How to Plan a Successful Snowmobile Trip with the Family

A day out on the trails comes with its fair share of both thrills and chills. Make sure your kids' first impression of snowmobiling is a good one!

When we first considered a four-season vacation property in Northwest Ontario, memories of Mike’s family snowmobile outings came back to him with a smile and a warm chuckle. Visions of snow-covered lakes, driving the snowmobile for the first time, and lunches of freshly brewed hot chocolate, tea, and hot dogs over an open fire came to mind. “How great it will be to impart the same wonderful experience to our kids, friends, and family,” Mike said. Mike’s mother rolled her eyes, remembering the antics of her two boys and outdoorsy husband… “Good luck with that, son.”

Our 5 tips for snowmobiling with kids.

  1. Pick a destination you know and have been to before.
  2. Make the trip eventful.
  3. Plan a stop at an OFSC club warming hut along the trail.
  4. Pull up at one of Ontario's trailside restaurants for treats.
  5. And don't forget to let someone know where you’re going and when you think the party will return.

Maybe it’s the effect of too many reality TV shows, but expectations are often of the perfect day as you await the adventure. Hello! This is Ontario, where the weather will pin the exact opposite on you faster than a snowplow after an early November blizzard. 

All trails lead to a great day as long as you're properly prepared

Such was the case with a daylong trip we took during the February Family Day Try Our Trails weekend a few years ago on the Sunset Trail Rider's OFSC L103 with our Manitoba friends, their daughter, and our two children. 

The day, started out sunny and mild, but turned bitterly cold and windy midway through our ride. Good snowmobile gear is critical for everyone. Wool socks, 40 below boots, a properly fitted helmet and balaclava, snowmobile jacket or wind resistant parka, and snow pants make the ride warm and enjoyable. For the stopover, a toque or fur hat in everyone’s pocket is essential for when those helmets come off.

Ice formations on the shores of Vermillion Lake, Ontario

The thing with kids is: they’re tougher than you think, even when they’re half frozen. Upon reaching our destination on Vermillion Lake we discovered one of the youngsters' feet needed immediate attention. Moms set to work, and the dads… they cut wood, made a big fire, and set to work preparing the best part of the day—hot dogs!

Hot dogs never taste as good as they do roasted on an open fire in the middle of winter

As a wannabe outfitter, Mike usually pulls a toboggan on such trips packed with a Swede saw, axe, collapsible shovel, sharp knife for hot dog sticks, utensils, basic cooking supplies, small cooler (to keep things from freezing), and a Thermos of hot chocolate. We have a few favorite spots on this lake and naturally, we went for the one with the least amount of wind and on this day sunshine so bright sunglasses and sunscreen were a must. Yep, sunscreen!

No worries about packing too much when you've got a toboggan in tow

The scenery was spectacular for the entire ride under a brilliant winter sky, brightly lighting the rugged Northwest Ontario landscape. If you’re a photographer like Mike, it’s days like this that challenge the proper exposure but supply great picture opportunities of the landscape, friends, and family. 

Plenty of sunshine and smiles

The goal of showcasing “campfire hot dogs” and all that the OFSC trail had to offer was definitely achieved. Our friends said, “We had no idea what Mike and Leanne had planned, but it was the best ride and family outing ever!”

On the way home, we came across a big black wolf in the middle of the lake. He neither ran, or appeared afraid, but stood his ground as we passed by. We wondered what a lone wolf was doing out there, and we’re sure he was wondering the same thing about us. 

Such is Ontario, Canada’s beautiful and wild landscape!

All photos by Mike Fournier except the cover photo by Rodney Steele via Trail Side Sports in Espanola, Ontario.

About Leanne & Michael Fournier

Michael and Leanne Fournier of MightyWrite live, work and play in the backcountry of Northwest Ontario. They're both at home on snowmobiles, motorboats and unpowered transportation too… snowshoes, skis, and canoes. 

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