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  1. #1
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    Fatbiking on snowmobile trails

    I'm from Wisconsin currently we cannot legaly ride on snowmo trails here and I'm trying to Change that

    What are the laws where your from.
    How well is this activity recived

  2. #2
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    isnt that kind of dangerous? like riding in the middle of the street

  3. #3
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    It is against the law? Wow! I did a little searching on the web and couldn't find anything that said it was against the law to ride a bike on snowmobile trails. I'm assuming that the laws here in Utah for riding a bike in the winter are no different than riding in the summer. I know there are some trails that are groomed for skiers and they get real mad if your ride bikes on those. Other than that I think it is OK to ride wherever it is legal in the summer and the snow too deep to stop me.

  4. #4
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    We're looking at the same issues here on east coast of canada. We are going to try to approach the snowmobile association people once we get some info in a pile. I'd buy a season snow pass if that was all it took...but i'm having my doubts.

  5. #5
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    In wisco its "technically"trespassing because these private landowners who allow the trails to go through their property allowed snomobiles to use them. not bikes per say or xc skiers or dog walkers

    I'm currently working with the snomo clubs in my area to come to an agreement

    As far as a pass or something of that nature I'm all for it. But there is nothing in place at this time so

    Join a snomo club I figure, they control the trails as far as maintenance and GROOMING
    Which is what I'm after in the end anyhow

    Our snowmo trail in my country is a network and vast to the tune of almost 900 miles

    The clubs seem interested in working together so that is a plus

    Also these trails recive state and federal funding for grooming and other uses

  6. #6
    Location: SouthPole of MN
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    Hmmm. I ride them in MN and haven't had anyone yell at me. I hadn't really thought about it being illegal... most snowmobile riders just look like "what the hell is that thing" and keep on going. It's easy to hear if they are coming and I get to the side. Not dangerous at all.

  7. #7
    Laramie, Wyoming
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    In Wyoming, the ski trails and snowmobile trails are on national forest land so nothing can be said about it unless the forest service decides to make bicycles illegal in the forest.

  8. #8
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    From what I understand about MN its legal because for a while you had a pro biking governer...so I've been told don't quote me

    I should add that I'm no expert on the rules by any means

    Also I should add that on publicly owned land here its OK as long as there's no specific ordinances against it

    We have a cty forest system that we bike all summer but at the end of the fall season the park closes to bikes to allow for hunters then xc skiers and snowshoes

    Public land is golden here

    These rules were inplace long before 4"tires were thought of

  9. #9
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    Yea and danger. I guess is relative
    I ride my bikes in the road in some form or another every day.
    Yea I'm scared of getting hit
    Like he said up there^^
    Sled are loud and even worse dare I say "drivers intoxicated"
    But then again so are car drivers.

  10. #10
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    I live in Wisconsin too and have asked that question to my friends who are from here (I'm not). What they have told me is that the farm owners are concerned about the damage that bicycle tires can do to their fields, which I can fully appreciate. They are, after all, allowing people on their land. The issue, in my mind, is the effective communication that fat bikes are designed to float, not cut through the substrate ridden on. Of course, there's only so much float and it only takes on jerk to ruin it for the rest of us.

    It's the same for riding on groomed xc ski trails. If we stay away from the grooved portion of their trail, no harm no foul, but ride into it, flattening the groove, trouble... And it's rude. Those trails are groomed for them, not walkers, snow shoers or mountain bikers. I'm all for getting laws changed, but I understand it isn't a law issue, but a perception issue. Fat bikes are only now becoming visible to the mainstream. Bikes that float, are you nuts?

    Then there's the issue of safety. I would be extremely nervous about riding on such trails. Those guys go pretty fast and the trail isn't very wide. I was a roadie once, but the increasing number of close calls and the one side swipe kept me off road for good. One wreck with a snowmobile would be a terrible thing. I'm fortunate that I live close enough to the Great River Trail and a few parks that I don't need to ride those trails.

    I hear your frustration and don't disagree, but the perception (that can be changed) and the safety concerns (that won't go away) make me less inclined to ride on those trails.

    My long winded 2 cents.
    Steel Fatback

  11. #11
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    One more thing... I did talk to the local snomo club and they were just fine with me riding on the trails, they just warned me to watch out. They were great guys, just as concerned as I was about the safety issues.

    Hope you make some progress...
    Steel Fatback

  12. #12
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    Here in Mass we can ride them but it can be dangerous because the trails are not as wide as in states that get more snow. We night ride the trails a lot so that they can see our light at least for safety reasons as well as less traffic overall. Most snomo guys stop and ask us if we are crazy for riding our bikes in the cold!!

    As far as being legal or not it would depend on the land being public or private as well as if it is a trail system that you have to buy a season pass. I would just buy a snomobile season pass and put the sticker on the bike, that is if you ride the trails enough to justify the cost.

    -Nolan

  13. #13
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    How come every time I check in to see what's going on in the Fatbike forum, I feel like I'm living a deja vu? Great topic, but discussed here and other places recently:

    Snowmobile Trail System Access

    This might actually give you some good information to help do what you're tying to do.

    Also, the upcoming Fatbike summit in Idaho will have many public land managers in attendance, so it would be a good place to discuss the subject with the powers that be:

    Fat Bike Winter Summit & Festival | The 2nd Annual! January 25-27th, 2013 – Island Park, Idaho
    We still hang bike thieves in Wyoming [Pedal House]

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrkgstiff View Post
    It's the same for riding on groomed xc ski trails. If we stay away from the grooved portion of their trail, no harm no foul, but ride into it, flattening the groove, trouble... And it's rude. Those trails are groomed for them, not walkers, snow shoers or mountain bikers. I'm all for getting laws changed, but I understand it isn't a law issue, but a perception issue. Fat bikes are only now becoming visible to the mainstream. Bikes that float, are you nuts?
    Actually, riding your fat bike on a skate ski trail does mess up the trail, the center area may look smooth, but fat bikes create enough of a divit to create problems, it doesn't take much to ruin the skating surface.

  15. #15
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    I ride in the upper peninsula of Michigan with no issues. I ride at night mostly, I use a blinky light front and rear plus a headlamp. I hear the snowmobiles coming I just step to the side. I asked the dnr if I needed a trail pass and they said no due to a bike not being motorized.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by wetpaint View Post
    Actually, riding your fat bike on a skate ski trail does mess up the trail, the center area may look smooth, but fat bikes create enough of a divit to create problems, it doesn't take much to ruin the skating surface.
    I suppose I'd have to draw a diagram, but what I meant was that on the whole groomed trail, there's usually a single track of ruts for the xc skis and the rest is just packed down, at least they are here. I rode on the far side of the trail away from the ruts. I also noticed very little in the way of depression or rutting by my tires. Not trying to argue and you are correct, any riding at all will make impressions on the xc trail. But with a groomed trails here are at least 10' across. Lots of room for a fat tired bike to ride on the opposite side of the ruts for the skis.

    Just sayin'...
    Steel Fatback

  17. #17
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    Okay, time to fess up. I'm just jealous that they have groomed trails and I don't. There I said it!
    Steel Fatback

  18. #18
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    I too live in WI and I ride on the local snowmobile trails fairly often. I have never had anyone get mad at me or anything, mostly just friendly waves or at worst indifference.

    As for safety, you can literally hear them coming a mile away. I am always careful to be courteous and give the snowmobiler the right of way, I get off the trail entirely until they pass. I don't think safety is an issue at all.

    I know I'm not technically allowed on all the trails, I usually base my ride off of one of the rail-to-trails here that is also a snowmobile trail. They can't kick me off that! But the network trails are just too tempting, too interesting and you get to see a lot of little corners of the county you usually wouldn't get to see.

    I would be very happy to pay a user fee or a membership to the local snowmobile club to support trail maintenance. However, at the moment I feel like a policy of don't ask don't tell is less likely to get me in trouble.
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  19. #19
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    I appreciate everyones feedback this is why I started the thread

    I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in this thinking

    As more things develop in my quest I will continue to keep you all updated

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrkgstiff View Post
    It's the same for riding on groomed xc ski trails. If we stay away from the grooved portion of their trail, no harm no foul, but ride into it, flattening the groove, trouble... And it's rude. Those trails are groomed for them, not walkers, snow shoers or mountain bikers. I'm all for getting laws changed, but I understand it isn't a law issue, but a perception issue. Fat bikes are only now becoming visible to the mainstream. Bikes that float, are you nuts?
    Groomed trails cost money. Skiers frequently pay for that. I'd suggest you ask your local ski clubs if you can ride the trails that they pay to maintain. Some allow bikers on their trails. Some do not. If you ride without asking, you may find "no biking" signs posted and when you ask to ride then they may be unwilling to say yes.

  21. #21
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    I ride in southern Minnesota, about 45 minutes south of the Twin Cities, where the snowmobile riding is hardly as good as on Minnesota's North Shore or in Michigan's U.P. There is a club here, and we do have a well marked and decently well maintained snowmo trail that I can pick up about a half mile from my house. I've searched the DNR's rules about the use of snowmobile trails (e.g., Google "minnesota snowmobiling laws" to find the main PDF) and not found anything that specifically prohibits others - runners, skiers, bikers - from using the trails. A number of fatbikers down here do ride on the snowmo trails, so I am following their lead!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by tassava View Post
    I ride in southern Minnesota, about 45 minutes south of the Twin Cities, where the snowmobile riding is hardly as good as on Minnesota's North Shore or in Michigan's U.P. There is a club here, and we do have a well marked and decently well maintained snowmo trail that I can pick up about a half mile from my house. I've searched the DNR's rules about the use of snowmobile trails (e.g., Google "minnesota snowmobiling laws" to find the main PDF) and not found anything that specifically prohibits others - runners, skiers, bikers - from using the trails. A number of fatbikers down here do ride on the snowmo trails, so I am following their lead!
    I've contacted the MN DNR about that. All 22,000 miles of Grant in Aid Trails are prohibited to be used for anything besides snowmobiles. The state trails are recommended for snowmobiles only for safety reasons, but hiking, skiing, and cycling are not prohibited.

  23. #23
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    I ride an hour north of Mpls. Tons of trails. One of them takes me right by the DNR building. I have seen workers outside, none have ever flagged me down to tell me to get off the trail.

    Like others have said, you hear them a long distance away. My schedule allows me to ride mid to late morning. Rarely ever see any snowmobiles during that time on week days. I stay off the trails on weekends.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbutter View Post
    I appreciate everyones feedback this is why I started the thread

    I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in this thinking

    As more things develop in my quest I will continue to keep you all updated
    Keep up the good work for us tbutter!! We have very limited winter riding here and being a new club poaching trails is just what we aren't about. It's funny how the silent sport community shuns us and bubba on the high powered snowmobile accepts us. Let me know if you need anything.

    Thanks again for taking this on....bOb

  25. #25
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    OK, I see private vs public. Nearly 80% of Utah is public land, so there are no shortage of public trails. There are some public trails that are groomed for skiers, but other than that the trails here should be good for fat bikes.

  26. #26
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    MN Snowmobile Trails

    Quote Originally Posted by EPcycles View Post
    I've contacted the MN DNR about that. All 22,000 miles of Grant in Aid Trails are prohibited to be used for anything besides snowmobiles. The state trails are recommended for snowmobiles only for safety reasons, but hiking, skiing, and cycling are not prohibited.
    Great to know! Thanks! The trail I've been riding is #124, which looks like a legit state trail from the maps I've found.

  27. #27
    HIKE!
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    Checking in from the Black Hills of SD. We have 350 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. All are open to any human powered transport, and sleds. No wheeled-motorized travel. I still just pick my days to ride, avoid Sat and Sun as much as possible, and lots of weekday mornings (colder=harder surface) and nearly never see a sled out here. Our local XC trails are all fully legal and legit to any human powered travel, but I stay off them by bike to avoid Nordic Rage.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by EPcycles View Post
    Groomed trails cost money. Skiers frequently pay for that. I'd suggest you ask your local ski clubs if you can ride the trails that they pay to maintain. Some allow bikers on their trails. Some do not. If you ride without asking, you may find "no biking" signs posted and when you ask to ride then they may be unwilling to say yes.
    +1 EPcycles. I was absolutely wrong to ride on them the other day. I shouldn't justify. There was nobody out there, I did my best to stay as far away from the grooves, but you're right. I'll be asking the xc ski club if I can ride on them.

    I did ask a few of the land owners in the area about riding the trails and they were hesitant, even when I showed them the bike. One of them had some damage from bike tires in the past and so was not interested in allowing any bicycle riders.

    Anyway, not trying to be a jerk. tbutter, I hope you can make some headway with the landowners in your area.
    Steel Fatback

  29. #29
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    I don't know why most of you would want to ride on an 8-10 foot wide chunk of trail. And then also piss off another user group in the process. I live in MN and have snowmobiled a good part of my life in this state and others and know how hard it is to get access to the trails we have. And these folks pay to use these trails and for us as bikers to come in and just use their trail system without any payment or trail work is not good for the fatbike community.

    Here in MN we have great trails to ride come winter, some are the same trails we ride in the summer on our MTB's. So why go and ruin another user groups trails that they pay and fight for? Now when I'm on my fatbike, I sure don't want to see any snowmobiles on my mtb trails. So I pay the same respect back to the other user groups. I have way more trails to ride than spend my time riding mindless wide trails across a farm feild.

    We have to remember that fatbikes are a new segment of biking and we have to play nice with many other user groups. Next thing you will want to take over is the snowshoe only trails. These kinds of fights only open the doors for others to try and take or use another user groups trails or land for their use in the user group that they belong.
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  30. #30
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    Totally agree.. Is all abt speed differentials.. Fat bikes belong to the category of human powered activities..doesnt mix with snowmobiles blasting down the trails..

  31. #31
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    ^^^ really??

    phatbikes may be new but, up in n minn, i've been riding on the snow since '95 or so on my regular mtb. the snowmobilers just give you a look of amazement, but have never had an issue w/ anyone.
    our singletrack trails are plentiful and have lots of foot traffic so we can and do ride just about anywhere.
    and as far as us using "their" trail system, check this out---C.J. Ramstad/North Shore State Trail: Minnesota DNR.
    can you say multi-use??
    Baby seal walks into a club.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbykr©™ View Post
    ^^^ really??

    phatbikes may be new but, up in n minn, i've been riding on the snow since '95 or so on my regular mtb. the snowmobilers just give you a look of amazement, but have never had an issue w/ anyone.
    our singletrack trails are plentiful and have lots of foot traffic so we can and do ride just about anywhere.
    and as far as us using "their" trail system, check this out---C.J. Ramstad/North Shore State Trail: Minnesota DNR.
    can you say multi-use??
    Wow, so you have been riding since 95, that is good on you. It's not how long someone has been riding. Yea, I was also riding snow back in the day, it has no bearing on the topic.

    Yes, we have multi-use trails in MN. So then my question is why do we want to make another user group mad and against us when down the road we all might need each other to keep said trails open.

    I'm talking about the state I live in, if other states allow fatbikes on the snowmobile trails, great. But in this state, I have many other options for riding to bark up this tree. If we all want to pay to play, then it's a different deal. This way the bikers are paying thier part and no one will have an issue with the trail use.
    RICOH for LIFE
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by majack View Post
    Wow, so you have been riding since 95, that is good on you. It's not how long someone has been riding. Yea, I was also riding snow back in the day, it has no bearing on the topic.

    Yes, we have multi-use trails in MN. So then my question is why do we want to make another user group mad and against us when down the road we all might need each other to keep said trails open.

    I'm talking about the state I live in, if other states allow fatbikes on the snowmobile trails, great. But in this state, I have many other options for riding to bark up this tree. If we all want to pay to play, then it's a different deal. This way the bikers are paying thier part and no one will have an issue with the trail use.
    I thought the OP was trying to work with the Snow Mobile group to make it work for both. How is that making another user group mad at us?
    As to the speed thing I think that is more of a perceived problem. Bikes and Snowmachines have been sharing trails for years now with mostly good results. Sure there can be problems but they can be minimised. Without the ability to ride on snomobile trails the Idtasport race would not exist.
    Latitude 61

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by majack View Post
    Wow, so you have been riding since 95, that is good on you. It's not how long someone has been riding. Yea, I was also riding snow back in the day, it has no bearing on the topic.

    Yes, we have multi-use trails in MN. So then my question is why do we want to make another user group mad and against us when down the road we all might need each other to keep said trails open.

    I'm talking about the state I live in, if other states allow fatbikes on the snowmobile trails, great. But in this state, I have many other options for riding to bark up this tree. If we all want to pay to play, then it's a different deal. This way the bikers are paying thier part and no one will have an issue with the trail use.
    no need to get all smarty-azz...

    if you'd goto the link i posted, you'd see that it's a MINNESOTA [yup, your state...] trail that allows bikes on the snowmobile trails.

    don't get the rest of your post, tho...
    Baby seal walks into a club.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by majack View Post
    I don't know why most of you would want to ride on an 8-10 foot wide chunk of trail. And then also piss off another user group in the process. I live in MN and have snowmobiled a good part of my life in this state and others and know how hard it is to get access to the trails we have. And these folks pay to use these trails and for us as bikers to come in and just use their trail system without any payment or trail work is not good for the fatbike community.

    Here in MN we have great trails to ride come winter, some are the same trails we ride in the summer on our MTB's. So why go and ruin another user groups trails that they pay and fight for? Now when I'm on my fatbike, I sure don't want to see any snowmobiles on my mtb trails. So I pay the same respect back to the other user groups. I have way more trails to ride than spend my time riding mindless wide trails across a farm feild.

    We have to remember that fatbikes are a new segment of biking and we have to play nice with many other user groups. Next thing you will want to take over is the snowshoe only trails. These kinds of fights only open the doors for others to try and take or use another user groups trails or land for their use in the user group that they belong.
    Did you read the thread from the beginning? The OP is working on getting an alliance with our local snowmobile clubs in a area where our own silent sports community wants nothing to do with us. I will take my chance on the snowmobile trails over a ten foot swat of cement shared with a 6 foot wide 5000 pound car driven by a 16 year old kid who is probably texting or drinking or both. Go rant elsewhere!

  36. #36
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    Here in Idaho the fat bikers just need to buy a winter use/snowmobile permit for their bikes so they are pitching in as much money for grooming of trails as the snowmobiles. The snowmobilers refer to mountain bikes as "struggle buggies" but I've never heard of them being mad at bikers.
    Last edited by jackbombay; 01-06-2013 at 04:12 PM.

  37. #37
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    this thread already exists.....pick up on it.
    BBB (big beautiful bike)

  38. #38
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    Hey;

    If you thought MTB had a hard time with other user groups, fuhgeddaboudit. In general, you will find the motor guys more accommodating than most other groups. That's because they are on the bottom of the popularity totem pole, AND THEY KNOW IT. Dirt bikers are the bottom rung. "Everybody" hates them. Snowmobilers are not nearly as universally shunned, but there are still lots of butt plugs that don't like them either. As a result, and if they are proactive, they generally look to be as friendly and inclusive as possible.

    The smart ones know they need all the allies they can get, so they don't usually try and piss people off.
    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailMaker View Post
    Hey;

    If you thought MTB had a hard time with other user groups, fuhgeddaboudit. In general, you will find the motor guys more accommodating than most other groups. That's because they are on the bottom of the popularity totem pole, AND THEY KNOW IT. Dirt bikers are the bottom rung. "Everybody" hates them. Snowmobilers are not nearly as universally shunned, but there are still lots of butt plugs that don't like them either. As a result, and if they are proactive, they generally look to be as friendly and inclusive as possible.

    The smart ones know they need all the allies they can get, so they don't usually try and piss people off.
    This is so correct and it surprised the heck out of me!

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdundee View Post
    This is so correct and it surprised the heck out of me!


    Seems everybody's on somebody's ****elist these days, so....

    Not much of anybody ever gives me ****e no how. Law of the jungle. Don't F with sumpin bigger'n you. Regardless,... it isn't that hard to be nice to everybody anyways. The motors' got it bad, and there but for the grace of God go we, cause we're next in line!
    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
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  41. #41
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    I just want to give you a hardcore snowmobiler's take on this topic.

    The problem I see with shared trail use with other activity's is safety and liability to land owners.
    As it has already been said here, People don't pay attention or they drink and drive, do drugs etc.. It really isn't any safer than being on the road. If I was to encounter you on the trail walking the dog or on your bike my thought would not be "what the hell is that thing" It is more like " Is this guy on a suicide mission? I have encountered many people over the years walking or snowshoeing on the trail and it just amazes me that they would take such a risk. That's like playing on the freeway. As it was stated here before, Yes you can usually hear a snowmobile coming down the trail. But snowmobile manufactures are making the machines quieter every year due to the fact the government pushing them to meet stricter sound and emission standards every year. Getting off the trail isn't as safe as you think either. Because Snowmobiles do not always stay on the trail even though we're supposed to. They get off trail for various reasons... . Sometimes the snow pack is hard and causes over heating so we get off the trail and into the soft stuff to cool things down. Sometimes it's for the fun of playing in the powder. Let me give you an example.. Lets say you are walking the dog, biking, skiing, etc. and your heading up a hill and your almost at the top. On the other side is a 750 pound snowmobile traveling 50+mph. And he decides to get off the trail and you both get off on the same side of the trail. At best It's going to be a close call or worse... it's game over for one if not both of you. The land owner would likely get sued and the trail closed for ever.

    I think a solution could be in working together. I believe it could benefit both Bike and snowmobile clubs if they could work collectively with government and land owners to obtain more land to expand the trail systems into separate trails for both sports. Working collectively would benefit both in many ways with resources like the power of a louder voice, manpower and equipment for building and maintaining trail systems.

    Bottom line is... a multi use trail it isn't good for either of us.


    A note to the forum moderator.. I joined only to respond to this post so you can remove me if you wish.

  42. #42
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    Posted by Flatslide24

    "I just want to give you a hardcore snowmobiler's take on this topic.

    The problem I see with shared trail use with other activity's is safety and liability to land owners.
    As it has already been said here, People don't pay attention or they drink and drive, do drugs etc.. It really isn't any safer than being on the road. If I was to encounter you on the trail walking the dog or on your bike my thought would not be "what the hell is that thing" It is more like " Is this guy on a suicide mission? I have encountered many people over the years walking or snowshoeing on the trail and it just amazes me that they would take such a risk. That's like playing on the freeway. As it was stated here before, Yes you can usually hear a snowmobile coming down the trail. But snowmobile manufactures are making the machines quieter every year due to the fact the government pushing them to meet stricter sound and emission standards every year. Getting off the trail isn't as safe as you think either. Because Snowmobiles do not always stay on the trail even though we're supposed to. They get off trail for various reasons... . Sometimes the snow pack is hard and causes over heating so we get off the trail and into the soft stuff to cool things down. Sometimes it's for the fun of playing in the powder. Let me give you an example.. Lets say you are walking the dog, biking, skiing, etc. and your heading up a hill and your almost at the top. On the other side is a 750 pound snowmobile traveling 50+mph. And he decides to get off the trail and you both get off on the same side of the trail. At best It's going to be a close call or worse... it's game over for one if not both of you. The land owner would likely get sued and the trail closed for ever.

    I think a solution could be in working together. I believe it could benefit both Bike and snowmobile clubs if they could work collectively with government and land owners to obtain more land to expand the trail systems into separate trails for both sports. Working collectively would benefit both in many ways with resources like the power of a louder voice, manpower and equipment for building and maintaining trail systems.

    Bottom line is... a multi use trail it isn't good for either of us.


    A note to the forum moderator.. I joined only to respond to this post so you can remove me if you wish. "



    I appreciate your input, thanks for giving us some information many might not be aware of.

  43. #43
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    I think you're over reacting a bit about sharing the trail. I used to be an avid snowmobiler, atv rider, and off roader. Rules, restrictions, laws, and money to pursue these hobbies was getting out of hand and just not worth it to me anymore. Human powered hobbies like cycling, and kayaking interest me anymore simply because it is easier and much less costlier to get out and enjoy the outdoors, just because it doesn't have a motor attached to it, and it's better for my health. The scenario you laid out in your post sounds like something only an idiot would do. If I decide to pull off of the trail I certainly wouldn't cross into on comming traffic to do it, I would pull off to the right on my side of the trail, only where I could be seen, not before a blind hill or corner. I wouldn't put it past some people to do what you describe though, and thats irresponsible riding. Nobody wins from that. Not to mention, riding hard pack is easier than riding in the powder, and I've never seen or had a snowmobile over heat on me. Deep powder I'm lucky if I hit 50 with the throttle pinned. Hard pack, assuming trails are flat and smooth, whatever the sleds top speed is of the sled, it will go. So 50 on hard pack is much easier on the sled than in powder, so I don't know what your talking about there...

    I don't know how your trail system is setup, I mainly ride seasonal roads for 3 seasons, turned snowmobile trails for winter. Pretty much the same logic applies to the ATV's for the other 3 seasons, only they have to share the road with passenger vehicles, logging trucks, dump trucks, road graders (for road maintenance), and other atv riders. The roads aren't wide enough for two cars to pass either. So what? Everybody else shouldn't be on the road for the scenario you just described (substitute snowmobile for ATV's)? I've seen just as many irresponsible ATV riders as snowmobilers, it doesn't stop me driving my truck or my fat bike on those roads for the other 3 seasons. Last summer I heard a dirt bike running hard as I was coming up to a blind corner AND hill, when I seen him, he had the whole bike sideways. If he lost control I'm pretty certain I would be dead.

    On private land, on farmers fields, the blind hills have trail markers right in the middle of the trail with signs stating “stay right”. Logic and sign-age goes a long way for motor-sport enthusiasts safety.

    I'm also a motorcyclist, and by most peoples logic I shouldn't be on the road because “people die” on them things. I frequently read in the news about motorcyclist getting hit in traffic, as well as bicyclists. I guess bicyclists shouldn't ride in the road either too? Riding smart helps my odds.

    This post is not meant to be confrontational, as I read it, it does come off that way. I'm also a motor-sports enthusiast, and still think about getting back into it. The recklessness I have witnessed over the years, the way law enforcement has come down on the sport, the fees, etc, always makes me think twice. In this wall of text I have typed, I guess you could summarize that everything has risk. It is up to YOU (everyone who reads this) to mitigate the risk. Substitute a fat biker with a deer... What are you gonna do about that? Kill them all? Put up fences everywhere? Ban them from the trail? There's more to be said, but I think I got my point across.

  44. #44
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    I think us fat bikers have escaped attention up until recently, but our numbers are exploding and it will soon be impossible to sneak in and out of some venues. This thread ( Fatbike access )shares notices from MN and WI DNR officials on use of sno-mo trails.

    It seems like every area is a little different, and different users in user groups may have different stories: Our club hosted a fatbike race recently (Cuyuna Whiteout), making an agreement with the local sno-mo club to use a few yards of their trails, crossing them a couple of times with course marshalls and spotters for safety. At one crossing riders as well as marshalls took flak from sno-mo crowd for screwing up their fun, slowing them down.
    Some opinions were that inconsiderate sno-mo folks probably were NOT members of club, didn't know that the trail they were contesting the use of was actually not groomed sno-mo trail, but a section of access road that gets a lot of use as an alternate route. But it illustrates an idea...even if one isn't aware of the law, we still have opinions and may try to impose them.

    Clubs and interested parties everywhere are working on the issue: some places have gained access to ski trails, worked at grooming multi-use trails, and some have even created fatbike trails alongside other users' infrastructure. Its all good, IMO, so long as we take the high road. Personally, I rode less, and snowshoed more (grooming) than last year, but at least I wasn't riding the couch.

    That's worth something, right?

  45. #45
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    Here in Maine, riding on the snowmobile trails is legal. I have xc skied on them for years, and as of this year I ride them as well. The town that I live in, has the most mapped trails in the state, so I'm very lucky!

    I will say however, that I do NOT ride on the busier trails on the weekends or holiday periods. I still may meet folks out there, but the chance is much less I think we all have to respect for each other, and remember that we are the minority right now, so be respectful and help with trail maintenance when you can.

    Have a good rest of the winter everyone!

  46. #46
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    I want to chime in again, with two quick thoughts that come to mind:

    1. First of all, thanks Flatslide, for taking the time to join and comment. A civil dialog and sharing of perspectives is always great, and is exactly what we need. Even if it takes a while to (or even if we never quite do) understand the other "side's" perspective. I hope you'll stay part of the discussion.

    2. It strikes me that these issues may have a very different aspect to them, depending on where in the country they're taking place.

    Out here in the Rocky Mountain West where I live and ride, we don't have the private land issue (or the landowner liability issue) that you mentioned, to worry about. What we have is millions and millions of square miles of public lands that have ALWAYS been used by multiple groups of enthusiasts. The vast majority of our "trails" are actually public roads in the summer, which are simply covered by 6 feet of snow in the winter. On any given outing, it's normal to see dog sleds, snow shoers, skate and traditional cross country skiers, fat bikes, snowmobiles, and ATVs that have been converted to snow vehicles with Trax attachments. You just expect it and look out for it - period.

    It's not that we don't have occasional conflicts. (The worst are in the summer though, and usually involve equestrians who tend to be the most indignant and self-righteous of all users, the slowest to accept change, and the least likely to acknowledge the damage they cause.) In the end though, we have many more shared interests than we do conflicting ones: Things like adequate parking and plowing at the trailheads in a time of shrinking federal budgets; avalanche safety education; and awareness of potential wildlife conflicts which, if ignored, could end eliminating access for ALL of us.

    I can also tell you that the argument of "Group B is on a 'suicide mission' and shouldn't be allowed, because it's 'understood' that Group A is always going to be reckless and drunk" will never fly in this setting. And pressing that line of logic is the fastest way to lose privileges for Group A - not the other way around.

    The other thing to remember is that land use policy will always follow the money. Most land managers (whether private or public) will do everything they can to generate more commerce - and that means accommodating the MOST groups of users possible. Heck, our local alpine and and XC ski areas have, for a number of years already, been soliciting the business of fat bikes by either grooming trails for them, or allowing them to share them with skiers.

    I don't really know what the answer is for locales where activity occurs on private land, but I'd remind everyone that a model for cooperation can and does exist, where it becomes necessary. Some landowner may be willing to create a haven for drunk snowmobilers, where fatbikes are banned... but can you imagine the liability in that scenario?!!

    (By the way, I too used to be an avid snowmobiler, still occasionally enjoy it; I still cross country ski; and my kids and I went snowshoeing just yesterday. But fatbikes are my favorite and, I'm afraid, are here to stay and grow - just like 4-stroke engines. The only thing constant, as they say, is change..... Adapt or die.... Yada, yada,... you get the point. )




    Quote Originally Posted by Flatslide24 View Post
    I just want to give you a hardcore snowmobiler's take on this topic.

    The problem I see with shared trail use with other activity's is safety and liability to land owners.
    As it has already been said here, People don't pay attention or they drink and drive, do drugs etc.. It really isn't any safer than being on the road. If I was to encounter you on the trail walking the dog or on your bike my thought would not be "what the hell is that thing" It is more like " Is this guy on a suicide mission? I have encountered many people over the years walking or snowshoeing on the trail and it just amazes me that they would take such a risk. That's like playing on the freeway. As it was stated here before, Yes you can usually hear a snowmobile coming down the trail. But snowmobile manufactures are making the machines quieter every year due to the fact the government pushing them to meet stricter sound and emission standards every year. Getting off the trail isn't as safe as you think either. Because Snowmobiles do not always stay on the trail even though we're supposed to. They get off trail for various reasons... . Sometimes the snow pack is hard and causes over heating so we get off the trail and into the soft stuff to cool things down. Sometimes it's for the fun of playing in the powder. Let me give you an example.. Lets say you are walking the dog, biking, skiing, etc. and your heading up a hill and your almost at the top. On the other side is a 750 pound snowmobile traveling 50+mph. And he decides to get off the trail and you both get off on the same side of the trail. At best It's going to be a close call or worse... it's game over for one if not both of you. The land owner would likely get sued and the trail closed for ever.

    I think a solution could be in working together. I believe it could benefit both Bike and snowmobile clubs if they could work collectively with government and land owners to obtain more land to expand the trail systems into separate trails for both sports. Working collectively would benefit both in many ways with resources like the power of a louder voice, manpower and equipment for building and maintaining trail systems.

    Bottom line is... a multi use trail it isn't good for either of us.


    A note to the forum moderator.. I joined only to respond to this post so you can remove me if you wish.
    We still hang bike thieves in Wyoming [Pedal House]

  47. #47
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    You took the words right outta my mouth. I'm going 8 mph and just as obvious as a sled going 50 mph.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by EPcycles View Post
    I've contacted the MN DNR about that. All 22,000 miles of Grant in Aid Trails are prohibited to be used for anything besides snowmobiles. The state trails are recommended for snowmobiles only for safety reasons, but hiking, skiing, and cycling are not prohibited.
    The DNR in MN. had a meeting in Feb. and it's ok for us to be on the State Trails no pass needed but you can buy one if you want to help support the groomers or give some money to your snowmobile club in your area. And! yes you are right we are not to be on the GIA trails at all. Also bright colors lights please keep it safe no head phones!

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by majack View Post
    Wow, so you have been riding since 95, that is good on you. It's not how long someone has been riding. Yea, I was also riding snow back in the day, it has no bearing on the topic.

    Yes, we have multi-use trails in MN. So then my question is why do we want to make another user group mad and against us when down the road we all might need each other to keep said trails open.

    I'm talking about the state I live in, if other states allow fatbikes on the snowmobile trails, great. But in this state, I have many other options for riding to bark up this tree. If we all want to pay to play, then it's a different deal. This way the bikers are paying thier part and no one will have an issue with the trail use.
    Go buy a pass we all can wow that's easy!

  50. #50
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    I think there are many valid points here, and I think the main consensus seems to be be careful and respectful. Like many other states, Maine has snowmobile trails that are groomed wide and the speed of the snowmobiles are very high as well. These are NOT areas that I would either xc ski in nor ride. I would choose to ride on trails that are much more narrow, and not as likely to be as groomed quite so often... so there is certainly traffic but not as much.

    We do pose a problem being out there, and that is something that is quite evident. For areas, that sell a pass, then I would encourage folks to buy one if you are going to ride the trails. If you live in area like Maine, that doesn't have a pass, then make a donation to the local snowmobile club and help out with trail maintenance.

    The overall concern here is safety and not potentially getting into an argument where more trails could be closed to us.

    Enjoy the remainder of the snow everyone, and be safe!!

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