Bad year for snow? Not in Ontario!
Is the glass half empty or half full? In Ontario, you can count on OFSC snowmobile trails every year, because our glass is more full than not. Even when Old Man Winter doesn’t fully deliver, as happened across all the traditional North American snowbelts this season, Ontario provided plenty of good sledding opportunities on more than half of its huge trail system. Sure, maybe you couldn’t ride from your backdoor or you had to be more flexible with your destination planning or had to trailer a little farther, but from Christmas time on, there have always been good trails to ride in this province.
It started Northern Ontario, in OFSC District 15, where primo early season riding occurred along the Northern Corridor and in the Dubreuilville area of District 13 in December. Parts of District 14 (Ontario’s Wilderness Region) like Kirkland Lake and District 11 (Ontario’s Near North) came on board soon after, followed by the Haliburton Highlands, the Bancroft area, the Ottawa Valley (Districts 2 & 6) and eastern Muskoka in January. District 1 in Eastern Ontario opened its trails for several weeks in February and again in March. District 10, 11 and parts of 13, 16 and 17 benefited from March storms that really piled on the snow. By early this month, almost 70% of OFSC trails were available to ride. Those willing to trailer to the snow experienced as good or better trail riding as any other season!
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For many riders, the southern sweet spot for this season was the Haliburton Highlands, the Bancroft area and the Ottawa Valley. These districts experienced a snowmobiling boom that had hospitality, food and fuel providers grinning from ear to ear from the ringing of cash registers. This bonanza resulted from good snow throughout most of the winter, but it was the hard-working clubs and their volunteers that really made it happen. Despite incredible amounts of sled traffic from all over, the trails in these areas remained in good shape thanks to stepped up grooming schedules and club efforts to make visitors welcome. There was decent spring riding conditions in pockets of these areas well into March.
As March ticked on, snowmobiling opportunities inevitably moved north. OFSC Districts 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15 had the snow and colder temperatures necessary to keep trails rideable until the middle of March. In most years parts of the Northern Corridor and destinations like Hornepayne and Wawa offer spring sledding through to the Easter Weekend on TOP Trail D, D108A, A and local trails. And don’t forget that Luc Levesque, the Groomer Guy, is always working his trail magic around Dubreuilville to ensure great spring riding too!
Dubreuilville sits at the junction on TOP Trails D, F and D108A, and these, plus local trail loops, provide some amazing sledding. My fav is TOP D108A between Dubreuilville and Hornepayne, as exciting a trail as you’ll ever have the pleasure of riding. So why not give Dubreuilville a try next winter?
Though an unprecedented March heat wave shut trails down earlier than expected this year, you can usually extend your sledding season into April in many parts of Ontario. Come next snowmobile season, don’t be sitting at home, wishing you could do some more sledding. Grab your buds, get out there and ride!
Without a doubt, March is absolutely the best time to ride in Northern Ontario, as all factors coincide to make ideal conditions. The days are long, so you can ride more hours before dark. The temperatures are moderate, so you don’t have to worry about getting cold or sleds starting every morning. There are fewer riders, so traffic is sparse. The trail base is hard packed and deep on top of frozen ground, so it’s very durable and resistant thaw. What’s more, late season trails hold their groomed surfaces better – the snowmobiling’s so smooth you hardly need suspension! Northern Ontario is the ideal destination for the last ride of the year.
Planning your spring ride is easy to do. Go to the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide to see what trails are still showing as available to ride (green or yellow). Check out the District 15 website and use it to visit the local club sites. Pick a destination. Book a hotel. Load up and trailer there. Then ride your brains out. It simply doesn’t get any better than this – and there’s no place better than Northern Ontario when it comes to spring riding.
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