Your First Ontario Snowmobile Ride

Imagine your first Ontario snowmobile trails ride. It’s a sunny winter day, with a turquoise sky and a crackle in the air. Snug in the latest high-tech snowmobile clothing, you settle into the plush seat, placing your boots comfortably on angled foot rests. You look out over a clear windscreen that deflects cold air and snow to the sides. Snowmobile conditions are already good and It’s supposed to snow more later.

The handlebar is in front of you. On its right end, the throttle is a spring-action lever. Squeeze it gently to move forward, let go to slow down. Near your left hand is the brake lever for more controlled stops. To steer, simply turn the handlebars in the direction you want to go.

A turn of the key brings your electric start engine to life, but so quietly you hardly know it’s running. You adjust the temperature of your handgrips and thumb warmer, then check the reverse gear. You adjust your rear view mirrors to see if your companions are ready.

With one last glance at your trail map and a collective ‘thumbs-up’, you’re ready to ride. Your first impression is how easily your sled steers and handles. With a little body language, you soon learn to lean slightly into the corners. It’s almost as if your sled does the driving for you!

Next, you’re amazed at the smoothness of your ride on snowmobile trails in Ontario. Sure, your sled has the latest long travel suspension that will absorb bumps like the cushioning of a good mattress, but on a trail this flat, it’s hardly needed.

As far ahead as you can see, the trail winds through the stately pine forest, where snow decorates the branches in dazzling clusters. The trail is twelve feet wide, with edges cut almost like curbs where the groomer blade has sliced through the snow. The groomer has packed the snow so its surface looks like an endless sheet of shiny white linoleum.

Your sled skims down the right side of the trail, whisking around corners and scooting over hills. The trail runs beside a wide, lazy river where ice coated rocks stand like little crystal islands. You climb a steep hill and pull off at the top for a panoramic view of a post-card perfect winter scene. It’s a vast, empty land, sparkling with the beauty and vigour of a sun-dappled day.

Along the trail, frequent markers confirm your trail number, while directional arrows point the way and lead you around corners. Each road crossing is marked by STOP Ahead and STOP signs. You know you’re on course, because at regular intervals, destination signs display the remaining distance. You come to a major intersection where a large billboard has a ‘you-are-here’ trail map surrounded by advertisements for trail accessible hotels, restaurants and gas stations.

There’s a restaurant just ahead, where dozens of other sleds are already parked. After a hearty meal of hot soup and sandwiches, accompanied by laughter and banter with other riders, your group fuels up at the gas pumps and heads back to the main trail.

Snow began to fall while you were inside, and the flakes twinkle like little diamonds as you ride. As you approach a wooden covered bridge, you stop for photos and marvel at the historic structure. Later, you pass a dilapidated log cabin and wonder whatever became of its owners.


You pull over to the right side of the trail for a break at a rest area complete with bathroom facilities. Other riders have stopped too, and you swap stories and information. While enjoying a hot chocolate from your thermos, you consult the map and reaffirm your route. A couple of kids play in the deep snow and whoop in delight as Mommy performs an impromptu snow angel. Two guys have to pull her out. Someone hands out hard candies to suck on, and the wrappers go into the nearby garbage container.

A shift of light in the bush nearby catches your attention. You quickly shush the group, pointing into the woods. At first, it’s all an incomprehensible jumble of branches, but slowly the graceful shapes of several deer are revealed, ears perked and eyes staring in silent curiosity at these strange helmeted creatures. You allow the herd to move off on their own before saddling up again.

A little further on, you spot flashing lights like a tow truck aglow. Soon you overtake a bright yellow monster, slowing moving along the trail. Compared to your sled, the groomer seems the size of a transport truck. The snow churns through the drag and lies out behind like flour under a rolling pin. The machine stops and the driver waves hello. As you pass, you take more photos and say thanks for making your ride so smooth.

Ahead, the trail suddenly bursts from the bush into a thousand-yard wide utility corridor. You can see it all the way to the far horizon, over hill and dale, like an ever-narrowing white ribbon laid out over the undulating snowscape. Your sled surrounds you with breathtaking scenery, and the pure pleasure of cruising with family and friends, without a care in the world, makes you want to sing aloud for the sheer joy of it!

As your group arrives at its cozy, trailside hotel after riding an easy 200 kilometres, you know by their sparkling eyes and wide smiles that they share your exhilaration. Everyone’s talking at once about what they’ve just seen and done as they check in to comfortable rooms and unpack their saddlebags.

There’ll be plenty of time for reminiscing during a lazy visit to the whirlpool, or over a hot toddy in the lounge, before digging into a scrumptious dinner at the gourmet restaurant. But, as invigorated as you feel, all that fresh air elicits a contented round of yawns soon after eating, so it’s off to slumber land.

In the deep, satisfying sleep that always follows an inspiring day on Ontario’s trails, a smile plays across your lips. You love it! Snowmobiling was everything you ever dreamed it would be. You’re already anticipating another incredible day of riding tomorrow…

Snowmobiling Tourism Contacts:

Contributing partners for this Ontario snowmobiling site about great Ontario snowmobile trails and snowmobile conditions include: Intrepid Snowmobiler, Murphy Insurance, Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, Ontario Tourism, Snow Goer Media, Supertrax Media.

About Craig Nicholson—The Intrepid Snowmobiler

Popularly known as The Intrepid Snowmobiler, Craig Nicholson is an International Snowmobile Hall of Fame journalist who specializes in recreational snowmobiling activities. Craig has snowmobiled in every region of Canada and many states. His one-of-a-kind tour book, “Canada’s Best Snowmobiling – The Ultimate Ride Guide”, chronicles his adventures, as does his website and Facebook page.

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