in hay fields and other sections with a fairly smooth base, but brutal conditions in corn fields and other plowed ground. Conditions improved in some places during the day after brief snow squalls crossed much of the region.

I have unconfirmed reports that several more clubs will open their trails tomorrow morning, but nothing I am allowed to print yet. There are differing opinions still being sorted out!

 

Saturday, January 8th, 1PM Update:

Many area Clubs still list their trails as “CLOSED” . Exceptions are Tri-County (Arcade area), and Colden Trail Riders, and the Hamburg club which list their systems as “OPEN- LIMITED”. Check the Folsom Club website (link above), which now has quite an aggressive “stay off our trails” announcement on the homepage.

 

I will report as an observer that guys are out riding. Check this link for some pictures taken on area trails two hours ago. The main powerline trail from Marilla down towards Holland – Wales is quite heavily traveled this morning. I have heard from guys planning to ride the Colden Trail Riders system today.

The Colden Trail riders website has a well written comment on their limited trail conditions, expressing the idea that although riding conditions aren’t great, getting sleds out on the trails will pack the base and make for very good conditions when more snow comes.

 

I agree with that. Looking at conditions as I see them in the area, I would open most trails. What I don’t know is the politics and land owner relations issues facing each different club. I know, for instance, that the Folsom club may be “gun shy” because they almost lost a very important trail due to a land owner closing his area after guys rode on it with too little snow. One can understand the Folsom club being very conservative now.

 

Friday, January 7th, 5PM Update:

Folsom Trails Remain Closed

I have direct confirmation from a Folsom Club official that their trails will remain closed for the time being. Much of the fluffy snow we got in the past 24 hours is melting from underneath and there is little or no base many places.

 

Friday, January 7th, 11AM Update:

After a widespread 4” to 6” snowfall, trails are beginning to open. Tri-County was one of the first, listing trails open “Limited” conditions. Others will likely follow later today. Ride carefully – It was a light, fluffy snow and won’t do much to cushion you when you hit ruts and obstructions under the new snow. Many water crossings and mud holes are still open.

 

Thursday, January 6th, 9PM Update:

All area Club websites still list their trails as “CLOSED” as of 8PM tonight. But some may be opening for the weekend.

 

I drove out around the Byrncliff and Folsom area trails this morning. Snow is still very thin in that area and for much of western New York. But the base is freezing up and widespread light snow is falling as I write this Thursday night. It would have been possible to ride most of the trails I saw this afternoon, and they will be a little better tomorrow. If I were making the call, I would open area trails for this weekend starting tomorrow night, noting “Limited” early season riding conditions.

 

But it is not my call. Check area club websites before planning any riding for tomorrow night or this weekend, or check back here to see if I’ve heard anything. I am guessing that some clubs will open their trails tomorrow night.

Tug Hill

The guy doing the SledTug Blog is still doing a nice job. He posted a rider report from today reporting very poor conditions on the hill during a 90 mile ride.

 

Tuesday, January 4th Update:

Not much riding available anywhere yet, but snow is coming down. I just got back from picking up my wife’s sled out near Byrncliff, and can report that there’s almost no snow on the trails. There’s green showing through on the lawns and just a sprinkling of snow cover in the fields. That was two hours ago. There’s pretty heavy snow falling now in East Aurora, and some snow in the forecast for every day the rest of the week. I would GUESS – not official – that the trails will open again most places by this weekend, but we will need more snow than we have now.

I got the following email this morning from a reader who was on the Alleghany Park trails last week. It’s not up to date for this week, but will give you an idea of conditions down there:

Tom:

My name is Jay Such and I'm the membership coordinator for Colden. I spent the past week down at Alleghany State Park and riding was very good until Friday when temperatures rose. Along with the high temperatures we got rained on all day Saturday. Some parts of the day it was pouring and other parts was just a drizzle, but it never cleared up. Just before packing up on Sunday I drove the car to a couple of the crossings and found that the base was still intact. Even the covered bridge on the south side of Red House was still snow covered. It didn't see the full brunt of the rain, but gets the warm temperature from all sides. I didn't drive over to the closed section of ASP1, but even on Thursday and Friday there were bare spots. They had been plowing that road up until it was closed around the 18th of December, so it had much less than the unplowed areas. Areas at higher elevations, like Thunder Rocks, had much more snow and should be in better condition than the crossing areas I was able to view.

 

Seems like it would take much less snow for that area to re-open than what we'll need up here. Exception would be the closed section of ASP1 as it will need much more snow. I didn't hear of anyone seeing groomers after about Tuesday or Wednesday and there were lots of sleds out up until Friday night. Although riding may be able to start with just a couple of new inches of snow the rougher trails are now re-frozen and it may take much more snow before they have enough to get them in excellent shape again.

 

Thanks for your communication efforts and keep up the good work on local updates!

Gerald (Jay) Such

Other Out of Town Riding:

Quebec

I have a recent report from the Montreal – north of Quebec riding areas, that they had a major meltdown, just like we did last week. Things are not good unless you go way north, and not for sure there.

Ontario

Some trails are listed as “OPEN” in the far north, in the Cochrane area. That’s about 10 to 12 hours north. There are a very few “limited” near North Bay. Everything south of there that was open or limited last week is now closed, though snow is in the forecast for the Muskoka area this week and I expect trails to open again soon.

Tug Hill

Check the link at the top of the page for “SledTug” – he continues to do a good job reporting. Tug Hill was pretty well washed out on the weekend, but is getting snow right now. Things will get better there soon.

Old Forge

Old Forge was also washed out pretty much over last weekend, though they list their trails as open “Marginal”. They are getting some snow this week, but I wouldn’t want to plan a ride there until maybe next week.

 

Think Snow - Tom

 

Sunday, January 2nd, Noon Update:

Hopeful Trail News

The best news I can report is that at least in some areas, there is still some frost left in the ground after the three day thaw. At my farm in East Aurora, and near Jim’s place out on the Folsom trails, the ground is already refreezing after one night of below freezing temperatures. The early snow flakes this morning were already sticking.

Some lake effect snow is coming here today and tomorrow, and a lot more up on Tug Hill. With a little luck, we could be back in the riding business in a few days. Stay tuned.

 

Saturday, New Year’s Day Update:

Where did all the snow go?!?

Even the National Weather Service guys are calling the fast snow melt remarkable during this thaw. And it is raining steadily as I write Saturday lunchtime. So we’re starting over from scratch.

With a solid cold front coming in tonight and some lake effect behind it, we can keep our fingers crossed that the ground will freeze up again soon and let us begin building a base locally. I imagine there is a bit of base left on the Chautauqua ridge – someone let me know if you are in touch with guys down there.

Things will be not good on Tug Hill and at Old Forge after this event, but there is more lake effect forecast for Tug Hill than for us, so we’ll see.

Ontario is getting the same thaw and rain event. Oh, well.

 

Thursday, December 30th, 4PM Update:

Nice Ride, if you Ignore seizing Meghan’s ZRT!

This isn’t really a riding conditions report, since by now it is warm and I hope everyone will be off the trails until it gets cold again on Sunday. But I had a nice ride on the Bennington Loop of the Folsom system early this morning. It was fair to very, very good in places this morning. Check the pictures at this link. We saw only a few partially open mud holes and washouts, but generally it was a very fun ride.

Sadly, my wife’s ZRT seized halfway through the ride and had to be towed and retrieved with the trailer up off Clinton Street. Fortunately, we have an identical parts sled with a good motor, so she should be back in business with four or five hours work.

 

Wednesday, December 29th, Noon Update:

Folsom Area Trails – Better than I Expected!

Check this link for some pictures I took this morning in the vicinity of Byrncliff on the Folsom Club trails. I thought about taking my sled this morning instead of driving my car for this report, and I wish I had. Conditions near Byrncliff are better than I would have expected. Riding conditions are fair to – dare I say it – good, in some areas. And although riders have been out and about and packed most of the trails, almost nobody was riding this morning. Just one trailer was parked at Byrncliff at 11AM.

The strong winds yesterday were good news and bad news, as is often the case. Certainly they blew snow off hilltops and open fields. But in our current situation with very thin snow cover, the wind did a lot of good, blowing fresh snow onto the thinly packed trails. Riding today and tomorrow morning will be not bad, so long as you remember that it is very early season conditions with thin snow on plowed and corn fields.

I would not hesitate to recommend a ride from Byrncliff tonight or early tomorrow morning (that’s when I’m headed out!). But PLEASE, get off the trails by 10 or 11 AM tomorrow when the temperatures will go well above freezing. If we stay off the trails from mid-day tomorrow through Saturday night, and have a little luck with the amount of rain coming on Saturday, we just might keep a bit of frozen base through this coming thaw.

Enjoy your riding, and maybe I’ll see you around Byrncliff if you ride at 8AM Thursday morning!

 

Tuesday, December 28th, 9PM Update:

Folsom Trailblazers trails are listed as “Open-Limited” again. Enjoy a last day of riding tomorrow before the thaw. One of the groomer operators told me he rode 40 miles on the system today, mostly on the northern half. He said most of the mud holes that were still open last week have frozen up. Snow is thin, but trails are snow covered and passable.

Use common sense during the thaw and stay off the trails. Tomorrow should be OK to ride and it is going to be quite cold tomorrow night, so early rides on Thursday should work. But temps will be in the forties later Thursday. Head for home and pack up when it goes above freezing, and maybe the base will survive the thaw. Please stay off all western New York trails late Thursday through Saturday night. Temperatures will drop fast Saturday night through Sunday, and if we get a little lake effect, we could be back in business.

 

Monday, December 27, 2PM Update:

A Place to Put on a few miles Locally:

After reading this morning that Colden Trail Riders list their trails as “Open Limited”, I decided to go out for a short ride to check them out. For a few pictures, check this link. There have been a couple inches of fresh snow up on the Boston Hills ridges the past two days, and everything is nice and winter white. I can also report that almost all the mud holes have frozen up this week.

I unloaded at Emery Park, and the trails around the park are actually in great shape. The trees have kept the snow from melting much and the snow is on a good, level base. You could play around in the park and have a pleasant riding experience. (Just watch your speed – Sheriff’s & Park Cops are not known for their sense of humor.) We left the park and headed south on the powerline trail. It was bumpy in wooded sections, but not bad. It was actually very nice on some of the field sections down towards Colden Lakes. For the first time this winter, besides a quick shot on my own fields, I was able to take advantage of the fact that I have a Turbo! Just short blasts, but better than nothing.

We didn’t stay out very long, since the snow is still too thin to have a groomed trail experience, but definitely this part of the Colden Trail Riders system is worth a shot if you don’t want to trailer a distance out of town. Enjoy.

 

Monday, December 27th, 8AM Update:

As I write, there’s a nice burst of lake snow over our regular riding area, but not much accumulation is expected. There is still a thaw in the forecast for Thursday through Saturday. Most local club trails are listed as “Closed”. The exception is Colden Trail Riders, which continues to list their trails as “Open Limited”, but in their own words, ‘Expect poor conditions”. But it is a nearby place to ride. You can drop at Emery Park and other places to hit their trails. Do it today through Wednesday before the thaw.

A ray of sunshine in the forecast is that the thaw may be short lived – a cold front and more snow is forecast beginning Sunday afternoon, though it is not yet clear how cold. Stay tuned.

 

Sunday Morning, December 26th Update:

Most trails in our part of western New York are still closed for lack of snow. The long range reports are making it sound very likely that we’ll have a major meltdown over the New Year’s weekend L

 

There is still riding in some parts of New York, particularly down in Chautauqua county and Alleghaney Park last I heard. Get out and ride over the next three days if you can, since next weekend’s warmup will hit all areas hard.

 

Friday Morning Update on Chautauqua:

9AM - The following rider report was just received from Carol:

Left from Cherry Creek, rode 50 miles through Gerry, Sinclairville, Kennedy and Ellington. It was absolutely awesome. 1 avoidable mudhole was all the bad we saw all day. It was the snow we usually drive to the hill to see. Some bumps from the traffic later in the day but no bare spots whatsoever.

 

Friday, Christmas Eve Update:

Have a Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Long range weather reports are clarifying with not good news for this coming Wednesday through the New Year’s weekend. Pacific air should move across the country and bring temperatures of 40 or above to western New York towards the end of next week.

Cold air will remain in place through Tuesday. Seek out riding opportunities between now and then. I’ll try to get solid confirmation of a few decent open trails by later today to help you plan if you’re determined to ride the beginning of the week. It will probably be someplace in Chautauqua and in Alleghany Park for nearby destinations.

Ontario Looking Better

OFSC trails in Ontario are beginning to open “Limited” in many areas now. There is decent riding reported in wide areas to the southwest of Barrie. The main trunk “D” trail is now open limited from Gravenhurst up through and north of Bracebridge in the Muskoka region. I may head there myself, since I’m very familiar with that area. Contact me if you want suggestions on where to try there.

A few Ontario trails have “gone green”, which means fully open and groomed under this year’s new trail condition reporting system for Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. A trail along the northwest shore of Lake Nipissing is open (but not right into North Bay yet), and several trails are fully open around Cochrane, if you don’t mind a ten to twelve hour drive!

BULLITEN: As I was working on this report early this morning, a large group of trails just went “green” in Ontario to the northwest of Barrie and Orillia. This is only about three and a half hours drive from here. This is probably a good bet for this weekend for those of us who get Ontario Permits.

 

Thursday, Dec. 23rd, 8PM Update:

Consider all trails in our part of western New York closed unless you know otherwise. That’s what I’m getting from phone calls and posts on club websites.

If you know for sure a place with decent riding, send me a message. Here’s a short report from one of our readers:

IF YOU WANT TO RIDE GO TO WEBSTER NICE RIDING OUT THERE AND GOOD SNOW PARK ON 104

I’ve read online reports of guys riding in Chautauqua County where there is more snow, but it is early season conditions where there is any riding at all.

There are also reports of very good riding conditions on groomed trails in Alleghany Park.

Pass on anything you can confirm.

 

PS: Don’t get mad at me, but trail conditions on my own farm in East Aurora are excellent, where I have many acres of mowed fields and well maintained horseback riding trails. We don’t grow corn!

 

 

Thursday, December 23rd Update:

Trails Closed Again

Folsom Trails are officially closed according to their website. See my ride report from yesterday below – you’re not missing anything.

Oatka is also listed as closed. Tri-County listed as Open as of today but marginal.

Conditions are not promising for improvement anytime soon. Very little snow is expected during the coming week, and then possibly a thaw. So what’s new?

 

Wednesday, December 22nd Update:

Fair at Best, Mostly Poor to Awful!

Check this video link. It shows what you can expect on one of the better parts of the Folsom trail system. There is less snow than I thought when I did my drive around yesterday for the Tuesday report. I rode a loop today, and there just isn’t much snow anyplace. I was also quite surprised by the number of open mud and water holes, considering how cold it’s been for three weeks. But as you’ll see from the pictures, there’s lots of mud still.

The Folsom club president advises staying away from the very thin Java – Strykersville area to avoid annoying land owners. I agree – not even worth riding over that way until more snow. I will have pictures of the many mud and water holes posted at this link later tonight.

If you MUST try out your sled and get in a ride, ride over the hill from Byrncliff towards Varysburg and down the rail line, which has been groomed with whatever very thin snow they could find. We need more snow and it is not in the immediate forecast.

I rode this afternoon from Byrncliff, up over the hill on S41 towards Sheldon Road. I was the first sled of the year over this part of the trails. Very rough, especially in the corn fields! I turned south on C4B towards Strykersville and again was the first sled over very rough ground with not much snow. I ran across sled tracks south of Armburst Road when I turned east on S43. From Rte #77 east over the hill on S43 and then all the way back to Byrncliff on C4, one of the groomers had made a couple of passes. In the corn fields, it did no good, since there just isn’t much snow. Other places, especially the old rail line, it did help pack in the beginnings of a base. It was marginal whether the groomer did much good, but on the whole, I think it helped set a base and was a good idea. We need more snow to do anything more with the groomers, though.

Bottom line: Really poor riding conditions! But if you feel tough, go on out and help pack in a base. I’ve had enough, though, until we get some snow.

 

Tuesday afternoon Update:

Check the pictures at this link taken this afternoon around the Folsom trail system. Snow depth is not much, but adequate for early season rides. It ranges from not much more than 4” in the lower areas like Strykersville, up to 8” to 10” up on the hills and higher elevations.

 

Tuesday, December 21st Update:

Most western New York club trails open tomorrow (or after sundown tonight). Nearly all club trails in the region are expected to be “Open”. Snow depths will vary greatly (you know our lake effect machine!). Some clubs have been out with groomers packing a base and others are waiting for sled traffic to pack for them this week and more snow to fall.

Expect early season conditions, in spite of the very promising early snowfalls and continued colder than normal weather in our region this month. There are still low spots and ditches not filled in and packed, the occasional wet spot or mud hole, and early season obstacles like down trees and junk on the trail. If you’re one of the first through a trail and come upon something on the trail, stop and move it if you can.

The long range weather reports show continuing cold which is great. But no major snow in the forecast either. We will need a good dump of snow after riders get out on the trails this week.

Folsom Trails:

I hope to get out later today and definitely tomorrow morning to check on the Folsom Trails first hand and post some pictures. I understand that most trail work is done and the trails are ready to open. There are a couple of trails routed differently than last year. Watch for trail markers until you’re familiar with any changes. I am aware of one in the Java area. There is also a real problem with a land owner closure on the Bennington loop. Apparently someone rode on closed trails in the early snow and the landowner has shut down access. Stay away from the Bennington area unless you know where you’re going. As I understand it, you can still ride from Byrncliff up toward Attica, but not through Bennington and over towards Marilla. Someone let me know if I have that wrong. Club members are working on this problem, but the land owner feels strongly, and there is not an easy workaround in the area affected. Too bad. It was one of my favorite rides.

 

Out of Town:

Check out the links at the top of this page. I’ve added several that I use in making my own out of town riding plans. I am especially pleased to recommend a brand new Blog on Tug Hill conditions. Dana is doing a terrific job on SledTug.wordpress.com. Very good frequent reports, first hand riding reports, and great pictures. Check his site – there is limited riding on the hill right now, with a few very good spots in his report. Generally, though, the tug needs more cold weather and more snow.

Old Forge – reporting very marginal conditions. More snow needed, and none in the immediate forecast.

Ontario – Lake Nipissing is now reported frozen over but not yet safe. That’s a good sign for trail openings to come soon. North Bay groomers are reported out packing trails. The only Ontario trails officially reported as “Open – Limited”, are south of Barrie in the Orillia area and nearby.

Far North: Not enough snow yet in the New Liskeard area which I like so much for mid and late season riding.

 

Thursday, December 16th Update:

Are You Guys Ready to Ride?

Many of us have already been out ditchbanging and tearing up our back yards. There’s been plenty of snow throughout western New York and the temperatures have been below normal. A good beginning to the 2010 – 2011 riding season. The ground and mud holes are beginning to freeze up. Most club trails will open Tuesday, the 22nd. There should be enough snow to ride nearly all open western New York trails.

 

But it will still be “early season conditions” most places. In spite of the long cold spell and widespread lake snows, a lot of the snow has melted from underneath since the frost is just beginning to set up in the ground. What the trails will need is sled traffic after they open next week to pack down a base and let the frost really get into the trail base. Then a little more snow and effective grooming can begin. Keep your fingers crossed that we don’t get one of those mid-winter thaws that so often come in and make us start over from zero after a promising start to the riding season!

 

All that said, there should be pretty decent riding on most trails in the area on Tuesday and Wednesday right after they open. No moguls to speak of, and just enough snow most places. As I write this Thursday afternoon, a good lake effect band is drifting north across our local riding area giving us a little more to work with as the trails get ready to open. Stay tuned. Check this link for a few pictures taken at Byrncliff yesterday.

 

Out of Town Riding:

Tug Hill – lots of snow has fallen in bands moving back and forth along the Tug Hill plateau. I have yet to hear any reports of good riding or maintained trails. Many Tug Hill club websites have not been touched since last year and some are no longer online. Anyone who knows more than I do about what’s going on up on “the Hill”, drop me a note.

 

Old Forge – Old Forge trails are open for riding and listed as marginal on the town website. Temperatures remain low in the mountains and some snow is coming nearly every day. If you need a fix, you can ride there now, but I’d wait a bit longer for more snow. The base should be good and if they get 10” or 12” of the white stuff we’ll be good to go.

 

Ontario – Trails are beginning to open for “Limited” riding conditions in parts of Ontario that I follow, and reports are online of guys putting in 100 mile days, with adventures along the way! “The Ganny”, a popular forest reserve trail system a bit east of Toronto, is open. A number of local trails near Barrie have opened as “limited”. There is lots of snow in the snow belt regions of Muskoka, but lakes and swamps haven’t frozen up yet so trails are still closed in most places. But we are off to a good start.

 

New Liskeard & Far North – Far north trails are off to a good start with very cold temperatures freezing things up and some snow, but no trails are listed as “open” yet.

 

North Bay – Lake Nipissing is an unofficial barometer telling when ice conditions are good enough in the north. The lake is beginning to freeze, but a good wind still breaks up the ice. One really cold night with no wind, and the lake will freeze across and then it is only a matter of a little time until the ice fisherman are out and most other smaller lakes in the area will be safe.

 

Tuesday, December 7th , 2010 Update:

Welcome back to “Tom’s Trails” for another year. We’ll see how much energy I have to keep up with local conditions this winter. I’m more interested in keeping track of riding conditions in Old Forge, tug Hill, and Canada. But I’ll do my best for the local western New York area.

I just got in my first five miles of riding for the season right here on my farm in East Aurora, where conditions are good. We didn’t get that much snow here, much less than only four or five miles away. But I had some fun and almost rolled the Turbo. God, that speed sneaks up on you with a Turbo four stroke!

Old Forge opened this week with not much snow so far, though more will be coming off and on this week.

No news from Tug Hill yet.

Lots of back yard riding here in western New York, but most trails don’t open until after deer season. Check before you ride.

Quite a bit of snow in the Muskoka region of Ontario, with guys doing short local rides, but no trails open yet because it takes a while to freeze up the swamps and lakes.

Very cold temps and not much snow up in the far north around New Liskeard, which is very good, since the lakes and ground are freezing well early. No bring on the snow!

 

Send me rider reports and comments!

 

2009 – 2010 Season Posts

Wednesday, March 10th Update:

Even the trails at Tom’s Farm are now closedL

Well, I do still have a lot of snow on most of my trails. But they were all frozen up and rutted this morning when I went out for my last ride and it was no fun. I imagine when the crust melts later this morning you could have fun playing around, but I’m satisfied that I’ve had a couple of good “final rides of the year”. Check a few pictures at this link from this morning.

Although I didn’t get the miles on that I did last year, I actually feel pretty good about the riding I did get in for the season. I had about 1550 miles this year against 2560 last season. But I don’t ride to rack up the most miles or the most riding days. As I’ve said on this Blog before, I’m always looking for that “high” – that perfect day and perfect trail. I had several of those really wonderful rides this year.

We had one trip to Old Forge where the first day was just a little bumpy. But the second day was absolutely perfect; that was January 22nd, and the ride that morning was one of the good ones.

There were quite a few good days in Western New York if you knew where to ride. Meghan and I had one ride with Jim from the Folsom club just after they’d groomed all their trails, and that ride around the Folsom system was one of the good ones for the year. We had a couple of other good rides from Byrncliff over to the Milestone for roast beef and Apple Pie that were very good times.

We went to Bracebridge in the Muskoka region of Ontario a couple of times and just as in Old Forge we had a couple of days that were very good, but one that was picture perfect. Bright sun, perfect grooming, light traffic – one of those rides you wait and wait for. So that’s maybe three days of idyllic riding and a few more good days for 2009 – 2010 season.

Until last week, that is, when we went all the way up to New Liskeard for most of the week and it was perfect for three out of the four days. The fourth day the trails were just dandy, but it was cloudy and visibility wasn’t great. (I told you I was a perfectionist! – or greedy, take your pick.) All the same, last week in New Liskeard was maybe the best week of snowmobiling in my life. Just outstanding.

Then at the beginning of this week I took a last quick ride around the northern loop of the Folsom system and I just happened to hit very nice conditions for an hour and a half of “playing” on some very smooth freshly groomed trails. Thanks guys! Back at the Byrncliff parking lot there were great drifts all around the upper parking lot with lots of soft snow and I tried to forget for a few minutes that I am 65 years old and ride a very heavy sled. I launched it off the drifts pretty good a couple of times! The Z1 Cat is heavy, but that twin spar suspension does a fine job of soaking up the bumps and I felt good on all my landings. Managed to crack the windshield from the landing on one of the jumps, but it was fun. And I did a little more “young man” riding back here at my own farm yesterday, picking up a little more “air”. Well, what I call air – not real air like younger guys on the yellow sleds get!

So it was a fine year of snowmobiling for me. One of my all time great week long trips, maybe six to eight perfect days of riding, and ended the year having a little fun right at home. I hope you guys out there also had your share of “the great rides” this season.

 

Tuesday, march 9th Update:

Folsom, Tri-County, Holland, and probably most of the rest of the clubs in our area have now closed their trails, probably for the season.

Trails on my farm in East Aurora are NOT QUITE closed yet! Check out the pictures Meghan took of me this morning down around the barn. I think I’ll have one more morning ride tomorrow before putting the sleds away.

 

Monday, March 8th, 4PM:

Folsom Trailblazers have called it a season. Their trails are officially closed now, due to the rapidly spreading bare dirt. We are done for the year unless there is an unexpected (but still slightly possible) late March snow storm.

 

It was an odd year. We had very few real snow storms. On the other hand, we had one of the most consistently cold winters in a long time. Very few real melt downs. If we’d had just one or two more 12” snow falls in January and early February, we’d have been riding all season long. What can you do, besides move north?

 

Sunday, March 7th, 1PM Update:

Color Me Surprised!

That no one is out riding on what is likely one of the last days of the season with rideable trails. There were just four trailers in the Byrncliff lots when I was there an hour ago. Yes, it is warm out – about 44 degrees – but it’s one of those sweatshirt riding days with surprisingly good snow conditions still in many places. Check this link for pictures less than two hours old.

There are wide bare spots opening up in the bright sun, that’s for sure. And the trails will probably be closed in a day or two to avoid damaging land owners fields. But especially the northern Folsom Bennington Loop has lots of snow left on the trails through all the fields. And a grooming pass was made this morning on C4B heading south from Byrncliff towards Strykersville. It may be that it was just bringing the third groomer back to the groomer barn for the season from it’s normal spot on Rte #77, but there is that smooth, groomed strip out there this afternoon.

There will be good riding tomorrow morning and probably Tuesday morning on the Bennington Loop after the sub freezing temps overnight. Plan on riding only early in the morning while the snow is crispy from the overnight freeze. After Tuesday morning, all bets are off.

You may have a problem getting to the trails from a public parking spot. Not only is the trail out of Byrncliff turning to mud, but the upper Byrncliff lot which is still usable today will probably be too muddy by tomorrow. You could park along some of the country roads where the Bennington Loop trails cross and ride from there probably.

We’ll post the announcement when we hear from the Folsom club that trails are closed. But I’m reporting today that there is still good riding on parts of the Folsom system. I imagine the same holds true for some of the other clubs. Those very few of you who went out today had a good time, so long as you didn’t sweat to death from too much clothing!

I’m toying with a very early morning ride tomorrow on the trails, but I had such great rides all this past week that I’ll probably quit on those memories. We each have our own standards for when to put away the sleds and accept that we’ve had out final ride of the year. And perhaps I’ll go out for a scoot around my own farm. I haven’t done much of that this season.

I’m about done with posting trail reports for this year. Stop back in a few weeks if you’re interested – I plan to write up a long Ride Report on the New Liskeard, Ontario area to help out people who might consider riding there next year.

Sunday, March 7th Update:

The Fat lady is singing, louder every day this week. Updating my post on northern Ontario from just last night, their forecast now calls for above freezing daytime temps all week. Conditions even in the far north will go downhill rapidly. Not sure I’d recommend driving all that way anymore, though there will be Limited riding for a while.

Around western New York, the next day or two may be the last riding of the year.

 

Saturday, March 6th, 8PM Update:

Still some riding out there . . .

But after five straight days of snowmobiling, I took a complete break from trails today. I am sure many of you still got in some good rides today after the very cold night last evening. Here at my farm in East Aurora, the snow pack held up very well today and is all crispy again now that temperatures have dropped below freezing for the night. I’ll bet there will still be riding tomorrow morning, especially on loops like Folsom’s Bennington Loop where there is a lot of snow in the fields. If any of you rode today, send me a report.

The real melt will begin on Monday, the first of several days in a row with temps expected in the mid forties.

Out of Town:

Reports from Old Forge and Tug Hill show spotty riding with spring conditions.

Bracebridge, Ontario will be at least as warm next week as we are here and conditions will be mushy with bare roads.

The nearest good riding will be nine to twelve hours drive north between New Liskeard and Hearst, Ontario along the Rte #11 corridor. They got two warm days this weekend, but will be back down to nights in the single digit temperatures with days below freezing for all of next week. I doubt they lost much on the trails in the two days since I was riding there this week, when conditions were Awesome! They will have bare places where the trails run short stretches of road or along the shoulders, more because of the bright March sun than temperatures. Expect Good to Excellent conditions if you head up to that area, at least through next week.

 

Friday, March 5th, 3PM Update:

Hats off to the Folsom Trailblazers!

In very marginal conditions, they are going all out to groom, especially on the Bennington Loop north of Rte #20A. I just got back from a very fun ride on those trails. I passed two groomers, one working and the other with a track thrown waiting for tools. Some of the trails on this loop are perfect, but it is a little warm for grooming and some sections of trail need another pass in colder temperature (if there is any cold weather again!). It does look like it’s going down into the teens tonight.

Check this link for a batch of pictures I took this morning.

I rode towards Strykersville part way, but it got bumpy and thin snow, so I turned around. It’s certainly passable if you want to ride in that direction, but if you just want to ride, I’d stay on the northern half of the Folsom system.

 

Friday, March 5th, 10AM Update:

I was considering quitting for the season after the great riding I had up north this week. But I just drove out to check the trails around Byrncliff, and there was fresh grooming on at least a part of the Bennington loop north of #20A. I’m headed right back out there now with my sled for at least one more good “zip” on local trails! Maybe I’ll see you out there today. There is plenty of snow in the fields still out in Folsom and Sheldon area. There are bare spots opening up in the March sun and as others have reported you’ll find anything from great to terrible conditions today and through this weekend. But we’re not quite done yet locally. Should be some very decent “spring condition” riding tonight and tomorrow morning at least.

 

Thursday, March 4th, 11PM Update:

Anyone Ride Western NY Today?

I just got back from Canada and if there’s anything decent still here, I’d like to ride it tomorrow (Friday) before the warm-up and melt this weekend. Give me a shout if you were out on something good Thursday!

Just drove nine hours after 480 miles of the best trails I’ve been on in a long, long time! Check some pictures from this morning here. Temperature predictions for the next week up north are now a little lower than previously reported and they are expecting several inches of new snow next week. Who knows, one more road trip?? The trails in the New Liskeard area will still be very good next week – places where you have to run roads may be hurting, but there’s not a lot of that.

 

 

Thursday, March 4th, 8AM Update:

Come on Up!

Most of the week I’ve been a little pessimistic about the prospects for the trails up here surviving the coming warmup in good shape. But the forecast has changed a little for the better. Instead of temperatures topping 40 for a few days as they had previously predicted, it now looks like only a 37 and a 39 on Saturday and Sunday with nights well below freezing, then colder again next week with a little new snow.

Except for spots where you ride the shoulder of the road (which are already deteriorating in the bright March sun), I expect the great trail conditions up here in the New Liskeard area will continue through next week and beyond. If you’ve been thinking about heading up for more great riding, hop in your truck.

Finding a place to stay may be another problem. Trailers are pouring into our motel this morning for the long weekend. It doesn’t take a genius to go online and see that this is the only place in the east that still has excellent conditions!

 

Wednesday, March 3rd, 5PM Update:

We put on another 146 miles so far today between New Liskeard and Temagami. More awesome trails, mostly with only a couple of sleds between us and the last groomer pass. Pictures at this link. We rode for 130 miles from mid morning when we passed a group of sleds right after breakfast until we saw the next sled late in the afternoon.

Closer to home, I just got the following ride report:

Hey Tom, looks great in Canada. Great here too! I rode 250 miles the last 2 days. Only bad spots were near strykersville and in the valleys and towns like Holland Springville.  But as u go up and away from civilization it got awesome! Plenty of snow, plenty of grooming, plenty of fun. Monday I rode toward Letchworth, S43 to S33 to S34 were great luv those wind mills. Then it got thin near letchworth so I headed south to Bliss on the super fast and smooth RR bed/S30. Took it all the way to Machias then up 2 Sardinia on S32 to C4 to S49A to Colden and they were all real good. Way better and way more snow south. So on tuesday I headed south again. So here's ur perfect ride in WNY! From Holland area take S46A off C4 to S36.  Stay S36 until it sadly ends at C3 near Arcade. Tri-county drifthoppers are awesome all of S36 was grommed. So I decided to ride their great trails. Took C3 to S31 to Rushford-awesome-then took S30 to Machias then took C3 to Ashford Hollow-really awesome-gased up. Cattaragus county is gods country/beautiful! Then unfortunately I had 2 head home. Took C4F around Springville to C4 then to C4E to Boston. That's when the fun ended when I hit the Boston powerline no grooming all moguls all beat up. C4A thru Colden was being groomed so it was partly good then back home on C4 thru Holland bad in town good up on the ridge. So I think if I have any strength left I'm going south again today some where in gods country plus its sunny. Ride on before its gone! WNY trailblazer-Jay

Here’s another local trail report from today:

Hi Tom   Sounds like you two are having a good time. I think everyone took off from work to day in western ny, lots of sled traffic today you would of thought it was the weekend. This is my observation driving to the buffalo airport this afternoon. Warsaw trails (west hill) have plenty of snow on them and look like they are really flat. Drove past Byrncliff, also looks like it is holding up well. Should have at least another day off riding out there. The trails crossing Two Rod and trails crossing clinton look like they are in tough shape lots of mud. I'm guessing they won't be open much longer. Have fun up north hoping to be there in 2 weeks my self if their is snow.   Brian  

 

Tuesday, March 2nd, 10 PM Update:

I haven’t had anyone send me a local trail report from today, but it’s easy to read the weather reports – enjoy what riding we have the next couple of days because a significant thaw is coming over the weekend and into next week, and that may be “it” for western New York snowmobiling this year.

 

Perfect?

Meanwhile, up here in New Liskeard, Ontario today Meghan and I had far and away our best ride of the year! Nearly perfect conditions all day long. No matter how carefully you read weather reports and check online for trail conditions, it’s always a bit of a gamble driving long distances for snowmobiling. But this week is turning out to be everything we had hoped for and more. It looks like we’ll have two more days of terrific conditions here in New Liskeard and the surrounding area, and then a warmup is coming over the weekend. There’s a good base up here, so there will probably be some riding for several more weeks. They usually have a mid March storm up here and often ride into early April. But trails will take a beating this weekend, so if you’re tempted, jump in your truck and come right away.

Check this link for some pictures from our ride today. We put on 199.5 miles.

Details: We took a short zip on a perfectly groomed A107Q out east of town before breakfast with a great view of lake Timiskaming. After breakfast we rode north to Earlton on L189 – we were the second or third sleds on the trail since last night’s grooming. With bright sun and cold morning temperatures it was a FAST ride! From there we hit the “A” trail from Earlton heading west to Elk Lake. Again, we were the first couple of sleds since last night’s grooming, and it was as though the local clubs had groomed just for us. This run from New Liskeard to Elk Lake through Earlton is always one of our favorites, with a wide variety of terrain, and almost all of it wide, go-fast trails.

When we got to the club boundary where the “A” hits the long railway bed, the Elk Lake club hadn’t groomed for a few days and there were some mild stutter bumps for 12 or 14 miles, but you could cruise at 50 sitting down. Then in Elk Lake we picked up a freshly groomed A107C towards Gowganda. Again, we were amoung the first four or five sleds to be on the trail since it was recently groomed. Especially the first 15 miles south of Elk Lake was magnificent – one of our best rides of the year! Hi speed running on a wide trail groomed all the way across going through beautiful terrain. The last 25 miles to Gowganda was groomed fresh on one side of the trail, but they hadn’t made a second pass yet to groom the full width. It was still a great ride through tighter more twisty trails into Gowganda.

On the way back to New Liskeard in the afternoon, all the trails had held up very well with only light traffic today. We passed maybe six groups of sleds all day in 200 miles and went 94 miles during one period without seeing another sled. All the way from Elk Lake to Gowganda and back we were the only ones on the trail.

We heard from other sledders at lunch in Elk Lake that the “A” trail was a little rough heading north to Kirkland Lake. Likely it will be groomed soon before the weekend.

In general, there is still plenty of snow up in this area. I jumped off trail in a few fields to check snow depth and had to really pour the coal to “Mr. Turbo” to keep from sinking in deep powder. Most trails that run on roads for sections still have well frozen ice and packed snow base on the roads. (That won’t last long with this week’s sun and the warmup at the end of the week. But for now through Thursday, conditions should remain excellent.)

 

Monday, 6PM Update:

Was it worth the 9 hour drive? Hell yes!

We just did ninety miles this afternoon, but we should do a lot more tomorrow. Every trail we were on this afternoon had recently been groomed flat. Conditions were either excellent, or in places there were two or three inches of loose powder over a flat base. There’s been some light snow for several days and some wind the other night, so some north – south trails had fresh powder drifts where they went along side big fields or wind breaks. The powder made for a nice change of pace from the flat out runs.

Check this link for a few pictures from this afternoon, but they don’t have good contrast since it was an overcast afternoon. That overcast grey sky was the only thing that kept today from being perfect. The next three days are supposed to be bright sunshine! I’ll have much better pictures tomorrow.

 

Monday, March 1st noon Update:

Just checked into the motel in New Liskeard. Trails we drove by on the way in look smooth & fast, although maybe a little crispy. We’ll have a late afternoon update with actual riding conditions.

General Ontario conditions:

There’s snow from Barrie on north. Trails we saw from the road looked smooth all through the Muskoka region, but it was warm and they had some rain yesterday. The roads were all bare and there was a lot of slush in the parking lots and on side streets.

From North Bay on north the temperatures had stayed near or below freezing and conditions were much better. Side roads and parking lots still had all their packed snow base this morning as we drove north.

From Temagami north, there is good snow on the trails and in the woods. I expect we’ll find great riding conditions! But bright March sun is coming tomorrow and the rest of the week. With nights near zero F the next few days, we should have excellent riding conditions, but road crossings, south facing hillsides, and parking lots are going to take a beating in the sun. Temperatures next weekend look to be near 40 even this far north. If you want one last great ride, this week might be it. (There will likely be trails open up here for a couple of more weeks, based on what I saw this morning.)

 

Monday, March 1st, 8AM Update:

Get on out and enjoy the riding around western New York. There should be decent late winter riding conditions in much of our area all week. But ride during the week. It’s beginning to look like the Fat Lady may sing her annual song over next weekend.

We should be on the trails in New Liskeard in a couple of hours. We’ll report on riding conditions up here later today.

 

Sunday, February 28th, 9PM Update:

I’m sitting in a North Bay motel after driving seven hours. Two more hours in the morning until New Liskeard. I would have gone all the way tonight, but – BUMMER – I had a dead short in my trailer plug connections and burned up a bit of wiring. Luckily, only the running lights on the truck and trailer lights were affected, so I was able to drive until dark. I stopped at Walmart and bought some wire nuts and electrical tape. I got all my signals and brake lights back now, but can’t find the fuse that feeds the running lights. Good enough to drive during the day tomorrow, then I’ll worry about it sometime during my three or four days of riding up here.

Here’s a quick western New York trail report from Brian who rode today:

Tom.  Rode hard this weekend being that I'm leaving for florida in two days.  Trails held up well over the weekend. Guys heading out during the week I would suggest stay away from the bar hopping trails between Alden ,Byrnclif ,and ,North Stykersville the snow was getting real thin. Trails south of Strkersville ,Bliss, Warsaw and out to perry have a lot more snow on them. If you get behind the groomers you will find jittery bumps because of the snow conditions but not too bad.  Definitely the best weekend we had local so far. Hopefully there will be some more riding when I get back.  Ride safe.   Brian

Meghan and I will post a report on north Ontario riding tomorrow night.

PS: It helps to read your owners manual before looking for a blown fuse. Replacing the one marked clearly “tail lights” sure helped! Only wasted half an hour playing with all the fuses in the underhood fuse box before finding the other fuse panel under the dash.

PPS:

It was a trip being up here in Canada when the Canadian team won the Gold Medal hockey match against the USA. I think the entire country went berserk all at once. Way up here in North Bay people were running out in the middle of the streets waving Canadian flags while all the cars honked their horns and people leaned out their windows screaming and yelling. Meghan and I spend a lot of time in Canada and we felt good that they won the Gold in their own country’s Olympics, even though it meant beating the old USA. It sure meant a lot to the people up here!

Sunday, February 28th, 8AM Update:       

Head on out early today for the best riding. Looking out my window in East Aurora, it’s a winter wonderland with heavy snow stuck to every branch and twig on the trees. With many of the clubs saying that they are grooming over the weekend, it should be a great day to ride. And things are looking better for the long range forecast, with high temperatures now not expected to go above freezing until the end of the week, with a bit more snow Tuesday and Wednesday. Should be good riding all week.

I’m almost tempted to cancel my trip to north Ontario and stay riding locally. But I’m greedy – one of my favorite things about snowmobiling is the constant search for “the perfect ride”. Not just good – perfect. That’s part of the reason I do this trail condition website. Since I’m always looking for the place and the time for that great ride, I might as well publish the trail info as I look for it for my own use. And that perfect ride includes not just perfectly groomed trails, but the right temperature (not frigid, but well below freezing with crispy nights), not windy, and bright sun. AND pretty scenery, AND wide high speed trails, AND trails with low mid week traffic so we have them nearly all to ourselves! And that’s why I’m spending the time to drive nine hours north and the money for the accommodations all week. There’s supposed to be four days of sun beginning Tuesday in the far north.

I will be doing some updates from the motel during the week. I’ll let you know if I found “The Perfect Ride”. Wish me luck!

 

Saturday, 5PM Update:

I just got a call from Jim at the Folsom club. He tells me that many of the Folsom trails, especially on the south side of #20A, will be groomed overnight. There should be very good riding early on Sunday. Enjoy!

 

Saturday, 1PM Update:

I drove out to Byrncliff and looked around at the nearby trails this morning. There’s lots of snow! Check this link for some pictures from an hour ago – it was snowing hard so it is hard to see anything. Notice the one picture of a group of guys around a big hole in the ditch next to the road! I stopped to help them pull out a stuck sled, though I don’t know how much help an old man was.

It’s warm out and it’s a heavy, wet snow. Rte #20A is clear and wet with the snow melting when it hits. The secondary roads in Sheldon near Byrncliff are all snow covered, some with several inches of fresh snow on the road.

The trails look pretty smooth – there may have been a lot of recent grooming, but you can’t tell with all the fresh, loose snow pushed around by the sleds. Not very bumpy where I could see from the trail crossings, though. Sleds were tooling along pretty fast without bouncing much. There were quite a few sleds out on the trails and quite a few sleds parked at BYrncliff, but only five trailers in the Byrncliff lot, indicating a lot of local riders. The snow is a loose, wet cover on the trails, probably not great traction, and that kinda fun fishtailing riding condition. Visibility was only fair with pretty heavy snow falling all morning. With the warm temps and wet snow, it would be wet on your faceshield – you know the condition I’m talking about.

Temperature is expected to drop into the 20’s each night for much of the next week, so it will be possible to groom at night. The best riding will be at night or early in the mornings. I expect tomorrow morning (Sunday) to be very good riding, after this wet new snow stiffens up overnight in the colder weather.

 

Have fun and send me some reports. Riding will be fair to very good, considering the kind of snow that’s falling and the visibility.

 

Saturday, February 27th, 10AM Update:

I hope to have some first hand trail reports by afternoon. There’s been a nice widespread snow yesterday and continuing this morning, so enjoy the riding!

 

Friday, February 26th, 2PM Update:

Looks like we’ve seen 4” to 6” of new snow many places in western New York, and it is still coming down this afternoon, quite heavy here in East Aurora for the past few minutes, actually. I expect all trails in western New York to be open for the weekend. We are in “late winter” riding conditions now, with daytime temps above freezing out through next week. Actually this weekend may be the best, with warmer mid thirties temps much of next week.

Grooming is not very effective when the temperature climbs near or above freezing, so don’t expect daytime grooming. We will have cold nights through this period though, and Oatka club, for one, plans to groom at night as long as they can. I saw fresh grooming on parts of the Colden Lakes trails just two days ago, and I hear the Oatka groomers are out today. Send in any other reports of fresh grooming.

Some groomer operators from the Folsom club will be out of town the next few days, so don’t be surprised if the usual great grooming on the Folsom system is a little marginal this weekend.

No change from yesterday in reports from out of town. Lots of snow on Tug Hill and at Old Forge, but the heavy traffic expected this weekend and warm daytime temps will make for only fair to good riding, likely.

Good snow in the Muskoka region of Ontario still, but warm daytime temps are coming next week.

Far north Ontario well beyond North Bay still looks good (and below freezing) most of next week, but they did not get quite as much snow out of this storm system as I had hoped. Sill, that’s where I’m going next week.

 

Thursday, February 25th, 3PM Update:

Trails Opening Again

Folsom trails are open again, with a couple of inches of fresh snow already at the higher elevations. Snow is still thin on some of the lower areas. Check with the other club websites or Jim’s Facebook page, but I expect the other western New York trails that have been closed a couple of days will also be opening again very soon.

Enjoy what riding you can locally in the coming days. March is right around the corner, and it looks like daytime temps will be above freezing much of the next week. But we’ll have some cold nights, and I expect there will be some riding for a while to come. But late winter/early spring conditions are close by.

There’s a lot of snow coming down in Old Forge and on Tug Hill as I write. They, too, will have some slightly above freezing temps over the weekend, but it will cool off a bit next week and they should have good riding for a while.

Oddly, if you go a little north into Ontario (Bracebridge – Huntsville area), they are expecting quite warm daytime temps during the coming week. It may get pretty slushy there.

Far northern Ontario (New Liskeard, Elk Lake, Cochrane) will stay colder. Looks like some great riding up there next week. Guess where I’m going!

 

Wednesday, Feb. 24th, 1PM Update: Check this link for some pictures from this morning

Well, I had a great hour and 45 minute ride this morning, and I send my thanks to Pat for suggesting the Colden Trail Riders system. Years ago I belonged to that club and rode there all the time because I could ride to the Lakes from my house back in those days before suburbia encroached and new homes blocked many local trails. But I got out of the habit. For some of the same reasons Pat mentioned in the following email last night:

Tom,

 

I have been riding the colden trail system more than usual this year.  I typically have tried to stay clear of the colden lakes area in the past years, but this year the colden trail riders have been doing a stellar job.  It also helps that they have had more snow this year than most other local clubs have. I would have to say that colden would be your best bet for decent conditions tomorrow.  If you head out please send a report, I am looking to head out that way this week.

 

Ride safe,

Pat

Well, I have been hearing the same good reports about the Colden club this year as Pat, so that was my destination this morning. And we weren’t sorry! We decided to drop at Emery Park, and it turned out there was lots of snow there, no sign of dirt anywhere, and a pretty smooth trail from the parking lot to the S45D powerline trail. Lots of snow out on the main trail, but no snow on the tree branches right near the park, indicating a lack of real recent snow. But just a couple of miles south in the Colden – Holland area, the pine boughs were covered with fresh snow. Typical western New York weather with big snow differences just a few miles apart.

As we rode south and hit C4A where it comes west from the Valley Inn, we hit fresh grooming – we were the first ones on the groomed trail. We tried to stay partly on the edge of the fresh grooming to allow the trail to set up a bit, but we couldn’t resist a few speed runs here and there. When we rode it was still below freezing this morning, and we had great traction and riding conditions!

We rode down towards Holland Speedway and the Willows, but it was a bit bumpy with very thin snow in the woods near the speedway, so we turned around and headed back up onto the ridge where there was lots of snow and a thick base on the trails.

All those Colden trails and the adjacent Holland trails we rode down towards the Valley Inn and back were very good to excellent and most have plenty of snow to stay that way as we get the snow forecast for tomorrow and Friday. Have fun if you head out that way for a ride this afternoon or tonight!!

It was a real good snowmobiling “fix” for me on my birthday!

 

Wednesday, February 24th, 8 AM Update:

Happy Birthday to Me!

And thanks to Brian, Jim, and Pat for writing me with good riding suggestions. Sometimes it is cool to be the “trail guy” and in on gossip about good riding opportunities. I’m trying some trails pretty close to home on the Colden system first that are reported good. Then I have a hot tip on a “secret” section of trail way out in the country that was actually groomed two days ago and ONLY the guy who lives next to that trail has been on it since! That sounds like my place!

 

Tuesday, February 23rd, 7PM Update:

Anyone know a nice section of trail locally? Tomorrow (Wednesday) is my birthday and I traditionally drive someplace for a really good ride. But conditions at most of the out of town destinations I favor are not so good this week, so I haven’t planned a “road trip”. Meanwhile, things are looking up around here with slightly lower temperatures and off & on snow today. So I’m thinking some of the higher elevation trails may be decent tomorrow. Send me an email if you have first hand info on a section of trail that would be a good ride, even for just an hour or so. GOT to ride on my birthday! Especially, because I will be seriously a senior citizen as of tomorrow!

 

You guys can watch the weather reports as well as I can, so you probably know that things are looking good for significant snow Thursday through Saturday. It’s still touch and go how much, but we could be back in business for the weekend and beyond.

 

Monday, 10AM Update, Feb. 22nd:

Trail Closure:

Folsom Trailblazers Club trails are closed as of this morning due to long stretches of bare dirt that opened up yesterday with the warm temperatures and sunshine all day. Keep your fingers crossed for more snow than rain out of the complex weather system passing through in the next few days. It could go either way.

There is still good riding in some parts of western New York. We’ll post some reports this afternoon.

 

Sunday, February 21st, 9AM Update:

I got a message from one of our readers, Brian, this morning. He pretty much confirms our observations from yesterday morning that there is rideable trail out there, but it is going away fast.

Tom                                                 

The wife and I took an all day ride from Warsaw to Byrncliff then to Alden over to Strkersville and back to Warsaw. There were goods spots and bad but by the end of the ride there definitely were more bad. Don't think there will be much snow left for sunday riders. There may be a storm coming next week we'll need it.  Brian       P.S. The ride would have been better if I wouldn't have let the wife take my Crossfire for a ride early on and lost my ride for the rest of the day. The 02 Polaris sport made for a long day.

Ed Note: Brian, I feel your pain on the older sled ride. As you probably saw on this page, I had to ride my ’02 backup sled just the other day. It’s amazing the progress in suspensions over eight years, and you notice it a LOT more when you go from new to old than you did when you originally moved up from old to new!

 

Saturday, February 20th, 2PM Update:

I’ve got some fresh pictures taken around Byrncliff on the Folsom trails this morning. Conditions are generally good, with signs of fresh grooming. But it is warm out and it does not last long. Jim groomed through Byrncliff as I watched and I counted 8 sleds going the other way up towards Maxxon Road. I drove up there and although the trail looked good still, it was very hard to tell that there had been a groomer pass just a few sleds ago. Keep that in mind as you ride.

The C4 trail south east from Byrncliff was groomed mid morning and should be pretty good for a while. Check this morning’s pictures at this link.

 

Next Week:

Boy, it’s going to be touch and go where the snow is already thin. Bare dirt is showing on thin sections of trail already, as you will see from my pictures this morning. With sun today and tomorrow, it will quickly get worse. There may be a little snow at the beginning of the week. If we don’t get at least a few inches, we could see trail closures again by mid-week when the temperature may get to near 40 with rain. Temperatures will drop again late in the week, so if we get even a little snow and then not much rain, we may hold onto the trails.

Ride today and tomorrow and Get out your lucky charms!

 

Saturday, 9AM Update:

Looks like a nice, partly sunny weekend with generally good trail conditions. I’ll post a few reports as they come in.

“Tom want you to know five of us rode chatauqua trails today . Did 160 miles on the best trails we been on in a very long time. There is a lot of snow and a lot of groomer's out too. Very worth the trailer ride there – Matt”

= = = = =

“I rode 100 miles yesterday. From Holland to Strykersville to Silver Springs to Bliss to Arcade back to Holland. It was awesome. Yeah some moguls some bare spots some water holes, but who cares. About half my ride needed grooming. The RR bed near Bliss was smooth and fast with a few rocks. The snow was probably best south near Bliss and Arcade and up through Colden. Goin' for another 100 today! Jay(wny trailblazer). “

 

Friday, Feb. 19th, 6PM Update:

I took a quick 40 mile trip around the south half of the Folsom trails this afternoon. C4 from Byrncliff heading southeast through Varysburg to Java was whupped. Not fun unless you like standing up and hopping the moguls. The Java Strykersville area had been groomed not long ago, but the snow isn’t taking a set real well and it was loose already. C4B coming back from Stykersville to Byrncliff looked like it likely was groomed since I saw it yesterday, but it was going away. S43 across the hill tops had been recently groomed and was pretty smooth, but very thin snow in places.

I figure riding in much of western NY will be like this over the weekend. Fair to Excellent depending on how recently a groomer has been through. I talked with some guys who rode all the way from our area to Chatauqua and back yesterday. They said it was very good.

There were maybe 15 trailers at Byrncliff when I left at 5PM, with the afternoon shift heading home and new trailers pulling in for the Friday night rides.

 

Friday, February 19th, 9AM Update:

Following is Mike’s posting from this morning on the Folsom Club website:

“2/19/2010 5:00am 29 Degrees

 

We received about 4"-5" of fresh snow yesterday and maybe another 2" last night. Every little bit counts now with the lake frooze over. The groomers have been out all week and the trails should be in good shape at least for the start of the weekend. Most everything should be groomed at least once by tonight. Attica/Bennington groomed last night. Remember the ice is still underneth most trails so ride with care, there is not alot of base out there at all, and it won't take long for the trails to get rough. All in all we are getting some decent late February riding that should last into March.

We’re leaving today to ride down to Chautauqua lake for the weekend. All trails are open between here and there so it should make for a nice trip, I will let you know trail conditions when we return. Have fun!”

I went out for a short ride around Byrncliff Thursday afternoon. Parts of C4B northwest of Byrncliff towards Bennington were pretty smooth underneath, with blowing and drifted snow on the trails. Same with S41 from Byrncliff across Sheldon. C4B south towards Strykersville was beat and heavily moguled. I was riding my old backup sled while the Turbo is in the shop, and it was no fun.

With the warmer temperatures the past week, some water holes and creek crossings are starting to open up. I hit water three times in a short ride. Watch out for waterholes, which I imagine are present here and there all over the area.

Looking out to next week, it does not look like any melt down, but temps may go slightly above freezing during the day for a while, so those open water holes may get worse. We will have overnight temps low enough for grooming. And so it goes.

Thursday, February 18th, 8AM Update:

That Helped!

Most parts of western New York got snow yesterday, many of us more than forecast. And it was a heavier wet snow that stuck where it fell and probably helped a lot in the corn fields. More is coming today and tonight. I imagine nearly all the groomers will be out today or tonight getting ready for the weekend. We should have some nice riding, especially at the start of the weekend before everyone gets out and the trails see heavy traffic. Have fun. We’ll post specific reports as they come in.

 

Wednesday, Feb. 17th, Noon Update:

Check this link for some pictures of the Byrncliff area trails this morning. I’m a little disappointed because I took my best camera when the weather was looking bright at breakfast time, but it got snowy and with poor visibility the pictures are not so hot.

I took a pretty good look around the trails on all sides of Byrncliff. There were about ten trailers in the lots at 11AM. Conditions are much what the guys writing in have reported. Generally fair to very good in places. The snow is still thin on hilltops and windward areas – like next to no snow at all some places. But the base is getting better every day and there are long stretches of very good trails. Plenty of grooming is being reported all over western New York. I’d say you could plan big loops pretty much anywhere in our greater riding area and see at least decent conditions, mixed with “primo” sections.

Keep the trail reports coming in!

 

Wednesday, February 17th, 9AM Update:

We’re almost there!

Yes, we’re picking up a little snow every day (more tonight), and the clubs are getting out on most of the trails with the groomers. Below is a fresh report from one of our regular readers. Sounds very good!

 THE TRAILS ARE SWEET STARTED IN BLISS AND WENT 100 MILES ALL THE TRAILS ARE GOOD AND GETTING BETER EVERY DAY IF IT KEEPS SNOWING OUT.OF ALL THE TRAILS WE WENT ON THE OATKA VALLEY WAS THE BEST GROOMED THANKS TO ALL THE CLUBS. MATT  

 

Tuesday, February 16th 8AM Update:

Riding conditions around western NY continue to improve many places. Following is a report from Mark who rode the area between Eden and Delevan yesterday:

 Hi Tom, Just wanted to post about our ride today .2-15-10 A friend and  I left East Eden at 10 am heading for Zoar Valley, then on to Otto and East Otto. As we headed towaeds Otto ,the snow started to get less and less , so we turned around and headed back and picked up the trail toward Machias and then to Delevan, Sardinia , then to Springville back to Eden, 125 miles in all. The conditions were great from Eden to Zoar , about 6" of new snow and if the trail wasn't freshly groomed,  the added snow filled in the rest, giving a nice cushy ride. From Zoar to Otto the trails were smooth but we were running out of snow. Many bare and brown spots in the fields.  Heading back to pick up the trail to Machias , the trail was groomed and smooth as a babys butt.  Started to get thin on snow near  Delevan but still  ridable, Going toward Spingville the trails were groomed and fast. Way more snow towards Springville up to Eden.  All in all the trails were groomed, 50% awesome 25% decent and 25% moguls.  Many  thanks to all the clubs for their effort to keep the trails in shape with the limited snow.   Mark

Also check the Folsom Trailblazers Club website today – Mike has a good report on his ride yesterday over parts of the Folsom system and further north. Mike reports that grooming is now in progress in the Folsom system, with grooming expected today on parts of the Bennington loop and through Sheldon.

Read the various reports sent in by our readers and try to get a handle on conditions where you might be riding based on reports from nearby areas. Things are sure better than they were two weeks ago!

 

Out of Town:

Old Forge and Tug Hill have received some snow this week and a little more expected most days this week.

Many are still reporting very good conditions nearby in Chatauqua County.

Riding is still very good in the Muskoka region of Ontario (Bracebridge, Huntsville area).

Snow gets thin as you head up from Muskoka towards North Bay and Sudbury, but still rideable.

The far north of Ontario where I like to ride at this time of year still has not had a big dump of snow and they have less than most years at this time. But they are open and grooming. I have recent reports of excellent conditions on most of the T.A.T.A. trails between New Liskeard and Kirkland Lake. Conditions on the “A” corridor trail all the way from North Bay to Cochrane are reported good. I’m probably headed that way next week (T.A.T.A.)

Monday, February 15th, 1PM Update:

I drove out to Byrncliff today and looked at a few of the nearby trails, but I did not ride. There were three trailers at Byrncliff, but quite a few sled tracks from guys who rode after last night’s snowfall. Most of the trails looked pretty good from the road. There is maybe 3” to 5” of fresh snow in the area, enough to start filling in the corn fields and places that were blown bare by the wind over the weekend. But it is still pretty thin snow.

I was surprised that there weren’t more trailers at Byrncliff on President’s Day. Maybe it will get busier later.

Good to finally have a little snow, but wouldn’t you know that just as some snow comes it looks like it is going to be warmer?

Here’s an email from Brian who drives through there daily and often sends reports:

Tom ,

   Things are looking up!  Making my trek in to work this morning from Warsaw to Orchard Park It looks like we received 4-6 inches of  new snow over night. From what I could tell it looks like it stuck in the open fields this time. Hopefully all the groomers can get out now. We should have some good early to mid week riding.  Hopefully I’ll be able to send you some trail reports this evening. 

Brian

 

Here’s another report I got today for you guys who like to ride east out towards Alexander and Oakfield:

Tom, 

 02/16/10

  Alexander and Oakfield groomers on the trails late last night. Corn fields and open areas are very rough.  C4F from Geer Farm Supply to Beachhead,Alexander Flats,My Saloon and return to Geer Farm Supply.

Oakfield groomer did the trails  north and west of the groomer barns in Oakfield. All three groomers will be out again tonight.

 

Saturday, February 13th, 8PM Update:

I did not go out around the trails myself today, so have no fresh first hand info. But I’ve been reading online and watching all the radar images during the day. With snow off and on today and a little bit more expected every day this week, riding conditions across western New York will get a little better every day.

I got three new ride reports in during the past hour and I’ll post them below. They confirm our previous observations that snow is still thin, pretty good in places and terrible in other windswept spots. But things are getting better and lots of guys are out riding. Enjoy the finally open trails!

Trail Report Today 02/13/2010

Me and a friend road 106 miles today from Bliss to headed towards Burncliff but the corn fields were rough... Then we headed to Java to eat at Milestone, then headed to Colden* and the snow over there was AWESOME , just want to say to all the guys who put the hard work into the trails to make this possible to ride on. Will be back over that way again Monday. Thanks again - Matt 

Hi Tom,

    Was out riding today with my wife and daughter throughout Oatka Valley's trail system. Left Walmart in Warsaw and went up the west hill (C4E) and across the top to the junction of C4. Snow was thin up here at the junction for about a mile. Took C4 East to Silver Springs and jumped on the railroad bed. Surprisingly the railroad bed and good snow cover on it. Headed towards Bliss. The railroad bed was thin in 2 of the open areas but that was it. Once you got across Green Bay road it was really nice. Cruised at 55 mph! Stopped at the Bliss Hotel for lunch and headed back the way we came only to Hardy's Rd junction. Got off the railroad bed there onto C3 to S34A and conditions were fine. Continued on S34A through Hermitage to S34 back to C4. From there back the way we came. Overall very acceptable conditions as long as you pay attention. Covered 60 miles today and will be back at it again on Monday. Sorry no riding tomorrow as it is Daytona! Thanks for your trail reports and keep them coming. Many of us in the Eastern part of Wyoming County love your trail reports.

 

Paul

Tom,  Took a short ride around the oatka trail system to see how the trails look.(3 o'clock saturday) Not too good on the west hill. No grooming yet and lots of snowmobile traffic. (can see trail from my home) Trails are rough and rutted up badly. Skis are cutting down to the dirt. Not recommended unless you are really desperate to get out. We are getting a moderate snow fall now, cross are fingers for about 4-6 inches so the groomers can get out.                      Brian

 

(ED: As you can see, different guys report different conditions depending on when and where they rode.)

 

Friday, February 12th, 5PM Update:

Below is a report from Dan after a 100 mile loop in the Folsom trails area:

Tom, did a nice 98 mile loop today, as you stated there are some windblown fields but not as many as I thought and most were only short sections of field. Most trails are in good shape and fairly smooth, except some wooded sections, the RR bed in Bliss has the usual wind blown sections but the others were in very good shape. There is more snow than I thought there would be, it looked like Oatka groomed last night. The snow was falling all during my ride and traffic was light with only about 8-10 trailers at Byrncliff.

 

Dan

 

I had another report today from some friends riding down in Chatauqua who said they had excellent conditions today.

 

PS: I missed the announcement the other day, but Oatka Valley trails are also now open. The club calls them “poor to fair” with thin snow on the fields, but see Dan’s report above about them doing at least some grooming.

 

Thursday, February 11th, 4PM Update:

Not as good as I thought:

Just got home from a short ride around some of the Byrncliff area trails. I would call riding conditions “Fair”, to “Good” in some places. Definitely is enough snow for lube and conditions are good where the snow has drifted in on the wind or settled behind tree lines or on the lee side of hills. But on the windward side of hills and on the hilltops there is little snow at all, and corn fields or plowed fields are rough. And there are quite a few of those fields.

I did have fun! There are plenty of spots where you can let ‘r rip. Snow is pretty deep in wooded sections where the snow has settled and been sheltered from the sun and wind. If you ride during the next few days, watch out for sudden dips or wash outs and expect a bit of chatter-chatter over the rough fields.

Don’t expect much if any grooming on the Folsom trails during the coming week. Number one, there isn’t enough snow to groom in most places. Number two, many of the Folsom club groomer operators will be away riding out of town all next week.

 

Thursday, February 11, noon Update:

Surprisingly Good!

Check my pictures from an hour ago this morning at this link. Folsom area trails are SURPRISINGLY good considering the thin snow cover. And it is thin – maybe only four inches of new snow at Byrncliff. But the base has been frozen for two weeks now and a few die hards have been riding packing in what little snow fell. So the fresh 4” or so has really helped. I am turning right around after posting my morning’s pictures taken from my car and heading out to ride.

 

There were quite a few tracks from guys jumping on the trails last night when the trails were first announced open. But there was not one trailer at Byrncliff this morning, so I’ll have the place mostly to myself when I get out there in 45 minutes. I’ll post some more comments after I ride.

 

Consider that with the light snow cover, trails will be very thin over this coming weekend and with pent up demand, there should be LOTS of traffic. There will quickly be some bare spots here and there. But the good news is that there is not enough snow to build sizeable moguls!

 

Wednesday, Feb. 10th, 10 PM Update:

Folsom opened their trails about 5PM. Below is Tri-County’s announcement that just came in a few minutes ago:

Tom,

 

As of Wed. 2/10/10 The Tri-County Drifthoppers trails are OPENED with Limited conditions. We have received 4-6" of new snow that has provided limited cover. Groomers will be out as soon as a little more hits the ground .....maybe by the weakened. Unfortunately the snow didn't come in time (or enough) for our Snow Drags and we have had to cancel them for this year.

Lee

 

Wednesday, February 10, 5PM Update:

Following is the official word from Mike at the Folsom Trailblazers Club:

Tom,

 

Just wanted to let you know we have reopened our trails but please stress WITH EXTREME CAUTION! We basically are starting all over and conditions will be poor to ok for the most part until we get plenty of snow to groom. I will be away riding myself and unable to update our site until Sunday. Thanks

 

 

Mike (President, Folsom Trailblazers)

 

Wednesday, February 10th, noon Update:

I wish we were getting just a little more snow than is falling so far today, but we’ll take it! We actually checked the COlden trail Riders trails over towards Colden and Boston this morning, since they have been “Open” right along. They are looking good over that way.

The best local riding the past few weeks has been Chatauqua County right along, and they are getting the best snow today. They should have very good riding over this President’s Weekend!

We’ll wait and see what the Wyoming County club websites say, but guys will certainly be out riding their trails. Nobody has listed their club trails as “Open” yet.

 

Tuesday, February 9th Update:

11PM:

Snowfall totals are so far a little less than forecast, but the weather guys are still expecting 4” plus by tomorrow night. IF that comes true, I’d expect to see some announcements of trails opening up. We have a well frozen base even though very thin snow. Stay tuned.

 

Monday, February 8th Update:

How frustrating it is to have this long period of cold weather and to have just barely not enough snow. Only a few inches more and we could have been riding the past two weeks. Usually our problem is frequent January and February thaws. Not this time.

 

It looks like nearly 100% chance of snow the middle of this week, and maybe our problems will be over. Not certain yet. We could get as little as a couple of inches of snow or as much as 8” to 10”. Even the low end of the forecast will likely be enough for us to start riding locally again, since we have such a well frozen base. If we get six or eight inches we’ll be in nice shape.

Below are a couple of reports from out of the area. The first is from one of our regular readers who sends in a description of riding down towards Alleghaney. Good to know there are a couple of places to ride still that don’t require long drives. After that report is one I copied off the Quebec HCS forum. Alain is a Quebec resident who frequently posts accurate reports from the area north of Montreal.

Hi Tom,

Just got back from trailering to my camp on Nine Mile Rd. in Allegany. There was definitely enough snow up on the hills to ride. I did 60 miles just riding the logging roads around my camp and playing on the old Wing Hollow Ski Resort hills. After riding there I drove into Allegany State Park to check conditions. About 8" of snow on the ground in the park. There were 5 or 6 trailers parked there and it look as if trails were pretty good considering the amount of snow. I also went by Holiday valley and there were alot of fresh tracks on trail by Ellicottville School and a few trailers parked there.

Hopefully we will get some snow in WNY this week otherwise I think I will be going down that way again this week to give the state park a try.

 

Just thought you might want this report

 

Tony

 

Below is the report from Alain on Quebec – his screen name is “Towing”:

 

Sorry for the delay but as I wrote at the end of my last message I was out for few days. COLD BEER was right, I was on the sled, 625 miles in 3 days with good friends... priceless

 

For your question, the good news is that all Lanaudiere north trails conditions have been report from good to excellent over the week-end. The deep cold and between 8-12" of new snow over the hard base left by the rain give crazy good conditions. conditions are really better than what it was before the rain storm and the hard base help alot to keep good trail conditions over the traffic. There are still limitations in the south of Lanaudiere that have not receive those good amount of new snow and is very icy so my recommendation would be to keep north to have the better . Here trail condition link: http://www.snowmobilecountry.ca/en/index.jsp?numPage=235

 

 

I am a little confused with the tour # COLD BEER give you because on the trail map of this year it does not match. The repos tour is #5, the St-Donat/ St-come would be #8 and the last one on St-Maurice river would be #6....maybe he had # of last year trail map ???? But other than the numbers, his suggestions are very goods

 

I will come back to you really soon (probably tomorroy) as soon as I have few minutes with other advices to help you

I'm still a little busy tonight ...

 

 

Alain

Sunday, February 7th Update:

Most Western New York trails still closed:

There’s just enough snow on the ground around our western New York riding areas to make those trails very tempting. But they are closed and we ask that you please stay off them until the clubs announce them open, or we’ll lose land owner permissions.

Go to the Folsom Club website linked above for a quick report from Mike on the Chatauqua trails, which have the only feasible riding in western NY. Their trails are getting thin in the lower areas and in towns, but still good to excellent on the ridges.

Click this link for a few pictures I took around the Folsom trails yesterday morning. There were two trailers at Byrncliff and a very few tracks here and there on the local trails. But there is NOT enough snow to ride without tearing up grass and crops where the trails cross cultivated or landscaped places. That’s why its so important not to try to ride any kind of loops and for the trails to be officially closed. If you know where you’re going and live locally, yeah, there’s snow to test your sled or ride a mile here and there. But the trails are CLOSED.

Out of Town:

Scroll down and read my reports from Bracebridge, Ontario this past week. They have very good conditions, though they will also need more snow soon as some of the corners and hills are getting a little thin already in spite of great snow depth most places. Still, it’s one of the best places to ride in the east this week.

Old Forge is still good and will have light snow many days this week. Should be good to excellent after this weekend rush is over.

Tug Hill is good here, bad in the next township. Check your specific destination and be ready to load up and drive a few miles for better conditions.

Northern Ontario, Sudbury, North Bay, and T.A.T.A. trails in the north are getting a little better, but still are short on snow and Limited many places.

 

Thursday, February 4th, 7PM Update:

Check this link for some pictures Meghan and I took today. We put on 141 miles so far and are going out again soon. Conditions were superb most of the day – eat your hearts out! Seriously, there is all kinds of snow up here. We rode from Bracebridge up through Huntsville, down to Baysville and over towards Dwight. Only bad trail was just south of Deerhurst Resort, and some grooming was being done on that side of the trail system during the late morning, so maybe it is good now. We spoke with some guys at an intersection who had just ridden from Huntsville to North Bay and back with mostly very good conditions, so there seems to be adequate snow in much of this part of Ontario now.

Mike from the Folsom club reports their trails still closed with very little snow. Maybe some snow next week? Tune up your tow vehicle and get your trailer ready.

 

Wednesday, February 3rd, 4PM Update:

Very good riding conditions and lots of snow here in the Bracebridge – Huntsville area. Check this link for a few pictures from today.

We’ve seen everything from excellent conditions this morning when we were the 2nd or 3rd sleds since a good grooming job, to many miles of good to very good on flat groomed trail with a few inches of loose powder, to one trail with moguls – for about 15 minutes until we met a groomer coming the other way. We put on a little over 100 miles this morning, are taking a rest, and going back out later.

 

 

Tuesday, February 2nd, midnight:

“Game On!”

Check out this link, if I can post it correctly. It’s one of the Muskoka groomer guys posting Friday. His post and pictures say it all – “Game On” is right. And there’s been more snow since then.

This link shows a few pics I took tonight when I pulled into the motel in Bracebridge.

 

Western New York is far from the only place with big time lake effect snow. Muskoka region has much the same characteristics as western New York, with frequent narrow bands of heavy snow. I had great reports of good riding conditions in a fairly small area up here this week, so we loaded up and drove up for a couple of days. Things looked really poor only 30 miles south of here on the way up and we were getting discouraged as we got closer to Bracebridge. But suddenly there was more snow – LOTS more snow! When we pulled into the motel lot, I’ve rarely seen higher drifts around the lot in all the years I’ve been coming here. Check my pictures above.

The main trail in front of the motel is in great condition. I hope the rest of the trails in the area are as good. I’ll post some pictures and a report tomorrow afternoon.

 

Tuesday, February 2, Noon Update:

We’re pulling out headed north for Bracebridge, Ontario in a couple of hours. I’ll probably be able to update this page from the motel tomorrow afternoon. Hope I have magnificent conditions to tease you guys with!

Things don’t look great for our local area here in WNY, but there is some chance of some lake effect late in the week. Keep your fingers crossed and maybe a few of the trails can be opened for the weekend. Touch and go. On the good side, it does not look like any meltdown (of what, I know!) anytime soon. And a bit of snow from another system looks to be coming if we look out six or seven days in the forecast. Rub your good luck charms.

 

Monday, February 1st Update:

Still not much joy here in western New York.

Very light snow has been falling around western New York off and on the past couple of days. I’ve heard no reports of good local riding conditions and many club trails are still closed. There have been land owner complaints of people riding on very thin snow or bare ground. Please use common sense.

Out of Town:

It’s been snowing pretty steadily all day on Tug Hill and is expected to keep up overnight. They should be good to go for the rest of the week.

 

Old Forge has been getting lighter snow, but just enough. I expect good conditions on their trails.

Cottage country of Ontario (Muskoka region, Bracebridge to Huntsville) was good at the beginning of the weekend and got another good shot of snow today and tonight. Conditions will likely be good to excellent the next few days. I hope to be up there by tomorrow night myself, and will try to post a report.

Far northern Ontario (district 11) is just beginning to have Open trails with many still Limited. They need more snow. Guys trying to run long loops are running into problems.

If anyone has other area reports, email them to me. How is Chatauqua?

I had a report yesterday that some northern Erie County trails were open, but thin. Here’s another reader report:

Tom, we rode sun from marvins in north east erie county,goodrich and lapp rd, to the log cabin at indian falls in akron. the riding was fair to good. most trails were groomed on the northern erie snow seekers system. we left the log cabin and headed north toward the alabama swamps. all open water was frozen.took the trail through the swamps and to the duel pupose rd after where we were able to really open up the sleds to about 90! headed on trail toward power lines where things got rough headed back toward marvins. lots of bumps because of less snow farther north. hit some good and fair spots but all in all not a bad 65 mile run for the amount of snow. check the snow seekers web site for up to date reports. happy riding! Tom.C

Mike from the Folsom club also reports that there is grooming continuing in the Gerry area of Chatauqua county with some decent riding.

 

Friday, January 29th Update:

Trails are still closed. If you go out, you’ll be riding on ice and frozen dirt. Check this morning’s pictures at this link.

 

There was one trailer at Byrncliff this morning and a few sled tracks from local riders or trail crews checking conditions. Believe me, there is not enough snow to ride. Kind of surprise me, since we got a good shot at my place in East Aurora, but the wind just scoured the snow off the fields and hills yesterday and last night. The clubs are calling it right to keep the trails closed until more snow falls.

Good news is that everything is sure freezing up well! Think snow.

 

Thursday, January 28th, 1PM Update:

Too much wind

I was out and around some of the riding area this morning and talked to a Folsom Club official. The high winds we’re experiencing are scouring most of the new snow off the fields, so it is looking less likely that any trails will officially open tomorrow. Stay tuned. We still could pick up 5” to 10” more snow by tomorrow afternoon, but the wind needs to drop if it is going to help our trails much.

I heard a rumor that Colden Trail riders have opened their trails with “Limited” conditions. Very icy in places, but their base apparently held up through the thaw and rain.

We’re waiting to get a report on Chatauqua trails, which are getting snow this week and had lots to begin with. They will likely have decent riding this weekend, but I do not know that first hand.

PS: Brian often sends good, useful reports. Here is his report from 1PM this afternoon:

Tom,

   Making my ride in from Warsaw to Orchard park on 20A.

 

The good:  Folsomdale trail system was getting pounded with a good heavy snow.

 

The bad:  Oatka trails  are being shorted again. Snow is stopping east of buffalo hill.

 

P.S.  I have talked to several land owners in the past week and they are all complaining about loud pipes this year. Specially late at night in the Alden area were the trails are close to houses. I’m a land owner myself and have noticed the same. They are talking about shutting off their properties to the snowmobilers next year which would close several main trails. Let your readers know If you see these guys out on the trail let them know they are going to screw it up it for all of us.

 

Thanks

 

Brian

 

Thursday, January 28, 6AM Update:

FINALLY!

Some serious snow is forecast over the coming 24 hours. Watch here or check the club websites for an official announcement of trails being reopened, but I would guess that would come for some clubs tomorrow morning (Friday). Open or not, people will likely be out riding if we get the 6” to 12” forecast on top of the light snow that fell yesterday.

CAUTION: Essentially all the trail base washed away during the past week, along with numerous local washouts from flooding. We’re back to square one with early season riding conditions requiring extreme caution. If clubs don’t choose to announce trail openings, it will be because of the lack of any base and the numerous washouts.

Out of Town:

Many parts of Tug Hill and Old Forge are picking up some heavier snow today, so that area should be back in business soon.

I checked all my Quebec sources last night, and conditions throughout Quebec are poor or closed. They got hit hard by the rain and warm weather.

Parts of Ontario retained a little base. Some areas will be back in action after this round of snow and cold weather.

I have not seen any reports from Michigan. Write to me if you know anything and I’ll post it here.

PS: One of our readers just sent in this info on Michigan trail conditions. I think I have used “John’s” trail website before.

Best info and best weather forecast for the area is found at "John Dee.com" John lives in the UP of Michigan. I have snowmobiled there many times and find the area one of the best. John is a weather forecaster for the Chicago commodities exchange so his forecast text is quite accurate. I'm sure you'll enjoy the web site. Driving time from my house in Alden is 9hrs to the Mackinaw Bridge and 14hrs to Lake Linden (weather permitting). Please feel free to contact me if you would like additional information. I enjoy your web site and trail reports. Keep up the good work.

 

Tuesday, January 26th, 11AM Update:

Keep your fingers crossed for local riding later this week. It will be touch and go whether there is enough snow for trail grooming, but it sure looks like there will be enough to ride by the weekend. Sounds like a nice weekend weather forecast with partly sunny skies. Think more snow. Chatauqua trails which kept some of their heavier snow pack should be in good condition in a couple of days.

Heavier snows are likely in the next few days on Tug Hill and at Old Forge.

Most of Ontario also took a beating this past weekend, but they should soon be back in business with this cold snap and snow.

Still waiting for a solid “Good” report from anyplace in Quebec. Let me know if any of you hear something through the grapevine!

 

Monday morning, January 25th Update:

Well, it sure is a watery, muddy mess out there this morning! And the same is true for pretty much everyplace you might want to ride in New York, or Ontario. Tug Hill and Old Forge got even heavier rain than we did.

But we should have 3” to 6” of new snow by Tuesday night and more snow every day of the week after that. It’s just a shame that so much of the base on our local trails was washed away. But we should be back riding locally by the end of the week, I would think. Stay tuned.

 

Friday, January 22, 11AM Update:

Excellent in Old Forge!

This report will be too late to be of much help to anyone. Warm weekend temperatures and a million sleds arriving last night and this morning will quickly pound even the excellent Old Forge trails. When we got here yesterday the trails were good, but had stutter bumps and some only fair sections. Not much grooming yesterday.

But the Old Forge grooming crew did what they do best last night. All the groomers must have been out all night, because nearly every trail was freshly groomed and in Excellent condition this morning. Meghan and I got up early and were amoung the first to hit the trails. Bright sun after a night of near zero temperatures made for great scenery. There was lots of ice build up on the bushes and smaller trees and they just sparkled in the sun. It was one of those mornings when it is just great to be alive and doing something you love!

Thanks to Christy’s Motel for their good service and good prices, as usual. And to the Old Mill restaurant where we splurged last night and got our money’s worth.

Think snow – we may be getting back to some real winter weather late next week.

 

Thursday, January 21, 2PM Update:

Meghan and I are enjoying Old Forge where riding conditions are better than you might think after the warm temps of recent days. Good to Very Good on most trails with only a little brownish snow on some thin spots and the occasional scrunch as your carbides scrape a rock where the base is thin. But if you decide to come up today or tomorrow, you won’t be sorry.

There are lots of stories on the web of bad conditions on parts of Tug Hill. All I can say is that the trails along rte #28 from Booneville towards Old Forge looked very good, and I rode Very well groomed trails from Stillwater towards Brantingham and south towards Booneville this morning. Your mileage may vary.

The weekend still looks to be crappy everyplace. But the long range is now looking a bit better than just two days ago. Some lake effect by mid week and POSSSIBLY an Arc tic outbreak next weekend. Keep your fingers crossed.

Check this link for a few pictures we took in Old Forge this morning.

 

Wednesday, January 20th, 8AM Update:

Check the Folsom Club website linked above for any trail condition updates today through Friday. Meghan and I are driving up to Old Forge for a couple of days.

With the light snow yesterday and overnight and cold temperatures, limited local riding would be possible if the clubs decide to open the trails for the next few days. The decision will depend on land owner relations and whether or not the trail base has held up where sensitive crops are planted. I would lean towards opening for a couple of days of riding, since temperatures will be back to 40 or more by Saturday and we could be really out of business for a while then.

 

Monday, January 18th, Noon Update:

Tempting: (see pictures from this morning at this link )

Meghan and I just took a driving tour around much of the Folsom trail system. Thanks to everyone staying off the trails over the weekend, there is some good news in the short term (though the long term does not look so good – more on that later). If you measured out every foot of the Folsom trails, about 90% of the base has survived the weekend and warmer weather surprisingly well. But that other 10% is NASTY, with sizeable mud patches in many places.

With the weather turning colder tonight through Thursday, many sections of the trails would be rideable tomorrow. There’s a good frozen base in many areas and it will set up quickly with cold overnight temps. But not those NASTY spots. Some snow is expected tomorrow and Tuesday night. If we get even two inches along with the cold overnight temps, I’d be tempted to open the trails beginning Wednesday morning, even if just for a few days. (Sure enough, we’ll be seeing mid to upper 30’s during the day by Thursday, and 40’s again by next weekend.)

The long term does not look very promising. No sudden complete melt down, but temperatures look to often be well above freezing during the day for a couple of weeks into the future. And no big storm systems presently in the forecast.

Check back here or on the Club websites for any announcement opening the trails. My guess is that if it happens at all it will be just for this Wednesday, Thursday, and maybe into Friday morning, and it will depend on getting just a little snow on Tuesday night. After that, all bets are off for the foreseeable future in our area L

Meghan and I are off to the mountains for the last part of this week.

 

Saturday, January 16, 3PM Update:

Thanks to all of you who are staying off the trails while they are officially closed. There was extremely light traffic on the trails this morning when I stopped out in the area to pick up my wife’s sled from A-Z.

Jim from the Folsom Club went riding in Chatauqua with a group this morning. They just called in to report very good conditions and lots of snow down that way. They rode out of Mayville. If you’re going stir crazy with Wyoming County and area trails closed, head down that way.

Other not-so-near riding destinations:

Tug Hill still has lots of snow most places, but is getting the same warmer temps as we are.

Old Forge should be good most of next week with a little colder temps.

Bracebridge – Huntsville area of Ontario (Muskoka) is Open to Limited, also getting some warmer temps this weekend. They have had some good conditions on the main trails, spotty some places.

Northern Ontario (far north) needs more snow – just starting to open some trails.

Northern Quebec – ditto – need more snow – limited conditions if open at all.

Mont Tremblant – north of Montreal (Lanaudière); still a little thin on snow, but good conditions reported.

Southern Quebec south of the St. Lawrence River is reporting Good riding in many places.

 

Friday, January 15th, 10AM Update:

TRAIL CLOSINGS:

(NOTE: As of 11:00 AM, Folsom trailblazers trails are also officially CLOSED through the weekend.)

(NOTE: 11:09 AM Update – Oatka Valley Club trails are also now CLOSED.)

As I was expecting, official trail closing announcements are coming in. It’s suggested that you stay off all area trails through this weekend to try to save what little base the guys worked so hard to build up the past few weeks. Too bad this warm up falls on a holiday weekend!

The Tri-County trails are officially CLOSED as of this morning. Here’s Lee’s announcement:

“Tom,

 

Regretted having to Close the trails for this weekend, especially since we have our Chicken BBQ on Sunday, but here is the sad news:

 

Update Friday 1/15/10..

Tricounty Drifthopper's trails are OFFICALLY CLOSED due to the warm weather and concern for crop field damage!! Let’s hope this warm up will not last as long as it is forecasted to. Some of our trails this year are going across winter wheat and new alfalfa seeding and we will loss access to these trails if sleds are riding without proper snow cover. Please stay off the trails until further notice!

Lee”

 

Thursday night, 11PM Update:

NOT GOOD:

Weather has changed for the worse. 11 PM temperature is near 40 degrees and now expected to stay above freezing overnight and through tomorrow. So much for our plan to “ride early or at night”!

Slight cool down tomorrow, but then high 30’s again Saturday and Sunday – worse still, we may have sun both days.

Count our blessings for the past ten days and hope for snow late next week. Those of us who can take the time off will soon be “outta here” to find more snow and colder temps.

Do not be surprised if most clubs formally close their trails before the weekend to try to save a little of the base. Check the club websites tomorrow morning.

 

Thursday, January 14th, 3PM Update:

Hello Everyone,

I just got in from spending a couple of hours out on the Folsom trail system. Conditions this morning were Good to Very, Very Good until lunchtime. I even passed one of the groomers smoothing up the west side C4B trails and the trails down in Strykersville. Check this link for a few pictures from this morning.

Both Mike over on the Folsom Club website and I have suggested staying off the trails in the warm afternoons for the coming week and riding only in the morning or at night. Sure enough, I found good conditions up until about noon today. Then things quickly started getting soft. By 2PM the trails were getting mushy many places. We’ve known that the base is still very thin in many places. Evidence is that in just two hours of above freezing temperature this afternoon, many bare spots were appearing that had been frozen with a tiny coating of snowpack only this morning. See some of the pictures.

In summary, there will be passable riding for the next week in the morning or late at night. Stay off the trails when the temps go above freezing. Watch this website and the club websites in case some of the trails must be closed. The base is thin. We will need more snow.

Excellent riding conditions will be just five hours drive away on Tug Hill or in Ontario during this time.

PS: Here’s an email that just came in at 3:30 PM from one of our regular readers that confirms the quick deterioration out on the trails this afternoon:

“Tom driving home from work, orchard park back to warsaw on 20A.  trails are already looking real bad. Just passed byrncliff seeing a lot of mud and grass. I don't think they are going to hold up for the weekend. This sucks 

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry”

 

Thursday, January 14th, 8AM Update:

Current temperature is 24 degrees or so – riding conditions should continue to be good this morning. Although we will get to the upper 30’s later today, the forecast has changed a bit, and now calls for a few degrees cooler than previously expected for much of the next week. Still a bit above freezing during the afternoons, but definitely does not look like a melt down at this point. After today, highs of 33, 37, 35, 33, 32, 33, with overnight lows well below freezing. Not bad at all. Just try to get off the trails by lunchtime today, Saturday, and Sunday.

 

Wednesday, January 13th, 8PM Update:

Just got the following report from Jim, who rode this afternoon:

“We did 87 miles today left N. Java went to the Milestone and met up with some of the groomer operators and the president of Northern Erie Sno Seekers and rode to the Colden Lakes but that place was closed (never ran into that before). left there went thru Holland and into Strykersville and back to Byrncliff then home. Good ride for the most part tri-county was a little rough and Sardinia was pretty beat. Holland,Colden ,and Folsom's system were real good everything was groomed flat we do need more snow not a warmup.”

 

I might ride tomorrow morning before it warms up. Remember, try to stay off the trails in the afternoons when it will be above freezing for much of the next week. Mornings should be good to go!

 

Tuesday, 9PM Update:

Many thanks to Chris from Arcade for this late day report:

Rode from my home in arcade to Kodiaks.  Trails just as you said...  Awesome!  Folsom trails are very well groomed!  Tricounty trails are bumpy but good.  Riding all day tomorrow before the warm up.

Chris

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry”

 

Tuesday, January 12th, 5PM Update:

SssssHHHHHHHHHHHH! (pictures here)

Don’t tell anyone! Keep this a secret just between us so the trails don’t get mobbed tonight and tomorrow morning.

How were the Folsom Trailblazers trails today? Absolutely F----in’ Awesome in a few words. It’s amazing what the club did in two days after the pounding the trails took this weekend. All trails on the club’s system are Very Good to Excellent. And I mean all of them – at least everything we rode this afternoon, and that was most everywhere. If you find more than a stray mogul here or there, let me know.

All trails have been groomed since the weekend, and many of the trails are groomed several passes wide. We had an absolute ball riding from noon to 3:30 or so. Bravo to the guys running the Folsom groomers!!!!!!!! There were a few riders out, but not many, so the trails should be about the same for tonight and tomorrow morning. There were only three trailers in the Byrncliff lot when I loaded up to go home.

Tomorrow morning (Wednesday) should continue to be Very Good to Excellent riding. Then we start to have warm afternoons to contend with for much of the next week. We’ll still be getting cold nights – cold enough to continue grooming (usually below 28 degrees for most clubs). Riding in the mornings should be great with the trails frozen up each night. TRY HARD to limit your riding to mornings when it gets above freezing during the day the coming week. If we’re off the trails by 1 PM, they’ll hold up better during the warm spell. Do what you can and pass the word.

 

Tuesday, January 12th, 11AM Update:

I’m still reporting second hand info this morning, which is that the groomers have been out since the weekend and are putting the trails back in shape. Meghan and I are planning to meet up with Jim at Byrncliff at lunchtime and head out for a first hand look. I’ll report back again late this afternoon.

You guys can read the long range weather reports as well as I can. We’re coming up on a period of days with highs in the upper 30’s. The good news is that night time temps will drop well below freezing every night into next week, and should be cold enough to continue grooming at night. I don’t see a major meltdown in the 7 to 10 day forecast.

And we will be right on the fringe of the above/below freezing line. Conditions to the north on Tug Hill, at Old Forge, and in Canada should remain very good.

 

Monday, January 11, 3PM Update:

I did not go out around the trails myself today, but I just got a call from groomer guy, Jim, with a current update. The Folsom Club guys didn’t waste any time after the beating the trails took over the weekend. They were out overnight and this morning and have freshly groomed the C4 trail from Byrncliff, down the A&A, and all the way to the Tri-County club’s trails. The trails on the northwest side of #20A up to the west of Bennington and toward Marilla are also reported to be freshly groomed this morning.

 

Sunday, January 10, 1PM Update:

Meghan and I just got in from a morning ride around the Folsom trails. Check a few pictures here.

Remember that the Byrncliff parking areas were all overflowing yesterday and there was extremely heavy traffic on the trails. Although there was a lot of great grooming done to prepare for this weekend and conditions were good to excellent many places yesterday, we saw no signs of overnight grooming as we rode the trails this morning.

As you might expect, the trails were pretty beat. Riding conditions this morning around the Folsom trails were fair to good in places. Probably the best we saw was on C4B heading west from Byrncliff and S46 west of Bennington; also S43 down in Strykersville – Java area was pretty good.

Pretty much everyplace else was getting stutter bumps to down right bumpy. The C4 corridor trail that was groomed so well for yesterday’s traffic is starting to get nasty, from one end to the other. Where the trail comes out of the woods, you can tell a little bit how much sled traffic there was yesterday by the fact that the trail gets over 100 feet wide in places where guys keep going wider to avoid the bumps.

Nothing we saw was really terrible – just not great.

On a more positive note, the last of the water holes are finally really freezing up and we have a really solid base on all trails. There is plenty of snow for grooming, and if the groomers get out in the next two days after the weekend, as they likely will, we should have excellent mid week riding.

 

Saturday, noon Update:

It’s gorgeous out there!

Check this link for some sunny, winter wonderland pictures from this morning.

I ran into Jim the groomer guy on the trail and he told me that all of the C4 corridor trail from Attica all the way south to the Tri-County trails was regroomed last night and was in near mint condition this morning. The heavy traffic will take a toll, but it began the day in excellent condition!

Other trails I looked at this morning ranged from good to very good, with stutter bumps and small moguls beginning to form here and there, especially on the west side trails from Sheldon to Strykersville that had not been groomed so recently – word is that the groomer will hit them today.

All in all a great day to be out on the trails snowmobiling.

PS: Good luck finding a place to park at Byrncliff. By now it is likely on the road parking only. Consider parking on the side of nearby area secondary roads that have wide shoulders.

 

Saturday, January 9th 8AM Update:

As I reported last night, trail conditions will change a lot during the days over the weekend. Heavy traffic is expected. Check my reports below from my Friday ride.

You should find some very beautiful “winter wonderland” conditions as you tour. In addition to the snow and ice covered trees we’ve seen the past few days, and the light fluff that came down last night and will continue this morning in places, there is an interesting low altitude inversion in place over western New York today. That will result in occasional “snow in the sun” as snow showers develop at very low altitudes with clear air above and the sun shining through. The weather service guys in today’s forecast discussion called it “twinkling snow”. Should be very pretty riding. Enjoy!

 

Friday, January 8th, 4PM Update:

I rode most of the Folsom trails today – a mixed bag:

First consider this; we got fresh snow the past 24 hours right in the middle of a busy grooming time. Also, one of the groomers was out of service briefly (turned out to be only a faulty sensor), and there were quite a few people out riding this morning. Upper & lower lots both had lots of trailers at mid-day.

That said, trail conditions varied greatly from only fair to excellent. Kudo’s first of all to those who worked on C4 north from Byrncliff to Bennington. This trail has been hit multiple times, and it shows. Really excellent conditions today. And as if that isn’t enough, I saw the groomer heading out on the same trail about 3:30 this afternoon as I was headed home. I think they’re doing the Attica trail also.

I rode that excellent C4 Bennington trail first, then headed around the Bennington loop and back to C4B in Sheldon – only fair to good conditions with fresh snow and small moguls and ruts from Bennington west. Not bad, not great.

Then C4B down towards Strykersville, again only fair to good in places. I was disappointed – I like this trail when it is in good shape. Some guys told me they thought it didn’t need more grooming, but I think it does.

S43A around the East side of Stykersville was fair to good past the Flipside stub trail.

C4A from Stykersville to Java Center was fair with lots of stutter bumps and small moguls.

C3C down to the Tri-County trails was good to very good, and I rode some of Tri-County’s portion of this trail south, also good to very good, especially in the woods where it is sometimes rough.

Heading back north, C4A through North Java was good to very good in places. The A&A has been groomed very recently, but with this fresh snow is already moguling up – not bad yet, though. C4 back to Byrncliff was generally good, but needs another couple of groomer passes already.

From Byrncliff to the Groomer barn – well, nearly perfect, as you might expect. S41 over to C4B crossing #77 and through the woods is good to very good in places.

I finished my ride with another shot up and back on C4 to Bennington, which was still really nice at the end of the afternoon – wish all the trails were like this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You’re going to see heavy riding this weekend, along with more snow and more grooming off and on. Conditions will change almost by the hour. It should be a generally good riding weekend, best if you ride early in the day.

Check this link for my pictures around the trails this afternoon.

 

Friday, 9AM Update:

SNOW!

We’ve picked up a wide spread 3” to 5” of new snow over most of the Folsom Tri-county riding area. It should be enough for the groomers to work with and give us some very good riding in many areas. Too bad it came so late in the week. There will not be time for the grooming crews to really set this new snow on the trails, but at least there is new snow to cover the snirty brown spots and to drag into the low spots and washouts.

Enjoy this weekend, since next weekend might be above freezing temperatures. Not sure yet, so keep your fingers crossed.

See some of you on the trails later this morning.

 

Thursday, 8PM Update:

Check this link for some trail pictures taken today by Steven Z. – thanks Steve!

Steven reports good trail conditions on the Folsom trails north and west of Byrncliff, but a little rough to the east. That fits with what Mike is reporting on the club website, that the Bennington C4 trail has been well groomed. Word is that Jim might have done the A&A towards Java again today, so conditions Friday should be very good in most places. I missed a phone call from Jim, and when he calls it usually means that grooming is being done.

I plan to hit the trails again myself tomorrow morning.

 

Thursday, January 7th, noon Update:

I did not check on the trails myself this morning. I’m still nursing my creaky old bones after the ride from Byrncliff to the Milestone and back yesterday. Although those conditions were reported by me to be “fair to very good”, Meghan points out to me that riders who are younger and more flexible (like Meghan!) might well have called the trails we were on “good to very good”. Guilty as charged – I’m turning 65 next month and I am definitely not a mogul buster by choice. But give me a freshly groomed trail and I still enjoy listening to “Mr. Turbo” spool up!

We got more snow here in East Aurora this morning than the forecast called for. A quick couple of inches. Radar showed that some of that might have hit our riding area. Keep your fingers crossed for the next few days – it now looks like we’re going to be on the fringe of the heavier snow from the next system – we need more snow.

There should be good riding all across the Varysburg – Strykersville – Java – Chaffee – Arcade – Holland areas this weekend, especially early before the hoards of weekend riders get out. All the area clubs now have their groomers in action. The groomer guys can read the long range weather reports just as well as I can and know that this might be the best weekend of the month for riding. I expect all clubs will be out grooming today and tomorrow doing their best to put their trails in great shape for this weekend.

Winter weather continues next week, so the weekend of the 16th – 17th should still be decent riding – maybe even better. But some of the very long range weather models are showing a change in pattern to above normal temps by the following week and for the second half of the month. Keep your fingers crossed that it “ain’t so”!

 

Wednesday evening, January 6th: (a few pictures from our Wednesday PM ride)

Meghan and I did a 75 mile loop around some of the Folsom trails and then down to the Milestone in Chaffee and back this afternoon. Conditions ranged from only fair to very good. We saw lots of signs of recent grooming, but the still thin & dry snow in many places does not hold a set very long. As many others have reported recently, there are still open mud holes and water crossings here and there in the woods. Surprising, since it has been so cold, but there’s still not enough snow for the groomers to be able to fill in all washouts and wet spots. With more very cold weather coming this weekend, we should finally freeze up most of the wet spots.

Those of you out riding this afternoon probably noticed the very pretty ice coatings on many trees, especially at higher altitudes. There’s been some very fine freezing drizzle today, with more coming overnight. This is probably a good thing, and should help set up all the very dry snow we’ve had the past week.

My favorite trail today was S-43 up over the hill from the Strykersville area across #77 towards N. Java. Some good recent grooming and only a few windblown thin areas.

C4 from Byrncliff down the A&A, and then C4A to Java Center were in pretty good shape, as was at least the first part of C3C on the Tri-County system. Other reports of good conditions are coming in, but the above is what we saw this afternoon. Enjoy.

 

Wednesday, January 6th, 10:45 AM:

OK, so I thought Meghan and I would be on the trails by now this morning. More snow than I thought burying my trailer in East Aurora! But we’re dug out now and getting dressed to leave for Byrncliff. I need to do some belt deflection tuning on my Turbo when I get there (just in case we run across that OTHER Turbo!), so we’ll probably actually be riding by 12:30. If you run across a little chick on a ZRT and my black Turbo this afternoon, stop and say “hello” on the trails. The riding should be good today, and better by the weekend.

 

Tuesday, January 5th, 1PM Update:

Conditions this Morning on Folsom Trails & an Update from Lee at Tri-County:

Today’s pictures here

I’ll give you a quick description of what I saw today on a thorough driving tour of the Folsom trail system; good to very good in many places. Following my report is an update from Lee over at the Tri-County Club. They, too, are out grooming now and conditions are rapidly improving.

I started in Strykersville this morning and found only fair conditions. Groomers seem to be working in that direction and conditions could improve a lot by tonight.

Then I followed C4A up over the hill towards Java Center with still no sign of recent grooming, but not bad conditions.

From then on, things got much better. C3C coming across #98 from the Tri-County trails had just been groomed, and I then followed C4A through North Java to the A&A and C4 back to Byrncliff – all very recently groomed and looking good to excellent.

Mike reports that the Bennington Loop has been done at least once and it looked good where I checked today. I saw very fresh groomer tracks on both C4 and C4B in the Byrncliff – Folsomdale area.

Riders I met on the trails reported good, recently groomed conditions on S41 and C4B from Byrncliff area down towards Strykersville. S43 over the hilltop from Bartz to Humphrey Roads also looked freshly groomed.

Hats off to the Folsom Club groomer guys – with still thin snow, they have done a great job of packing in a base and getting the trails in decent shape. Remember, even though we’ve seen very cold weather and continuous snow the past week, the snow has been very dry and fluffy. We need more snow (which is coming). Also, you’d think that every possible mud hole and wet spot would have frozen up, but there are still some problem areas. Getting better, but keep your eyes open when you ride in what are still early season conditions.

All in all, good to very good conditions most places. More good news is that traffic on the trails was very light this morning. Just six trailers at Byrncliff by noon, so the freshly groomed trails should not get all torn up. I plan on riding tomorrow.

Tri-County News:

Thanks to Lee for sending me a copy of his latest trail report, which follows:

“Tom,

 

Just posted the following update to the TriCounty Drifthopper's trails:

 

All of the Tri-County trails have been gone over with the groomers as of yesterday after noon. With the fresh snow and cold nights the water holes are disappearing fast. I just talked to Jamie our trail coordinator and he said trails are in good shape as of now and will only get better towards the end of the week. The guys will be back out to start the second and third passes on some of the trails before the weekend. There may still be some “ruts” in the corn fields to watch out for, but the water should be all tightened up with the cold weather. The guy’s took multiple passes over some spots to try to fill in the ruts as best they could, but still watch out, and some area’s they made a temporary detour until things get filled in better. If anyone if out and about before the weekend shoot me a message and I’ll post any updates. Looks like a good start to the season!

 

Looks like a great week/weekend ahead for local riding, (as long as you don't go too far east).

 

Let's Ride,

 

Lee”

 

Monday, 11PM Update:

Directly from Mike at the Folsom Club:

“Tom,

All 3 groomers have been out on our trails and most conditions are pretty good. Attica way is pretty thin as they don’t have much snow to work with, I ran out of snow to groom and turned around at RT 98 today. Most of Folsom’s trails are pretty good except for the occasianal water hole and corn lot ruts. Hope to get together with you and Megan to compare the "Turbos" soon.

- Mike”

 

Monday, January 4th, 11AM Update:

I am not going out to check trails myself today, but will give you a summary of what I know. I do plan a thorough driving tour and pictures of the Folsom trail system tomorrow (Tuesday), and I plan to finally ride the trails with Meghan on Wednesday and get “out around the trails” pictures. Do send me pictures anytime if you get good ones, and I’ll post them along with mine. Also keep sending in your first hand riding reports.

From my own observations the past couple of days and from what I’m hearing, the Folsom Trailblazers trails are probably the best bet in western New York for decent riding early this week. That’s partly from the terrain – Folsom trails are higher elevation than some others in the region, have had a little more snow, and may have fewer swampy areas and water holes than some other locations. The Folsom groomers have been out working over the weekend, and will be hitting some of the trails for a second time today and tomorrow. Light snow is falling on much of the Folsom system as I write this morning.

That said, the snow that has come the past week is very light and fluffy all over western New York, and the base that’s building on the trails is still thin. There are still open water holes and muddy spots on trails all over our extended Western New York riding area, even on the Folsom system which is ahead of some of the other Clubs in establishing a base. Conditions on the Folsom trail system today should be fair to very good and will get better each day this week.

Oatka Valley club has just listed their trails as being open, in only fair condition needing more snow before grooming.

Tri-County Drift Hoppers report limited conditions, good in a few places, but need more snow and still a thin base in most places.

Holland Club lists trails as limited/fair conditions. This morning I talked with a friend who belongs to the Holland club who did a lot of riding on their trails yesterday (Sunday). He said conditions were often brutal, with many open water and mud holes and icy spots, with a lot more snow needed. He reported that the big new bridge needs cross treads for traction – sleds without pics are having a hard time making it over.

Out of Town Riding:

Nearly everyplace I follow is reporting only fair early season conditions. Tug Hill and Old Forge got hammered with snow before Christmas, and had some very good early riding (I was there), but not so much new snow the past week. They also had heavy sled traffic between Christmas and New Years which pounded the trails.

Old Forge with their paid grooming should be back in good shape first this week. As is usually the case, Tug Hill varies from poor to excellent. They need a little more new snow, but conditions should slowly improve this week.

NOTE: Town of Inlet is usually very accurate with their condition report for Inlet – Old Forge area; here is their report from today:

Trail Conditions for Inlet, NY & the Moose River Plains

Monday , January 4th, 2009 9:00 AM Report

Overall snowmobile trail conditions are Good to Excellent

Currently 7 degrees F & snowing lightly

2 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours

Most trails have a 8-12 inch groomed base

Local Trails – Excellent- Flat on Seventh Lake Mountain inner trails, the trail to Eagle Bay is smooth

The Matts Red Dog Trail has water in it at the third Lake Creek Bridge some 3 feet deep due to beavers, until the problem is resolved please avoid this trail.

County Roads – Good Coverage and easy travel

Moose River Plains – Excellent: Flat and icy in some corners well groomed

The Town of Inlet does not ever encourage riding on any body of water.

You can park for free at the Inlet Town Hall any day of the week. No overnight parking, please.

Ontario trails are just starting to open with limited conditions in the Muskoka snow belt region. Many more Ontario trails should start opening over the next week and a half. The far north, in the New Liskeard & north areas, needs more snow.

I’ve heard nothing about Quebec conditions – let me know if any of you readers know anything.

Michigan trails have had some decent conditions since before Christmas, both the lower section and the UP.

The weather is going to treat us pretty well for the foreseeable future. After slightly warming temperatures here in Western New York the next two days, the mercury will plunge again at the end of the week and we’ll likely see some more significant lake snows. The long range weather pattern shows no signs of breaking before the middle of the month. We should have mostly below freezing and slightly below normal temperatures until then. A pretty good start to the snowmobiling season.

 

Sunday, January 3rd, 3PM Update:

The heavy snows in the southtowns and Boston Hills today have only brushed the Folsom Trails system. That’s great for you guys who were out riding today, but I hope we pick up more snow tonight. Some snow coming every day this week – we should be in great shape by Wednesday!

Oatka Valley club has opened their trails today, calling conditions “poor to good”, with thin snow and no grooming until more snow.

 

Sunday, January 3, 1PM Update:

Check this link for a few pictures from around the Folsom trail system this morning. BY 11AM the lower lot at Byrncliff was full and the upper lots more than half full with trailers. Lots of traffic on the first real day of weekend riding!

Conditions are good early season. Still a little snirt showing on parts of the trails, and corn stalks sticking up out of the snow. But the trails are developing a base and every day will be better than the day before.

The wind is not quite as bad as had been forecast, but the snow is blowing. I only ran into heavy squalls on my way home through East Aurora about 1:15 PM.

If you’re still home and trying to choose between watching those marvelous Bills play or heading out riding, I’d choose riding, even with the bad driving conditions to get out to the trails! I’ll probably hit the trails for the first time Tuesday.

 

Sunday, January 3rd, 8AM Update:

Today will be a fun day on the trails for lovers of real powder riding and drift busting. We’re expecting 3” to 5” of blowing and drifting light powdery new snow. (Weather service says 30:1 or greater water equivalent snow, which means very dry and light – not good packing.)

Although blowing and drifting snow is not generally what we want for an established trail, it can be useful when we’re first trying to establish a base. The very light snow cover we’ve picked up the past few days has squashed way down as the first group of sleds hit it yesterday. The blowing snow quickly fills in the depression where sleds or a groomer pass have packed the snow on the trails. Next time sleds or a groomer go through, a little more base is packed in.

Speaking of grooming, Mike over on the Folsom club website says that nearly all the Folsom trails will have had a groomer pass by tonight. That will be great, though they may have trouble meeting that goal if the visibility gets really bad later today. Mike is making the same prediction I posted yesterday – excellent riding conditions by mid week.

So, for today, expect good riding conditions if you like powder and drifts. The corn fields are starting to fill in, though you will find rough spots. Most water and mud holes are frozen over. The groomers are on the move.

Drive carefully on your way out if you’re trailering to Byrncliff, since there will be blowing snow and occasional whiteouts.

 

Saturday, January 2nd, 1PM Update:

Meghan and I just got in from a tour of parts of the Folsom Trails system. Conditions are rapidly improving! We got 6 or 7 inches of fresh powder snow overnight and there is close to a foot of snow most places. Sled traffic is light so far today, though it seems to be picking up. There were about 8 trailers in the Byrncliff lot when we left at 11AM. The snow on the trails is very light and gets pushed aside with traffic easily. We saw grass showing here and there where sleds had gone through. But there is a base forming. Riding would be good early season conditions today – it looks like fun!

We saw Jim beginning a grooming pass. Check these pictures from this morning. Jim says that they finished servicing all three groomers this morning and that they will be out between now and Monday. He figured the whole trail system should have seen a groomer by Monday evening.

After a lull this morning, a good band of lake snow is setting up for early this afternoon, which should give us 2 or 3 more inches. Then Sunday is expected to bring another three to five inches. Riding should be good this evening (Saturday) after the expected bands of lake snow pass through.

I am sticking by my prediction from yesterday that we’ll have widespread good to excellent riding conditions by mid week and a fine snowmobiling weekend seven days from now.

 

Friday night, January 1st, 10PM Post:

Thanks to Lee from Tri-County for sending this current update of their trail system:

“Tom,

 

Just got finish taking a 60 mile loop around some of our trails, ranged from the bad and ugly to fair to good conditions on the rail bed south. Here is the report I just posted:

 

Holy Corn Fields and logging Batman! I took a ride North on C3C from Rt. 98 north to S36. There are lots of ruts and corn field crossings that will need more snow and the groomer to help smooth things out.  S36 west over towards Sardinia’s club is not much better. Lots of ruts in the corn fields due to the wet weather when harvesting. Also a lot of standing corn that was not picked. I would not recommend riding these sections. Next took the gas line C3A back east all the way to the junction of C3, much better conditions, just a little water and rough spots. Next continued east on C3 to the rail bed C3B. Much better with fair conditions, also less corn fields. Railroad bed south, C3B to S30, was in good shape. Some was groomed south of Freedom road, didn’t hit any bare spots. Hit just a little water under Rt.98S, but good the rest of the way to the cut off at junction CT96S. The cut off was gone over a day or so ago with the groomer to C3. Then also groomed on C3 to the intersection of C3C heading back north to town. C3C north out of town back across Genesee Rd. and back to Rt.98N had to typical water spots behind the airport, and was a little rough. Over all the riding was fair to good on the east and south side of Arcade. I would stay off the trails to the north and west of town until more snow comes and the groomers can get out. I have a feeling there will be a lot of cleat repair work to do on the groomers once they get out with how rough the fields/woods are going to be the first couple time out. Feel free to ride if you want, but a little more snow would make things better for all. Made the loop of 60 miles in a little less than 3 hours. About 3-5 inches of more snow fell this afternoon, so let’s hope it keeps coming!

 

 

Lee Ameis

VP/Web site

Tri-County Drifthoppers”

As I write this Friday night, radar has shown pretty steady to occasionally heavy snow on the Folsom trail area for much of the evening. Hopefully it will keep going most of the night. Riding should be improving as the weekend goes on! I’m predicting good to very good conditions by mid-week all over western New York. Next weekend should be pretty nice.

 

Friday, January 1, 6PM Update:

Trails Open Again!

Jim called from the Folsom Club and told me that the trails are officially “Open” again after picking up five or six inches of new snow since yesterday. The groomers are also heading out, though we still need more snow for them to accomplish more than packing a base.

But more snow is exactly what we’re getting! As much as a foot more in the next 24 hours in some places. Then snow and wintry weather every day for the next week. Conditions should get better every day. I’ll be out and around the trail system taking some pictures tomorrow and Sunday.

Just be careful if you’re out riding this weekend. There are still ruts and holes that aren’t filled completely and a few fallen branches that may not have been cleared.

All in all, very promising news for trail conditions in the coming week!

 

Thursday, December 31st 1PM Update:

Due to the already thin snow and warmer temperatures today, the Folsom Club trails are now closed to save what little base they have. With colder temps and more snow coming tomorrow, they may open again soon. Check the Club website tomorrow or back here for the announcement.

 

Wednesday, Dec. 30th, 10PM Update:

In explaining why we’re likely to have colder than normal weather for a couple of weeks, here’s what the National weather service says on their internal website:

BACK TO OUR GREENLAND BLOCK...THE CLASSIC BLOCK THAT IS CURRENTLY IN

PLACE WILL EVOLVE INTO A VERY LARGE SCALE (HEMISPHERIC...IF YOU

WILL) REX BLOCK WHERE THE CENTER PIECE BLOCKING HIGH WILL `CUT OFF`

AND STRENGTHEN TO AT LEAST 4 STANDARD DEVIATIONS ABOVE NORMAL EARLY

JANUARY LEVELS. TO PUT THAT INTO PERSPECTIVE...THAT EQUATES TO AN

EVENT THAT HAS LESS THAN ONE HALF OF ONE PERCENT CHANCE OF OCCURRING. QUITE SIGNIFICANT.

Cool stuff to those of us who follow weather patterns seriously! What it means is no big meltdown anytime soon. If we can just eke out enough new snow the next four or five days to put the trails in order, we’ll be off to a good start to the riding season. Stay tuned!

 

Wednesday, December 30th, noon Update:

I just got back from a “drive around” check on the Folsom Trails. Check this link for some pictures. Trail conditions – “I’ve seen worse”; and that’s an official trail condition website term! Seriously, there has been a lot of traffic on the trails and they are all well beaten down. As others are reporting, the snow is very thin and more is needed before there can be any grooming. Some dirt spots and lots of grass and corn stalks are showing through. You will hit bumps and they will be hard.

BUT, there is snow for track slider lube, and the trails are certainly rideable. There were three trailers in the Byrncliff parking lot when I checked at 10:30 this morning. About normal for a weekday morning. And the trail conditions show that lots of locals have been out.

Personally, I’m keeping my sleds on the trailer and ready for more snow. But if you’ve got the itch, a ride is doable. Be careful – you will find straight shots over smooth ground and with the good traction available today you’ll be going fast quickly. And there are lots of ruts and open ditches just waiting to snatch off one of your spindles.

 

Here is a fresh report from Pat C. who rode yesterday and pretty much confirms what I’m reporting:

“Tom,

 

I Just got back after a little blast around the trails near my house.  I basically I just rode Trail C4B from Harris Corners Fire Dept to trail junction #56.  The trails are rough in spots and decent in others.  Basically all water spots/holes/ditches are still not frozen, but nothing too bad though.  There is good snow cover for the most part, but the corn fields will make you wonder why you decided to go riding.  All is all, not bad conditions for scratching the first ride itch.

 

Thanks, Pat”

Local clubs are all reporting Limited or very limited conditions, which is consistent with our observations. One man’s “Limited” is another man’s “Terrible”.

Think snow! We should be in much better shape after this weekend (fingers crossed for good luck!).

 

Tuesday, December 29th, noon:

Here is a quick ride report from Kevin who was out last night for a little blast and sent in the following report:

 

    “Hey Tom I was not really able to get out and ride much last night. I only put on about 20 miles actually. I live right near Kodiak Jacks in Marilla and from there out to Ironwood wasn’t terrible. The occasional water hole but I would believe most of that should be freezing up with the temps down in the single digits last night. The corn lots were pretty rough. But all in all I was happy to be able to get out for a little bit and ride. I passed about a dozen sleds last night so there were definitely people venturing out even in the less than favorable conditions. Hopefully with the people that have been out there riding there will be a little bit of base packed down. It looks like a big storm New Years Eve and Day then lake effect  sets up after for the rest of the weekend. I hope that forecast will be true! Think lots of snow Kevin”

Thanks, Kevin!

There is also a short ride report from Mike over on the Folsom Club website. Folsom trails are unofficially “open” now. Tri-County also has their trails listed as “limited”, with no fresh grooming until more snow. Oatka Valley lists their trails as closed.

Go on out and pack the snow down you eager beavers!

 

Monday, December 28, 1PM Update:

About 7” of new snow fell on the Folsom trail system since yesterday. As far as I know the trails are still officially closed. There are a few sled tracks here and there. More snow coming today through the rest of the week. I’d say give it a couple more days and there should be widespread early season riding around much of Western New York, at least the Folsom Trailblazers and TriCounty systems. I’ll report again tomorrow. Try to be patient!

 

Sunday, December 27th:

Keep your fingers crossed; snow is in the forecast pretty much every day this week with some lake effect possible. We may be back in business sooner than we thought just yesterday! Stay tuned.

For those of you planning to head to Tug Hill or Old Forge later in the week, that looks good as well, with a possible winter storm dropping heavy snow there in the next few days.

Saturday, December 26th, Update:

Not Good:

Check this link for some pictures taken this morning at Byrncliff. Heavy rain fell much of last night and there is only patchy snow left on much of our riding area. Also, say “goodbye” to our well frozen water crossings and mud holes. We’ll be starting over this week.

The good news is that it’s getting colder again – much colder, and some snow in the forecast for several days. But I doubt we’ll have more than marginal conditions on the trails in western New York for a while. Stay tuned.

Trailer Project:

Try to find yourself a useful project to improve your sledding experience while we wait for the return of riding conditions. Check this link for my most recent project. When I bought my current trailer I immediately installed a set of those plastic ski guides with multiple grooves. Because there were so many grooves in the plastic mats I figured I would just mount the mats symmetrically and the sleds would find their way onto a suitable position. Bad choice!

Neither of my sleds “just happened” to line up properly on the trailer deck with the mats installed so casually. So last week I tore off all the mats and put them back on carefully measuring so that the outside set of grooves would line up just the right distance from the edge of the trailer, and just right for each of the two sleds I most often transport (which was a little different for each sled). Then I put a couple of pieces of cut up drive belt at the back of the trailer in little “V” shapes to guide the skiis into the proper grooves on the deck mats.

The sleds now load slick as hell and each lines up in just the proper space on the trailer. One afternoon’s work has really improved the experience of loading sleds for trips!

 

WNY Snowmobiling:

A new FaceBook page for snowmobilers. Try this link?

Thursday, December 24th Update:

I have not been out on the local trails myself yet, but have checked the club reports and talked at length with Jim who does grooming for Folsom Trail Blazers. Both Folsom Trailblazers and Tri County Drift Hoppers are open as of today.

Folsom trails are marginal conditions in most places. Good frozen base, but more snow is needed. Tri-County says the rail line has been groomed and is pretty good. Some of their other trails need more snow.

Go on out and have a rip if you’re itching to ride. Call or email me with feedback and we’ll post it.

Jim has started a FaceBook page for snow reports. I’ll get the link up here soon, but go to FaceBook and search on snowmobiling. You should see it there.

Think snow or traveling!

STAY OFF THE TRAILS during the warmup and rain tomorrow and Sunday!

 

Tuesday, December 22nd Update:

Old Forge Report!

Old Forge is in full swing, with good to excellent conditions on all the township trail system. Meghan and I did a flying trip up yesterday and today to get our riding fix for the month. We had two great rides. See this link for pictures.

Most Old Forge trails were smooth and flat with fresh grooming. Very few icy spots and just a few bumps here and there. The grooming crews are now working to make the trails as wide as possible and pull in fresh snow from the edges, so very occasionally you’ll see a bare spot along the edge of the trail. The base is still thin in places, so you hear your carbides hit a rock now and then and small rocks had been kicked up here and there. Otherwise, the trails are just mint already, with no water or mud holes anywhere we rode. Unless there is a huge melt, Old Forge is set for a long season!

The trails south of Old Forge towards Booneville looked very good, as did the trail towards Brantingham on Tug Hill.

If you’ve got a day off this week, head on up – you won’t be sorry!

 

Closer to home, it sounds like some snow coming late on the weekend after a bit of Rain/sleet on Christmas day. Not promising for any real riding locally, but better than nothing.

 

Sunday, December 20th Update:

Chance RainL

Well, the cold continues and we should even get a bit of new snow the next two days. Just enough to cover the trails with a thin coating in time for the Dec. 23rd opening later this week. Then – well, we’re in western New York, aren’t we? Chance of mixed snow and rain and warmer by Christmas and the day after. Sounds like we might have to start all over again.

 

Thursday, December 17th, noon Update:

Long Range Weather looks promising;

Below freezing temps with cold nights are in the Buffalo area forecast right through the long range forecast period running up to “Trail Opening Eve”, next Wednesday. No big dumps of snow likely, but enough scattered flurries to keep up with what settles as the ground freezes up. We should have a good frozen base by the 23rd in most places. Check with your trail bosses, but I advise packing at least with sleds where there is land owner permission. Probably won’t be enough snow for any real grooming prior to trail opening. But keep your fingers crossed; there is a possible deep low pressure system the middle of next week and there is at least a small chance of more snow than is now forecast.

The lake is still wide open, so the right weather pattern will give us a grand lake effect event. With the base setting up the way it is this week, we could have a fine start to the riding season!

OR – it could all melt; you know how fickle western New York winters have been lately.

 

Remember, trails are closed until the evening of the 23rd. Respect our land owners.

 

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 Update:

Check this link for a few pictures taken out in the Folsom – Byrncliff riding area this morning. Trails open December 23rd after the final week of deer season.

Jim S. from the Folsom trailblazers trail and grooming crews sent in this recent update at the end of last week:

tom,

we ended up with 15-18" with this storm hard to measure with the wind anyways with this rain its really ompacting the snow if it survives the next 2 days we may be in good shape for the start of a real good base, but ets see what the rain does. im hearing the grumblings of a les event tue-thurs. with a lk. huron connection that usually means ossculating bands.i have been watching the channel 4 weather blog the last few yrs. there is a lot of info on the weather  and different senarios with the storms that approach. you should check it out if you dont already as with any other blogs you gotta weed thru a few jackasses. ok ill keep you informed on the snow and how much we loose talk to you later ,jim

All the lake effect snow from last week has settled way down what with the ground not being frozen yet. But there is snow. And cold and a bit more snow in the forecast. Good chance that there will be riding conditions on December 23rd. Stay tuned!

 

Thursday, December 10th, Noon Update:

This week’s Storm & Prospects for a Trail Base:

Pretty good, I’d say! It’s still early in this storm system, but so far the lake effect band is wandering back and forth from north to south giving much of our riding area some snow. With this pattern expected to continue through Friday and part of Saturday, we should have good snow over all of the Folsom riding area by the end of the weekend. It looks like there will be a brief warmup Monday and Tuesday, but then temperatures getting cold again. If the long range forecast on Tuesday calls for an extended period below freezing, we may see groomers out packing a base on the trails!

See below for discussion of distant riding areas. Tug Hill is getting pounded by this storm!

Tuesday, December 8th Update:

Check this link for a few pics, including me taking an early rip around my farm in East Aurora on my ditch banger sled. Snow has been sparse this fall, but that’s about to change, big time.

Winter storm warnings are up for much of the northeast, both Canada and the US. I wish we’d had a little more cold weather to freeze up the ground before the coming snow event later this week. But we’ll take it. Perhaps as much as two feet in some places, including our Folsom riding area! Cold weather continues at least through the middle of next week, so much of the snow may stay and give us a base for our own trail openings on December 23rd.

OLD FORGE trails open this week, with Snowdeo activities over the weekend. Looks like tons of snow and then decent weather over the weekend. Have fun if you go. Riding should be decent on the Old Forge trails the beginning of next week. Tug Hill may take a while to get the trails groomed, but there will be snow, for sure.

My favorite Canadian riding area of NEW LISKEARD has had a very cold week to start freezing the lakes and they will be getting a little snow. A good, gradual start to building the trail base. But the bulk of this week’s winter storm will pass just south of there.

MUSKOKA region of Ontario will get clobbered by the winter storm and Lake effect. Probably too much snow too soon, since the ground and water crossings will not yet be well frozen. OFSC trails do not officially open for a while, so it will be too early to ride in that area unless you have local knowledge.

Hope this gives you guys itching for some early riding good information. At least we can go out in our yards and around our farms later this week to play as we wait for local trails to open in another two weeks.

 

 

March 31st, 2009:

Another week of spring conditions up north

Western NY snowmobiling video project underway. We’ll have to finish next season, but we’ve got some good video already and may show some of it as a ‘work in progress” at one of the Folsom club meetings.

Tuesday, March 31 Update:

Trails across the top of Ontario in Hearst, Kapuskasing, and Cochrane are still listed as “Open”. Temperatures are in the 40’s during the daytime for a couple of days with some rain, then in the 30’s later this week. Night time temps will be well below freezing right through the period, though, so the trails should hold up. There’s lots of snow in the bush and in Abitibi Canyon. It is typical for riding up in that part of Ontario to continue through the first week or two of April. Looks like they are right on schedule this spring. Let me know if anyone goes and email us a report.

(They did get a decent dump of fresh snow over the weekend, but much of it has melted – they are back to the packed base.)

Saturday afternoon, March 28, 2009:

I’ve just been outside in shirt sleeves with the hose cleaning and greasing my tractor for spring work around the farm. Then I come in and out of habit check in with some of the sledding forums where I still see people reporting good to excellent riding up in Cochrane and Hearst, Ontario. And, again because I am still in the habit, I check Environment Canada and they have a WINTER STORM WATCH up for the Cochrane area!

A fairly potent disturbance over Missouri will track towards the central Great Lakes later tonight into Sunday. The leading band of precipitation accompanying the low will spread into Ontario tonight. It will be cold enough for the northern swath of precipitation to fall as snow, beginning in the Sault Ste Marie area later tonight and districts to the northeast Sunday morning. A band of freezing rain is also likely, and has the potential to affect locales adjacent to the north channel and northeast through Sudbury to New Liskeard. Several hours of freezing rain are possible Sunday morning. Farther east around North Bay..Primarily rain is expected.

 

Snowfall amounts may reach 15 centimetres, with a few millimetres of ice buildup possible. Breezy northeast winds accompanying the freezing rain may also result in local power outages as tree limbs come into contact with hydro lines. Travel across much of central and northeastern Ontario may become problematic as snow and ice accumulates on roads.

 

Environment Canada continues to monitor this situation closely and will issue updated statements as deemed necessary.”

The all snow band is right over Cochrane, Kapuskasing, and Hearst as I read it. Monday and Tuesday should be awesome riding up there again! Then Wednesday through the end of the week, mid 40’s and spring conditions arrive even in the far north of Ontario. Man, I am tempted to load up for one more rip, but I will probably not do it – ARRgggh!

Thursday, March 26th:

Well, they are still riding in Cochrane in far northern Ontario. Reports from two days ago showed good conditions with continuing grooming. They got some rain yesterday and today but have tons of snow. Colder weather and SNOW FLURRIES return for much of the weekend and next week. The “A” trail is in good shape in the Cochrane area, west to Hearst, and also the trails north to Abitibi Canyon.

The “C” trail south through Shining Tree is not as good, with bad spots, though some good reports are still coming in from the Timmins area.

Below is a report from one of our readers, Bill. He has good pictures and a great video from last weekend at his links! He was riding in the Kirkland Lake area amoung others. Getting a little thin there this week – go a little further north.

“Tom,

 

Had a great time up in Canada if you click on this link it is our clubs website and I posted some pictures and in my last post I posted a you tube video. http://www.caledoniatrailblazers.com/ctbbb/viewtopic.php?p=1363#1363

 

Bill”

Thursday, March 19th, 2009:

It’s fun from time to time to browse down this very long page and see what riding was like a month ago, a year ago, or two years ago. It looks from my posts as though riding ended this year in western New York on February 26th.

We were surprisingly consistent the two previous years. We rode until March 20 in 2007 and just about the same date in 2008 last spring, although five or six inches of snow fell in Folsom on March 28th last year with unofficial last minute riding in many areas.

But we started early this year. It feels like we had a pretty good year, and the grooming was very well done by all area clubs this winter when we had snow. We just aren’t far enough north here to avoid the periodic thaws all winter. That’s why northern Ontario is so good – once the snow comes in December, it never melts! It just keeps building until the spring thaws. Sure makes it easier to build and keep a trail base!

Speaking of Ontario, the good riding reports are now coming in only from the far north – the Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls, and Hearst areas. Even there it will be getting warmer next week. Not surprisingly, motel reservations are VERY hard to come by in that area this weekend! Every last ride sled fanatic in the east – central United States and all of southern Ontario is trying to cram into about 140 miles of trail in that region!

Bush trail riding and “canyon” riding in the far north will continue for a few more weeks. Word is that the Abitibi Canyon is a don’t miss destination for off trail riders. Trail goes north out of Cochrane towards James Bay. Next thing on the map is Polar Bear Provincial Park!

Wednesday evening, March 18th:

Hey, we’re about done. The “decent riding” latitude seems to be moving north at about 40 or 50 miles a day. There are online reports of lots of flowing water and standing water on the lakes in the new Liskeard area. People are riding in spring conditions from there north. Kirkland Lake (50 miles north of New Liskeard) is reported a little rough, but with snow cover still. Good riding is reported between Cochrane and Hearst – go there if you can for the next few days.

There will be riding in the Cochrane area for some time, but even there they will be getting warm temps the beginning of next week with spring sun. Spring conditions and problems for anyone trying to ride long distance. A few guys talked with me yesterday and today and are heading up. I’ll post their reports if they get back to me.

I would call this a good season, even though it ended pretty suddenly here in New York. I got in 900 very good miles right here close to home and another 1700 in Canada. Most ever for me.

Sunday, 10PM, March 15th:

Hey guys & gals,

I’ve been curious about conditions in Quebec. Check this link for a thread posted by some people I trade messages with about their GREAT ride near St Zenon this weekend. Conditions will be decent also in far northern Ontario for at least another week with some warm days and cold nights. Old Forge is now very weak and Tug Hill has lots of bare roads, etc. Go far north!

Saturday, March 14, 3AM: (edited Saturday morning)

After an eleven hour trip (with pit stops), I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the difference in “snow” conditions. After walking in my front door a few minutes ago with no snow anywhere to be seen in East Aurora, it is a little hard to believe that just this afternoon Meghan and I were flying around the T.A.T.A. trail system in northern Ontario with snow measured not in inches, but in feet.

I think we’ve had our last ride of the season, and it was a good one. There is heavy sled traffic up there for the weekend, and the glazed trails are all breaking down nicely to a fine inch or two of loose snow over hard packed base. Riding nearly everywhere north of new Liskeard should be very good to excellent all weekend.

We tried going south towards Temagami this morning but turned around because the trails south were still nearly all ice. Not enough sled traffic.

Latest forecast for New Liskeard and much of northern Ontario HAS NOW CHANGED – THEY NOW EXPECT SEVERAL WARM DAYS BEGINNING MONDAY. There will be some kind of riding up there into April but spring conditions with alternate thaw and freeze and ice will arrive beginning Monday. Everyone who went north for this weekend should have a fine ride and be glad you went when you did.

On our way home yesterday we passed almost 50 trailers headed north just between new Liskeard and North Bay. And later at night it looked like every 3rd or 4th vehicle headed north was pulling a trailer. Should be a lot of sledders up enjoying the last good riding over the weekend!

Meghan and I had our best ride yesterday out her favorite “corridor”, taking the “A” trail north and west from New Liskeard through Earlton, west past the airport and the VERY fast long field just beyond. ( 105 mph and still pulling like my draft horse when I chickened out!) Then on west on “A” through all the high speed winding forest trails to the railbed and on to Elk Lake. We had a great long lunch at the Eco Center in Elk Lake, then back to Earlton and on home through the fast Thornloe trails and down L188 to new Liskeard. Some pictures are at this link now. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 12, 7PM:

New Liskeard was great today. Click this link for some pictures. Smooth trails, one smooth enough for a 102 mph pass!

We rode 165 miles today from New Liskeard north on some local trails to Earlton (VERY icy but smooth and FAST!), then north on "A" (excellent, very fast, frozen snow was quickly breaking down to a fine sugar snow because of sled traffic and gave good lube and cooling). Then we took L161 to Charlton and then L162 west to the "A".

 

The local trails today were all very smooth, but had a glaze of ice crust. My 4 Stroke Turbo never threw a temperature warning, but Meghan's ZRT did - it is finicky that way, but it did not really overheat and we continued.

 

Then back a very fast "A" trail to Elk Lake and the Eco Center for a great lunch and good sled talk with some guys from Pennsylvania. All of the above was bitterly cold, but at least the sun was shining. It warmed up to a balmy 8 degrees after lunch and we took the "A" back to New Liskeard. It was just a little bumpy right near town of New Liskeard. Everything else was table top smooth!

 

There was a fair amount of traffic on the "A" trail today which was good since the frozen crust from yesterday's flash freeze needed traffic to break it down for better cooling. By tonight the "A" trail was in very good shape. Any speed you want - I have it on good authority that the long field trail just west of the Earlton airport was good for 102 MPH today.

 

On the way back from Elk Lake it looked like some of the local trails were beginning to get some traffic. That's all they need to be in very good shape. They are plenty smooth enough and just need a little traffic to break down the frozen surface. I bet they will be fine by tomorrow morning.

 

Hope this is helpful to those of you thinking of coming up for the weekend.

The weather reports for the New Liskeard area and north for the next 7 days show only two days just above freezing (33F), and cold nights. The present very good riding conditions should last at least another week. Load ‘em up!

Wednesday, March 11, 9PM:

Ontario “mini trail report” for highway #11 corridor.

For those of you thinking about riding the end of this week in Ontario, here’s what I saw on my way from Buffalo to New Liskeard today:

No snow south of Barrie.

Extensive snow cover still in Muskoka area, Gravenhurst through Huntsville. The trails from Bracebridge to Huntsville looked very good from the road, though I understand there are some washouts, the roads are bare, and some bare spots on hills. We drove through snow flurries and squalls this afternoon especially in Bracebridge to Huntsville area and a little north, so there should be a little fresh stuff for lube and cooling in that area.

Almost NO SNOW – I mean bare fields and spotty ice base on trails for quite a ways to the south of North Bay. No way to ride here.

BUT just to the north side of North Bay there is again extensive snow cover and the trails look very passable. More and more snow as you go north from here.

My pictures at this link were taken near Temagami just off highway #11. The trails are frozen hard, very smooth with little recent traffic, but the frozen snow seems like it will dust up as a sled passes just enough for lube and cooling. It will be touch and go until a little sled traffic passes, or a groomer chews it up.

I am in New Liskeard tonight and plan to ride from here towards Elk Lake and Timmins on the “A” trail tomorrow. I’ve heard at the motel that there are some trees down on the trails due to the very high winds earlier today. We’ll see. I will report on that and the snow conditions by tomorrow afternoon. There is plenty of snow. Only question is how well it works up to provide lube and cooling.

Wednesday, 9AM:

We took off early last night to beat the 90 Km wind gusts forecast for today on the highways. Drove through continuous rain from Buffalo through Toronto to Barrie, where we stayed overnight. All the rain did not give us a great feeling about what we’re going to find when we get to New Liskeard, but I still believe there will be plenty of snow. I just hope the ice crust from the fast freeze forecast for later today is not so much as to cause poor slide lube and cooling or frozen ruts on the trails. I’m hoping for lots of sled traffic to break up the glaze, and hopefully a full court press by the groomers getting ready for a fine weekend.

I wrote a late post for last night about trying to plan trips with changing weather forecasts, but it looks like I forgot to upload it before I went out the door. Anyway, I think we made the right decision leaving early to beat the wind. We’re taking it easy this morning when the wind is supposed to be the worst and finishing the drive in a short four hours later today. We’ll be good and rested up for getting Meghan’s ZRT started in -10F weather tomorrow morning – LOL!

Actually, we had no problems starting her sled last week after we left it in the trailer overnight with a small electric heater plugged in. Plan on the same tonight. Wish us luck for decent snow on the trails. Might get an inch or two of powder this afternoon – that would really help!

Monday, 3PM:

Well, by gosh, I think I’m going one more time! The forecast for New Liskeard had been up to 46F for Wednesday before getting cold again. Now it’s only for 39 Wednesday. Trails should be mint! We’re heading up Wednesday for riding Thursday and Friday.

Russ from Leroy has been reading our posts and he is planning to go up also. Do any of our other readers want to head north for one more great ride? Everyone plan their own riding agenda, but maybe we can meet up for dinner one of the nights or ride for a morning or afternoon together. There is a kid’s hockey tournament in New Liskeard Friday and Saturday, so make your motel reservations soon for the weekend. We won’t be the only ones to figure out that this is one of the last great riding opportunities, and the motels may soon book up.

Monday, March 9th, 8AM:

Following is a report posted last night on Hard Core Sledder.com by “Newfiebullet” who is in North Bay.

I rode all day thursday, friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, and conditions were very very good, though the trails close to town were rough by the end of Saturday. We're also starting to get the odd bare spot on south facing hills, and this will get worse with the mid week warm spell that's coming

The A trail that follows the pipe line is starting to get worse, with washouts encroaching on the trails. We're going to start seeing more washouts and cave ins as the warm weather continues.

In short, spring conditions have arrived, which means the weather is great, and the trails are awesome, but they call for more caution then the pristine winter conditions do. The snow can change from very soft to set up with deep, solid ski ruts depending on shade and temperature. As the spring progress' expect to see bare spots at hill crests and washouts in valley's.

Lots of good riding left to do though. I'm betting on another 3 weekends of trail riding, and then a week of two of lake running. Granted most people would probably shudder at the conditions I'll be riding in on that last weekends trail ride!”

Conditions right now (Monday morning) in New Liskeard are bright sun and 10 degrees F. In New Liskeard and north they are going to have one short warm afternoon on Wednesday, then very cold temperatures right through next weekend. Should be awesome riding all this week and next weekend in the far north of Ontario. Then even they are getting a warm spell beginning on Monday, March 16th. They should have decent riding into April up near Cochrane and Hearst, but if you want great riding, this week is the time to head north!

I’m still on the fence – I am sorely tempted to make one more road trip, but our ride up in New Liskeard last week was so excellent that it would be a good final memory of the season. Aaaaaargh!

Sunday:

I’m usually a pretty laid back person and mostly optimistic about life. But now that the season is nearly over, I hope you won’t mind if I write a paragraph long “Rant” about one of my pet peaves on the trails. The most dangerous rider action – the most misunderstood, but well intentioned gesture – the “closed fist”.

Some riders think it means, “I’m the last sled you’re going to see for a while coming the other way. Pick up speed and feel welcome to use both sides of the trail again!”

Well, it doesn’t. It means a lot of things. One of them is, “Hi rider; this gesture is just a little IQ test for you guys coming the other way. If you’re dumb enough to think that just because I am the last rider in my group, and you take off like a scalded cat, then “Natural Selection” may soon take over and eliminate you as a problem rider when you meat someone that I may not know is following close behind me.” The only trouble is that you might take out a perfectly innocent rider in the process.

All joking aside, we are all human and many of us are a bit impatient. If we meet a group coming the other way, hopefully we slow down as we pass them all. (Hopefully – that’s another topic in a moment.) It is only natural to want to come up to speed as soon as the other group passes and maybe hit it a little extra to make up for the lost time. I’ve done it myself. But I try extra hard to always remember that the “last sled in line” signal from an opposing group of riders simply means, “I am the last rider in my own group, and I have no F*&%kin’ idea if someone else is screaming up the trail behind me just around the next corner.” I have seen guys give the closed fist signal when a whole group of riders is right behind them on the trail in plain sight. Sad.

There certainly is good benefit to giving the “sleds following” signal over your shoulder or to hold up X number of fingers if you are the leader of a group. It puts opposing riders on notice. But its no where near as important to have the exact number of sleds behind you displayed by a particular number of fingers. I believe the best action is for every rider in a group but the last to simply use the “over the shoulder” signal or a few fingers indicating following sleds. Then let the last rider in the group give no signal at all. If I come on a group like that and I see the last rider give no signal, I wonder, “Does he not know about signals? Is he being negligent in not giving me a signal? Is he thoughtless? Well, I better be on the lookout since I don’t know what might be around the next bend.” Which, of course, is EXACTLY what you should be thinking. Just my two cents.

PS – Hand signals have their benefit in the woods and on twisty trails or in hilly terrain. How many of you have been riding across a long perfectly flat trail or rail line, met a group of riders coming the other way and watched them all meticulously give signals on how many sleds are behind them – when you can see the whole group and a mile of open trail behind them perfectly well yourself. Well, they are well intentioned, but it looks pretty lame.

I am all for riders thinking “safety” all the time and doing any small thing they can to be courteous. But don’t give hand signals in a knee jerk response to meeting other riders, and don’t think that because you get that silly “last sled” signal, you have nothing more to worry about. And, how about those idiots you meet on hotrod sleds coming the other way and passing you on a narrow trail at 60 MPH without slowing down and trying to steer with one hand while they give you the “careful and courteous hand signals they think make them responsible riders”?

How about really slowing down when you meet another sled/sleds on a narrow trail? Guys, I promise not to think you’re a wuss if you slow way down doing a head on pass. It is not macho to fly by oncoming sleds 12 inches apart – it is stupid. I often pull over and stop to let the other line of sleds by. Why not take a 15 second break to enjoy the scenery and maybe avoid a crash?

End of rant. More to come in the next two weeks.

- Tom

Sunday, March 8th:

Click this link if you’d like to say “bye-bye” to our local trails for 2008-9 season. I took some pictures on Friday morning and what was left is mostly gone now after the rain yesterday.

There is a slight chance of snow late in the coming week. It will be plenty cold enough, but at this point it does not look like there will be enough moisture in the air mass. Maybe, though.

Up north where we went last week, there will be some riding into April and very good riding this week. We might go back this week, but we’re almost resigned to having had our last ride of the year.

We’ll keep posting stuff here for the rest of the month if you want to check in now and then. And then we’ll put this website “to sleep” until next year. We will post updates on the trail conditions up north for the next two weeks.

Conditions will be limited anyplace south of North Bay this week. North Bay area is pretty good. Get north of Temagami and you will be back into very good to excellent conditions!

 

Thursday, March 5th, midnight:

Well, we’re back home here in tropical western New York. REALLY enjoyed our trip to New Liskeard! Latest weather report for up there calls for a couple of warm days that shouldn’t hurt them much, and then a fifteen day forecast for well below normal temperatures and more snow! Maybe we’ll be going back up next week after all! We’ll see.

(On our way home we stopped in Bracebridge and took a look at the trails there. Many sleds were out and there was still plenty of base, but it was warm and the snow was turning sugary and soon to be slush. Roads are already bare and dirt is showing through some places. Not great.)

Thursday, 11AM:

This may have been it for the year for us. We got up early and took a 74 mile ride out towards Elk Lake from new Liskeard on the “A” trail. Mother nature treated us to a variety of snow from lovely light flurries to near white-out snow squalls on the ride after giving us clear sunny sky the first two days of our trip. Kind of a nice change of pace. We got to ride home on flat groomed trails covered by two to three inches of fresh powder.

We stopped together about 2000 feet from the motel – Meghan knew why I was stopping, and shook her head as if to say, “NO! I don’t want it to be over yet!” We agreed that the next quarter mile was probably going to be our last riding of the 2008 – 2009 season. We lined up and raced up the field to the motel. As usual, Meghan pulled a hole shot on me. I passed her about half way up the field and we rode on in and loaded up. Meghan cried just a little as she shut off her ZRT for the last time this season. Me, almost.

If any of you want to head up here during the next few weeks, I’ll be glad to share more details with you. The riding will be fine even during the warmer weather the next week.

Wednesday, 9PM:

We did a 220 mile day, riding north this morning from New Liskeard to Larder Lake and Kearns on the Quebec border, then west to Kirkland Lake, south on the “A” trail to Elk Lake, and back to New Liskeard. Beautiful forrest trails up and down hills over much of the northern and western parts of the ride and high speed field trails nearer to new Liskeard. For much of the day you could throw in 80 to 90 MPH blasts every five minutes. Grooming was magnificent!

Some of you know that I had my 64th birthday last week. I am sitting in bed in the motel room barely able to move, even with a couple of extra strength Tylenol in me! I don’t know if it is nuts to do something you love so strenuously that it wipes you out like this. Feels right to me.

I’ll post some more pictures here later tonight. Just amazing riding opportunities up here this week. If you’re thinking about coming, they are now calling for slightly warmer temps for the next week. 40 something Friday, then 30’s during the day and well below freezing every night for the next 7 days. Any trails that get soft during the day will firm up again every night. I expect they will keep grooming when it is cold at night. Should be fine riding for another week. Meghan and I are heading home tomorrow and toying with coming back next week. But likely tomorrow morning will be our last ride of the year. What a way to go out!

 

Tuesday, 10PM:

I’ll post a few pictures from my day riding in the new Liskeard, Ontario area later this evening if the motel internet connection doesn’t choke on all the pictures. We put on 175 miles today on terrific trails in bright sun. They have a lot of wide open trails up here – I mean WFO! Today we rode several different out and back’s from New Liskeard to get acquainted with the area. Tomorrow we plan a long loop from here north to Kirkland Lake and then back via the “B” trail.

We had an exciting moment this afternoon when we were on a canal that had lots of sled tracks and was supposedly part of the trail system. I came around a bend and saw a lot of slush tracks. I decided to turn around and as I did the back of the sled suddenly dropped and there was green water around my ass end. I hammered it and the sled climbed out – thank you “Mr. Turbo”!!!!!! Probably I broke through into a layer of water between thin surface ice and another layer of ice underneath. But it sure looked like deep water as I was sinking into it – scary shit.

I am monitoring the weather at home and it does not look good at all for sledding. It will take an unexpected mid-March storm to get us back in the sledding business in western new York. Possible, but looking less and less likely.

Check the Folsom club website over the next week. Mike is heading back up to Tug Hill and will report on conditions there.

Up here where I am, they are going to have one day just above freezing later this week and then more very cold weather all the following week. They will be riding until April up here and it will be excellent for another week, at least. Too bad it’s 16 hours of driving round trip. Worth it, though, if you can take the time.

 

Tuesday, 3:30 PM: WOW!

I think I’ve died and gone to snowmobiling heaven! I love riding at home when c onditions are right. I love Old Forge and really like Muskoka and Bracebridge. But this is the first time I’ve been really far north in Ontario. The obvious is that because it is far north it is COLD and winter lasts longer here. But the wide open spaces make for amazing riding.

We have not had a bad trail all day in 110 miles. We’ve often been the first ones on a trail and even the heavily traveled “A” trail is in great shape everyplace.

If you want one more really great ride and can take time off and don’t mind driving 8 hours each way, get your ass up here! YOU WOULDN’T REGRET IT.

I will post many pictures later tonight. I’m headed right back out for my second ride now before the sun goes down and temperatures plunge to frigid.

Monday, March 2, 8PM:

I’ll tell you one thing, New Liskeard is a L-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-n-g drive! But we made it up here this evening just as the sun was going down. The trails we saw from the road driving in looked great and just as we were coming up on our motel, we met a big groomer heading out the direction we plan to take first thing in the morning. We thought that was a good sign!

It is going down to -20 F tonight and I plan to let it warm up just a little before heading out tomorrow. We’ll be exploring various trails out and back from here tomorrow and on Wednesday we plan a more ambitious loop. Meghan needs 340 miles to break 2000 for this season, and that’s her goal for the three days we’ll be here.

It didn’t seem to me as though more than a dusting of snow fell in western New York last night after the talk of 1 to 3 inches. Hopefully a little more came down in some spots for some back yard riding. It still does not look promising for more western New York riding. But the average snow fall in March in western New York is about 12”, so don’t give up yet.

Sunday, 9PM: –

Here is a link to a YouTube video of Steve & I playing in the drifts a little the other day. It is in HD if you have a fast connection.

Sunday, March 1st:

Well, well - - - maybe a little more?

Just when we were ready to pack it in for the season, the back side of the big east coast storm looks like it may bring us a few inches of lake effect from the north east off Lake Ontario. We still have a thin, icy frozen base on many parts of the trails, and just a few inches of new snow would allow some riding again. We may get just enough during the day tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a few sleds buzzing around Monday night and on through Wednesday before temperature rises again in time to wipe us out for next weekend.

I don’t expect trails are likely to be officially opened, so if you do go ride, be sensible and turn around if you come to bare lawns or obviously seeded fields that have thin cover. Ride where you know you are on a well used trail.

Meghan and I are loaded up and ready for an 8 or 9 hour drive to new Liskeard first thing tomorrow morning. We may take a break from the drive and unload for a quick ride in Bracebridge on the way up. We’ll probably update this page most nights from our motel up north. If the conditions are as good as I am expecting (hoping), I’ll try not to rub it in too hard!

Saturday, February 28, 9PM:

Nothing doing around western New York but pockets of snow for backyard and local riding. So I spent some time on the internet this evening to check out various road trip destinations.

Sounds like Tug Hill and Old Forge are open and have snow, but there’s a lot of ice and bare & icy road sections. Wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but it’s an option if you need to go there.

Many parts of Quebec, especially northeast of Montreal & Mt Tremblant Park, and the far north are still very good.

Central Ontario (Muskoka, Pembroke, Algonquin, etc) got hammered with the rain and now have lots of ice. There may be decent riding again there as the ice gets broken up, but early post-storm reports are not great.

The rain line was from just south of Sudbury east along a line just south of North Bay. Everything north of that in Ontario is excellent. Which is why Meghan and I are headed to New Liskeard on Monday morning. Should be sweet – I will do a trail report from our Motel while we’re up there.

The Michigan Upper Peninsula is also supposed to be very good still.

I’d like to thank Beth and Matt for the following lovely letter. Messages like this make what I do worthwhile!!!

Hi Tom-

 

I have been meaning to email you for a long time, to express my appreciation for your trail reports.  I discovered your site in 2007 and check it faithfully for your detailed and accurate reports ever since.  You have become a household name among our group of riders …”What does Tom have to say?  “Did Tom post a new report”… and from the guys “Are there any new pictures of Meghan?”  J.  We really appreciate the time you put into your reports as we share you passion for riding.  We enjoyed a lot of great riding in your area this winter.  Kudos to the clubs and groomer guys that maintain those trails.  We also enjoy traveling and have dedicated most of our vacations to snowmobiling.  We have towed our sleds all the way to Montana and enjoyed an incredible trip through Yellowstone and Glacier Nat’l Park, and also Idaho.  We have also been to the UP of Michigan.  We also spend a lot of time riding in Ontario, which is what prompted me to email you today after reading your report.  We have a cottage in Sharbot Lake (about 45 minutes North of Kingston) and are heading up on Monday for the week.  Our original plan was to ride from the cottage, but I’m afraid our area is lacking in snow.  I was on the computer this AM searching for an alternate plan and the most up to date info I found was your report about New Liskard!  I don’t know if we will make it that far West this trip, but we will likely head to Pembroke from the cottage and head West from there.  I hope you and Meghan find great snow and enjoy your trip!  Thanks again for the great reports (even for Ontario)! 

 

Pray for snow!

 

Beth

Thanks, Beth! - Tom

Friday, 1PM:

Click this link for the depressing pictures of the flood waters and patchy remaining trail base. I especially like the one of “Small Craft Warning on Lake Armbrust” showing the wind driven waves on the flood waters over the trail!

Heavy rain was falling as I started home from my inspection tour. Only scattered flurries are forecast anytime during the coming week when it would otherwise be plenty cold enough for snow. Bright sun for much of next week will finish what this rain and thaw event started. There will be little or nothing left by the weekend of March 7th. Do not put your sleds away quite yet – historically we do get snow storms through mid march, but things are not looking promising locally.

There is still great riding if you’re willing to drive far enough, and Meghan and I will be doing just that on Monday. New Liskeard is a little more than an hour north of North Bay, and they are getting major snow while the rest of us are getting rain today. So far about 16” of fresh snow!! We’re staying at the Quality Inn in case anyone else is looking for good snow next week. If anyone else heads up, let us know – we’ll meet up with your for dinner or something. We’ll be there Monday through Wednesday. It should be great riding.

Friday, February 27th, 8AM:

I’ll give you what is likely to be bad news about the trail base later this morning after I drive out there. The trails are officially “closed”. Here at my farm in East Aurora, the creeks are roaring, taking all our snow downstream to Lake Erie. There is some snow on my more sheltered fields and in the woods. The very cold temperatures coming over the weekend are a hopeful sign, but almost no snow is in the forecast, and warmer weather is coming by the middle of next week.

There may well be long stretches of frozen trail base left tomorrow morning when it gets cold again, but I am afraid that they will be separated by too much bare ground to allow much organized riding. What’s left is likely to be very local opportunities in spring conditions. I hope I’m wrong, but the fat lady may be clearing her throat for “the song”.

Road Trips:

There is a lot of snow up north. But Old Forge and Tug Hill are getting rain today – they will have a frozen mess on their hands by tomorrow. I’ll do some research and report on the riding opportunities left in that area. If any of our readers are headed up there this weekend, please give us a report.

I had planned to head to Muskoka and Huntsville, Ontario early next week. But they are getting very heavy rain right now. They are expecting a flash freeze tonight, and will have ice and washouts everywhere over the weekend. We’ll get reports on how well their base survives and when they begin grooming again.

The line between snow and rain is just south of a line from Sudbury to North Bay. The North Bay area is getting blizzard conditions today!!!!!!! So there is some good news. Riding conditions in northern Ontario have been excellent the past week already and the heavy snows from this storm will let them freshen up the trails and allow riding well into March. I’m probably headed to New Liskard next week. Should be great conditions. It’s a seven to eight hour drive. Do any of you have recommendations on motels there? I’ve driven through but never stayed there.

Thursday, noon:

I took a quick look at the trails this morning. Places that were thin already (Strykersville valley, some south facing fields) are beginning to go bare. But so far, the main snow and ice base on most of the trails is holding up, and there is still snow pack on most of the fields. Nobody is out riding – Thank You!

The big question is how much rain will fall during the next 24 hours. A soaking rain would do us a lot of harm. I also hope the cloud cover holds today – there was spotty sun out while I was driving around, and bright sun would also be a killer. But I think rain is the bigger threat.

Keep your fingers crossed – if you’d like to be an optimist, hope for less rain than forecast overnight and tomorrow, and an earlier than expected passage of the coming powerful cold front which would give us snow instead of rain tomorrow afternoon. Possible – not likely.

For a few pictures click this link.

Thursday, February 26, 9AM:

There is nothing up on the Folsom Club website yet about the trails being officially closed, but responsible riders will stay off them today and tomorrow. I think the base in most places will survive until temperatures plunge below freezing again Friday night, when it will be in the teens again overnight. We should be able to ride again with “spring conditions” on the weekend.

Wednesday, 11PM:

You guys can see the short term weather forecasts as well as I can – not promising. Many of you had wonderful rides yesterday and today. All in all, it’s been a good season, and with luck we’ll have another shot of winter after it gets cold again on Saturday.

Wednesday, 11AM:

Hi again; click this link for Wednesday morning pictures

I did a quick early morning ride around the Bennington Loop. Click this link for a few pictures. Conditions were still good to very good, but it was obvious there was a lot of sled traffic last night. These trails were mint yesterday about noon, and now have small stutter bumps and moguls on the turns. Still a great ride!

C4B heading from Bennington to Strykersville got one pass of the groomer early this morning and they were headed back the other way for a badly needed second pass while I was riding. Welcome news!

Riders were beginning to arrive at Byrncliff when I loaded up at 9:30 AM – I imagine it will be a busy day on the trails. I don’t suppose it matters much – the trails are firmly frozen up with a very good base this morning and even if people ride right through the afternoon, it won’t hurt conditions any more than the soaking rain forecast for Friday. (If the coming cold front Friday afternoon arrives sooner than they are predicting, we could have a significant snow event instead of the rain – maybe wishful thinking, but worth hoping for.)

Temperatures that will be over 40 the next couple of days here are not going much above freezing in northern Ontario. Road trips still looking good into early March, at least! (Old Forge is getting almost the same warm temps we are, according to latest forecast.)

Wednesday, February 25th, 8AM:

Good morning, Guys:

I am not happy about the weather report, especially the bright sun today and the possible soaking rain on Friday before it turns sharply colder again for the weekend (good). Go on out if you are off work and enjoy generally excellent trails all around western New York (Oatka, Tri-County, and all of the north side of the Folsom system), so long as you ride this morning and try to get off the trails when they soften up in the warm weather and bright sun this afternoon. Then keep your fingers crossed that the rain event on Friday turns back to snow sooner than they are forecasting!!!!!!

Thanks again to Steve Aprilano and Matt Russell for playing in the drifts for our video camera – some of it was very impressive and came out great on video! It’s interesting how video productions go – we took half an hour of video, and we’ll end up with about 75 seconds of really nice shots. But that is typical of documentary productions.

Well, keep your fingers crossed for local conditions or start planning road trips. I’m headed out right now for a loop on the awesome Folsom north side trails before breakfast.

- Tom

 

Tuesday, February 24, 8PM:

I had one of the best rides of the year today. Thanks, Meghan, for keeping me company! We put on 160 miles around the Folsom trails and then down through Silver Springs, Bliss, Arcade, Chaffee, and home.

The Folsom trails on the north side (Bennington Loop) were flawless – fantastic grooming job! Some grooming was getting done on the south side trails, but those on the Strykersville side were still pretty crappy as of 6PM.

Hats off to the Oatka Club – their trails were awesome. We flew while we were on their system. Even their wooded trails were excellent and had been recently groomed.

Tri-County in the Arcade and Chaffee areas also had excellent trails.

The above conditions should hold tonight if you still are going out. Temperatures will be cold overnight, but will quickly rise into the forties tomorrow. And, unfortunately, they are now calling for a mostly sunny day. Bad news!

Anyone who wants a good ride, there is no harm in getting out early tomorrow. Trails in many places will be mint. But plan to finish your riding by 11AM or Noon. It would be good to stay off the trails from late morning tomorrow through Thursday which will also be warm. Then cold weather returns for the weekend.

Many pictures from today are at this link. No captions yet – I am heading out the door for birthday dinner.

Thanks to the guys who did some stunt riding with us this morning. We got some good video. We’ll post some on YouTube tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 24, 7AM:

I will be out zooming around this morning, and maybe I’ll see some of you on the trails. Looks like a great day to ride and I expect a fair amount of grooming got done yesterday and last night. Mike from the Folsom Club reports on his website that everything on the Folsom system should have been groomed by this afternoon! We’ll see.

Thanks to Dan & Kelly Harris who sent in the following report from the trails from their ride yesterday. Click this link for some of their pictures. Looks like they had some fun playing in the drifts! And Dan made a pretty cool photoshop overlay of his GPS track on a map.

“Your report was pretty accurate, did a nice 120 mile loop from Byrncliff,

there is a lot of drifting snow on the trails, the open fields are for the

most part smooth, but the tops are wind blown, overall the trails are in

pretty good shape. It was tough reading the trails as it was overcast and

snowing, and the wind has blown fluffy snow into the dips and whoops, which

at times made it hard to ride as you didn't know what to expect. I saw

Folsom and Oatka out grooming.”

Monday, February 23rd, 11AM:

Just got home from a car tour of much of the trail system. We’re still enduring lots of blowing and drifting snow. Riding conditions today will be fair in places still suffering from the weekend pounding, with moguls and larger stutter bumps, to good on many longer field sections, to very good where groomers get out. At least one of the groomers appeared to be out working this morning on S43 heading over towards Java and the Java branch of the A&A railbed trail.

The blowing snow is a mixed blessing – it puts fresh snow on the trails in low spots and between moguls, but that fresh snow is so fine that it does not pack well when a groomer goes through. The wind also scours all the hilltops and windward hillsides. You may be on a recently groomed trail and not even know it a few hours later in these conditions.

Thanks to Steven Zielinski for sending some great pictures he took out on the trails on Saturday before they got pounded with all the traffic Sunday. They are at this link.

I took pictures this morning without the benefit of the good sun Steve had; they are at this link.

I continue to be cautiously optimistic about the weather for the rest of the week. It appears that it will be cloudy on Wednesday and Thursday when the temperature gets up into the low forties. The sun would kill us with those temperatures! I expect only light rain. I think most of the trails will survive, and then we get another blast of cold air and some snow next weekend. Keep your fingers crossed!

Maybe I’ll see a few of you tomorrow morning for my “birthday blast” around the loop – it will be a brisk ride! Or perhaps for some drift busting video at 11?

- Tom

Sunday, Feb. 22, 7PM:

I went out and did a couple of loops around parts of the Folsom system this afternoon from 1:00 to about 3:30. Conditions were fair to good in places. There was extremely heavy sled traffic. Both lots at BYrncliff were full and people were parking out on the street. If there was any grooming last night or early this morning, it was pounded so you couldn’t tell by noon. Moguls were building everyplace. Long stretches in the fields were still in good condition, but woods trails, narrow sections, and turns were all getting very bumpy.

It snowed almost all afternoon and more is expected tonight. Good news is that next weekend looks to be cold again after a brief warm up Wednesday and Thursday. Winter is NOT over yet, after all!

Wind will slowly be easing up over the next day so grooming should be able to move into high gear soon. Hopefully just in time for my “birthday ride” Tuesday morning! Haha. ( I plan to leave from Byrncliff at 10AM for a quick rip around the Sheldon, S43, A&A, and back to Byrncliff loop. If anyone wants to ride with me, be there at 10AM – I get to lead – it’s my birthday!) I’ll be meeting Meghan back at Byrncliff before 11:00 for a more relaxed ride.

Drift Busting Video?

I’ve been having trouble hooking up with guys who want to so some stunt riding for our video project. I hooked up with the guy who’s picture I took yesterday (who are you? I forgot to introduce myself properly!), but I did not have my video camera along. Today I ran into two groups of guys with performance sleds. One guy really wanted to do it, but his buddy wanted to go home. The other group flat out wasn’t interested. Thanks again to Don Z. for his stunt riding on Friday. Also, thanks to Mike for letting us film them doing maintenance on the groomers in the new shop.

Is anyone off work on Tuesday who would like to do some drift busting and be in the film? We could do it after the 10AM Rip. Email me if interested.

Kenny from Bennington sent in the following trail report. Thanks, Kenny:

“hey tom, kenny from bennington here. we headed to perry from the byrncliff area friday night (that was interesting with the snow) and then out there again on saturday. both days we saw some great riding and some not so good riding. bare fields and mud holes were common the closer we got to perry. they just didn't get the snow we did and it shows. last night was getting pretty rough in the folsom system and it could definitely use a once over in the grooming department. snow today and good temps could make this a good week, or at least monday and tuesday....possibly wednesday. on another note, are you looking for small time action shots or snow cross style, 20ft jumps and drift bustin?”

(Small time AND big time! Whatever – Tom)

A few pictures from today at this link.

 

Saturday evening, 7PM, February 21st: A few pictures from today are at this link

The “good to excellent” rating I gave the trails after a quick look this morning may have been optimistic or exaggerated. Meghan and I went for a ride from Byrncliff down through Strykersville and Java to Chaffee this afternoon. We had lunch at the Milestone and returned the same way. I would say most of the riding we did was more like “fair to good”. Only fair with building moguls in the woods and on corners, getting bumpy on most narrow trails, and good on longer, wider field sections.

Some grooming was ongoing, especially on the Folsom system, but it was not lasting. We need a couple of groomer passes everyplace with this light powder snow. Snow is very thin in many places. We may get some more snow tomorrow and tomorrow night.

Some Good news for the Long Term!

I have not been optimistic about the long term prospects for our trails beyond the next few days, but the latest runs of the NOAA long term forecast indicate a possible return of well below normal temperatures for next weekend. They aren’t very sure, but the outlook is better than it was just last night.

Thanks to Don from A to Z enterprises for doing some stunt riding for our documentary video project this afternoon. We got some nice shots! We also met one of our website readers out near Java who did some drift busting for us. Check out the picture below and in today’s album. Unfortunately, we were not carrying our video camera, so we still need to film some drift busting – call if interested!

Saturday, noon:

I just got back from taking video at the groomer barn and near Byrncliff. The trails are good to excellent with grooming going on now. In bright sun today, all that snow that appeared to be falling yesterday does not seem like so much. It is enough, but a lot of it is blown up against tree lines and in a few bigger drifts.

Ah, that bright nearly March sun! It does a number on snow anywhere something shows through to allow the heat to get to the ground. Enjoy the great riding this weekend – it may not last long.

Saturday, February 21, 8AM:

Trails are officially open again. There should be a lot of good riding today. Plenty of snow (see my post from last night!)

I understand that the groomers are starting to move. They will have their hands full with all the powder drifts everywhere, so don’t expect smooth packed trails. With this kind of powder, a groomed trail goes to pieces the first time a few sleds use it. It will take some sled traffic to pack the snow and a second or third groomer pass to put things in tip top shape. I am sure the guys will get it done by the end of the weekend. They have done an amazing job this season, and the next few days may be the last really good riding of the year. (Keep your fingers crossed – sometimes there is another arctic front and heavy snow week as late as March 10 to 15th, but you’re likely to have to travel up north for groomed trails after next week.)

As long as you know what to expect today, the riding should be really, really fun in all the powder!

Repeating my comments from yesterday, I hope that all area clubs pull out all the stops and groom like hell Sunday night and Monday so we can all enjoy the great riding conditions coming Monday through Wednesday at their best before an expected warm up late in the week. (Besides, Tuesday is my birthday, and I want some slick-assed riding for my birthday treat! LOL)

 

Friday, 5PM Update:

Just got back from an afternoon ride around some of the folsom trails from Byrncliff in all directions for five miles or so. Conditions are - - - Winter Storm like! Really wild blowing and drifting snow. We had a blast drift busting right on the main trails. Many two to three and a few four foot drifts right across the trails. Field trails on the down wind side of a hill top have enormous drifts!

It snowed hard all afternoon across the Folsom system. There is plenty of snow now! Riders were starting to appear at Byrncliff as we loaded up to come home. There will be some fun riding tonight for the adventurous.

There is no point trying to groom until this wind dies down a bit. Once it does, there’s lots of snow to work with.

Friday, February 20th, noon:

Riding should be good this afternoon. Don from “A to Z” reports LOTS of fresh snow out in the Folsom trails area, and I have 6” of fresh here at my farm in East Aurora. I expect that grooming is going on today even in the high winds. Most trails on the Folsom system will almost surely have been groomed by Saturday morning.

Although the Folsom club trails are still officially listed as “closed” for liability reasons (some washouts and crevasses), people are starting to ride and enjoy the good conditions. I expect the Folsom trails to be listed as “open” by tomorrow morning – check with the Folsom Club website to be sure.

The Oatka Valley Club website lists their trails in the Portageville – Bliss area on the southwest part of their trail system as “open” and in great shape and recently groomed. One could expect nice riding on the Folsom trails and south to Chaffee and on through Arcade to Bliss, etc, as the weekend progresses.

Long Range Prospects?

Some of the best riding of the year locally is likely Monday and Tuesday, and perhaps a few days longer. I suggest that trail bosses pour your resources into a last great grooming job to top off a season of great grooming on Sunday night and Monday so we can really enjoy these few days of good snow and nice, sunny weather next week.

After next Wednesday, keep your fingers crossed. Another melt down is possible, though not certain. Big March snow storms are not uncommon and we could have another arctic blast. But next week could also be the end of real organized snowmobiling in our area for the year. Enjoy this weekend, and maybe take Monday or Tuesday off – I will see you out on the trails!

There is a TON of snow on Tug Hill and more coming down. There will be some riding there for weeks to come. Old Forge should be really excellent after this weekend.

Muskoka region of Ontario could use a little more snow, but riding is still good. Excellent some places where four to six inches of new snow fell recently. A little further north (Sudbury and North Bay), conditions are reported as very good to excellent.

Thursday, February 19th, 2PM:

Lots of trail news today, and as a “bonus”, I’ll post something I wrote about my Z1 Turbo for the Hard Core Sledder forums at the end of today’s trail report.

Click this link for pictures taken this morning around the trails.

We did a thorough drive around inspection of the trails this morning, dodging in and out of snow showers and the occasional heavier snow squall. What a difference a few hundred feet of altitude can make! With bare grass in most of the Buffalo metro area, it’s hard to imagine that 35 miles away and a few hundred feet higher in the hills, there’s plenty of snow. Even down along rte #78 in Strykersville, snow cover is light with bare and thin spots. But get up along the rte 377 “ridge line”, and there’s plenty of snow.

I rode a loop the other night from Byrncliff over the hills, back across S43 and along part of the A&A rail line, and then around the lower part of the Bennington Loop. Read my story from yesterday, but conditions were excellent (EXCEPT for the occasional dangerous wash out.). even the rail line trail which is usually a problem was in good shape. The only poor conditions I saw this morning were near the Kwik Fill in Strykersville and across the big field next to rte #78 on the south side of Strykersville. Everything up on the hills looked very good.

Remember that the trails are still officially “closed”. That is because of the difficult to see washouts here and there. The club does not want to list the trails as “open” until the groomers have filled in most of those holes. But nobody is going to bust you if you ride at your own risk the next couple of days.

Snow is in the forecast every day until Monday, so riding will get better and better each day, ignoring the inevitable wear and tear if we get heavy sled traffic over the weekend. But the base is so hard that I think the trails will stay in decent shape even with a lot of sleds.

Following is my post about my Turbo which some of you may find interesting. A great sled!

“This is a nice sled! I was away in Florida for almost ten days (during the melt down, which was good timing). So I started riding again yesterday, glad to be back on snow and getting used to the sled again.

 

I had the clutch alignment checked while I was away. Dealer said, "It was way off, especially the parallelism.", but the guy who worked on it wasn't there so I couldn't query him on exactly which way and how much. Offset is still at 1.655; they didn't know (or didn't want to know) anything about using the 1.507 bar. They did it under warrantee. I had been running an 047 for the past 900 miles and I put on a new 066 after the clutch alignment. I think the 066 is a better match for the sled, at least in stock form like mine. Rpm's are now 7600 to 7700 on a pull and had been just over 8000 with the 047 lately.

 

I will say that after the alignment, the sled starts off very smoothly, less "clunk" than before. Feels like it's pulling very hard. I did a careful 20 mile break in with this belt - I want to give it every chance for good wear this time around.

 

Back to the topic of this post - I had almost forgotten during my time away from the sled how very nice it is to ride. I went out solo after our club meeting the other night on a crisp, clear night. One of the groomers was out working, so I had either very smooth or mint trails all to myself, including some long, hard packed fields. It was a really great ride! There were a few nasty washouts, and the chassis handled these very well, also.

 

Before this sled, I had ridden ZRT 600's for a long time. My wife still loves her 2001 ZRT. We kept my 2002 ZRT600 both as an immediate source of spare parts for hers, and as a "ditch banger" sled for me. I love that old sled and really had planned to ride it frequently. But I have not once taken the ZRT for a real ride since I've had the Turbo. Just can't imagine not being able to hear that Turbo spool up, even for one ride!

 

Obviously the Turbo is far superior as a trail sled for ride comfort and power. I am sure that younger guys into serious drift busting and jumping would not like dealing with the Z1's weight, but then my ZRT was no light weight, either. I was playing around in a good drift two weeks ago and got in a rather impressive jump, good enough so there was noticeable "hang time"! My wife missed the shot with our camera, and I was chicken to try it again, even though the Twin Spar suspension soaked up the landing very well. And that jump was also a good example of how much instant-on power this sled has. The ramp we had built up in the drift by running through it a couple of times was a little sudden, so I was pretty slow coming into the drift and then punched it as the front suspension started to rise. It was like a sling shot and put me higher in the air than I had expected! Sorry I didn't get the picture.

 

But it's the trail riding where this sled shines. The trails were mostly smooth the other night and I was able to play around a lot with my favorite kind of riding. Easy cruising at 40 to 50 or less where I wanted to enjoy the scenery, then little blips up to 75 or 80. That 40 to 80 performance on this sled is just awesome! It feels like the motor just shrugs and says, "OK", when you ask it to go. one second you're at 40 mph trail speed and the next second you're at 80 mph fun speed. Just like that. Effortless.

I have the coupler blocks out of mine because I enjoy ski lift under power. They say that hurts the ride, but I notice no difference on the generally good trails I usually ride. And it has been OK on rough trails for relatively short distances. As many have noted on the forum, there is a darting problem, stock. I'm using Cobra Head wear bars with very good results and others here prefer the Slim Jims. Either way seems to solve the darting problem. I'm very pleased with the Chassis.

 

As I monitor this forum, it seems like all the bugs are getting worked out of this sled. I plan on keeping mine for four years, at least - maybe longer. It suits me and my riding needs VERY well!

I'll keep in touch with developments on the clutch alignment - belt wear issue. I am sure the best solution will evolve. I expect Cat or the dealers will figure out the best spec for the 2010 models and that we will find a way to set up these sleds to that spec. Maybe there will even be an official retrofit, but I'm not holding my breath. I do think, though, that those of us who care will get taken care of.

 

I haven't blown a belt yet, but my original 066 was throwing cord at 575 miles. Probably due to snow on the belt and perhaps some slipping during my wimpy break in period. I put a filter on the clutch air intake, and that took care of the wet belt problem. Then I went to the 047 and it worked fine for me for just under 1000 miles. It's still a decent get home belt, but is a little worn on the edges. If we're lucky with the weather, I hope to put another 1000 miles on the sled before the end of the season, using the new 066. I'll be interested to see how that new 066 holds up now that I know the sled a little better and a few adjustments have been made.

I'll probably have the tank pulled and check for the rubbing problem after the season. I have the Cat high windshield, and they still don't have the anti-shake brackets in for it, so that's another little thing. Cat is offering a block heater option, which I ordered last spring. The heating element is still on back order, but the other parts are available, so I think it is for real. I will add that after this season. Other than that, I am very, very happy with this sled. I follow the "quest for speed" threads with interest, but "century plus speeds" just aren't important to me. It's that 40 to 80 blast for me, and this sled delivers in spades! If any of you out there are still on the fence about getting one of these sleds now or next season, know that in spite of the teething problems with this new model, many of us are very satisfied Cat customers. Great sled!”

 

Yippee!

We’ve gotten away with a mostly snow event today and very little rain. Lots of snow looks like it’s coming to our trail system and surrounding areas over the next few days. After a blustery day tomorrow, we should have fine riding for most of the coming week! Sunny conditions with cold nights at the beginning of next week.

Wednesday, 1AM in the morning:

The trails on the Folsom Trailblazers system are still officially “closed”, mostly because there are some very dangerous washouts here and there as you ride the system, and you can easily come upon one unexpectedly and get hurt. The trails will be formally opened soon, after the groomers have had a chance to fill in more of the washouts.

Closed officially, but I took a little ride around parts of the system tonight after the club meeting. I was amazed at how good the trails are so soon after the big thaw last week! Riding was good to excellent! The base survived the melt down amazingly well. That’s the benefit of the groomers working so regularly during the entire month of January when we had constant cold and snowy weather. We’ve now had enough cold weather to freeze up all the water, and the snow the past few days was enough to make a soft riding surface over the very hard base. It is also very decent snow for grooming, and the groomers have been out the past couple of days and were working tonight.

I had a really amazing ride, solo, when I went out after the club meeting. I do caution anyone riding during the next couple of days to watch VERY CAREFULLY for the washouts and the unexpected uneven ice sheets you will come upon.

As mentioned in my post last night, plan to stay off the trails for most of today when the temperature is forecast to ride to the low 40’s. But as soon as it freezes again early Thursday morning, have at the trails. Snow is expected right through the weekend, and there should be great riding!

Fire in the Sky:

I had my own treat tonight on my first night back in the cold of western New York winter. I certainly enjoyed being down in sunny Florida for a week, but I was glad to be back where I can ride.

I took my snowmobile out on the trails for a short spin tonight. I enjoy snowmobiling partly for the fun and excitement of riding fast over hill & dale and through the woods on a powerful machine. I did that tonight. But I also enjoy the sport because it gets me outdoors in the winter surrounded by the beauty of nature.

I was headed west onto the trail system at about 9:45 this evening looking up at all the stars in the clear night air. Suddenly there was a bright light as a flaming meteorite streaked across the sky headed west away from me. Perhaps you've seen one of the video clips on the national news programs this week showing the big meteorite that fell in Texas the other day. This one was not quite that big or bright, but it was one of the best I've ever seen, with a flaming tail very similar to the one in Texas. It was an exciting experience to see it fall! I will treat it as a special early birthday present to me from mother nature. My birthday is next week, just 6 days after Meghan's.

Tuesday, February 17th, 5PM:

I just got in from Florida a few hours ago. I’ll be out and around the trails tomorrow to check things myself and make a report here.

I stopped at Jancen this afternoon to pick up my sled after some work. Guys there had been riding the Colden Trail Riders system today and points to the southeast towards Holland and Sardinia and reported good snow conditions. I have plenty of snow at my farm in East Aurora.

Read the trail report on the Oatka Valley website at my link above this paragraph. They have been grooming and report very good riding conditions in the Bliss and southwestern parts of their trails.

So you should be able to find decent riding tonight. Tomorrow is another story, with mixed snow and rain and temps rising to above 40. Stay home and let the trails alone. We then have a snowy and colder period coming the rest of the week and should have good riding most places in western New York through the weekend, at least.

Road Trips:

Old Forge reports good riding conditions, and so do many parts of Tug Hill. Their trails are hard from the thaw and freeze, but with wide spread snow coming over the next few days, there should be good to excellent riding at Old Forge and on the Hill. They will be a few degrees colder than we are here in Western New York and should get more snow than rain tomorrow.

Ontario from Muskoka north still has decent snow on most trails. They, too, have some hard trails, but they will be getting the same snow system we are this week and even colder temperatures. There should be very good conditions from Bracebridge and to the north. North Bay and Sudbury should be very good!

 

Monday, February 16:

I am flying home from Florida tomorrow just in time to check out the trails at home and not so close to home and write about riding options for the rest of this season. Except for a possible mixed precipitation event Wednesday night and early Thursday, the weather forecast is promising for western New York. Even more promising for Old Forge, Tug Hill, and Canada.

Check Mike’s posts over on the Folsom Trailblazers website to see if he has opened the local club trails today or tomorrow. I know he was out looking things over this morning.

I’ll be out myself for a first hand look and some pictures on Wednesday. I will post a more extensive discussion of trailering options tomorrow night. Think snow – winter is not over!

Saturday, February 14th:

Well, I’m sitting at a café down here in sunny Florida with 80+ temperatures. I’ve been reading about the weather at home and the massive melt down. Sorry. I guess I chose a good time to be away on vacation.

Sounds like we do have winter weather for the next couple of weeks, but need more snow locally.

There is riding on Tug Hill and at old Forge, and most trails in northern Ontario survived the thaw and rain, though you will have to drive a bit north. I will be home on Tuesday and will do some research about the best places to ride.

With a little luck, we’ll have another month of riding this season. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, 9PM:

Farewell guys,

I’m leaving first thing in the morning for a week’s trip to Florida planned some time ago. I guess I couldn’t have timed it much better. With luck, we’ll get just enough snow next weekend so I can join you on the trails (or what’s left of them) when I get back the following week.

Check in for any unexpected developments on the trails with Mike’s trail report at the Folsom Trailblazers website listed just above on this page. But the weather does not look promising. I was amazed at how much snow we lost just today. So it may not even matter if guys were riding on the trails today, but it is too bad that many were. I did visit Byrncliff late this morning and only four trailers and a few sleds were there at that time.. But more may have ridden later today. I got the following message from Kenny, a regular correspondent here:

hey tom,

 

kenny from bennington here again. I was heading into the city today driving on the 400 and saw an alarming amount of loaded trailers heading our way. I can probably assume the majority I saw on 20a too were heading to byrncliff. we need to do something proactive about this if we're ever to control the trail destruction that's going to occur on days like this. there are way too many sleds on the trails today. all the road approaches are a mud mess and I can only imagine what the turns and hills look like. I understand many people have been hoping and planning all week to trailer out and ride but this is not the time.

 

now I know you are in a "influential" position with this all too valuable website and involvement with the folsom trailblazers. perhaps an agreement could be made with byrncliff to close down the sled launching on days like this. maybe a flash across their sign that the trails are closed? sure it would take awhile to catch on but maybe, eventually it could work.

 

thanks again Tom for all the hard work,

kenny from bennington (venting)

Kenny suggested that a further part of his message with some of the “venting” not be published – LOL – But I agree with Kenny’s thoughts. Sometimes whether to close the trails or not is a close call, and it is not clear who has the authority to make the call. I would think Mike (club president) does. Maybe this should be discussed in a meeting. Thanks for the suggestions, Kenny!

I do get email while I am traveling, so send me details of the “disappearing trail system” as it vanishes this week. See you all in 9 days!

- Tom

Saturday, 9AM:

Temperature situation is looking a little worse now. With temps to be pushing 50 today, please consider all western New York trails CLOSED until further notice. Pass the word.

Even Monday now looks to be in the high 30’s and Wednesday could be pushing 55 to 60.

The only good news is that winter looks to return Thursday night. If we stay off the trails until then some base will survive and it will be flat still and quickly rideable with just a bit of snow. The result of this week’s event pretty much depends on how much rain comes with the very warm day Wednesday. Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, 11AM:

We’re headed out to the trails in the Byrncliff area in half an hour or so. We’re hoping to get some good sledding video for the documentary we’re filming. If you see us with the camera, stop and say hello, especially if you’d like to do some “fun” riding for the project!

Groomer guy, Jim, emailed us a copy of the law requiring riders to give the right of way to groomers if you meet on the trail. Common sense. Shouldn’t need to be said. But for that tiny group who are thoughtless, remember – it is THE LAW, not just common sense.

Slightly good news – the temperatures forecast fo most of next week have dropped a couple of degrees from what had been forecast a few days ago,. It will still be quite a bit of a melt down, but maybe not a total disaster. Please DO NOT ride when it is above freezing this weekend and next week. After today and tonight, Monday looks like the only legit riding day for the next week. A little sacrifice this week may mean the difference between having great trails again soon after the warm spell, or not.

Thursday evening, 8PM:

You did not get any trail updates from this website or the club’s today because Meghan and I went for an all day ride with Mike and Mary Kehl. Mike is president of the Folsom Trailblazers club and does their trail condition reports. We had fun comparing notes all day at stops.

We rode 100 miles around part of the Folsom system, down to Chaffee for lunch at the Milestone, down through Arcade, east on C3 along the railbed trail, then through Gainesville and back the C4 trail through Orangeville and Varysburg to Byrncliff. We saw maybe a dozen moguls the whole way! Not much of an exaggeration. The trails are flat out awesome pretty much everyplace.

Our hats off to the Folsom Trailblazers, the Oatka Valley club, and the Tri-County Drift Hoppers, all of whom had fantastic trail conditions. You would have to go looking to find a bad trail tonight. There was quite a bit of traffic, so conditions may be a little worse tomorrow morning, but will still be good to excellent most places..

Plan to ride your heart out Friday and Friday night. If the weather is what is forecast, we will be calling the trails “Closed” all this weekend to try to hold onto the great base we have now. It does not take much sled traffic during 45 degree + weather to beat the base right down to the ground. And even though all area trails have flat, solid base now, that base is pretty thin.

It will be tempting to ride Saturday – the trails will look great in the morning. But PLEASE stay home – go to a movie – drink heavily – shack up with your @@@@@. Anything but tear up the trails!!

Click this link for some nice pictures today, including “Jumpin’ Mike Kehl”!

Thursday, February 5th, 8AM:

As noted below, I was nursing a sore body yesterday and did not personally get out to the trails. But we have several reports of good to excellent riding conditions around the Folsom system. I expect that’s what you’ll find today if you DRESS UP VERY WARMLY! I was planning to head out for a ride later this morning, but I am not so sure. I’m going to wait and see how the wind picks up and whether the sun stays out (partly sunny here in EA at 8AM). I do ride in below zero weather up in Canada; somehow that just sounds colder when it’s that cold here in western New York.

I will be riding most of the day tomorrow, and we do plan to be filming for our video production in the Byrncliff area and nearby trails from noon until mid afternoon. We’ve had several messages from interested riders!

Long Term Outlook for the Trails:

I am optimistic that we will not completely lose the trails during the warm up this coming week. But it’s going to take some sacrifice from the gung ho riders. Looks like it will rise to the mid 40’s or even 50 on Saturday, with temperature still a little above freezing through Sunday. The trails should be considered closed this weekend – we’ll wait for an official word from the club. It would tear the hell out of the solid, but still rather thin base we have if guys ride this weekend in warm temps.

Sunday night we have another cold front to stabilize the trails. No reason you can’t ride on Monday if that forecast holds up. Then rising temperatures the rest of the week, with a possible major warm up with rain on Thursday – Friday. So plan on not riding from Tuesday through Friday. Although it is a week away and hard to predict, it looks like another big cold front and back to winter next weekend. Depending on just how hard we’re hit with the late week warm up and rain event, I believe most of our base will survive and we won’t have to start all over the following week, even if many of the fields go bare. But spread the word – stay off the trails completely during the coming week whenever it is above freezing!

Wednesday, February 4, noon:

I did not check the trails myself this morning, but I rode everything last night, and riding conditions should be good to excellent today. Scroll down for my report from late last night for details. (Hopefully C4B from Bloecher Road to Strykersville and the trail through the woods at the Beaver Meadows camp ground will get groomed today.)

Click this link to see a sample video from the documentary we’re making on snowmobiling in western New York. It is being shot in HD TV. We hope to show it at a club meeting later in the season. We’re hoping to shoot some drift busting action and stunt shots this Friday afternoon. Call if you are interested!

When you watch the YouTube video today, look at the right side of the viewer right under the picture. There is a link to “View in HD”. It is amazing if you have a fast broadband connection and a newer computer. The HD picture will have glitches on slower computers.

Tuesday, 10PM:

Hi again. After watching the guys do so much grooming this morning I had to go back out and ride. I went out for two hours after dinner and did pretty much all of the Folsom trail system. Yes, I was moving along at a brisk pace!

Conditions tonight and tomorrow morning are generally good to excellent. My “diamond” award is for the short section of trail from the groomer barn to Byrncliff and then S41 over towards Sheldon Road through the woods. This short section of trail was smooth as can be – just perfect.

My “gold” award is for most all of the Bennington Loop. These north side trails are groomed flat and wide. I had the Turbo singing for much of that ride. Sweet.

S43 up over the hills between Strykersville and the rail bed trail was smooth as it usually is and was a VERY fun ride.

The trail from Sheldon down to Strykersville was starting to get bumpy and needs work soon. I had to stand up for much of this. Some of the trails through the Beaver Meadows camp ground were really moguled up. Just a short section, but pretty bad.

Want a fast, smooth ride tomorrow morning? Leave Byrncliff, take S41 up through the woods across Sheldon Road, then take C4B across #20A, and S46 up to Bennington,then C4 back to Byrncliff.

I am working on a YouTube video of the groomers.

Tuesday, 3PM:

Check this link for some pictures out on the trails today. All three Folsom groomers were working the trails today – well, 2 ½ - the Tucker crapped out due to an electrical problem and we witnessed Jim helping make arrangements for a rescue mission. It’s something you don’t always think about. The groomers are machines working in harsh conditions, and they don’t always fail in convenient locations. The Tucker shut down at the top of a very steep hill on the C4 trail north of Byrncliff almost a mile from the nearest road. We were with Jim, Adam, and Chris and the two other groomers over in Varysburg when Mike called after the Tucker quit. It was a choice between sending one of the New Holland machines 2 hours out of it’s way to rescue Mike, or finding someone with a booster battery pack and a snowmobile that was home from work and able to run the rescue mission.

Poor Mike waited patiently as many calls were made on cell phones and Jim finally found someone off work, with a booster pack, and a sled. The rescue was dispatched and the two New Holland machines went on about their business.

Which was interesting! Usually the groomers work independently so they can cover as much ground in a shift as possible. But today both of these machines were working in tandem which makes for a great trail. Too bad we don’t get ahead of the grooming schedule more often, because it was very impressive watching the two machines work together either double packing or else putting down a two-wide pass all at once.

Meghan and I are making good progress on our documentary film about snowmobile trails and grooming in western New York. We got some outstanding scenes today with the sun out and the two groomers. We are still looking to hook up with some “adventurous” riders soon to get drift busting action shots for the film. Jim, Adam, and Chris may well take us up on that! Call or email if YOU are a wanna-be stunt rider!

The completed film will probably be shown at a Folsom club meeting later in the spring. It will be in HD video.

Check back here later today. I may have a YouTube video clip of the two groomers working together.

 

Tuesday, February 3, 9AM:

We just had as call from Jim at Folsom telling us two groomers are headed out to work the trails. With the good grooming we saw yesterday, this should put things in very good shape! A fluffy snow is falling here in East Aurora – if the same thing is hitting the trail system, it will make a fine finishing cover for the groomed trails. Should be widespread good to excellent riding today.

Monday, 5PM:

Hats off, once again, to the groomer crews from the Folsom Trailblazers club. Many, perhaps most, of the club trails were groomed today, many of them getting more than one pass. Your riding conditions tonight on the Folsom trails and many surrounding trail systems will be good to very good. Many Folsom trails have just been groomed. Some of those are excellent, and others just good to very good because of chunky and crusty snow left from the melt down on the weekend and freeze up overnight. As the trails all get another grooming pass or two over the next couple of days, we will have excellent mid week riding!

Meghan and I rode this morning from Byrncliff up over the hill on C4, down the A&A railbed trail and back (very good, just groomed), then out C4 through the Oatka trails (very good in fields, not so good in the woods), then C4 to Silver Springs, then C3 to Arcade (the rail trail, S30, was good with light stutter bumps); then we rode up through Arcade to Chaffee with some fresh grooming, some moguled sections, but generally good trails.

We had lunch (great!) at the Milestone in Chaffee and then rode the trails (good to very good) back up to Java and the Folsom System, where we hit fresh groomer tracks everyplace.

We talked to a group in Chaffee that had just ridden through Holland and Sardinia trails to Chaffee and they reported all of those trails to be excellent.

Click this link for some pictures I took out on the trails today. Enjoy good riding tonight and tomorrow!

Monday, 7AM:

Patty and Rick sent in the following ride report from their experiences on Sunday.

Hi Tom,

 

I just thought I would send you an email in regards to our riding this afternoon.  We rode the Folsom trail system today from Byrncliff to North Java and over to Strykersville.  We set out at about 1 pm and were startled to see only a handful of trailers in the parking lot at Byrncliff. 

 

Trail conditions varied greatly on our ride but the bright sun proved to have an extremely harsh effect on the quickly melting trails.  Hilltops were beautiful with lots of powder covering them.  The wooded areas were not bad in the morning but by afternoon had turned into a disgusting snow/mud mixture with lots of exposed icy areas.  Intersections at roadways were also extremely "gross" with water, rocks, ice, salt and LOTS of mud.  By the time we headed back the trails had quickly gone from a good amount of snow with a fantastic base to open fields with lots of slushy areas quickly developing and many bare spots.

 

If anyone plans to ride tomorrow they can most likely expect pretty poor conditions around the Folsom system.  The slushy areas that are quickly growing seem quite dangerous because they're sometimes hard to see and hitting them at high speeds seems to send the sled into a sort of fish tail motion that is hard to control (Unfortunately I know.) 

 

Overall all I can say is lets pray for some heavy snowfalls this week!

 

Patty (and Rick)

Thanks, Patty and Rick. Meghan and I are planning to hit the trails today. We’ll be interested to see what they’re like. Temperatures dropped below freezing again overnight, but are predicted to ride to the mid 30’s again today with more sun. Stay tuned. Cold weather returns for mid week with some chance of snow.

I suggest investing the time to groom whatever we have left the minute temps drop below freezing this afternoon and evening so we can take advantage of what riding we have for the rest of this week. The NOAA guys are increasingly confident that we’re facing the “BIG MELT” beginning next Saturday.

Sunday night:

This looks like another fine week of winter weather with great riding opportunities, including another shot of Arctic air mid-week. Enjoy it.

Because – the long range forecast is once again hinting at a possible major melt down beginning next weekend. There were similar long range forecasts a week ago for a warmup that did not happen, so keep your fingers crossed. But this time the weather pattern looks more likely to result in above average temperatures beginning in 6 or 7 days and perhaps lasting 8 to 10 days. Make your long range riding plans accordingly.

Superbowl Sunday, 8AM:

Go Arizona!

It’s already 37 degrees out this morning. We often put out “please don’t ride today” notices when it’s this warm, but since it’s the end of the weekend and it has been cold with a good base, we won’t do that today.

Conditions will be fair to very good on the trails depending on how beat they got yesterday and whether any grooming was done last night, which I don’t know yet. Enjoy some warm weather riding for a change! (It will be windy)

Saturday, January 31, 1PM:

Riding conditions on the Folsom area trail system this afternoon and this evening will vary widely. Generally fair to good conditions will prevail with blowing and drifting snow. Conditions where trails were groomed this morning will be very good to excellent in some places, but those conditions are rapidly deteriorating with the sled traffic and blowing and drifting snow.

Many trails are showing slight to moderate stutter bumps, drifted snow, and small moguls building in the drifted areas. Most woods trails were recently groomed and are fair to good.

I used up more than my share of those excellent conditions myself on a 75 mile tour of the whole trail system. I got in about 1/3 of my ride in the bright sun that was out for a while this morning before the clouds and snow flurries moved in restricting visibility. Click here for a few of my pictures of the best conditions. Once it got cloudy and conditions weren’t so good, I didn’t take many more pictures.

FYI, nearly all the trails in the system were groomed yesterday, last night, or this morning. I saw the groomers working myself. But they are fighting tough conditions with all the soft snow on the trails from the recent storm, as well as rising wind today causing major drifting, especially on trails that are crossways to the wind. I saw many places that had just been groomed that already should have had another pass or two. It will be a losing battle until the base gets better packed over the next few days, and the wind drops.

The best conditions as of noon were trail S41 and part of C4B west of Byrncliff; most of S43 near Perry Road; C4A from Strykersville to Java Center; the A&A rail bed trail was pretty good with mild stutter bumps; C4H to Attica and the other Bennington loop trails had been groomed recently, but were quickly getting rough from drifting snow.

If you’re headed out to Byrncliff this afternoon, treat yourself to the ride from BYrncliff over S41 past the groomer barn, through the woods across Sheldon Road, then northwest on C4B towards Marilla. This was all well groomed and holding up pretty well to the drifting. The trail towards Marilla and Kodiak Jack’s was in good shape, so maybe a ride there would be a good choice.

The trails most in need of improvement as of lunchtime today were the Bennington Loop trails that were suffering a lot from blowing snow; C4B from the S41 junction down to Strykersville; and C4A from Beaver Meadows over to North Java.

 

Friday, January 30, 1PM:

Riding conditions this afternoon will be good to very good and excellent where the groomers have just been. The groomers are out working as I write. We passed the Tucker doing its thing next to rte #77 an hour ago. Almost half the trails have already been groomed since the storm, and most of the rest will probably be done by tonight. The grooming is most recent north of Byrncliff on C4.

The only thing that will prevent generally excellent conditions is that there are already quite a few sleds out on the trails. Even where the trails have just been groomed, they will be on the soft side because of the fresh snow. They will get beat up in a hurry.

Trails all weekend should be decent, thanks to the great base the Folsom Trailblazers crew built up before this week’s snowfall.

Click this link for a YouTube video taken while we did our trail inspection this morning. It will not actually be viewable until later this afternoon.

Want to be in an Action Video?

We are making a short documentary video on snowmobiling in our area. We took some shots the day of the Dice Run last week. We will be filming on Sunday from noon until 3PM if weather permits, trying to get some action shots of guys jumping and drift busting. Call Tom at 716-652-9495 or email me if you are interested in being in the video or if you have a good secret spot to do some jumps and drift busting!

Thursday, January 29, 10PM:

So, you guys think we have enough snow now?

Meghan and I just got home from Ontario and had to spend a half hour digging out the end of our driveway just to get in off the street. We’ll try to get some reports tomorrow morning on any progress with grooming the trails. We should be in for a sweet weekend of riding!

Wednesday, January 28, 8AM:

Meghan and I are still up in Canada, where we put in a 200 mile ride yesterday. (A little sore this morning, even though conditions were excellent) Click this link for some pictures from our ride.

Closer to home, we’ve had reports that most trails on the Folsom and surrounding systems remain pretty good, with some bumps here and there. Trails are getting hard and a bit thin. But today’s storm is coming at a perfect time. The groomers everywhere need some fresh snow to work with. The storm should move through today and grooming conditions should be good Thursday to get ready for another weekend of excellent riding conditions.

At least on Friday night/Saturday. Sunday looks like a rare warm day in western New York. But with the trails in solid condition and it being the last day of the weekend, we should look at it as a rare opportunity to enjoy a day of warm weather riding. The trails will survive fine. Not a bad winter shaping up!

Monday, January 26, noon:

Click this link for some pictures from today. The Folsom area trails are good to excellent this morning. Even where they have not been touched since the heavy sled traffic over the weekend, they have held up surprisingly well because of the solid base the guys built last week. I imagine you may find some bumpy spots and only fair conditions some places in the woods. There was a light dusting of new snow on the trails overnight and some blowing snow, so there is decent slider lubrication in spite of the firm base.

The groomers were already rolling this morning, as you can see from my pictures. You can expect very good riding conditions all this week. A partly sunny, lovely riding day Tuesday, the nanother nice shot of snow Tuesday and Wednesday, then scattered snow each day the rest of the week. Fine winter riding conditions!

With such good riding around here, I don’t quite know why, but we are heading to Ontario again tonight. Our trip last week was cut short by a minor breakdown on my new sled, so I still need a “fix” of great Muskoka trails.

Pat, or anyone else, fell free to email me trail reports over the next few days and I’ll post them from the road. Or check Mike’s report over at the club website here. Doesn’t really matter this week – good conditions should rule all week long!

Monday, January 25th, 8AM:

Congratulations to the Folsom Trailblazers Club on another successful Dice Run & Vintage Sled show yesterday. The trails were very good and held up well to the heavy traffic. Lots of people turned out, though attendance may have been a little less than recent years because of the bitter cold.

Here is a link to a YouTube video showing some of the action. You can view it in HD if you have a fast connection.

Trails today will remain fair to very good. There was a very light snow overnight which helped a little, but we could use more snow. Much of the riding will still be good to very good.

Sunday, 1PM:

I did a good drive through of the trails an hour ago. Riding is good to very good, excellent in many places. The grooming was magnificent this week. Only the hard snow and lack of fresh powder keeps conditions from being excellent throughout. But a good, firm solid base and the heavy sled traffic today is loosening up that base so there is a couple of inches of granular powdery snow on the trails in most places. Enjoy.

If you see a guy with a big video camera beside the trails this afternoon, it is me. I am working on a documentary film on snowmobiling in our area. If anyone’s interested in doing some drift busting and jumping for the action portion of the film, get in touch with me!

Sunday, January 25, 9AM:

Enjoy the Dice Run and vintage sled show at Byrncliff today. It is always a great time and a fine sled and people watchi9ng opportunity. Riding conditions on the trails should be good to excellent today early. Even with the heavy sled traffic expected, the base is so solid that the trails should hold decent conditions until late in the day. Enjoy! (My favorite trail last night was S41 west of Byrncliff going through the woods over to the C4B junction. It was flat smooth all the way through the woods. Really a fun ride!)

Saturday evening, January 24th: Today’s pictures, click here

Meghan and I just returned from a 105 mile ride around all the Folsom Trailblazers trail system, out onto a part of the Oatka system, and over to Kodiak Jack’s in Marilla. Riding conditions tonight and tomorrow morning will be good to mostly very good, and excellent in many places.

Hat’s off to the Folsom Club groomer guys. They had nearly all the trails groomed flat. By mid day there were a few ripples appearing here and there, but the base is smooth and solid. Our only problem early in the day was that the hard freeze after yesterday’s warm temps left the flat trails very icy and hard. We had some overheating problems until sled traffic began to break up the ice and turn it into a sugary snow that worked fine for cooling and track lube. Word is that some of the groomers will be out again tonight freshening up the trails for the Dice Run tomorrow.

It was cold, and may be colder tomorrow for the Folsom Trailblazers Dice Run and Vintage sled show. Don’t miss it, though. The turnout is usually huge!

Once again, very good to excellent trail conditions prevail.

Saturday morning:

Conditions should be very good on the trails this weekend, depending on how heavy the sled traffic becomes. Watch out for icy conditions this morning until a few sleds have been through breaking up the glaze of ice we picked up with the plunging overnight temperatures!

Meghan and I will be on the trails this morning. We’ll report again later today. Don’t forget the Dice Run tomorrow!

Long range weather report is looking a little better than yesterday. The warm up late next week may be only one day and not as bad as I thought. Then another cold front – yippee!

Friday, January 23rd, 4PM:

Thanks to MOST of you for staying off the trails today! A few guys were out zipping around this afternoon leaving ruts in the very soft trails during the warm afternoon. But by and large, the trails held up, thanks to the great job the Trailblazers did early in the week with the base. Riding conditions are still very good to excellent most places, though I saw spots of dirt or grass showing through here and there. The base is still not very deep, but it is packed hard.

 

Word is that the groomers will hit the trails again late tonight or early in the morning after the temperature drops. I expect conditions will be good for grooming by nine or ten PM. Just a guess.

We should have gorgeous mid winter riding conditions with some sun each day early next week. THEN, keep your fingers crossed. Things could still work out all right weatherwise, but there is a good chance of a major warm up and melt down beginning next Thursday. So plan accordingly. Hopefully we’ll have extra groomer time budgeted early in the week while it is cold so we can all take advantage of the primo weather and trail conditions before we face the possible late week melt down.

Plan your rides for this weekend and then Monday through Wednesday and into early Thursday. - - - And hope that I am wrong about the long range weather!

Thursday, January 22, noon:

Very good to excellent riding conditions continue over the Folsom area trails – enjoy! A brief warm up to temperatures of mid to upper 30’s is expected tomorrow. My personal suggestion is Please stay off the trails during the day Friday. The Folsom Trailblazers grooming crews have done a wonderful job putting the trails in first class condition for this weekend, and they could take a beating with much sled traffic during the short warm up. Temperature should plunge after dark Friday, so I would expect Friday night rides to be fine, but watch the temperature and don’t go if the snow isn’t crisp again.

Conditions will not be good for the groomers during the Friday warmup, so if they are going to do any final tuning of the trails for the weekend, it will probably have to be during the night Friday night or early Saturday morning and anytime over the weekend. Watch out for groomers on the trails this weekend.

A new round of Arctic air returns for the weekend, including Sunday and the Folsom Dice Run at Byrncliff. Riding conditions should be primo, but dress warmly!

 

Wednesday, 6PM:

I had a chance to drive out and take a quick look at the trails where they crossed roads near Byrncliff this afternoon. Click this link for pictures. Riding tonight should be very good to excellent! There has been strong wind on the hills in Wyoming county, so there is snow drifted across the trails in many places on top of fresh grooming. For my riding style, powder drifted onto a well groomed trail is still “excellent riding”. But there will be drifts here and there over the recent grooming.

PS – Here are some pictures taken in Muskoka yesterday of Meghan and I

Wednesday, 3PM:

Folsom Groomer operator, Jim S. (Mr. BRAAAAAAAAP), called and told us all Folsom trails have now been freshly groomed. Conditions today should be good to excellent around the system. I should have some pictures and a personal report from the system tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21st, 8AM:

Here’s a report sent in by Pat late last night with first hand riding reports:

Tom,

 

I just returned from ride around the Bennington loop.  The trails were generally in great shape.  At the time of this report the temp is 9 Deg F in Sheldon and the barometric pressure is rising.   The trail conditions are as follows:

 

C4B north of Centerline Road to trail junction 73: In in Good condition with approx. 1' moguls. (Don't think it has been groomed since the weekend)

 

S41: Is in excellent condition (recently groomed)

 

C4 north of Byrncliff to trail S46:  Is in excellent condition (recenly groomed)

 

S46 from junction 76 to junction 75:  Is in A++ Excellent condition (recently groomed and very flat)

 

Portion of S46 that heads to Cowlsville (Pine Lounge): Is in Fair condtion with 1'-2' moguls (has not been groomed recently)

 

I will be heading out on Thursday towards Bliss and Java, I will send you a report when I get back from the ride. 

 

Thanks, Pat

Meghan and I are returning from Muskoka today and will be able to do reports again tomorrow. I welcome guest reports to give more information than I can by myself. Keep them coming!

 

Tuesday, 8PM:

Mike Kehl, Folsom club president, sent me the following update. He asked me to remind everyone on this website that the Folsom Trailblazers Dice Run and Vintage Sled show is this weekend at Byrncliff. It is a good time with hundreds of sleds showing up! As Mike says (below), the Club is pulling out all the stops on grooming to try to make a positive statement this week. Here’s Mike’s message:

   Hi Tom,

 

I bet your having a great time in Muskoka. Trails here are getting back in shape quite nicely. It's 11 degrees tonight with lt snow here. The groomers have been and are out and just about everything will be done by tomorrow. My Tucker was down waiting for a couple track wheels but I received them today so I will have it back on the trail tomorrow. With the dice run this weekend we really want to make a statement about our trails so expect some decent conditions this weekend even with the heavy traffic. Meeting night tonight so i'm tied up with that or I would be fixing the groomer tonight. If you could give our dice run a plug on your site, we would appreciate it. Hope to see you there if you’re back in time.

 

 

Mike

Tuesday:

The groomers have been out and trails are reported to be getting back in shape after a weekend of heavy traffic. Pat is sending me a trail report tonight which I will post.

 

Meghan and I are enjoying a day with absolutely perfect conditions up here in Muskoka!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday morning, January 19th:

My trail reports will be spotty this week and I'll be relying on you readers to send in your riding reports. I'm getting ready to leave for Muskoka Ontario later today for much of the week. But riding here should be good to excellent after grooming sessions during the week. Conditions will be good for grooming every day but Thursday (when it will be just above freezing). I am guessing that most of the system will be groomed today and Tuesday, and again on Friday after the cold air returns, just in time for great riding again next weekend.

The sun is out this morning and I would be heading out to ride if I weren't preparing to go up north.

While I am gone this week, check Mike's report over at Folsomtrailblazers.org .

Sunday, January 18, 1PM:

We took a very quick drive out to Byrncliff this morning. Moderate sled traffic already and more trailers coming out #20A as we drove home. There were about 20 trailers between the two Byrncliff lots.

Your riding should be "good" today. We did not see any signs of grooming since Friday, but there may have been some we did not notice. Talked to a few riders in the Byrncliff parking area who had ridden in who said it was getting "a bit bumpy". Our observations at trails crossing the area roads showed some very smooth trails with blowing and drifting fresh snow, and other areas where small stutter bumps were building on the trails. With all the loose snow on the trails, some moguls are bound to be building up where lots of sleds slow down or speed up.

More snow is coming today and tonight. Monday is a holiday for some so expect more sled traffic on the trails. Grooming conditions should be good Monday, Monday night, and Tuesday. With light snow most days this coming week there should be more prime riding conditions!

Thanks to Kenny from Bennington for the following nice message and a guest trail report:

"Hey Tom, Kenny from Bennington here,

Let me start out by saying what a great job you've been doing with this website and keeping us informed and up to date. I don't know of any other source for getting this kind of accurate info right away. Thank you.

I should also point out that myself, and many others as well, have noticed and appreciate the total turn around of Folsom's grooming operation. The last few years have not been great winters for sure, but Folsom's grooming left much to be desired and left many of us scratching our heads. Not any more. I'm not sure exactly what the new recipe is but I like it. This is the best I've seen this trail system and they are now a real pleasure to ride.

Ok, trail conditions. I did a loop yesterday from Byrncliff to Attica, then to Warsaw onto Perry and the Sportmen's Club. Trails were excellent in most areas. There were a couple bare spots in the fields but that's to be expected anywhere in this area. We then headed back on C4 and conditions were basically perfect all the way to the end of Oatka's trails then they got a little choppy (nothing bad) until we got back to the Byrncliff area. All in all, it was an awesome day of riding and traffic was much lower than expected. We were back home by 3PM and the lower parking lot was pretty full. Hopefully the trails held up."

 

Saturday, January 17th, Noon:

Riding conditions today will be good to very good. All trails on the Folsom system have been groomed in the past couple of days, providing a smooth, firm base. But you won't know it when you go out riding this weekend.

We've had three to five inches of new snow during the lake effect of the past 24 hours, much more where it has drifted in. This will quickly get beaten up with sled traffic, but it will remain pretty soft and fluffy at least through today. Fun riding conditions!

More snow is coming tonight and tomorrow and with temperatures remaining below freezing until the end of next week and beyond, it will be just what the doctor ordered! Enjoy the riding.

Sled traffic this morning was only moderate. Far less than last weekend when EVERYONE was out riding. At 10:30 AM there were only about a dozen to fifteen trailers in the Byrncliff lots and we saw relatively few sleds on the trails as we took a thorough picture taking tour of the trail system.

Today's pictures at this link. It was cloudy with very hazy sun poking through, so the contrast was poor for photography - poor for riding visibility, also. That plus the temperatures ranging from only +3 to +6 degrees all morning perhaps contributed to the low rider turnout. Considerably warmer tomorrow, so I would expect a lot of riders on Sunday. Ride early!

Friday, January 16, 2PM: today's very snowy pictures here !

Kudo's to the Folsom Trailblazers grooming crews! They are out grooming today in lake effect snow squalls putting the already good trails in good to excellent condition for the long weekend. This is some of the best grooming done by this club in several years. As I have mentioned recently, the club now has three groomers and they're all being used.

Groomer operator, Jim S. (Mr. BRAAAP), called this morning and told me that all of the Bennington and Attica trails were groomed last night. Strykersville was being groomed this morning and anything remaining will get done tonight. The base will be very good for the beginning of the weekend.

But keep in mind that we've already had 6" or more of blowing and drifting snow today with more coming down. Many of the freshly groomed trails will be drifted in with fresh snow. Over a good base, that will make for some very fun, drift busting riding, if that's your thing. But don't expect all flat packed trails.

NOTE: Dangerous driving this afternoon; I drove much of the trail system by car this morning checking trails and taking pictures. There were white-outs in many places and the granular snow coming done was VERY slippery on the highways. I saw many spin outs and stuck vehicles. Tractor trailers were not making it up out of the hollow on #20A where you enter Byrncliff. It was a mess. If you're thinking about trailering out to ride this afternoon, maybe you want to wait until tomorrow?

My pictures from today at this link are snowy! Hard to see much, but they'll give you an idea of what it's like out on the highways and the trail system today.

Friday, January 16th, 8AM:

We'll try to get you a first hand report from on the trails later this morning, but radar indicates that the present persistent lake effect plume is falling directly over our Folsom area trail system. The snow here at my place in East Aurora is a small flake that should pack and groom pretty well. Let's hope for a good dump!

Long range weather pattern suggests a warm up to just above freezing by the middle of next week for a day and then another possible cold front. Good news for the long term good of the trail system!

Thursday, January 15th:

I did not inspect the trail system this morning myself, but riding conditions should be very good most places. Check my first hand ride report from yesterday below. Grooming was in progress yesterday afternoon and sled traffic was quite light. Conditions should still be good today.

It sounds like much of the lake effect snow forecast for the next two days will fall a little south of our riding area. Keep your fingers crossed that we get some of it. Our trails could use just a little more snow.

Wednesday, January 14, 4PM: - Today's Trail Pictures here

80 Miles with

Whoooooooosh!

Z-rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-t!

And BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP!

 

That would be me on my Z1 Turbo, very quiet like a gentleman rider; Meghan on her slightly hot ZRT making just a little more noise and - well you can probably guess, especially if you're part of the Folsom Trailblazers Club. Yes, it would be Jim S., groomer guy and resident "hot-dog"! We had a good ride through much of the Folsom trail system this morning (good to very good and excellent in spots that had just been groomed late last night and this morning).

Below: Jim on his "BRAAAAP machine!"

 

We also rode out through Weathersfield on the Oatka trails, some of which were beautifully groomed. There also seemed to be a bit more new snow to the east of the Folsom system and Jim and I enjoyed playing in a lot of powder.

If you're headed out to ride tonight or in the Frigid weather Thursday, you'll find generally good to very good to excellent conditions on the Folsom trails. A few sections were getting beat up already even though everything has been groomed in the past two days. The northern part of the A&A railbed was the best I have ever seen it this morning! S-43 was excellent, and the groomers were out today.

I'll give you an example of how fast trails deteriorate with the heavy traffic we've been getting. C4 headed north from Byrncliff towards Bennington was groomed twice in the past two days, at least - I saw it happening. Already this afternoon, though it was still "good", stutter bumps were appearing and a little snirt was visible here and there. And that's with great attention to grooming.

Some good news is that with the multiple grooming passes over the past few days and the very cold temperatures, we're getting a much better base. With the good base, the trails hold their set longer after a grooming, and the next time they are groomed it doesn't take as many passes to get excellent conditions.

Today's pictures here.

Oh - one more thing! You know how when a couple of Arctic Cat people deign to go riding with a "Doo" guy there can be a little trash talking? Well, I won't say much except that one of us had to call for a rescue to get trailered home from the trails, and it wasn't a black sled!

 

Tuesday, Jan. 13th, 5 PM Update:

Jim S. called a couple of hours ago from the cab of one of the groomers as he was crossing Maxxon Road. He told me that they have been out for much of today and made multiple passes over many of the worst areas, including the A&A rail trail south of Varysburg. He also confirmed that sled traffic is very light today, so all the grooming should have a nice chance to set up.

I would like to take a moment to commend all the guys doing the grooming this year for the Folsom Trailblazers club. They are off to one of their best starts in the past few years. They have three industrial groomers this year, and they are using them. I have often lobbied for more aggressive grooming and I have not been shy about reporting bad trail conditions. This is good work. Keep it up, guys!

Tuesday, January 13, 8AM:

Mike over on the Folsom club website reports that more grooming was done last night after my ride and report (see below). That should put the trails in good to very good condition all around the Folsom system for today.

Today - This is one of those days that separates the die hard riders from the "wannabe's". Trail conditions should be great. My sleds were loaded still from last night and I had planned on a good ride today to enjoy that fine, fresh grooming! But the snow and wind that was forecast for after lunch today has already set in. Visibility will be deteriorating rapidly. I hate to admit it, but I am going to wimp out and wait for tomorrow when the wind will be much calmer.

Here are a couple of second hand trail reports from surrounding areas and an "atta boy, Tom" email. Keep them coming. It's good to know that somebody out there finds this website useful.

I check your website just about everyday. Thanks for the updates. Had the day off today, Monday Jan.12, 2009. Maded the drive to Byrncliff. Did not know what to expect. The ride today was one of the best rides in two years.  Hats off to all the groomer operators. What a quick recovery from a busy weekend. I live a hour North and the website is great, to know what to expect when u get there.               

 

 THANKS to all who make it happens

           

                                                                                                                Thanks

                                                                                                                        Joel

 

 

 

Hi Tom,

 

Just a quick note most all our trails will be done tonight and if not by tommorrow. We should have some sweet riding this week!

 

 

 

Mike Kehl

 

Hi Tom,

 

I just found your web site on the trail conditions last week.

Great job I have been checking it on a regular basis now.

 

I rode between from Eden to West Valley and Arcade yesterday then back to Eden about a 110-mile day. Not my entire ride is in your area but here is the report.

 

Eden to Langford needs more snow. Langford to Zoar just plain rough.

When you get into Zoar Valley in Catt county lots of snow trails from Cookies Rest in Zoar to West Valley were very good lots of snow.

West Valley to Machies Junction were very good.

Trails from machies junction to Arcade were very rough but good snow cover.

They had not been groomed yet. Rail bed to Bliss was rough also not groomed yet.

With the cold weather this week and with grooming trails should be stellar.

 

Trail through Sardinia rough and not groomed yet Erie County forest not groomed yet

Very rough trail all the way to Springville.

 

Springville to Boston had tons of traffic and was beat down to snirt.

Boston to East Eden beat up from to much traffic and low snow cover in the open cornfields.

 

East Eden Back to Eden rough going through the dirt farm fields.

 

Thanks for your reports and photos

Dave

 

Tom again: I talked to a fellow rider at Byrncliff yesterday who had ridden in from the Warsaw area the back way coming in from Perry. He said the snow was thin in places, but not a bad ride with some hit and miss grooming.

 

Monday, 6PM:

I felt the "need" this afternoon and took a quick fifty mile spin around parts of the Folsom trail system. Conditions tonight range from fair to near excellent. Lots of grooming is getting done - most of the system will probably have been hit by tomorrow. Some freshly groomed trails could use another pass or two, because of the very heavy traffic over the weekend. We are beginning to build up a satisfactory base, but we need more snow in some places - snow which is coming soon!

I took S41 out of Byrncliff, and it was good in most places, not freshly groomed, but still good. Trail C4B down towards Strykersville was fair to good most of the way but not groomed yet today. Then I ran into Dave working the trails on that side of the system. Most trails in Strykersville are good to excellent tonight, though some need more snow.

Everything out in Java Center has been freshly groomed today and is good to excellent. C4A through the Java woods had not yet been groomed in places, but likely will be soon. It was fair - bumpy and thin.

S43 was freshly groomed and good to very good (thin snow in many places still). C4a and C4 along the old rail bed towards Varysburg had been freshly groomed and were generally good but need another pass or two of the groomer because of the heavy traffic over the weekend.

Some of the best riding on the system was on C4 north of Byrncliff towards Bennington and Attica and on parts of C4H that I rode. These trails had benefited from being groomed yesterday morning and again today. They were very good to excellent!

All in all, the grooming guys are working hard to put the trails right after a weekend of heavy sled traffic pounded the trails. More snow is on the way. I expect that we'll have outstanding riding this coming weekend!

Here are a few more pictures from my afternoon ride. I might have taken more, but I was having a ball! My new Turbo passed the 500 mile mark on the ride which is a break in point. It was running strong! And by coincidence, I ran into Bill K. on the trail who is a fellow Z1 Turbo owner - we were both out solo and just happened to meet up.

 

Monday, January 12, 1 PM:

The Folsom Trailblazers grooming crews are right on the ball after a weekend of very heavy sled traffic. On our tour of the trails this morning, much of the south side of the system including most of the Java to Strykersville trails were already groomed. There was action over in Varysburg at the groomer barn, so the rest of the trails may also get groomed today?

I met Dave with one of the groomers, and he said his only concern was how many sleds were already out this morning before the trails could "set". SO if you are going out today (I am), take it easy and ride smoothly on the freshly groomed trails.

Today's pictures here. I am leaving to ride in a few minutes and will post pictures from the trails later tonight.

Sunday, January 11th, Noon:

Meghan and I just got back from riding nearly the whole Folsom trail system this morning. Your riding conditions this afternoon will vary widely, from only fair in many wooded sections where moguls are building (also on the A&A), to very good in field sections to excellent on the trail from Byrncliff up to Bennington, where Mike groomed two fresh passes just this morning.

FYI - the entire trail system was groomed over the past 36 hours. But extremely heavy sled traffic yesterday and again this morning has pounded many of the trails. Just think while you are riding how much worse it would be if the groomer guys had not been out at all. Their work over this weekend has packed in a good base and with winter here finally, things will only get better over the next week.

Click here for some pictures around the trails from this morning. I'll post another report later tonight.

Saturday, January 10, 4PM: pictures from this afternoon here

Can you spell "Pent up demand"? The Byrncliff parking lots and the trails were jammed today. There was grid lock in the parking lots, and there were many groups of ten or fifteen riders on the trails. Seems like everyone has been waiting for a snowy weekend. I rode most of the southern half of the trail system.

Riding today and tonight was and will be fair to good. I passed a groomer three times, so they are out there working the thin snow. There are still a few open water holes, but they are freezing up. Some places where the groomer has been, they have kicked up dirt because of the thin base. Where snow has drifted in or settled, riding is good. Where it is blown thin, conditions are very marginal and bumpy on corn stubble or plowed fields.

Snow is coming down pretty steadily over a wide area as I write. Four to eight inches is expected. We will have a pretty good base after this weekend, but the very heavy sled traffic will have it packed thin. That's probably good for building a base.

Because of the grooming and the thin snow, few moguls have built up. Any bumps are from no snow cover over uneven ground.

Expect these same conditions tonight, with LOTS of sleds out. Visibility is already marginal because of the heavy snowfall, so keep that in mind when making your plans.

Sunday the snow will end early and riding conditions should be good with more snow on the ground. Moguls will be building if there is very heavy sled traffic again tomorrow, which I would expect. Pictures here

Friday, January 9th, 1PM:

I took a long drive around the Folsom trails this morning. Click here for some pictures.

Riding conditions are fair to quite good in many places. There have been a number of sleds out and pretty much everyplace, the 8" or so of new snow has been packed down a bit on the trails. But it is still pretty soft, powder riding where the snow is deeper. Looked like fun! There will be thin spots on west facing hillsides and I saw a few slushy areas that had not completely frozen up.

There were five trailers already at Byrncliff by late morning and I passed several groups of riders while I was taking pictures.

It looks like the majority of today's lake effect may miss our riding area to the south, but there will be some snow every day for the next week or more. Things will get better and better. I would expect the groomers to be out over the next few days, certainly right after what looks like a busy riding weekend! Next week should provide us with some primo riding conditions. (How about it, Groomer Boys? - a big Monday push to clean up the weekend mess and give us some great riding during next week?)

Thursday, January 8, 4PM:

With 8" to 10" of new snow across the area along with strong winds, the trails are now open again, with widely varying conditions. Some hillsides are near bare others heavy snow cover. Water and mud holes are still open in some places but should be frozen up soon. Some snow is in the forecast nearly every day for the next week, including a couple of significant snow events. Things will be getting better and better! We'll post some new pictures and a first hand report tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9PM:

Finally! Winter seems to be arriving for real over the next few days and will likely stick around for a while. The trails should be useable again by tomorrow (check the Folsom Club site to see if they have reopened officially). Snow is expected nearly every day for the next week, so conditions will get better and better.

The long range weather discussions on the NOAA website talk of a serious arctic air mass coming our way from next Wednesday or so through the following week. Their wording is that this may lead to "some impressive lake snows". Bring it on!!

Tuesday, January 7th:

Local trails are officially closed until we get more snow. Not that many would want to be out in this mess tonight or Wednesday, anyway! Sleet and freezing rain will continue overnight and for much of Wednesday. But better things are on the way. Winter returns tomorrow night and wintry conditions, including some lake effect patterns, will persist for the next week. I see a good chance that we'll have good riding conditions this coming weekend!

In the meantime, Meghan and I got tired of waiting and took a quick one day trip to Old Forge today. Click this link for a few pictures. Riding was very good, though the base was very icy. They sure do a nice job of grooming up there with the amount of snow they have to work with. If you're thinking of going, they do have a solid base on all the trails and just need a little more new snow for excellent conditions. That may be coming tonight, with a possible 6" to 12" or more.

Monday, January 5th, 11AM:

The Folsom club trails are for all practical purposes "closed" until further notice. Lots of you have been out riding in spite of the marginal conditions and the thin base has been pounded. Trails are turning to "snirt" in many places or even bare. Time to lay off completely until we hopefully get some new snow later this week. Perhaps by Thursday?

Meghan and I are loading up this afternoon for a one day visit to Old Forge. We'll post a report when we get back Wednesday morning.

Sunday, January 4th:

No changes to report, no new snow, but didn't lose any either. Riding conditions will continue "fair" with thin base over the next few days.

A wintry mix and some rain is likely Tuesday night into Wednesday. With night temperatures remaining below freezing and daytime only getting to the mid 30's, we should keep most of our base on the area trails. A few already thin southwest facing hillsides may go bare in places. A snow event returns on Wednesday night and Thursday, hopefully giving us just enough to continue with marginal riding conditions into next weekend. Keep your fingers crossed, as a slight change in the path of the mid week cold front could give us more or less snow.

 

Really in need of a riding fix? Old Forge is holding fair to good conditions. Tug Hill is variable, but we have some reports of good conditions in places. Muskoka area in Ontario where I ride most often needs more snow and trails are still closed most places. North Bay area and North is beginning to open up with good riding on some trails, but still spotty.

Good riding is reported in "the Ganny" (Ganaraska Provincial forest about an hour and a half east of Toronto.)

Upper Michigan has had trails open for some time, with variable conditions.

Write me if you have any other reports, good or bad, from distant snowmobiling destinations and I will post them here.

 

January 3rd, a nice day, but:

Thanks to Paul R.Z., you all get an "extra" trail report today. I wasn't going to go out and check the trails today, since indications were that very little new snow fell since yesterday. But Paul sent me the message below, and how can you not go out and do a fresh trail report after reading something like that? Thanks for the kind words, Paul. You cost me a few extra gallons of gas!

Today's trail conditions? Just about like yesterday, but whiter. Fair riding with thin snow on a very thin packed base. Very bumpy on many field sections. Some fields are good; some hillsides drifted in and fun riding. Most water holes beginning to freeze up.

We did get a dusting to maybe a little over an inch of new snow in most areas. The lake effect plume last night settled just to the south of our riding area and did not help us much. The bright sun on the thin new snow cover this morning made for good pictures. See this link. I made them bigger than usual today since they looked so good!

The present cold weather will hold overnight tonight, so the current fair to occasionally good riding conditions will be there for you. Light rain expected tomorrow morning, but barely above freezing and not lasting long, so it should not wash us out. Next significant snow is expected Tuesday night and Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Here's Paul's note:

Hi Tom,

I saw in your photo link from today something about "where the Pub used to be - we will miss them." I hope that the Strykersville Pub is not gone! Tell me it isn't so.

Your reports just get better all the time. Thank you for all your hard work to help us stay informed about conditions. Your site is a fine example of accurate, current and dependable communication for the sledding community. I have and will continue to spread the word of your web site.

Hope to see you on the trail,

Paul R. Z.

 

 

January 2, 10PM:

Any lake effect out on the trails?

Here on my farm in East Aurora, there is only a disappointing dusting of new snow. But the radar has shown a pretty active lake plume just south of here and spreading out to the southern parts of our riding area all evening. If anyone's out there, pop me an email and let me know if there is much new snow on your part of the trail system.

PS - Thanks to Paul for the nice words - yes, the Pub has closed its doors. It has been sold to new owners who reportedly are planning to reopen as a restaurant again. But we will miss Dawn, Mich, and the rest of the old Pub crew. It was a fine place to stop on the trails!

January 2nd, noon:

I'm going to quote below Mike's Trail Report for today posted over on the "Folsomtrailblazers.org" website. It's just what I would have written for today:

" Friday Jan 2 2009 9:00AM 28 Degrees Cloudy

Happy New Year!

Most trail conditions are in fair shape as of now. I have gotten reports of some good areas but for the most part we have no base, so fair conditions will be the norm. Snow is in the forecast for today and tonight so maybe if we do get it we can do something with it with the groomers. The trails I seen look to be well packed down in areas so maybe we can get a base established once again. In the meantime if you do get out there, be prepared to deal with the stones, pebbles and whatever else is under the slim cover of snow we have out there, so be careful."

= = = =

Meghan and I drove around through Strykersville and Sheldon this morning and took a few pictures (this link). There was pretty heavy sled traffic yesterday and all the trails are pounded flat with some dirt showing through here and there. Very thin base now, but at least there is something to freeze up. If we get towards the high end of the 4" to 6" inches of snow forecast for the next 24 hours, there might be just enough to groom.

We'd also like to thank Jim, a rider from the Rochester area who we met at Byrncliff yesterday for sending us the following report:

"Hello – I just wanted to let you know that I did check out your website today.   It took me a little while to remember the URL but I did it.  I was the short guy with the blue and black Polaris jacket that you were talking to yesterday.     Nice writeup about yesterday.    We went back to Letchworth a different way – took the trail from Varysburg east (can not remember what it was – new trail just before the Citgo) then we caught up with I think 40 and then back to Silver Springs.   Much better than down by Java.   The further north it seemed to be better.

 

Keep the reports up and maybe see you again.  

 

Jim"

January 1, 2009, 4PM:

Happy New Year! (Today's pictures at this link)

Meghan and I just got back from riding some of the Folsom Trails. Riding conditions are generally "fair" with a few good spots here and there. All that fresh white fluffy snow is inviting to look at, but there is NO BASE anywhere. You cut down through the 8 inches of powder and your carbides are constantly snagging rocks and gravel. The corn fields are brutal.

If you feel patriotic about the snowmobiling nation, yes, you should be out there now packing this mess down to a solid base. If you feel smart, stay home and let someone else pound their sleds! Better riding conditions are coming soon, with another 3 to 5 inches of snow tomorrow night.

Meghan and I did actually have a fun ride today. In spite of the marginal trail conditions, it was a gorgeous sunny day with lots of fresh powder on all the evergreen trees. (Lumplets, Meghan calls the snow on the trees) We rode up over the hill from Byrncliff, down the rail bed, and out through the Java wooded trails which were lovely. Many field trails on that side of the system are pretty good and the A&A trail is just starting to mogul up.

If you are thinking of going out tonight or Friday, there is "ok, fair condition" riding. Just be ready for the stuff you'll snag as your skiis kick up rocks and pebbles.

The Grooming Dilema:

To groom or not to groom, that is ALWAYS the question. There was decent sled traffic all around the Folsom system today, so the powder has been beaten down a bit. It could benefit from dragging and packing. But grooming conditions are marginal; there will be several more inches of new snow tomorrow afternoon and evening, so there is an argument for waiting another day or two. So, you sledders out there, that's the kind of decision facing your trail bosses and groomer operators. Those of us who ride and don't help maintain the trails would always prefer the extra groomer runs if it were up to us. But the guys doing the work and keeping track of budgets have to make tough choices sometimes. Just over a week ago, the Folsom grooming crews put all their trails in excellent shape right before a thaw. There was a day and a half, maybe, of fine riding! Then it all melted.

I was one of those who got a chance to ride on some of those fine trails, so I'm glad they did what they did.

To achieve the best possible riding this weekend, the guys would have to go out and drag the thinly covered powdery trails tonight and tomorrow to help prepare a halfway decent base, and then do it all over again tomorrow night and Saturday after the new snow falls. And the weekend trails then would still only be fair to good with a thin base. Is it worth it? Not my decision.

 

December 31st, 1PM:

Click this link for a few pictures taken out in Sheldon near Byrncliff this morning. A few solitary sleds had been through the trails sometime this morning. There is 6" to 8" of new powder snow, with more coming down in scattered snow squalls which are expected to continue for much of this afternoon. A few inches more expected tonight.

Today there are blustery winds and occasional white outs. Drive or ride carefully in Wyoming County.

We saw some open water holes. Watch for washouts and down trees from the wild weather the past week. Call in trail damage reports to trail bosses or email them to us and we'll pass them on. Stop and drag fallen branches off the trail as you ride. Every little bit helps.

Cold nights and day temps at or below freezing for the next week should put the trail system back in business!

We plan to ride tomorrow after the wind dies down and some of YOU break trails for us!

December 29th:

Think snow and keep your fingers crossed. 3" to 5" forecast for much of western NY tomorrow night. Five inches might marginally get us back riding!

Expect significant problems in the woods due to the major flooding all across western New York and the high winds the past few days. If you can volunteer some help, get in touch with your club officers or the trail bosses.

December 26:

Surprisingly, there is still a snow and ice base on many of the trails. Nothing I'd want to ride on, but there were tracks here and there indicating a few hardy souls have been out to try some riding. You all have heard the weather reports; high 50's over the weekend and that will be the end of any kind of trails for a few days. The colder weather returns New Year's Eve and we'll hope for some more snow. I probably won't report anything until then. Click this link to see a couple of pictures taken this morning on C4A in Sheldon.

 

Christmas Day:

Happy Holidays to all of you. I did not go out and check any trails today, but the rain and warm weather yesterday were brutal on the trails here on my farm. There may be a little fair condition riding here and there on the marked trail system tonight and early tomorrow, but then it goes up to near 60 Saturday! Next sustained cold weather is not until New Year's Eve day, and not much snow in the forecast even then. Take a week off or travel.

Wednesday, December 24, 10AM:
PLEASE stay off the trails today while it is warm and raining. If we leave them alone today (you should be doing your last minute shopping, anyway!), they should still be in decent shape for some good to very good riding on Christmas day when it will be below freezing again with a little fresh snow. Temperature will drop to 19 on Thursday night and freeze things up nicely for a fair to good riding day on Friday with temperatures in the high 30's. Weather conditions Thursday night may even justify grooming again.

Saturday? Do you really want to see it in print? High near 60. Enough said.

 

Tuesday, December 23, 5:20PM:

I will post a much more complete trail report very soon. In the meantime, if you're considering a ride on the Folsom area trails this week, get on out there tonight or very early tomorrow. Nearly all Folsom trails were groomed yesterday, last night, or today. Riding conditions are good to excellent nearly everyplace on the system. Riding conditions in Western New York will rapidly deteriorate the rest of the week with very warm day time temps, rain, and night temps barely below freezing, if that. Tonight is the night!

OK - now for some details. I wrote the above paragraph after coming in the door from riding nearly all of the Folsom system today. Then jumped in the shower and feel much better now! Click here for an album of pictures from around the trails today. The conditions reported below may have gotten worse from the sleds out there this afternoon, or better, since some of the groomers were still working today. I will report very well groomed trails as excellent even if there are still a few open water holes (which there are - see pictures!); we are still in early season conditions.

We left Byrncliff about 10:45 this morning and took S41 west (good conditions in the morning; excellent in the afternoon after another grooming). We came on fresh groomer tracks and turned north on C4B towards Folsomdale, with more excellent conditions, except for the very thin snow and bumps on the west facing Hillside near Dutch Hollow Road (still excellent tonight with another groomer run). We followed the trail towards Marilla until we caught up to the groomer. This trail was groomed to the end of the Folsom system today (two passes) - excellent conditions.

We came back the way we came and took C4B south towards Strykersville (good to very good conditions from grooming yesterday).

Then took S43A through the woods (good conditions) and down into Strykersville (excellent conditions; fresh grooming). Turned around and ran C4A from Strykersville to Beaver Meadows and the camp ground (very good to excellent with fresh grooming.)

Then took C3C south towards Java Center and Arcade - more excellent conditions on the Folsom trails right up to the end of our trails, then no more grooming on the adjacent club system.

Returned and took C4A through the fields and woods towards North Java - EXCELLENT conditions! Lots of snow on the pine trees in the woods - just beautiful riding!

Then we ran C4A and C4 north up the railbed towards Varysburg. Good to very good conditions. The railbed had been groomed quite recently, but the base is not fully setup and it starts to get bumpy again quickly. There were quite a few sleds out today.

Back over to Byrncliff on C4 with conditions ranging from good to excellent. The restaurant has not started opening for lunch on week days yet, so we saddled up again and took S41 again towards Sheldon (now freshly groomed and excellent; then rode all the way to Kodiak Jack's in Marilla, with excellent conditions on the Folsom system, but very bumpy on the Marilla trails - heard their groomer is broke.

We rode part way to Bennington on excellent trails, but heard at mid-day that not all trails in Bennington were groomed yet, and we did not check ourselves.

Summary: Hat's off to the trail bosses and groomer crews for an excellent job of early season trail grooming! They easily could have decided not to groom at all. A lot of money was spent grooming trails the past two days and it's all very likely to melt down over the rest of the week. But here in western New York with weather the way it has been in recent years, you MUST seize any opportunity to groom when you can have even a day or two of great riding.

And maybe the weather reports will turn out to be too pessimistic. Maybe it won't quite all melt and we'll have a good base when it gets cold again. Anyway, I approve of the decision to invest the time and money now.

Tonight (Tuesday night) the trails are in very good to excellent condition most places. Watch out for the occasional open water hole and other early season obstacles, down branches, etc. Light snow will fall all night until it turns to rain around 3am, so watch the poor visibility.

Click this link for today's pictures.

Monday, December 22, 3PM: Today's pictures at this link

Thanks again to Jim from the Folsom club for calling in progress reports on the grooming. He called around noon and said that the groomers were working the Sheldon area this morning (which I saw - see pictures from today here). He also said that all the trails in the Folsom system would be groomed by tonight.

Atta boys! It would have been easy to decide to punt on the grooming this week since we're likely to have a big warm-up from Wednesday on. But I think it was the right call to go all out today. I drove my car around the system taking pictures and checking on the trails - I nearly got a woody when I saw the fresh groomed part of C4B next to Dutch Hollow Road!

We should have excellent riding conditions tomorrow (Tuesday), and it will be wonderful to have the whole trail system groomed up for that day. And it will pack in a base that just MIGHT hold up until it gets cold again.

Today's riding conditions will range from good most places with fresh powder on the trails to excellent where the groomers hit. Do remember that we're still in the first few days of riding for the season and watch out for open water holes or other obstructions on the trails. Ride defensively. It is still very windy in the Folsom area today and even on fresh groomed trails, expect drifting. West facing hillsides will have thin snow because of the prolonged period of high winds.

How much snow is there? It's nearly impossible to say with all the blowing and drifting. I've had reports of nearly two feet, but I doubt there is anywhere near that most places. I measured only 6 to 8 inches in Stykersville this morning and the plow drifts along most of the highways were not that impressive. I would say most of the trail system got less than a foot of new snow on average. But that is enough.

Plan to ride tomorrow before the big warmup on Wednesday. Stay off the trails during the warm spells this week, and they just might hold up until it gets cold again. Most nights this week will get below freezing, so night riding should be OK. Have fun!

 

December 21, Sunday, 2:30 PM:

I just had a call from Jim S., one of the groomer operator/trail bosses for the Folsom Club. He was calling from the groomer just as he was finishing grooming from Byrncliff over the hill through Varysburg and down the rail bed trail, then back over S43 to Rte # 77. The groomer was soon going out with another operator to finish the southern half of the Folsom trail system. Jim told me that one of the other club groomers was gone from the shop when he started, and he thinks that it is working the trails on the Bennington side.

Jim tells me the groomers will be running every day except Wednesday when temps in the 40's are forecast. Based on these reports, there should be very good riding Tuesday after the "storm" (not such a storm so far), and not bad the rest of the week so long as we don't get too much rain when it is warm.

Tuesday will be your best day to ride, then at night when it is below freezing most days the rest of the week. Try to stay off the trails Wednesday when it is supposed to be very warm and with possible rain.

 

December 20, Saturday, 5 PM:

Trails are open and Meghan and I made a couple of short loops. Riding conditions this afternoon typical early season fair to good in spots. Click this link for an album of pictures from this afternoon.

The groomers were out on some of the trails, especially near the new groomer barn. It helped and was good for packing in a base even though the snow is thin. The ground is snow covered most places except for corn stalks showing through, some plowed fields, and on west facing hillsides where the strong winds the other day scoured the hillsides.

Generally, there was enough snow for good riding, and except as noted above, many trails were early season good. The problems were the open mud and water holes. Everything was thinly frozen first thing this morning after a cold night, but not thick enough to stand up to sled traffic. By mid day nearly every water hole was wide open and you needed to water-skip across or find a detour around.

If you're planning a ride tonight or Sunday before the storm, we recommend heading out of Byrncliff on C4 and C4A towards Java. Meghan and I rode part of that and met riders who saidf the rest to Java was pretty good. We also had a good ride on C4B and S43 from south of #20A towards Strykersville. (S43 is closed from Bartz to Parry Roads temporarily)

We ran into the worst water holes on C4B where it loops north of #20A. Other riders reported a lot of mud towards bennington.

There was a decent amount of sled traffic on the trails, with 15 to 20 sleds parked at Byrncliff much of the day. We saw lots of sleds on the trails. Oddly, there were only two trailers at Byrncliff all afternoon, so most of the riders rode their sleds to the trail system or were locals. The heavy traffic packed the trails well, and they should freeze up much better by the time the new snow arrives beginning tomorrow. Lots of it, it sounds like! Should be ten to fifteen inches over the next 48 hours. We should have nice riding Tuesday after the storm lets up.

Then, unfortunately, another warm up - what's new? Depending on exactly what happens, we may keep much of the snow until the next cold front - stay tuned on that, but plan to ride Tuesday, and then at night for the rest of the week.

 

December 18, Thursday:

The thin snow cover over most of our riding area seems to be holding up well with colder night time temps. Hopefully we'll get some frost in the ground before the more significant general snow fall tomorrow and Saturday. I wish it were just a little colder today. But it looks like we will have temps in the teens at night for a period of four or five days beginning Saturday, so if the trails are opened and get heavy use this weekend (likely), we should have a decent frozen trail base by the beginning of next week.

Check the Folsom Trailblazers club website to see when Mike calls the trails as "Open". I have fixed the link to the club website, which changed from last year to a .org web address.

 

December 17th, Wednesday:

There was a widespread light snow across western New York last night, with barely two inches near my farm in East Aurora, and only a little more here and there around the Folsom trail system. The trails formally opened today, but conditions will be marginal with thin snow and open mud holes. The Folsom club website calls the trails "Closed" still.

 

Still - as soon as the Folsom club announces the trails "Open" or "Limited", it would be a good thing if some of you eager beavers got out and started packing them down . The base will freeze up better if there's been a little sled traffic. Temperatures will be dropping over the next five or six days and there are TWO significant snow events forecast - one Friday and another Sunday night. If we keep packing in the trails as some of this snow comes down, it will help give us a nice base in case winter stays a while!

Remember, after the trails are announced "Open", it is early season riding. Be very careful. And watch for detours in the trails where some land owners have not harvested a late corn crop. Most of those spots will have signed detours or obvious ways to ride around the edge of the corn field and pick up the trail again on the other side.

 

Soon you will be able to enjoy, carefully!

 

December 16th:

Well, looks like some decent snow coming this week after all! But we are exactly on the line between all snow and mixed precipitation. Luck will tell whether we have marginal riding or lots of snow for the next week. Keep your fingers crossed. After this weekend the outlook is for an extended cold snap, so whatever we get may stay around for a while this time. Decent storm forecast for Friday. We may even get groomed trails over the weekend!

 

December 13th:

Want to ride? Well, if you have a friend with a farm in the Folsom area, you can blast around tomorrow (Saturday). Then it's up to the 50's and it will all melt on Sunday and Monday. Cooling off again next week just as the trails in our area officially open, but it does not sound like there will be much snow for opening day on our trails. Time to travel if you want to ride NOW.

 

Old Forge is open and grooming. This is Snodeo weekend there, so it will be packed.

Tug Hill has snow, and spotty conditions, with trails, I believe, not yet officially open.

Muskoka region of Ontario has tons of snow and a few trails are beginning to open, but most are not yet listed as open because the swamps and lakes are not yet frozen.

A lot of guys are getting in riding in Michigan, both the lower part and the UP.

December 10, 2008:

If this week's weather forecast has a familiar feel, it's because it's about like what we had two years ago. Some great early December riding, and then it all melted just as the trail system opened. Sure enough, after getting in 5 good hours of riding on my own farm to break in my new Z1 Turbo (yeah!), we're in the middle of a soaking rain that should melt everything in western New York. Another sharp cold front comes the next few days to tease us, and then another big time warmup. Does not sound promising for local riding anytime soon.

NEW - Hubba - Hubba!

First riding of 2008 - 2009 season?

Here in East Aurora we had our first snow flakes of the 2008/2009 season last week, and a few of you may actually be riding around fields in the higher elevations Tuesday and Wednesday of this week! Get your sled fired up if you live in hill country. The lake effect machine may fire up in the higher elevations. Hopefully this will be a good omen for the coming season.

I hope so! I've got a 2009 Cat on order.

 

Video: Try this link to see a video of riders on one of the trails yesterday. If you have a fast broadband connection, click on "Quicktime" for a higher quality video. Email me and let me know what you think and if the quality is good enough, we'll post more online video next season.

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Thank You Notes:

I put a lot of time into this website during the riding season, and I enjoy it. When I hear from guys who have found the information useful, it makes my day! Thanks go out to these guys who have taken the time to write me!

Mike O. wrote:

Tom,
I really appreciate your web site. I check it everytime before I go out and you're very honest & accurate with your trail conditions. thanks........... Mike

This below came in from Paul Z - thanks, Paul!:

Tom,
Thanks for the very helpful website. Your up-to-date information has allowed my friends and me to take advantage of some great riding conditions. Because of your hard work and skillful reporting, we were able to ride and enjoy your beautiful area much more than otherwise would have been possible. if other areas of WNY had dedicated snowmobilers such as yourself willing to give very current trail reports (along with those great guys in the groomers), I'm sure far fewer trips would be made to Ontario, The Hill and Old Forge.
The pics are from today, and I'm sure you know where we were.
Thanks again,
Paul

Paul added: By the way, will you be doing road reports for Wyoming County this summer when I'm out on my motorcycle? Just kidding.

Har, Har, har! My wife is still laughing her ass off six hours after reading that, Paul! She thinks I am just about addicted enough to our morning drives that I might fall for that!

Mike S. writes:

Tom, I am relatively new to snowmobiling and ride the Folsom trails often. I have come to depend on your daily reports in deciding when and where to ride. Thank you for your tireless efforts in providing such an excellent and important venue to get the trail conditions. Hope you will do it again next year, Mike S.

Thanks, Mike. I probably will again, but I will be asking for help if anyone else is interested in doing it part time. We'll also try to expand our coverage to some of the adjoining club trail systems.

 

  Think snow!

 NOTE: The Folsom Trailblazers club website also posts some trail condition reports here. Using our more frequent reports, along with those on the club website, you can confirm or get different impressions of the conditions.

Update, March 28th: some pretty snow pictures from today

Winter just won't go away! Although local trails in western New York remain officially closed to my knowledge, there will be plenty of chances for local riding around the region this weekend. Thanks to up to five or six inches of snow in areas last night, and temperatures down to 20 tonight and tomorrow night, you'll be able to find plenty of good spots to play if you live in the country. Respect landowners and only ride where you know you're welcome.

If you want to travel, it looks like one more weekend of generally good to very good riding in Ontario. There's still plenty of snow on the trails (bare roads, though). Temperatures will drop to the low teens at night over the weekend before rain and much warmer weather finally reach Ontario next week.

Click on the link above or here to see some "winter wonderland" pictures Meghan and I took on a morning drive today (not on the trail system). I'm headed out of town for all of next week, so this may be my last official "trail report" of the year. I will be writing articles about snowmobiling and reorganizing this website in the coming weeks, so stop back and visit from time to time! Thanks for being part of this website this season.

- Tom

Update, March 26, 8PM:

A guy who goes by "Muskoka Minute" on the Hard Core Sledder Ontario forum is the grooming coordinator for the Muskoka Sno-Bombers in Bracebridge area. He posted this morning that he has 14" to 16" of new snow in his driveway from last night, and they groomed many trails last night. Read the below paragraph and head for Muskoka region for great spring riding!! Looks like sun and slightly above freezing temperatures tomorrow will melt what's on road sections, but the trails should be generally very good the following few days, with nightly temps in the low teens.

Wish my sleds weren't broken down:(

Update, March 26:

Winter is dribbling away as daytime temps warm here in western New York. But central Ontario got heavy snow yesterday and will have very cold night time temperature for most of the rest of this week. Conditions today will be excellent in the Muskoka region and they expect to be riding into April! Best riding in recent years. Click here to go to the hard Core Sledder Ontario discussion forum.

Consensus is that best riding is in the Huntsville - Bracebridge - Dorset - Dwight area and also south and east of there. Snow actually is much thinner as you go north towards North Bay.

Update, March 24th, Monday:

We did a drive through check of the Folsom trails this morning, and the bare spots are growing. Trails are officially closed and I think this is it for the season. Still plenty of spots where locals are playing around in the remaining snow.

IF YOU REALLY WANT TO RIDE - my sources and the various websites indicate excellent conditions still in parts of Ontario. From my recent trip experience and what locals are saying on the net, I'd go to Huntsville - Dwight - Dorset region. They had LOTS of snow a couple of weeks ago and the most recent storm on March tenth hit hardest in the area just to the south and east of Huntsville (Dorset - Dwight). They were still grooming most of those trails this past weekend, and riders are reporting the best conditions of the year in some places with very light traffic. There are bare roads where the trail runs a road, but that is only a few spots. There is still three to four feet of snow in the bush when you step off the trails!

Update, Sunday, March 23:

Happy Easter everyone!

There is some decent riding in our area here and there still as the thin snowcover slowly melts in the strong sunshine. The very cold nights have been helpful, and we could have great riding around my farm in East Aurora if I hadn't broken the motors on both my sleds last week!

GREAT STILL in Ontario! - - - there is still excellent riding on well groomed trails in central Ontario. There were many reports over the weekend of the best riding conditions of the year between Bracebridge, Huntsville, and Algonquin. There is still FOUR FEET of snow in the wooded areas! Although many roads have gone bare in the bright sun, all the woods trails are still great. There will be continued very cold night temperatures most of next week and it is even supposed to snow again for several days.

I would be on my way back up if I hadn't burned down my ZRT motors due to some mysterious simultaneous problem. (Low oil? Water in gas? Other mystery?)

Have fun with some of the latest spring riding in recent years if you can take off a few days for Canada!

Update, March 20, Noon:

We've had two to almost three inches of snow in the Folsom hills as of noon, with more light snow falling. I just did a drive around and found the trails and fields covered. I would not ride this afternoon, since it has been pretty warm and nothing is frozen up. Trails remain officially closed.

But tomorrow and Saturday may be another story. Temperatures will be dropping to the low 20's tonight and to 16 tomorrow and Saturday nights. If we hold the snow we have and things freeze up, there could be some riding this weekend. Certainly there will be ditch banging opportunities for locals and a chance for anyone who needs to try out a new sled at home. Check with the Folsom club website to see if they open the trails again after things freeze up tomorrow. I can see the call going either way.

Update, March 18, noon:

The Folsom area trails are again closed until further notice. Probably for the rest of the season, although there will be cold temps this weekend. But only a little snow is in the forecast.

I will be posting stories on this website off and on until next season. I'm especially interested in hearing from those of you who regularly go out of town to ride with your favorite destinations, favorite hotels & motels, and special tips for those who are new to Road Trip Snowmobiling. We'll try to develop a library of useful out of town riding information.

I expect to post trail reports again next year. But we now have two good sources for Folsom area trail reports. Since Mike took over the club website their trail reports are much better than in previous years. Maybe Mike and I will spell each other or check different parts of the trail system next year. One way or another there will be very good trail condition reports for the Folsom Trailblazers system next season!

On a personal note, after riding older ZRT 600 sleds for the past 12 years, I put down a deposit on a new Cat today. It's the first brand new sled I've ordered in a long time, and the first time I've ever done a spring "Snow Check" order where I'll have to wait six months to see my new toy! But I will be in the modern age next season with the latest in suspension technology - very exciting.

Update, March 17th, 9AM:

Because of last night's very cold temperatures, Folsom area trails have officially been opened again for one last day today. PLEASE stay off bare spots on fields in respect to land owners.

But you will find fair to good conditions in many areas. Get out there quick for one last ride before things warm up in the bright sun this afternoon! Hve fun. This is probably it. Some very cold weather coming again this weekend, but not much chance of worthwhile snow.

Update, March 16, Sunday, 1PM: todays pictures - better than we thought

Just got home from a trail check. Although many of us thought yesterday that the trails would be mostly gone today, it's not so. Click above to see pictures taken near Byrncliff two hours ago.

There was heavy cloud cover in the region all day yesterday, and that helped a lot. We lost much less snow than would otherwise have been the case. With below freezing overnight last night and a light new snow this morning, I would call the trails in the area fair to good early spring conditions. There will be slushy spots and some of the hilltops are going bare. But there's plenty of places you could play or test a new sled today and tonight it is getting quite cold (down to 19). Except for the hillsides and windblown hilltops, the trail base is still decent almost everywhere.

Tomorrow morning there could be some excellent riding. That said, the Folsom Club website has not updated since Mike called the club trails closed yesterday. Unless they update with a "limited - open" announcement, respect the club's request and stay off club trails, especially any thin to bare areas where you could tear up a landowner's crops or turf.

Update, March 16th, 9AM:

We're getting moderate snow showers here at our farm in East Aurora now, over a lightly frozen and crusty snow base after a night of slightly below freezing temperatures. We'll have good riding on our farm today. Ride at your own discretion on formal trails and respect land owners where trails are thin to bare. Most area clubs list trails as "closed", even though there are fair to good conditions still in many places.

Update, March 15th - about Done

Hello everyone. The Folsom Trailblazers club website calls their trails as closed unless more snow and colder temps indicate otherwise. So that's probably about it for formal riding in our area this year. There is still a fair amount of snow and trail base in the area, so you could ride with spring conditions (but not on Folsom Trails which are announced as closed). With forecast drop in temperatures, there will be some field riding for locals who want to play for about three more days.

We will be posting a few long trip reports and other stories of interest to snowmobilers here in the coming weeks. Check back if you're bored and in need of a snowmobiling "fix".

We expect to be maintaining this website again next year, though the recently improved trail reports on the Folsom Club website make us less important to the area. We'll likely do some trail reports and more human interest snowmobiling stories next year. I'm also interested in offering more detailed recommendations and trip reports to help people with less experience doing "road trips" plan their out of town snowmobiling. Personally, I've become more and more discouraged with snow conditions here in western New York. Meghan and I made three out of town riding trips this season and plan more next year.

Have a great off season and check back here now and then.

- Tom

Update, March 14, 2PM:

Click here for today's pictures. Conditions on the trails are going downhill in a hurry. You can see the slush starting to appear in the fields in some of the pictures. There are still fair to good spring riding conditions today, but slushy spots in low areas and bare spots on hill sides are quickly expanding.

Slightly below freezing temps are expected tonight, and even lower temps Saturday night and Sunday night, with high 30's during the day Saturday and colder Sunday, then high 30's and sun Monday. If the sun stays behind the clouds as expected this afternoon and Saturday and Sunday, I think there will be decent riding on the weekend, especially in the morning while it is still crusty from the cold nights.

Looks like the final big meltdown Tuesday through Thursday of next week.

Check the Folsom Trailblazers website for their trail reports and for info on when the trails are formally closed. Mike has been doing a nice job over there with trail reports recently. Their link is just above today's report here.

Update, March 13th:

Click here for today's pictures. Sorry no captions since I got in late from our trail tour, but I hope you recognize the spots in the pictures. I saw one sled on the trail and one trailer was in the Byrncliff lot. Plenty of snow on the trails still at noon today. There is more sun this afternoon than I had hoped from this morning's forecasts - not good for spring trail conditions. Worse, night time temps look to be only barely below freezing the next few days. So get out and enjoy while the trails last!

We may get a two day period of solid below freezing temps Saturday night into Monday morning, with Sunday night temps in the teens. If most of our base holds up over the weekend (some snow may fall on Sunday), Monday morning could be nice riding.

Then it's into the forty's daytime with cool nights early next week. Spring riding conditions may last into late next week locally. Longer on Tug Hill and perhaps to April 1st in much of Ontario and Quebec!

Update March 12th:

I'm sorry that Meghan and I have missed some of the most important trail reporting weeks with the trips we've taken this winter. We are back now and will post some more reports during the final weeks of this riding season.

Following are two trail reports from Mike Osinski, one of our readers. Thanks to Mike and we welcome reports from any of you out there.

Thanks Tom,

 

here's another update, rode to the park yesterday (tuesday)  from Bliss, once you depart from the RR bed, the snow is thin and the conditions were fair, the park is groomed and in good condition. The RR bed is still in good to very good condition and the groomer was out around Bliss - Hermitage? area.  Bottom line it's March 12 and were still riding on some good to very good conditions.

. Also, we received approx. 1-2" of snow last night The riding should be good on Wednesday.

- Mike

thanks - have a safe ride home.

And another report from Mike yesterday:

 

Tom,

rode last night, all major trails in the Arcade area were groomed - very good to excellent. Also, the RR bed is groomed from Freedom to Bliss and I'm told beyond. Chatted with sledders coming from the Park and they indicated all groomed, but conditions will fade fast with the warmer weather predicted. Also, rode the power line from Colden to Genesee Rd over to Sardina - groomed and very good.

- Mike

Looks like we still have some good spring riding! Although temperatures will be in the high 30's for the next few days, they drop back below freezing every night, and BEST OF ALL, it looks like it is going to be cloudy most of the time. The real killer at this time of year is bright sunshine. I'd guess there will be riding for at least the rest of this week, and maybe a little longer.

Oh, yeah. You want to know how the riding was for Meghan and I in Ontario the past few days? Sorry ladies and kids, there's no other way to put it but, "Fu*&in' Awesome!!!!". Just how awesome? Awesome enough that I almost don't care that a seized the motor on my ZRT just before we came home!

Update, March 8th:

Click here to see just a few pictures from the Folsom trail area today. There were just a few sled tracks on area trails by lunchtime, since some nasty sleet and ice pellets were coming down.

The Folsom club is down to just one groomer for this final weekend, since the 110 has a broken wheel or something. The big groomer was headed out to pack trail when I was out there in the middle of the day taking pictures. They were headed from Byrncliff over the hill to do the A&A railbed and back. Perhaps they'll get more done later tonight and tomorrow. It would be good to get as much packing of trails in as possible since temperatures were warm when this snow began and there is some wet snow under the newer powder from this afternoon. With cold temps tonight, anything that gets packed a bit will freeze up nicely.

I will miss what may be the last nice riding of the year here, since Meghan and I are headed up to Ontario looking for that last perfect ride of the year. Have fun and try to save us a little snow for when we get back before the next, and perhaps final meltdown!

Update, March 7, 3PM:

I did not drive out to look at trail conditions today, but a look out the window and at weather radar on the computer tells me good things are happening! Based on our ride yesterday, I can comfortably predict good riding from now right through the weekend, so long as you don't mind the blowing snow.

WATCH OUT for washouts and such on the trails!

Saturday looks to be pretty stormy, but I'm sure some will ride. The storm looks like it will calm down on Sunday and there should be good riding late in the day. The first half of next week should be good, until we hit another (final?) warmup the middle of to late in the week.

Update, March 6, 4PM: today's pictures here

Meghan and I rode from Byrncliff to Strykersville and back early this afternoon. Although many of the hilltop sections of trail were blown nearly bare, and cornfields and plowed fields were nasty, the ride in general was surprisingly good. Wooded sections were very good, since the blowing snow of the past few days has settled in any sheltered areas like the trail corridors. Field trails over smooth hay fields or along tree lines were also good to very good.

Check the pictures here for today's images. Temperature was 37 degrees at Byrncliff at the end of our ride, so the light snow cover was settling a little. But for the warmest part of the day, it was mostly cloudy and that helped keep most of the snow cover. With temperatures beginning to drop this afternoon to below freezing by this evening, I'd say you could ride tonight with generally fair conditions (good in quite a few places, poor in some).

The Local Riding Forecast:

We have a winter storm watch for our entire western New York area from Friday afternoon through the weekend. It is a tricky forecasting situation, with just a few degrees on Saturday spelling the difference between all snow or mixed sleet and even rain for part of the afternoon. Even with the worst case, we are likely to see nice riding conditions return from late Sunday through Monday and Tuesday, at least.

Best case scenario looks like a possibility of widespread snowfall of a foot or more by Sunday morning. With the long range forecast indicating above normal temperatures again by late in the week, this could be the final decent riding of the year - maybe the final riding period! So, groomer guys, I'd crank up the machinery Saturday night and Sunday night to show us some awesome trails for the few days after this storm!

Meghan and I are probably heading for Ontario Sunday afternoon to try and find one of those really great rides to end our season!

Update, March 5th, noon:

Click here for a few pictures from this morning near Byrncliff. We picked up only about an inch and a half to two inches of snow and ice pellets overnight, but the trails are covered and I think you could ride with fair to in some places good conditions right now. As I write early in the afternoon, we're getting a decent snow flurry. It's supposed to last only a short time, but it may give us the inch or so of good snow we need to have acceptable riding conditions later today and this evening.

 

More snow is forecast for Friday and Saturday, so a decent weekend is shaping up.

Update, March 4, 9PM: today's pictures here

Things are looking up! Check the album of pictures taken on the trail system late this morning. Although the snow almost completely disappeared from the area over the weekend, some base remained, including frozen ground on the actual trails. The dusting of snow during Monday night and early Tuesday morning covered that partially frozen base as you can see in the pictures. There's an especially interesting picture taken from a distance looking at C4B crossing a long field next to Bloecher Road. It shows how there is still a base even though it is very thin.

As of 9PM Tuesday night, an icy, granular precipitation is falling in East Aurora, and radar indicates the same over the trail system. It is not snow, but it is not sleet or ice, either. There's almost an inch already.

If this continues and then turns to snow tomorrow morning, we could be back in business on the Folsom trail system. Just two to three inches would be enough to ride considering the remnants of the frozen trail base shown in today's pictures! Keep your fingers crossed.

Update, March 4th:

What sucky timing! I guess it is a fitting part of a poor snowmobiling year that I'd go to Florida for ten days and most of that time would be acceptable riding here in western New York. Bummer! And just when I come home everything melts! Double bummer!

It does look like winter is returning with a vengeance the last half of this week and into next week, so we may get a bit more riding.

And the north country didn't melt as badly as we did here. Old Forge and Tug Hill will have riding again the rest of the week and beyond. And Ontario is expecting a major winter storm north of Orillia tomorrow on top of lots of snow left from late February.

We'll report more as we check our sources and we'll keep our fingers crossed for local riding.

Update, Tuesday, February 19th:

There hasn't been anything useful to report the past few days after Sunday's meltdown. The Folsom club website listed the trails as closed yesterday.

There is some hope for the lake effect coming down today, but it is spotty. With luck we could see riding conditions return by tomorrow morning, but it is no sure thing. I will be away on a trip to someplace warm for a change the next eight days, so check in with the Folsom Club website for trail conditions until I get home.

Road Trip Information:

In the meantime, maybe it's time for a road trip to real snowmobiling country. In case you haven't been on a road trip recently, I'll give you some information below about my favorite out of town destinations. The problem we face as snowmobilers here in western New York is that although we have a local tradition of snowmobiling, and we do get lake effect snow, we are really only on the very edge of real winter climate. Western New York simply doesn't get quite enough snow, and has thaws that are too frequent for us to be able to count on riding all winter. Lately it seems like one winter out of three strings together several good weeks in a row!

For those willing to drive five to ten hours, better snowmobiling conditions are available. The other lake effect snow regions within driving distance of western New York include upper Michigan with lake snows off Lake Superior and Lake Michigan; the Muskoka region of Ontario, with lake snow off of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay; Tug Hill and Old Forge with lake snow off Lake Ontario enhanced by the higher elevations of Tug Hill and the Adirondacks; and finally Quebec which has both higher elevation in the mountains, a more northern climate, and nearby bodies of water.

Since there are dozens and dozens of good snowmobiling destinations, I invite you readers to send in recommendations on specific places to go riding in the north. We'll try to collect some useful advice here. I have not ridden in Michigan, so I'll hope for a writeup from someone on that area.

Muskoka

When I go to Muskoka, I usually ride between Bracebridge and Huntsville. It's about a five hour drive from my place in East Aurora to Bracebridge. We stay at the Bracebridge "Sleep Inn" motel usually. (www.sleepinnssmarie.ca 705-645-2519) It's a clean, modern motel, right in the middle of Bracebridge with plenty of eating and drinking spots, and the main "D" trail goes right by the front door. Rates are a little under $100 per night.

You can find cheaper motels in the area, or if you want to splurge, the four star Deerhurst resort and conference center is just outside Huntsville and also right on the trails. Rooms at Deerhurst are $125 to $200 or more a night.

Trail permits in Ontario are required and are $90 for a three day pass (minimum - no one day passes anymore) or $235 for a season pass ($180 if you get it early) . Meghan and I usually spend three days in Muskoka and we plan on spending $850 to $1000 for everything, including gas to get there, snowmobile gas, permits, food, and motels.

Old Forge

Some people don't like Old Forge, since you can ride for free on nearby Tug Hill, and you have to pay for permits in Old Forge. Meghan and I prefer Old Forge, since the grooming is outstanding. Trails are groomed nightly by crews paid by the Town of Webb. Town of Webb permits are $45 a week, or $80 a season pass. (Town of Webb visitor center: 315-369-6983 www.oldforgeny.com )

Good motel choices include the Upscale Waters Edge, Clark's Beach Motel, or Christy's Motel where we stayed last week for only $60 a night during the week. Simple motel but very clean and welcoming. (Christy's Motel www.christysmotel.com 315-369-6138 )

We spent about $850 last week to ride three days in Old Forge, including all travel expenses up and back and our expenses and trail passes in Old Forge.

Quebec

This is a vast province of Canada, with many possibilities for great snowmobiling. Meghan and I traveled to the Mount Tremblant region of the Laurentian Mountains a few weeks ago when there was no snow at home. We stayed in St. Donat just outside the Mount Tremblant National Park. Other nearby towns friendly to snowmobiling include St Zennon and St Michael.

The first thing to remember if you're considering a Quebec trip is that it is FAR! We drove nine hours to get there and almost 12 coming home when we detoured through Montreal to sight see. St Donat is about 60 miles northeast of Montreal.

Trail passes in Quebec are $50 a day or $150 for a week. Gas in Canada and especially Quebec is expensive. We were paying over $4.50 a gallon for premium or plus grade.

We spent just over $1200 for a quick trip including 3 nights of motels and two days of riding. Of course if you stay longer, your per day cost will go down.

We stayed at the La Cuillere a Pot motel at a little over $100 a night. Rooms are clean but not very upscale. The bar and restaurant are excellent. They go out of their way to cater to snowmobilers. (We took the "basic" room; I recommend the extra $30 for their "deluxe" rooms.)

(819-424-2252 or 800-567-6704 - be prepared to wait on the line while they get Lee who speaks English! - La Pot website ) Quebec IS a "foreign country" - everyone really does speak French, though they are friendly and most businesses have staff that can speak enough English to take your order. Friendly people.

Theft? We've heard all the rumors about theft in Quebec. I talked to a lot of people, and although it does happen, I don't think it's much more of a problem there than anywhere else. Our theft deterrent plan is simple: we ride five or six year old sleds; we lock them together with a BIG chain and park them for the night right next to two brand new sleds locked up with a smaller chain or cable. Just try to encourage the thief to steal your neighbor's stuff instead of yours!

Summary:

We hope the above information is useful to folks who do not have experience traveling out of town to ride. Send in your report of your own road trip. We'll try to make a collection of specific recommendations from our readers. We'll post a more detailed report of one or more of our road trips soon!

Weekdays are best! The best snowmobiling destinations do get crowded on weekends, and even with perfect trail grooming every night, trails start to get beat up by noon many places. If like us, you can take off during the week, it's the way to go. Conditions are awesome during the week at all the places I've described above!

Update, February 16, 3PM: today's pictures here

Meghan and I rode much of the Folsom trail system today, beginning about 10:30 this morning. Check some pictures here.

We had a good ride with conditions ranging from fair + in the woods and on narrow trails to good and very good in field trails and on some trails that had been recently groomed.

By the time we finished this afternoon, with heavy traffic and strong sun on the trails, conditions had deteriorated a bit but were still fair in the woods and narrow trails to good and very good on most fields. (Fields facing the prevailing winds of this past week were blown thin and plowed fields were a bit bumpy. We still have only five inches or so of snow most places.)

If you're planning to ride tonight or early Sunday morning, conditions will be about what we experienced later this afternoon - fair to good.

We rode out of Byrncliff on S41 and C4B to Strykersville. Most of this ride was good to very good on the way out and getting a bit bumpier on the way back later this afternoon. Then we went on around C4A through Java and over to the A&A railbed trail. Conditions in Java were very good in nearly all fields and fair in the woods.

We checked out part of the A&A - a bit bumpy. A couple we met there said, "We've seen it worse." That's a good way to put it! We doubled back on S43 which is usually one of the smoothest trails on the system, but it was only fair today.

We checked out parts of C4 and C4B north of route #20A, and conditions there were generally good to very good with bumpy sections where the wind had blown snow off the hilltops.

So get out and ride tonight. Temperature will be in the mid teens tonight, allowing good riding again early Sunday, but with rapidly rising temperature Sunday going all the way up to the mid forties.

It's President's Weekend - if I were planning the grooming, I'd go out tonight so we'd have a great half day tomorrow. Three quarters of the trails I rode today would benefit from a groomer pass. The remaining quarter is too thin in snow for it to do any good. So I can understand that the guys may choose not to invest the time in grooming, since we're only going to get in half a day tomorrow.

Update, February 15 (Friday), 9PM: (night pictures here)

We just got home from Old Forge (great conditions and perhaps a record number of sleds for President's Weekend shaping up). We stopped at Byrncliff and checked out some of the surrounding trails on our way home. You should have decent riding in this area over the weekend, especially Saturday and early Sunday morning before another of our nasty warm ups arrives for a brief visit Sunday afternoon.

There were no trailers at Byrncliff when we stopped at about 7PM, but there were quite a few local riders buzzing around on sleds and about a half dozen parked at the resort. There were groomer tracks on trail S41 near Byrncliff, so at least some of the trails have been groomed in spite of the thin snow cover on the ground. I'd estimate the snow depth at 3" to 5" in the area, though it varies a lot because of all the wind the past few days.

The cold temperature today and tonight has put a nice crust on the snow we have, which should make for some fast riding in the morning! I'd call the trail conditions generally good to very good where the groomers have been, but watch out for thin and icy spots and perhaps a few water and mud holes still open.

We'll give you a much more detailed report early Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned.

(weather will suck Sunday afternoon through Monday lunch time. Then colder weather and more snow arrives for much of next week.)

Update, February 12th:

With wind subsiding a bit and some decent snowfall in the forecast for the next day or two, our trails should be looking pretty good by Wednesday and for the rest of the week!

Update, February 10:

I drove out through the Varysburg area this morning to check the trails. It is a miserable day to be outdoors all across western New York! Lots of blowing and drifting snow and frequent white-out conditions. There were a few hardy cross country skiers at Byrncliff, but no trailers or sleds and no visible tracks. There has been very little new snow since Friday, but the high winds have blown some fields bare or nearly bare and dumped the snow in other places. There is still slush showing here and there in low areas, though that should freeze up fast in today's conditions with plunging temperature in the area.

Riding conditions would be fair today if you want to torture yourself out in this weather. Trails generally snow covered except on open fields, with mud holes and slush here and there.

We need snow with less wind to really put the trails back in shape. That looks like it might be Tuesday. I'd plan rides beginning Tuesday night and Wednesday if I were you. We might have that long awaited period of extended decent riding from Wednesday on for the next week or more!

Update, February 8, 9:30PM:

Hi guys,

We just checked out Byrncliff on our way home from a few days in Quebec (awesome!!).

Byrncliff was a ghost town - nobody there at all. There is 2 to 3 inches of snow on the ground with a temperature of 32 degrees. There had been two sleds through on the thin snow covered trail. Riding conditions Saturday morning, if you can't wait, will be thin snow, early season like, with plenty of slush and water holes on the trails. Temperature rising during the day with possible rain. Stay off the trails unless you are desperate.

We need some more snow and real cold temperatures to freeze things up. Which we will get, starting tomorrow night into Sunday! Sounds like a decent dump of lake snow on Sunday and more snow daily all of next week.

And now, to make you feel real bad, here's a picture I took yesterday in Mont-Tremblant National Park north of Montreal:

Update, February 5th:

Nothing I can say. This sucks!

I do not want you to hate me, but since we're in a summer business and I don't have a regular work schedule, Meghan and I are loading up and heading to St Donat north of Montreal for the rest of the week. We'll bring you back pictures! Bye, Bye!

Update February 4th: pics here

Even though it's very warm today, it's been a couple of days since we've seen the trails, so we drove out for a look after lunch. There are only a few sled tracks here and there, which is good. Better to stay off the trails in these very marginal conditions.

But you could go for a little ride in spring conditions if you were desperate. Check the photo's taken today here. There is some base left in most places. I took a ride around my farm when I got home. I live in East Aurora, and our conditions are similar to those on the Folsom trail system. I had a good time testing out some new suspension adjustments on my ZRT.

Still bad news for the next few days, including the possibility of very heavy rain and possible large scale flooding tomorrow night and Wednesday. Sorry.

Update, February 1st:

I don't plan to go out and look at the trails today myself, but the weather news ain't good, as you can all see for yourselves. There is still a small chance, getting smaller with each forecast, of enough snow tonight to allow "limited conditions" riding over the weekend.

Next week looks even worse than it did yesterday.

Can you spell "N-O-R-T-H B-A-Y"?

Update February 2nd:

There is a very light snow cover on the trails. Conditions are poor - marginal. And not looking any better for the next four or five days. Sorry.

Update January 31, 1PM:

Good News! (No, there are NOT good riding conditions right now - most area trails are either officially or unofficially closed for lack of snow.) The GOOD NEWS is that because of the very heavy traffic last weekend packing the base before the thaw, a packed base survived the rain and meltdown in most places. Check today's pictures HERE.

Without this base, we'd need much better snow in the coming days before we could ride. With the base, almost any new snow will allow us to get out and ride. Some snow is coming over the next 24 hours - maybe quite a bit, if the rain stays south of here. Keep your fingers crossed.

The Outlook:

Best guess on the outlook for riding is that there will be snow on the trails tomorrow (Friday), but it will be a messy, sleeting, slushy day and not fun for riding. A mild freeze Friday night should set us up for fair riding conditions on Saturday and Sunday.

Then a near carbon copy of this past week arrives next Monday and Tuesday with a big warmup followed by falling temperature and more snow by Wednesday and Thursday. Hopefully there will still be a base on the trails at that time.

We are right about at the time of year when real winter arrived last season. There's still hope for a prolonged period of good trail conditions.

Update, January 29, noon:

Fu'get about it! Warm now, rainy overnight, very windy tomorrow with not much snow likely, and off and on warm periods over the next week. There is a slight chance of significant lake snow on Friday night, but more likely rain - snow mix. Start thinking about road trips for sledding. Bummer.

Update, January 28, 10AM:

There was extremely heavy sled traffic over the weekend because of the Folsom Dice Run and vintage sled show. Riding conditions this morning are fair. Meghan and I went for a short ride covering the trails radiating from Byrncliff early this morning. The base is hard packed with small stutter bumps widespread. There is a base, and you can certainly get in a decent ride today. There are only a few bare spots here and there. More frequently there is dirty packed snow from the very thin base. Some fields have developed stutter bumps and small moguls, while others remain pretty smooth. Nearly all woods trails and narrow spots are bumpy.

There were four or five trailers unloading at Byrncliff when we pulled out a little before ten AM. Have fun. Keep your fingers crossed that the rain forecast tonight is not too heavy. Please stay off the trails Tuesday. Wednesday will be cold again with some snow (high winds?).

NOTE: C4 trail just east of Byrncliff heading towards Varysburg is CLOSED today because of utility construction work.

Update, January 27, Sunday, 4PM: - pictures from today

Congratulations to the Folsom Trailblazers club for catching a slam-dunk of a day for their Dice Run and Vintage Sled event. The sun was out for much of the day, no wind, and temps just below freezing. Lots of sleds and spectators showed up and everyone was having a good time while we were there. (What a difference from last year, when the event was run in a snow squall!)

Trail conditions were good to very good wherever we looked at lunchtime. I have not talked to any groomer guys so I'm not sure what might have been done over Friday night, but it appeared that at least some of the trails were groomed again since my report yesterday. In any case, they looked very good, with a few bumps near corners and road crossings as you would expect with the heavy weekend sled traffic. No doubt there are also bumpy areas in the woods. Field trails looked very good.

With a firm base, I would expect conditions to still be pretty good tonight if you're thinking of heading out late. Temperature is going down to about 20 overnight, so there will be decent riding Monday morning if you're off. Meghan and I are going out for a while in the morning.

As you all probably know, temperatures are expected to soar to near 50 on Tuesday. I hope everyone stays off the trails on Tuesday since it is going to quickly get cold again Tuesday night. Riding should be good again the rest of the week, with next weekend possibly bringing another warming trend. Be grateful for the past week - real winter has not set in for the long term yet.

Update, January 26, Saturday, 2PM: pictures from today

Today's riding conditions are fair to very good in some places. There is very heavy sled traffic today. (All lots at Byrncliff were full by 11AM, with many trailers - mine included - parking along the street) With the heavy traffic, the trails are very hard packed and showing bumps where you would expect. Many field trails are still very good. The A&A rail bed section of C4 was groomed several times at the end of the week and it was holding up surprisingly well as of 1PM.

I rode the Byrncliff - Strykersville - A&A - back to Byrncliff loop and some of C4 north of #20A late this morning through lunch time. I had a decent ride. Conditions with the very heavy traffic this afternoon and probably even more later today and tonight will beat the trails up more as the day wears on. But the base is already so thin and so firm now that conditions will not get a lot worse. Nearly all the Folsom trail system was groomed Thursday night or Friday, so the base began the weekend in good condition. If you're thinking of coming out tonight (Saturday night), I would expect much of your ride to still be good conditions. Check today's picture album to get a better idea of what to expect.

Light snow is expected to fall for much of the afternoon - not enough to change anything, but enough to keep the trails white!

The predicted Monday - Tuesday "thaw" looks like it will be brief, with only Tuesday looking very warm (45 degrees). If everyone stays off the trails Tuesday, it will help us maintain our present thin base. Possible significant lake effect coming again Tuesday night and Wednesday. We should be back in action quickly! Click here for today's pictures.

Update, January 25. 12:30: - pictures

I was very torn about whether or not to ride myself today. I really enjoy freshly groomed trails and wanted to get out before the weekend crowds. But I rode a lot the past two days and my senior citizen body is showing a little wear and tear. With the weather forecast calling for blowing snow, I figured I'd pass it up today.

But many others haven't. Check the pictures here: both lots at Byrncliff were nearly full of trailers by noon, and there was already moderate to heavy traffic on the trails. Lots of guys calling in sick! You should still have good or better riding conditions most places later today, but it is already hard to tell that the groomers were out recently. With all the blowing and drifting snow, and the heavy traffic, the trails will be covered with loose snow and soft drifting moguls.

Add in the fact that a band of moderate lake effect has settled in late this morning right over the Folsom trail system. The weather service has changed their forecast and upped the predicted snow to 3" to 5" for the afternoon. Watch out for near white-outs in the heavier snow slurries and wind gusts. Have fun - I wish I was out there with you again today!

Update, January 25, 9AM:

Let 'r Rip, boys! Folsom groomer operator, Jim, talked to us by phone this morning and reports that "everything south of #20A was groomed again last night". Along with my first hand report of good to very good yesterday, I expect you will have great conditions on the Folsom trail system if you ride today. Have fun.

Update January 24, 6PM:

Late word is that the trails in Strykersville that had not been groomed by this afternoon may get done tonight. Also, several bursts of briefly heavy lake snow have been popping up in the Varysburg - Strykersville area this afternoon and this evening. I've had calls reporting about 2" of fresh snow on the trails late this afternoon.

Update, January 24, Thursday, 4PM: - pictures

Thinking of riding the Folsom Trailblazers trails tonight? Conditions are generally good to very good, considering the still thin base on most trails. With all the snow that fell yesterday, you might be surprised to hear that there's still a thin base, but the snow that fell was a very light, fluffy powder and does not pack well. But we'll take it!

Some people involved in the grooming decisions considered not grooming for a couple more days to let the new powder settle. That would have been a defensible decision. But I am glad that the choice was made to hit the trails right away. Yes, they will break down again quickly. Yes, they will need to be done over soon. And yes, we need more snow. But the good grooming effort last night and today will help pack a base and was well worth doing in my opinion.

I offer applause for the Folsom groomer guys. They have put in a huge effort yesterday and today to do the best they can to take advantage of this new snow. Most of the system has seen one pass of a groomer in the past 24 hours, and some sections like the A&A rail bed have had several passes. I couldn't ask for more.

Meghan and I rode from Byrncliff east through Varysburg and down the A&A to North Java and Java. All of that had been groomed by mid afternoon. From Java Center through the trailer camp ground to Strykersville on C4A had not been groomed when we rode through in early afternoon. It was not bad, but could use a groomer pass.

From the west side of Strykersville near the Red Apple gas stop, a groomer had been through the woods and up over the hill to S43 and had groomed all of S43 back to C4A.

We did not ride the north side of #20A and the Bennington loop, but we saw the fresh groomer tracks headed north of #20A on both C4 and C4B, so much of the north side has been done.

I also compliment the groomer guys for making a good effort to groom the connecting trails heading to the adjacent club trails. Jim has twice mentioned hitting the trail heading towards Rock Glen, and today the Folsom part of C3C heading south towards Arcade was freshly groomed right up to the end of the Folsom trails where the "Drift Hoppers " take over.

 

Summary: Lots of drifts and powder can be found along the trails if you like to play. Much of the system is freshly groomed, though moderate traffic this afternoon and expected heavy traffic tonight will beat the trails up pretty quickly. Those of you going out tonight should have good rides! Send in your reports if you have time. Do expect to see some grass and leaves kicked up here and there where the groomers have been over thin snow. (See some of the pictures in today's album here)

Update, January 23, 6PM: Todays Pictures click here

Meghan and I rode all of the Folsom Trailblazers system south of #20A this afternoon. Conditions ranged from fair to very good. Some places in the woods where the trail is narrow and everyone's pounding the same track are pretty thin and rough. Most field trails are good to very good, especially if you like drifting through six inches of fresh powder and hitting drifts the way I do. Whoooo-hooooo!

Heading east out of Byrncliff on trail C4 and then C4A, we found good ungroomed conditions to the A&A railbed trail. Jim had groomed that last night, and it was still pretty good this afternoon. C4A through North Java, Java, and over to Strykersville was good on the fields but pretty rough in the woods. An exception was the section through the trailer park which was very good in the woods.

Cutting across S43 from C4A to C4B near Strykersville was very good, since it is mostly field trail with good snow cover. Jim lives not far from this trail and measured snow in his yard from 13" to 17". I checked snow depth when I stopped in a field on C4B and there was a solid 12" plus where I measured and it is still coming down as I write.

C4B and S41 heading from Stykersville back to Byrncliff were getting a little rough in some places by the end of the afternoon. There were a lot of guys calling in sick today apparently! The lower lot at Byrncliff was full of trailers. There were lots of sleds parked by the resort, and over in Strykersville, the parking lot at the Pub was full of sleds when we pulled in. Most riders we spoke with felt conditions on the trails were fair to pretty good. Although there is a big difference in conditions from place to place, I'd give it a "good ride" rating on average.

CLICK HERE for pictures from today's ride.

There is definitely enough snow to start running the groomers. Because the new snow is powder, you could argue that it would be good to let it settle a day or two. But with the pretty heavy traffic today, the sleds have packed down a lot of the powder. I say get the groomers moving. I have unofficial reports that the Folsom Club may be grooming Strykersville tonight; Byrncliff to the A&A and out towards Rock Glen tomorrow, and Java Thursday night. We'll report definitely when it happens.

Adam Leas sent in the following report from his ride Tuesday night:

Tom,

 

Put on almost 100 miles in what I think was probably

the same loop your buddy's did last yesterday, but we

did it from 5:30 - midnight. Some wooded areas and

Holland were pretty beat. Everything else was well

worth the drive out to Byrncliff from West Seneca to

drop.

 

We left North Java Inn a little after midnight. I'd like to thank

Jim for leveling out the A&A, we ran into him just as

he came out of the rail bed, and we were on cloud 9 for

the next 2 miles.

- Adam

 

Update, January 22, 8PM:

I just had a nice phone call from Folsom groomer operator, Jim S., reporting continuing heavy snow on the Folsom trail system tonight. He and some friends put in 100 miles of riding today around the Folsom system from Byrncliff through Java and Strykersville, then down through Chaffee and Arcade and up through Holland and back through Wales Center. He said riding was decent everywhere and especially in the Chaffee - Arcade - Holland area where there was a little more snow.

Jim reports that most of the Folsom system he rode today was in decent condition with the exception of some of the wooded sections that were pretty thin. Also some nearly bare spots on windy hilltops, as we reported earlier today. Jim also said the "A&A" railbed trail was getting pretty moguled up today, but he is leaving in an hour with one of the groomers to work that over.

If it keeps snowing all night in our area, as it may, we should be in pretty good shape and have enough snow to start grooming the whole system. Jim said he'd call in another report tomorrow. Good job, Jim!

Update, January 22, 6PM:

We drove through part of the trail system near Byrncliff today. There was one trailer in the Byrncliff lot when we drove by. The few inches of snow that fell yesterday was very wind blown. There looks to be good snow cover on some trails and others through hilltop fields are blown nearly bare. We'd rate riding conditions at fair to good still, with more snow needed.

A good snow fall is expected tonight, but with high winds again it may not settle on the parts of the trails where it is needed most. A little more is due tomorrow with lighter winds, so conditions should improve by Wednesday night and Thursday.

Update, January 21, 1:30PM:

We just had a phone call from one of the Folsom Groomer drivers, Jim, and another from a friend of Meghan's. I thought we'd pass along a little more information. Jim reports heavy snow continuing in the area. He and friends rode yesterday through much of the Folsom trails and down to the Milestone in Chaffee. They had a pretty good ride. Meghan's friends yesterday rode successfully from Java over through Springville and Concord. Although the snow is still pretty thin, it is widespread and people are riding. Jim also told me he had friends who rode down Chatauqua yesterday and were in one to two feet of snow.

Snow continues to fall in Old Forge so conditions should start to be pretty good there after they clean up from the weekend crush - lots of riders were there over this holiday weekend.

Muskoka is also getting snow and opening some trails as limited, but they still need some more snow. Things are getting better, though.

Update January 21, noon:

Meghan and I just returned from a long driving check on most of the Folsom trail system. Riding conditions today are fair to good. There has been quite a bit of traffic over the weekend with little new snow, so the trails are hard packed on a thin base. The good news is that with this thin packed base and very cold weather over the weekend, we now have a well frozen trail foundation. Looks like four to five inches of snow most places - more where it has drifted in, less where it blows on the hilltops.

More Snow Falling now!

Although there was little snow on the Folsom trail system over the weekend, light to moderate snow was falling steadily all morning as we checked the trails and it continues as I write. Radar shows the lake effect plume to be extending right over the Java - Strykersville - Varysburg riding area this morning and showing little movement. We should pick up more snow than the weather reports expected today!

We saw only one sled on the trails as we inspected this morning, but there were 14 trailers in the Byrncliff lots when we were there just before noon, so some of you are taking advantage of the Monday holiday. The snow this morning is coming down in big fluffy flakes, so it's very pretty out.

Below: trail C4A behind the Strykersville Pub

Below: looking north from Minkel Road on S43A

Update, January 19th, 1PM:

We drove out to Bryncliff and checked trails about an hour ago. A light snow had fallen and more was coming down, but we're still looking at less than 6" on most of the Folsom trails. There were three sleds parked in front of Byrncliff and two trailers in the lot. Conditions are fair in some areas to good on some of the field trails. Mud and slush holes are beginning to freeze up with the dropping temperatures. You could certainly get in a ride this afternoon. It will get better every day for the coming week.

Looks like scattered lake effect throughout western NY over the next several days. Varysburg to Strykersville area should get some. Looks like slightly more as you go a little more south towards Holland and Arcade - we'll see.

ROAD TRIPS? - Muskoka region in Ontario just opened up again with "limited" conditions. Bracebridge area where we often ride is under a heavy snow warning this afternoon - yippee! Old Forge is starting to groom again this weekend and will be getting snow every day for most of the coming week. Tug Hill may get as much as three feet over the next two days! WINTER IS BACK!

Update, January 17th:

No real news today - we're treading water with early season conditions. Temps in the mid 30's aren't helping, but at least it's been cloudy most of the day so not too much of our thin base has melted.

From tonight on temperature will be dropping steadily with some snow daily. Trails should be rideable and getting a little better every day through the weekend. Possible lake snow on the weekend, so we may even see some grooming when the winds calm down Sunday and Monday. Fingers crossed for good luck, everyone!

Update, January 16th:

Hello everyone. People were out riding the trails last night and a few this morning, with conditions from fair to good. There is more snow in West Seneca, Cheektowaga, and East Aurora than there is on much of the Folsom trail system. Byrncliff got only perhaps another inch since noon yesterday.

Conditions on the hay fields are quite good, with adequate snow cover except in low wet spots. But without any frozen base, you'll be running through water, slush, and mud holes frequently today and tonight, and again Thursday when it will be warmer. More snow along with much colder temperatures arrives Friday night, so we should have decent riding on the weekend.

Click here for some useful pictures of today's trail conditions.

Update, January 15, noon:

Hello everyone,

We've got good news and bad. The good news is that a bit more snow than expected came down last night and this morning and it's still snowing lightly in some areas. Although we have five inches at my place in East Aurora, we carefully measured only four in the Byrncliff parking area at 11am this morning and about three inches in Strykersville at the Red Apple. There's snow cover on all the fields and trails and everything looks nice and white.

Bad News: The snow came down over very warm, wet ground. Nothing is frozen up. The picture below looking south from Armbrust Road is typical of many low spots on the trails and in fields - note the large areas of slush.

More Good News is that temperatures will plunge Friday and over the weekend and we may get a good lake effect event on Friday and Friday night. We can only hope that the ground and base freeze up before a big dump of snow. And that's no sure thing, with a brief warm up to 40 coming on Thursday, and the ground insulated by the current snow cover.

So should you ride? It will be messy in the current conditions with so much slush and mud under the thin snow cover. BUT, I would encourage the eager riders to get out on the trails over the next two days and beat them down. That way when it gets cold at night, especially early Friday before possible major snow, the base can start to freeze. If no one rides, the ground will be slower to freeze up and we could have a mess with heavier snow over an unfrozen base.

Click here for a few more pictures from this morning.

Update, January 5, 8PM:

Congrats to those of you who got in a ride on thin snow today. Meghan and I stayed home and rode on our farm in East Aurora where we've still got snow cover as of tonight.

With temperature staying above freezing overnight and rising to near 50 tomorrow, we can say goodbye to any riding for the next week. Looks like colder weather will return at the very end of next week, so hope for the best then.

We will not post another update until snow returns. Check back Thursday and we may have an idea of what's in store for us.

Update, January 4th 9am:

We may post another update later today. Conditions should be similar to those reported for yesterday, although some additional snow fell overnight. Here's a report from Patty, who rode the trails after we did Thursday evening:

"Hi Tom,

 

I just wanted to Email you quick and let you know how our ride went.

We just got back about an hour ago at 10pm from Byrncliff.

 

We headed down the way you told us to- from Byrncliff to Strykersville

and back. We clocked it at about 32 miles. We agree, the riding was

fair to good in areas. Open corn fields were the real difficult areas

because of the furrows and such. The other issue was the wooded areas.

Because of the minimal snowfall thus far, these areas didn't get hit

with as much snow with the overhanging trees which made those trails

slick with ice and rocky. I would say if you go out riding just BE

CAREFUL and drive slow. The open fields have lots of small streams in them

that are not frozen over and it's easy to come zinging along and land

yourself in them. Otherwise, for those of us that ARE desperate, the

riding was A-Okay. Many hay fields were nice and snow covered for a

smooth ride. The good news was it snowed a little here and there the whole

time we were out and when we were loading up to come home the snow had

picked up and was coming down pretty hard. Anyway, it was more than

worth it, we were happy to get at least one short ride in before the

giant meltdown this upcoming week and I only got a few chips in the new

skis this time around. I'm gonna keep my fingers crossed the forecast is

WRONG.

Patty (and Rick)

 

PS- When we pulled into the parking lot today at Byrncliff Rick said.

"Oh look, at least we're not the only idiots riding the trails today-

there's one other snowmobile trailer here." It turned out it was you and

Meghan. HAHA!! :)"

Update, January 3rd:

Click here for pictures from the ride Meghan and I had on the trails this afternoon. Conditions were fair to good in a few places. The snow is thin, with grass showing through most places where sleds have gone. The cornfields and other rough ground were bad! Some hay fields or trails where snow drifted along a tree line were very good. We rode from Byrncliff to Strykersville and back, and it was a workout. But it is ridable, and it's the best you're going to see for at least another week. Conditions should hold about the same through late Saturday morning, with the already thin snow even thinner as it gets more traffic.

One of the pictures in today's album shows Patty and Rick who drove all the way down from their homes on the shores of Lake Ontario to get in a ride. They knew conditions would be marginal, since they are regular readers of this website. (Thanks for your nice words about our reports, guys!) When asked why they drove so far for these conditions, they said, "Hey, we're desparate! We've got nothing to ride on at home."

Also, we welcome the Holland SnoRascals to this website as link partners. We are glad to have clubs link to this site. Even though we concentrate on reports for the Folsom Trailblazers club trail system, snow condition reports from this site should also be pretty good for adjacent trail systems.

Soon we will add a page to this site with links to many other trail condition websites.

Update, January 2nd, 1PM:

The trail system got maybe an inch or two of new snow since yesterday. There's from 3" to 5" on the ground, with considerable variation because of blowing snow. At least the ground is covered most places now, and the cold temperatures are freezing things up. If you ride, use GREAT CARE watching out for ditches and washouts that are concealed by very light blown powder snow.

Conditions today though Saturday morning will be fair to very good in some field trails that have good snow cover. There will be wet and muddy spots as the thin snow is quickly beaten into wet areas not yet well frozen. Very few riders have been out yet, but that will quickly change Friday night and Saturday as riders try to get in a quick one before the huge meltdown coming Sunday through Tuesday. If there is much traffic, the thin snowcover will become very thin and hard.

Click here for pictures taken on the trail system today.

Update, January 1, 2008:

As of noon, New Year's day, only an inch or so of additional snow had fallen on the Folsom trail system. A very few riders had been through trail C4 and the Byrncliff parking area. See pictures from today here.

Temperatures have been hovering above freezing so the base is not well frozen at all and many washouts remain from the flooding last week. If you go out (not recommended), ride with care. Riding conditions today would be poor to fair, with many wet and muddy spots.

Things may change significantly for the better overnight with plummeting temperature and several more inches of snow. Some places will get 4 to 8 inches, but the forecast maps do not favor the Folsom trail system for the heaviest snow. Fingers crossed, all!

Riding should be decent early season conditions Wednesday through Saturday morning, with the coldest temperatures of the year freezing things up nicely Wednesday and Thursday.

Sadly, we are looking at near record high temperatures from Sunday through at least next Tuesday. We may be back to square one then. Bummer. Ride this week.

Update, December 31st, 1PM:

The trail system picked up a light coating overnight. Meghan and I took a ride around the system by car and there's about two inches of snow most places. Riding conditions would be poor because of the recent warm temperatures. There are already wet spots showing in low areas, the ground is not frozen, and you'll be spitting snirt anyplace you try to ride. But at least the ground is mostly white! Click here for today's pictures.

Things are looking up for the next few days, but only a few, sadly. Possibly heavy snow for a little while now and then over the next few days and very cold temperatures by Wednesday. We might have some decent early season riding Wednesday through Saturday morning. Maybe even by noon Tuesday, but things will not have frozen up until late Tuesday night when the temperature drops.

Big warm-up likely by the weekend, with temperature rising to near 45 by Sunday afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed the the weather boys are wrong.

Update, Dec. 30th:

Happy almost New Years, guys. Keep your fingers crossed for maybe just a little more snow in the next few days than they are predicting. I'll do an update only when it seems like we've got ridable conditions - maybe New Year's day????

Looks like both Tug Hill/ Old Forge and the Muskoka region in Ontario will be ridable this week if you want travel.

Update, December 26:

With more snow at our farm in East Aurora than on the trail system, Meghan and I had a nice little ride at home this morning. We did drive out to the Byrncliff area and verified the already reported poor trail conditions there. See new pictures from today. Long range weather indicates even worse trail conditions the rest of this week on the Folsom trail system, then a possible small lake effect event and very cold temperatures New Year's day and a day or two after, with a chance that we'll get a few days marginal riding in. Then NOAA is predicting a return to above normal temperatures late that week :(

With considerable snow in Old Forge and Muskoka, Ont, and slightly colder temperatures both places, looks like some of us will be prepping our trailers for road trips!

Update Christmas Day:

The Folsom trails did NOT get any more snow after yesterday morning. There seems to be about two inches of snow most places - grass showing through in the fields. I had been hoping for a marginal ride tomorrow morning before it warms up but that doesn't look likely. I'd rate conditions as poor - barely ridable. There is considerably more snow where I live in East Aurora and near the city. Sorry.

Update, Dec. 24:

Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas! We did a drive around of parts of the Folsom trail system about noon today. If you're desperate, you could ride, but I'd call it poor to fair conditions. It looked like about 2 - 3 inches of snow on average, but it was being blown around by strong winds and there was anything from decent snow near woods and wind breaks to nearly bare fields. I'll try to get another report late Christmas day to see if any more significant snow fell. Does not sound like it from the weather reports. Here's a link to pictures taken around the trail system today.

BEST CHANCE TO RIDE? Wednesday morning early. It sounds like Christmas night will be calm and partly clear with quite cold temperatures, so whatever snow we have then will be nicely crisp and mud holes may have frozen over. Temps will quickly rise Wednesday, to 40 or over, and then will be only slightly below freezing at night and well into the 30's or 40's daytime the rest of the week.

Sorry there's not better news!

Update, Dec. 23rd:

Well, the trails are out of business at least for a matter of hours. The big melt down started slowly, but by this morning (Sunday), all the creeks and streams are really ripping and low spots in the fields are either lakes or rivers. There's a little snow left here and there, but much of the system is down to bare ground. Good news is that the cold front is just now blowing through and temperatures will be back to the freezing range in a few hours. But you know that from watching TV!

Keep your fingers crossed that the lake effect machine sets up in the right areas to replenish our snow! Another important issue will be how much damage was done to the trails and bridges by flooding. Be very careful if you are one of the early ones back out on the trails after we get more snow!

Update, December 21:

I had a nice ride around my farm in East Aurora this morning. Crisp temperatures and sunshine made for fun riding. I did an inspection of some of the Folsom trails by car. Pictures at this link. Riding conditions ranged from fair early season (mud holes and washouts see this link) to good to very good in some places. Those who made it out this morning while it was still cold had a pretty good ride. Conditions will go down hill for the rest of the weekend. I would say that if you've had to work all week and just have to get out and give 'er a rip on Saturday, riding will be OK for a little while Saturday morning, but temps are not likely to drop below freezing tonight, so it may be a bit slushy already in the morning and much worse by mid day. Riding tonight (Friday night) will also be a bit slushy and muddy, but better than nothing. As of 3PM Friday, it is already nearly 40 degrees.

Weather still looks promising for Christmas week if the trails aren't totally washed out by Sunday's rain.

Update, December 20th:

Bad news. Weekend weather forecasts are coming into agreement that we can expect a significant rain event with temperature rising into the 50's for a while Sunday. There may be enough rain and snow melt for significant flooding. Hope we don't lose bridges so carefully repaired during the fall. We will lose much of our present snow base.

RIDE FRIDAY MORNING if you want to get out once more before the warm weekend! Below freezing temperatures tonight should make for fair to good early season conditions Friday morning. See my picture link below for an idea of what you can expect on the Folsom trails.

Good news: With a little luck on the timing of a powerful cold front coming through sometime Sunday afternoon or evening, we may get a decent lake effect event Sunday night and Monday, making for a white Christmas and snow on the trails again. Too bad the ground will be so warm and wet from the Saturday - Sunday rain:(

Keep your fingers crossed that the rain is less than predicted and the lake snow event a strong one. Temperatures look to be below freezing for much of next week, but not the arctic cold that we need to properly freeze up the trails.

Update, December 19th: click here for today's pictures

Meghan and I took our sleds on a short ride this morning as the trails officially opened. We rode from Byrncliff up over the hill to the Red Apple in Strykersville, around through the village and back up over the hill. Conditions were fair to quite good first thing in the morning and got slushier and wetter as the day warmed up. It was early season riding conditions with many wet spots and open mud holes. The field trails were generally good to very good.

I met a couple of guys at the Red Apple gas stop in Strykersville. They had just ridden up from Arcade and they reported the riding had been "pretty good for this time of year" all the way up.

No grooming on the loop we rode, but Jim S. , one of the Folsom club groomer operators told me he went out right after the club meeting last night and groomed from Byrncliff up over the other hill through Varysburg and all the way down the A&A rail bed trail, so that should be pretty good today, so long as it doesn't get too beat.

Early Season Grooming - "To Groom or not to groom, that is the question":

There are some good arguments for keeping the groomers parked until the base freezes up and we have a little more snow. I understand that. But I also believe that the larger more successful clubs should do everything possible to get a groomer around all their trails on the opening day of the official riding season. Today was a good example. There were many spots on the trails where a groomer would do no good, or perhaps even harm the trail by tearing it up. But more than half the trails could have benefited from a groomer pass. More important is the public relations benefit from letting early bird riders see that the clubs are committed to grooming.

I am glad that Jim got part of the Folsom system groomed for opening day. I wish more had been done. Looks like we won't really have suitable conditions for grooming again for another few days.

Click here for a photo album of December 19th pictures

Thanks to Don at A - Z Enterprise (Corner of Rte #77 and rte #20A - 585-535-7003) for doing some pre-season work on my sleds at very reasonable rates. I've always been a satisfied customer of Jancen's and I will continue to be. But since Jancen is often backed up a week or two in the shop, it's good to know that A - Z is available to do sled work and that they are located right on the Folsom trail system. Don got me right in when I needed work. Quick work - very fair prices.

Update, December 18th:

Meghan and I just did a drive around of parts of the Folsom trail system. There should be very good early season conditions when the trails open tomorrow morning. There's generally 6 to 10 inches of snow on the ground. Riders have behaved themselves and stayed off the trails until now, so they are not beat up at all in most places. A groomer has been out a little right near Byrncliff, but most parts of the trail system, especially out towards Java and Strykersville where we drove, are untouched snow. If you go out tomorrow (I am!) watch out for open ditches and thin ice on mud holes. We had a little very cold weather last week, but not enough to really properly freeze up the base.

If you want to ride this week, get 'r done the next few days. Temps in the 40's coming Saturday and Sunday. I'm looking at tomorrow morning (Wednesday) and Friday morning being the best riding times, while things are still frozen from the night time temperatures.

Long term looks like it might cool off again after the weekend for Christmas week - keep your fingers crossed. Click here for an album of pictures from this morning and yesterday around the trail system.

Update December 16: As you all know, we didn't get quite the storm that was predicted. But there's snow enough so that we'll be riding when the trails open this week! Keep your fingers crossed that the "rain or snow" coming Thursday is snow. Picture below at Byrnecliff yesterday:

 

Update, December 9th, 2007:

Well, depending on where you live, some of us have enough snow to play around. Meghan was out with her new 2001 ZRT600 for an hour this afternoon on our farm. We have just enough snow to keep the tunnel cool and the sliders wet! But the weather looks pretty uncertain for most of the next week as far as useful snow goes. There's a slight chance of some lake snow in the middle of the week, and a better chance next weekend.

Stay tuned!

Update, December 5, 2007: HI Guys,

Are you ready for the 2007 - 2008 riding season? If you live out in the country, stick your head out the door after dinner. In my neighborhood you can already hear the occasional hum of a sled running up and down a field practicing for the opening of the trail systems. I'm picking mine up from the shop this afternoon! Most places have just a few inches of snow with grass showing through and the ground not frozen yet, so we're not quite ready for real riding.

Most of the area trail systems are scheduled to be open at the middle of December, weather permitting. After a brief warm up this coming Sunday, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll get some serious weather later next week. We could be riding by December 15th ?!"?

 

I do plan to maintain this trail conditions website during the riding season, but I could use some help. Anyone who rides in the Varysburg, Attica, Strykersville, to Chaffee and Arcade corridor that includes the Folsom Trailblazers and adjoining clubs, if you're interested in taking pictures of trail conditions or just sending me your reports, I'd love to get more people involved in this project. Call me or email me. (link at top of this page)

Below is an article I wrote at the end of last winter's riding season. Read it and discuss it at your club meetings! Think SNOW!

- Tom

Below: I took this picture today of the new Folsom Trailblazers groomer barn under construction on #77 just south of 20A. That's my truck and trailer in the foreground just after picking up a sled being repaired at A-Z - they did work for a good price!

 

Some thoughts on Grooming from one snowmobiler

Suggested by Tom Kranz (716-652-9495)

Back to Trail Conditions Webpage

Part A - Thanks to the Groomer Guys!

 

Part B - Dream Grooming - A Wish List

 

Part C - What's Possible?

 

(A) - You have to begin every discussion of trail conditions and grooming by saying, "Thank you", to the guys who volunteer all their time and effort to prepare the trails in the off season and run the groomers for hour after hour on their own time during the riding season. Hours that they would just as soon be riding themselves. They are, after all, dedicated snowmobilers themselves! So, "Thank you guys - thank you."

 

(B) - Because we owe such a debt to the guys who volunteer their time and take care of the trails for the rest of us, it has become almost taboo to talk about the fact that trails do get rough sometimes, or to discuss ways that we could do a better job providing smooth riding conditions. That should not be the case. Without open and constructive discussion of the grooming programs "as they are" and of the grooming programs "as they might be", we may be missing out on some good ideas.

 

If a rider comes into a bar or writes an email to a website and says, "Trail C4B was moguled up and a crappy ride today.", that is absolutely NOT the same as saying, "The guys who take care of trail C4B are lazy, incompetent jerks." It is not the same as saying the club that sponsors that trail is a bad club. It is nothing more than reporting riding conditions that on that particular afternoon or evening were not as nice as they could be. Such statements show only a disappointment with existing riding conditions compared to what that rider expected or hoped for.

 

So what kind of Trail Grooming do we "Hope For"? What's the dream, the Holy Grail of trail grooming? Speaking for myself, I look to places like Old Forge and the Bracebridge - Huntsville corridor in Muskoka. Places that groom every night of the week when snow conditions allow, and often twice a day on busy weekends. In the case of Old Forge, we're talking about a resort area that relies heavily on snowmobiling as a source of income in the winter. They have paid groomer operators and dedicate an important part of the town budget in winter to Trail Grooming. In the case of Muskoka, they may have volunteer, club run grooming operations like we do in western New York, but they are supported by expensive trail passes and a resort area culture and businesses that, like Old Forge, depend heavily on snowmobilers for winter income. There is strong support in that area for putting the necessary resources into providing top notch trail grooming.

 

An important difference between trail grooming in those resort areas, and most club trail grooming in Western New York is that in Old Forge and in parts of Muskoka, they groom on a well-publicized schedule. Riders know before they take their sleds out pretty much what they're going to find as trail conditions. If you ride those areas any day during the week or very early on weekends, you'll have a great ride. Ride late in the day on weekends or at the very end of a weekend of heavy traffic, and the trails will be crap. But you know that ahead of time and are not disappointed.

 

A Call For Publicized Grooming Schedules

Most clubs in Western New York could do a better job of letting the public, or even club members, know when the groomers have been out. Personally, I am out looking at the trails every day because I publish a Trail Conditions website. But even with the amount of time I spend checking the trails, I was very surprised to talk with Jim, one of the Folsom groomer operators, last month and find out how many hours the machines had already been on the trails this season. If someone like me underestimates the hours of groomer time the club puts in, think how little understanding the average "Joe Snowmobiler" must have. If that information were regularly publicized on club websites, average snowmobilers would have a much better appreciation of the effort that is already being put into trail grooming in our area.

 

Scheduled Grooming

Better still, would be to publicize and then try to stick to some kind of grooming schedule. As mentioned above, one of the great joys of snowmobiling in Old Forge or Muskoka is knowing when they groom so you can plan when to ride if you have a choice. Some clubs in western New York probably have grooming schedules. But I've not seen the information publicized. I think it should be. Too often, when we go out for a ride on western New York trails - not just Folsom, but all clubs - it is a roll of the dice whether you're going to have great groomed trail conditions, or just happen to hit the trails in between "sweet spots", when they've been beat up and are maybe just about to get another grooming. Or if you're taking a long ride, it's hard to know if one club is grooming their Corridor trails on a Tuesday, but the adjoining club not for two more days. With better-publicized grooming schedules, it would be easier to plan longer rides on days when conditions would be good.

 

And Trail Condition reports would be much easier if they could include information on grooming schedules. You would start with a "baseline of knowledge" that particular trails would be groomed (conditions permitting) on certain days. People who do trail condition reports could concentrate on checking out the trails that had been least recently groomed to see how they held up. And Trail Bosses and groomer operators could report only unexpected changes in their grooming schedule. They could report that "the 110 groomer broke a wheel and will be out of service for several days", or, "it was too warm to do last night's scheduled grooming run on C4, so we'll try to get it tomorrow when it is colder". (The broken wheel example did happen last month, and was well reported.)

 

So what is a good Grooming Schedule? The perfect answer is simple. Every night of the week, and twice a day in very heavy traffic conditions.

 

What's Really Possible?

But most western New York clubs do not have the resources to groom as often as the Town of Old Forge or Muskoka Clubs. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to have schedules and coordinate them with other clubs. The benefits to riders are obvious.

 

I don't know a lot about the finances even of the club I belong to (Folsom Trailblazers), let alone neighboring clubs. But it would be useful for everyone who is active in snowmobile clubs to have some discussion about what level of grooming us affordable. And I mean "affordable" in every way.

 

Do we not groom every night of the week because there aren't enough qualified operators? Is it because of the fuel budget? Is it because the Trail Bosses and club officers don't think the trails need any more grooming than they're already getting? The answers will be different for different clubs, and are likely a combination of the above for most.

 

If We Have a Schedule, Will We Look Bad if We Get Behind?

One reason for not grooming to a schedule is the worry that if grooming doesn't take place on the scheduled day or night for any of lots of very good reasons, the club will look bad. Personally, I think most riders are smarter than that, and if changes to a planned grooming schedule are published on Club websites, riders will be grateful and appreciate the attempt to groom on a schedule. Also, there are two ways volunteer groomer operators may respond to attempting to groom on a schedule. Some might understandably feel pressured if they are expected not only to volunteer their personal time, but do it at an assigned time. But there's another side to this. I have overheard groomer operators talking with other operators and being second guessed about their judgement for grooming or not grooming a particular trail on a particular day. In some ways it would take a lot of pressure off a groomer operator to have a scheduled day and place to groom and not to have to take personal responsibility for each decision. Each club already has formal or informal mechanisms in place for making these decisions, but scheduled grooming would help.

 

And nothing in scheduled grooming decrees that changes can't be made for good reasons. If it's over 28 degrees, don't groom if you can help it, regardless of the schedule. If the wind is blowing snow at 30 MPH, wait until the wind drops because of the drifting. Scheduled grooming would not mean thoughtless grooming.

 

There are lots of possible ways to make grooming schedules that are more affordable than "every night of the week do all trails". One place to start might be to have an inter-club agreement that all Corridor trails would be groomed Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights. I would be tickled pink if I could count on something that simple in planning days I wanted to take longer rides. A club with that kind of schedule could groom Secondary trails on the alternate weekdays, the same days, or do Secondary trails as operators and machines were available. Each club would have to decide how much scheduled grooming it could afford, both in terms of operator time, fuel costs, and machine time.

 

The Snowmobile Rights and Responsibilities Act - Unintended Consequences

Do I have the name right? You know, the new law that extorts snowmobilers into joining a club. Just kidding, sort of. I have very mixed feelings about this law. I do like the fact that clubs are getting lots more members. I have always belonged to a club even though I'm not much of a club kind of guy, just because I believe in the work clubs do for all of us. But I damn sure don't like the government sticking it's hand in my wallet or telling me I should join a club. It may even be unconstitutional. Time will tell.

 

But what is certain, is that thousands of average snowmobilers are being pressured to join clubs for the first time. And many of them are asking, "Why? What's in it for me?" And the first time they go over a little mogul on a snowmobile trail, they're screaming, "The State made me pay for THIS? Why aren't the trails perfect now that all this money is going to the clubs?" - - - - Of course there's NOT really all that much money, but you have to stop and consider why a lot of riders are mad this year when conditions aren't perfect. Many club members are no longer voluntary members - they have been coerced by New York State. This puts a lot more pressure on clubs to provide good communication and public relations regarding the way they maintain their trails. It makes the job of Webmaster very important. And it makes the concept of published grooming schedules more attractive than it has been in past years.

 

Just My Opinion

- Tom Kranz (Tom's Trail Conditions Website www.mudhotline.com)

Tuesday, March 20, Noon:

This is the last day, guys! You could still ride where I did on Sunday afternoon (see below). Conditions are similar - Fair to Good in some places, with quickly expanding bare spots on south facing slopes and hilltops. You can probably ride from many places on the trail to the club meeting tonight, or you could trailer to the meeting for a last quick run afterwards. Click here for an album of pictures taken just an hour ago this morning in a variety of places to the southwest of Byrncliff.

It should all be gone tomorrow, with today's bright sun and tomorrow's warm temperatures.

Monday, March 19, Noon:

After a cold night, well below freezing, widespread light snow is falling in all of our riding area. IF (big IF) the changeover to rain expected in some parts of western New York for a few hours later this afternoon is brief, we may have passable snowmobiling conditions through Wednesday morning. Temperatures will remain below freezing all day tomorrow and may drop into the single digits Tuesday night!

All the snow should disappear over the Wednesday and Thursday time period, except the big drifts, so get in any last rides between now and late Wednesday morning.

I did not check the trails myself this morning. I expect my report from yesterday afternoon (below) is still pretty accurate; we did have several hours of sun with temperatures just above freezing for about three hours late Sunday afternoon, so the few bare spots I saw likely are a little bigger. But I doubt we lost much snow cover. And today's snow is replenishing some of that.

Sunday, 3-18, 3PM:

I just went out riding for a couple of hours. I rode for about 2 hours, and though you can see from my pictures that there were a few sled tracks on the trails, I passed not a single sled in that time. There were no trailers at Byrncliff when I started or when I finished my ride. Where is everyone? Riding conditions are pretty darn good!

I left from Byrncliff and took S41 through the woods and up over the hill to C4B, then turned south towards Strykersville, then took S43 back east across Rte #77. I did not ride all the way to the A&A, but turned around and went back to Byrncliff the way I came, mostly because I had not expected riding conditions this good and I was low on gas! I am upgrading my trail condition report to Good to Very Good on 75% of the trails, especially across fields and on the longer runs through woods. I had a great ride!

But watch out for "death traps"! Watch in low spots, even in big fields, for hard to see wash outs that cut across the trail. And there are a few real washouts at small creek crossings and bigger drainage areas. (see my photo album link below) But otherwise, conditions are surprisingly good. It was a windy day, which was good in today's conditions. Fresh powder was blowing onto anyplace where the trail was packed lower than the surrounding snow. The wind had scoured the snow very thin on a few hilltops, especially on S43, but only for short stretches.

Trails are quite smooth, since "nature's groomer" had been at work earlier in the week. (The melt down with low sled traffic allowed the trail surface to level off in most places before refreezing.)

It's still pretty cold and going down very cold tonight, so anyone who rides early tomorrow should have the same decent conditions I had today. I'll post one picture below of a typical good section of trail from this afternoon, and a small album at this link showing a variety of conditions, good and bad.

Below: Picture at 2:30 this afternoon (3-18-07) - not bad for March 18th! Trail C4B - but watch for a few small washouts and raised ice sheets near here.

 

Sunday morning, March 18, 8AM:

Although temperatures are supposed to remain just below freezing today, the expected snow showers are not materializing, and instead we're looking at bright sunshine. Riding should still be decent early this morning, but the sun will quickly eat up the trails wherever bare ground shows through. Ride early if you plan to play today.

Saturday, March 17, 8PM:

Kenny T. was out on the trails early this afternoon and sent in this report:

tom, I just rode up the hill to check out the bennington loop. conditions were much the same as you described. I found a few frozen over sink holes that were covered by the new snow and dropped in unexpectedly but nothing that would hang up the sled. I ran into a couple riders on the way and he mentioned the trails were decent all the way to the lanes and logged 40 miles already. I noticed that some areas were very rocky underneath but still a good day to ride. kenny

Looks like we're about done getting snow, maybe a few more light flurries. Have fun on the trails Sunday and Monday morning. There may be some snow around until Wednesday, depending on whether we get rain Monday afternoon, but it will be pretty thin after Monday, no matter what.

Saturday, March 17, Noon:

Trail conditions from Byrncliff to Strykersville are Fair to Good. Very definitely ridable, but no one is riding. I saw one sled track this morning and no one in the Byrncliff parking lot, so the trails are all yours if you want a last ride. A gentle snow was falling all across the Folsom riding area this morning and continues now. There was 3 to 5 inches of new snow on the ground in most places with a carefully measured 5 inches on a level part of the Byrncliff parking lot at 11AM. As of 1PM, Buffalo radar shows moderate snow continuing over our riding area.

The trails looked Good in most places, but beware of unexpected washouts and wet spots or open water in low areas on the trails. If you want to let 'er rip, go slow across a section of trail to check for dangerous conditions, then turn it on on the way back. Ride safe in these late season conditions. I saw a few nasty ditch crossings and frozen ruts this morning.

Snow, light most of the time, is expected to continue for a while this afternoon and again tonight with 17 degree temperatures tonight. Riding should continue Fair to Good through Sunday and again Monday morning after another night with temperature in the teens. Monday might or might not be warm enough for rain, which would wash away this new thin snowcover. The "Fat Lady" will definitely sing her last song by mid week.

I also checked the trails in the Strykersville area and there is snow cover and decent conditions there. You could have a ride today from Byrncliff to the Pub and back with mostly Good conditions. I did not check Java or the Bennington Loop trails today and cannot vouch for them, but I see no reason why similar conditions will not prevail on most of the trail system.

Below: Dutch Hollow and most secondary roads in the area were snow covered this morning (3-17, 10:30 AM)

 

Below: Trail S41 just east of Rte #77 looking south, 11AM, Saturday, March 17th; compare to the picture further down the page from two days ago in the same spot

 

 

Below: Just north of the tree line, here is the trail coming from Byrncliff towards rte #77 where I was standing for this picture

 

Below: The Byrncliff parking lot at 10:45 AM, Saturday, March 17; 5 measured inches on the level

 

Thursday, March 15, 10PM:

Hello everyone. It's not often that I make three reports in one day, but very interesting things are going on with the weather and the "late season winter storm" on the east coast. I'd consider gassing up the sleds for the weekend. There is still some uncertainty over the exact amount of snow we'll be getting in the Byrncliff area, but it sounds like enough to ride on! I'm planning on a Saturday ride, myself. (Keep in mind if you want to try to ride that all water crossings and creeks will still be open.)

Thursday, March 15, 4PM:

Well. "the Fat Lady" has sung- - - - - Probably! There are numerous bare spots on the trails, with completely bare south facing hills in many areas, along with bare hill tops where the wind usually blows. There is no longer really a cohesive rideable trail system.

 

BUT - - - it is surprising how much packed snow base still exists in many places. Check my pictures below from this afternoon. The temperature is dropping now and will be in the teens for the next several days with highs remaining just below freezing. - - - And there is a deep low pressure center and winter storm moving up the east coast, with significant snow expected from New England well inland ALMOST to us. We will certainly see some snow tomorrow and Saturday. IF the late season storm shifts just a little more to the west than the weather service is now thinking, we could see enough snow to ride again on many parts of the Folsom trail system. It might be worth holding off on officially closing the trail system for another day to see where the storm tracks.

Old Forge Note: It is "Snofest" weekend in Old Forge, and the winter storm is quite likely to dump a decent amount in that area with night time temperatures down to the single digits. Diehards should consider heading up for the weekend!

Back to our area, here are a few pictures showing the snow base left in many spots; if you're from out of the area, you may be surprised by what we've got left! If we do get even 3 to 5 inches of snow tomorrow and tomorrow night on top of the remaining trail base in the pictures below, you'd be able to trailer to Byrncliff and have some good riding on the nearby field trails which still have some snow base now. Altogether now, fingers crossed!

Below: Looking south from Rte #20A near Dutch Hollow Road at 3PM, March 15; note that the actual trail is still snow packed through the otherwise bare cornfield!

 

Below: Looking west from Sheldon Road about 3:10PM March 15; lots of snow along this part of the trail still

 

Below: looking the other way, east from Sheldon Road at 3:10 PM, March 15th;

 

Below: Looking south in the field next to rte #77 where the new groomer barn will be; still snow pack on the actual trail in this entire area, with a short bare spot just south of here where the trail is about to cross Rte #77; lots of snow on the trail along the tree line just to the left of where I'm standing to take the picture. 3:20 PM March 15

 

Thursday, March 15, 1PM:

The Folsom Trailblazers club website (see above link) has not QUITE said, "The Fat lady has sung", but almost. Before announcing that the trails are officially closed, they may be waiting to make sure there is not significant snow this weekend, a decision with which I agree.

I am driving out this afternoon to see if there is any hope at all for weekend riding. I doubt it. Expect a "trails officially closed" announcement any day.

- Tom

Tuesday, March 13, noon:

Surprisingly, trail conditions radiating from Byrncliff are still fair to Good spring conditions as of RIGHT NOW! No guarantee how long that will last on a near 60 degree afternoon.

I went out this morning expecting to pronounce the trails "dead", but the long cold spell we've had for over a month has allowed the trails, especially field trails, to build up a deep hard packed snow and ice base, which is insulating the frozen ground under the trails. There are a few bare spots on hillsides and in the woods, but if you want to put on jeans and a sweatshirt, you can have some fun this afternoon.

I talked to the folks at Byrncliff, and they are still welcoming sledders to unload. You'll have to ride across a few mud spots and bare spots on the grass to get to the beginning of the trail. I suggest heading west. I did not see it but I imagine the hill going east from Byrncliff on trail C4 is bare and muddy.

Take S41 west from Byrncliff, where there is still plenty of snow in the fields. Then take C4B south towards Strykersville. There was plenty of snow on this trail as far as I could see from Rte #77, Sheldon Road, Bloecher Rd, Centerline Rd., Armburst Rd, Dutch Hollow Rd, and Bartz Road. The hill trail behind the Red Apple in Strykersville is mostly bare and muddy - I would not go that way. I would stay out of Strykersville village.

Take S43 towards Bartz Road, then either run S43 out across Rte #77 (good snow, but a few bare spots on hill tops) then play around on S43A and C4A between Strykersville and Java Center.

The above is what I can vouch for. I did not travel around the Bennington Loop, but there did look to be good snow in the fields jsut north of Rte #20A as I drove by. There is snow on most of the trails visible from the roads in the North Java area, with bare spots on some hills. There looked to be brown "snirt" on the A&A, but it is probably rideable.

The creek ice is going out as I write. I watched some ice breaking up while I inspected trails this morning. There will be water in low spots and drainage crossings. Take care.

With temperature staying up near 50 overnight tonight, I don't know if there will be rideable snow tomorrow morning or not. With 60 degrees again tomorrow, I would think that would finish off the trails as a rideable system. I will not go out tomorrow, but will plan to check on Thursday to see if it is truly done.

If you're a real optimist, think about this scenario: Although very warm (60), it is supposed to be cloudy Wednesday, keeping the sun off what is left of the trail base. Then Thursday night an arctic front comes through with very cold nights and possible snow Thursday night right through Monday. IF (a big IF) most of the base survives today and tomorrow, and IF (another big one) we get a significant snow anytime Thursday through Saturday, we could have a decent last ride this coming weekend.

 

Sunday, March 11, 10PM:

Well, maybe one more day tomorrow! The clouds hung around until early afternoon today which kept temperatures in the 30's and the sun off the fields for much of the day. Riding conditions were pretty good on the trails radiating from Byrncliff, but there was only one sled trailer there during two visits I made today. I heard only a few sleds in the distance on the trails. Very low traffic which helped keep the snow that's left on the trails.

There is a hard pack snow and ice base on most of the trails, and they are still pretty smooth. Some stutter bumps. Temperatures are going down to the low 20's with a clear night tonight, so early riders Monday morning can have a decent time playing on the frozen up trails.

Temperature forecast to go above 50 Monday afternoon, only down to 39 Monday night, and above 50 again Tuesday. That should do it, I would think.

Check back here late this week or next for some thoughts on this year's trail conditions.

Sunday, March 11, 8AM:

You should probably be on the trails or on the way out your door already if you want a decent ride today. It did get just below freezing most places last night, but things will slush up fast in today's bright sun and temps in high 30's - low 40's. There will be many decent field trails still today, but the woods and many hill tops and south facing hills began to go bare from yesterday's 50 degree temps and rain and will quickly get worse with today's sun. Watch out for water and deep slush in low spots. Watch out for deep, hard to see wash outs where drainage areas cross the trail!

Temperature going well below freezing tonight, so early tomorrow should yield suitable riding conditions to play in some areas, but with the ability to ride the whole system beginning to break down. If I don't report every day this week, and you want to try a ride, check this link for the Byrncliff Resort site to make sure that they haven't closed their lots and trail access due to lack of snow on their access to the trails. Respect landowners by not ripping through bare lawns, etc. Old Forge is still reporting fair to good conditions. There is some decent riding in parts of Ontario that don't rely on road running, but you need to know where to drop off to avoid the bare roads. Basically, we're done for the year and should be thankful that we've had a solid month of pretty good conditions - better than nothing!

Saturday, March 10, 11AM:

Spring conditions today (with light to moderate rain at the moment). Surprisingly, there were 15 to 20 trailers in the Byrncliff lots an hour ago with guys getting in their last "rip in the rain". The field trails surrounding Byrncliff have a thick, hard packed base, and looked Good to Very Good still this morning. But it was already 49 degrees at Byrncliff by 11AM, with rain falling. Hillsides and hill tops in the fields are beginning to go bare already. The silver lining in the clouds is that today's light rainy conditions will keep the sun off the trails until tomorrow morning.

Anyone riding today can get in some good runs on the field trails if you don't mind going through some muddy and bare spots here and there. Tonight they are still looking at below freezing temperatures in the area (though already we are warmer than they forecast). I think there will still be very rideable snow most places by tonight, and if there is a freeze overnight, then people who get out very early tomorrow morning (and I mean like 7 AM), should have a nice ride.

With temperatures over forty and bright sun tomorrow, we'll really be into marginal spring conditions by late Sunday. Then . . . . . . . . . . .

There is a possibility of very cold air and snow next Friday, but I expect we'll be awash in rushing streams, ponding in low spots, and mud by then. But maybe a chance for the real diehards to play one more time here and there.

Below: Leaving the Byrncliff parking lot; mud where there was ice yesterday, and the hill to the north half bare; March 10, 11AM

 

Below: Saturday morning; looking east from rte #77 towards Byrncliff; note the field showing though and mud near the road, but generally decent hard pack on the trail

 

Below: March 10, 11:15 AM; trail C4B crossing Centerline Road; still good conditions, but lots of slushy snow

 

Friday, March 9, 8:30 AM:

Hi guys. I'm on my way out the door for my last ride of the season probably, with awesome conditions on the Folsom trail system. Check my full report from last night below!

The trails will quickly deteriorate later today with temps near 40 and bright March sun. Worse tomorrow with rain and 46. A quick freeze Saturday night, and one more half way decent ride on Sunday morning, early, and then we're all on our own with "spring" conditions.

Check back here next week for my end of season summary and a "wish list" of what could be done to better coordinate and improve riding conditions and communication with riders for next year.

Thursday, March 8, 9PM:

I ran a full tank of gas through my ZRT this afternoon. Awesome riding conditions on the Folsom Trailblazers system! I used a lot of gas because the trails were all so good that I was riding WFO most of the time. You'll have some great riding tonight and Friday morning!

Traffic was not too heavy early in the evening when I came home, so the conditions I describe below should apply tomorrow morning, when it will still be cold, but with bright sunshine.

I left from Byrncliff and rode down C4 past Varysburg. Conditions were Good, with a few bumps here and there and some moguls on turns. The A&A railbed had been groomed, but needed another pass or two to be perfect. Decent conditions. And the rest of my ride got better and better. Once I hit C4A conditions improved to Very Good to Excellent running through North Java, the camp ground, and on to Strykersville. These trails were groomed yesterday, and it has held up well overnight!

From Strykersville I ran the C4B past the Red Apple/Kwik Fill and up the hill across Dutch Hollow Road; conditions were Great in Strykersville, and Fair to Good in the woods behind the Red Apple; there is some bare dirt showing in the woods on this hillside. From there on, conditions were Excellent on C4B all the way back to #20A. I also took a long detour across one of my favorite trails on the whole system, S43 - which was Very Good to Perfect! A great ride. S43A in Strykersville was also Excellent!

Back on C4B, I crossed #20A and ran around the Bennington Loop on S46 through Bennington and then back south on C4. Just magnificent grooming job and riding conditions on this loop in the late afternoon sun!!!!!!!!!!! Woooooo-Hooooooo!!!!!

I had not been on the Attica C4H trail this season, so I took off of C4 and ran several miles of the Attica trail, which was also absolutely perfect (and a beautiful trail, just as you said, Jim!)

Back on C4, from the Attica trail junction, back to Byrncliff was Good to Very Good, but there were a few moguls forming here and there - probably because of heavier traffic on this part of the loop. Before loading up to go home I did a quick run down S41 headed west from Byrncliff. Near Perfect conditions here, too!

WARNING - There is a temporary warning pole in the snow where a little creek has nearly melted a hard to see gully through this trail not far from where it crosses #77 - watch for it; there will be many more spots like this opening up next week - let's not get hurt!

Below: Great conditions on the Attica Trail about 4:30 PM, Thursday, March 8

 

Below: Bare dirt spot on a southern exposed hill in Strykersville; there were only four or five of these on my Thursday ride; there will be more on Saturday and Sunday; LOTS more early next week :(

 

Click Here for an album of pictures taken on the trails March 8th

Get out and ride. I talked with a number of people on the trails this afternoon and everyone had the same stuff to say; "Great riding!"; "Best conditions of the season."; "Who would have thought our best riding of the year would be in March?"

- Tom

 

Thursday, March 8, 2PM:

I just got a call from one of the groomer operators for the Folsom Club and he told me the Bennington loop was groomed again last night, Strykersville area was groomed yesterday afternoon, and the A&A "might" be groomed today. The groomer guys are all getting together tonight for their "last good ride", so I bet the trails are in pretty good shape! Have at it!

Thursday, March 8th:

I may go out riding this afternoon and make a trail report, but I did not go this morning. The base is solid, so yesterday's report should still be pretty accurate. If any grooming got done, someone phone or email me and I'll post an update. Check out the video links in the next couple of paragraphs. We may post a lot of local snowmobiling videos next season if this experiment works out.

The Big Picture:

We should have great riding today and tomorrow. Especially Friday, with good sunshine in the forecast and very cold morning temperatures, it should be the last GREAT day of riding of the year. Although there may be some light rain in the forecast for Saturday, nighttime temperatures will drop below freezing Friday night ,Saturday night, and Sunday night, so riding should be pretty decent through Sunday, even Monday. Sunday looks to be another sunny day with decent trail conditions. THEN the big meltdown sets in. We have enough base so that many guys will be riding through much of next week, but things will be pretty sloppy by mid week, and the long range forecasts tend to agree that the warm spell will stay through the following week as well. We're about done around here, so ENJOY this weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2PM:

Check my posting from last night in the next paragraph for comments on current trail conditions. They are generally very good to excellent. You'll have a great ride today or tonight.

As mentioned below, the trails in the immediate Strykersville area were reported to need a little work as of yesterday afternoon. I checked them out myself this morning, and I agree that they could use a groomer pass, but they are better than the guy I talked with yesterday led me to believe. I'd say the trails through Strykersville are "Good" - flat in fields with Stutter bumps and a few moguls forming where traffic is constricted or where sleds are accelerating or braking.

The north side trails on the Bennington loop still looked outstanding this morning. Make that loop if you have a chance this afternoon or evening!!

Pictures (and video!) coming later this evening.

VIDEO! - Try this link; it's a test. We might post video next year.

Also try this link for what might be a better quality video. If you have a fast broadband connection, click on "Quicktime" for a higher quality video. Email me and let me know what you think and if the quality is good enough to post more online.

Below: Looking east on S41 from rte #77 towards Byrncliff at 11AM this morning

Tuesday, March 6, 10PM:

Trail conditions on the Folsom system tonight range from Good to Superb! Before getting into the details, let me show off a cool picture Meghan took of me this afternoon doing a little "drift busting" next to the trail to Arcade. You probably know the spot! Not bad for a guy in his 60's!

 

OK - back to the trail report. We left Byrncliff about 1:30PM and headed up over the hill towards Varysburg and the A&A rail bed trail. We were pretty discouraged at first because of serious moguls on this part of the trail system in many places and rough conditions on the rail bed. But halfway to Java we came upon recent groomer tracks. The boys were out doing their magic and things started looking up! And conditions got better and better over the next four hours.

By the time we finished our ride, the groomer had made two passes over the C4 trail from Byrncliff to near North Java, and conditions were good to Very Good. Because the trails had been pretty rough to start with, they could probably use another pass to put them into really excellent condition, and they may get that tonight or tomorrow morning?

Conditions on C4A through Java Center and on towards Strykersville were Very Good, even though they looked like they had not been groomed since yesterday. Plenty of loose powder over a smooth base made for fun riding! In Strykersville we hopped on S43A north and then S43 back east to C4A. This trail is usually very good since a groomer "lives" on it, and tonight condtions on these secondary trails were outstanding. We had a great ride back over to C4A and C4. On the rail bed we were following recently groomed trail, and conditions were "Good", but not excellent - as noted above, they need another pass or two of a groomer. Very rideable, though.

After a good, fast ride back to Byrncliff, we decided to make the Bennington loop on C4, S46, C4B, and S41 back to Byrncliff. This loop north of #20A was in Superb condition. Every bit as good as the trails we rode in Canada last week! Part of the reason is that these trails have been in very good condition for a week now, and whoever is doing the grooming is being given the machine time to make enough passes so that there aren't many soft spots on the trail. The trail stays in good shape between groomings and a new pass with the groomer puts the trail back in AA+ condition! Great job, guys! It also helps that there appears to have been very light traffic on this north side loop in the past day or two.

The only reports we got today of poor trail conditions came from some guys we met who rode from Strykersville and said the trails right in Strykersville were still pretty rough as of mid afternoon. I would guess that maybe the groomers will hit Strykersville tonight or tomorrow morning, based on the great job they are doing everyplace else on the system.

All in all, the groomer crews are doing a terrific job of putting the trail system in tip-top shape for what will likely be the final two or three days of good riding this year. If you plan to ride Wednesday, most all of the Folsom system will be in great shape. The Bennington loop is awesome. C4B and the secondary trails down towards Strykersville look to be in very good to excellent condition. The east side trails through Varysburg are Good to Very Good and may be better tomorrow if they get one more grooming pass. The trails in Java Center and North Java are Very Good. S41 is Outstanding. Good job, guys!

Below: We took this along C4A in Java about 3PM Tuesday

 

Click here for an album of pictures taken on the trail system this afternoon (3-6-07)

 

 We have too many sleds in the garage; need to sell my wife's 1997 ZRT 600. It has high mileage (about 5500 mostly Canadian trail miles). It's been well maintained with many new suspension parts last year. Unusual for a ZRT, it has both electric start and reverse.

 

We're selling it only because we found a good deal on a clean 2001 ZRT 600 for her.

Looking to get somewhere around $1500 or best offer. It can be seen at A - Z out by rte #77 and rte #20A. Phone or email me if you have any questions. It should be a real good deal as a fast trail sled for someone on a budget. Would make a great backup sled as well, considering the low price.

Click here for a picture

 

 

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