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What it takes to open snowmobile trails in Marathon County

Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 9:36 PM CST
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MARATHON COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW) - More snow is on the way this week and that means snowmobile trails in Marathon County could be opening soon.

Monday was the first-day snowmobile trails opened in Vilas County. Tuesday will be the first day for Oneida County.

But in Marathon County, it’s a different story.

Trailmates Snowmobile Club member, Allan Zahrt said there needs to be at least 10 inches of snow in order for the trails to open. Once the snow piles up, volunteer members of snowmobile clubs from around Marathon county will go out to start grooming and packing the trails.

Trail officials say to be patient because this year has been quite tricky.

“We’re actually having to start over with establishing a trail base for the majority of the system that we have to work with,” Marathon County’s motorized recreation coordinator, Mitchell Fox said.

That’s because all of the snow melted from the snowfall earlier in the month, but when the snow starts to build up, volunteer club members will be there to prepare.

“Any storms that we have rolled through you know they need to go out and check to make sure there aren’t any trees crossing or a significant amount of brush that fell across the trail...which usually after a heavy snowfall they end up clearing them out again,” Fox explained.

All of that work is done based on the free time the volunteers have. “For Marathon county, if it weren’t for the volunteer clubs we wouldn’t have our snowmobile trail system for the county,” Fox said.

Zahrt, who is also co-owner of Promotor Sports in the Village of Maine said customers are frequently asking when trails will open. “The snow is always good for us here, it gets everyone in the right mood and attitude.”

He explained once 10 inches of snow are on the ground, he estimated it would take around two days to get the trails groomed and packed. But trail openings depend heavily on the weather and landowners.

That’s one of the reasons why the county is split into different zones, and some parts may have more snow than others. “This season there are some new maps printed out that have zone 6 that we added on there because of the snow difference,” Fox explained.

Once snow and trail reports are done by the 28 snowmobile clubs, Fox said he will look them over with a wider lens. “The main mission is to get enough zones connected to have the nice system to ride, even if it is four zones.”

When the trails are ready, they say to remember to stay on the trails and watch out for ‘do not cross tape.’ “[We] just ask people to be patient with us and we’ll be able to make sure the trails get put together in a manner that we won’t have to open and close,” Fox said.

For up-to-date openings and closings for Marathon County, click here.

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