How to Travel By Snowmobile Safely This Winter

Winter looks a little different this year but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have an amazing sledding season. We've rounded up the best tips for snowmobilers hitting the trails this year.

With all the stress of our day-to-day lives (plus all that extra stress courtesy of the year 2020), it's important to get outside this winter–both for our mental health and to help local businesses in our Northern communities. Lots of mom and pop shops depend on snowmobilers every winter to keep their lights on. Luckily, getting outdoors in the fresh air is a pretty safe activity! As long as we're smart about it.

We’ve put together a quick guide on how to travel safely by sled this year. Read on for tips and advice about sledding safely during a pandemic. 

1. Check the OFSC Trail app for Trail availability

The OFSC has put thousands of hours of planning into preparing for this winter, working in contact with the provincial government and local health units. If the trail is green, it's good to go–if the trail is red, you’ll need to stay away. Clubs and districts are in touch with the health units from each region to let them know when it's safe, or not, to enter an area. If you don't have the OFSC trail app yet, download it now

2. Plan ahead for restaurants, gas, and accommodations

This past summer was difficult for many businesses, so it's important to make sure your favourite places are still open before planning to stop in. The day before you travel, call ahead for info on opening hours for gas, food and accommodations. Whenever possible, pack extra gas and food with you. You can also check whether your destination has been issued a safe travel stamp–the gold standard for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses who have implemented the mandated health and hygiene protocols.

3. Be prepared to change your plans

Because the situation is changing week to week, you’ll need to be flexible. Thanks to the hard work of the local clubs, districts and above all, the volunteers, you should be able to find somewhere to ride–barring a total lockdown.

4. The obvious

You’ve definitely heard this before, but bear with us. When you're not wearing a helmet, wear a mask. Wash your hands often, and when you’re around others stay one sled length apart. Bring hand sanitizer with 75% alcohol or more, to use whenever you can’t wash your hands. Act as if you’re responsible for the safety of everyone you ride with–because you are. Obviously, if you’ve got symptoms, or may have been exposed to the virus, self-isolate, stay home, and get tested. 

That’s it! Enjoy an incredible winter out on the trails, check some epic rides off your snowmobiling bucket list, and keep those hands clean!

We recognize that there are a few businesses throughout Ontario that cater to snowmobilers who do not use OFSC trails when snowmobiling. Private trails, crown land, and boondocking are all part of the fabric of powersports in Ontario, and many of the guidelines from this video still apply. When in doubt, call ahead to ensure your favourite businesses is open, stay safe, and look for guidance from the local health unit. If you're travelling from a region with a high instance of COVID cases, consider postponing your travel plans.

About Mike Jacobs

Mike is an avid Northern traveller, having spent years traversing its backroads, and visiting its remote lodges and fun cities by car, RV, motorcycle, and boat. There's always something new to discover in the North and Mike never shies away from the next great adventure. Mike is the chairman of the board for the Tourism Technology Company.

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