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Submitted by Guest Blogger: Brooke Clark

The ride to Schroon Lake was always far too long when I was heading up to ride snowmobiles with my dad. I would wait for him to pull into the driveway, only to run out at top speed to climb in and go! He had the most beautiful sled with a leopard seat, and the smell! Oh, how I loved the smell when he got that machine started. I am so fortunate that I married someone who shares this love of winter, snowmobiling and sharing it all with family.

The recent cold temperatures certainly went a long way in helping firm up what we had on the trails, and we were fortunate to have our groomer out this weekend. We are hoping that the reports of snow ring true and head our direction!

Plan ahead to sled!

We have annual events in Schroon Lake that ensure sledding is fun for the whole family. A few years ago, we lost a good friend and avid snowmobiler. The 5th annual Mark Heinzelman Snowmobile Poker Run is on Saturday, Feb. 13 this year. We raise money in his name to donate to either a local family or charity.

The following weekend is the Schroon Lake-North Hudson Snowmobile Club poker run. This is also an annual event. For both, we register and then ride in groups from place to place, getting a card stamped. Then we gather at a local spot — usually the Fish and Game Club or a restaurant — and pull playing cards to make a hand of poker. The best hand wins, and there is usually something for the lowest hand, too! We share laughs, memories and make plans for families to get together to plan more snowmobiling. Close to 100 people enter the runs. It certainly makes for a fun-filled day for everyone.

In addition to the poker runs, the majority of people who live and visit Schroon Lake in the colder months enjoy getting out and riding. We ride to go out to dinner and to get to the grocery store; my daughter has even been asking if she can ride her sled to school. It certainly is a great form of transportation when the roads get scary and you need to be somewhere. We also ride on the lake, when it is safe. Ask a local fisherman you see on the ice and he or she will be more than happy to tell you how much ice is on the lake.

Safety First!

General guidelines regarding ice thickness are:

  • 2" or less — STAY OFF
  • 4" — safe for ice fishing or other activities on foot
  • 5" — safe for a snowmobile or an ATV
  • 8" - 12" — safe for a car or small pickup truck
  • 12" - 15" — safe for a medium-sized truck

I generally wait until I see vehicles driving about before I venture out onto the ice. I have driven my jeep, snowmobiles and have spent a lot of time fishing on our lake without incident. There is always someone that thinks it’s safe before it is, and they wind up going through the ice, so ask questions, be safe and don’t be that guy…

Where to begin?

Schroon Lake has one of the longest trail systems in New York state. There are 6 main trails, and all interconnect. Trail 1 begins at the Schroon Lake Municipal Golf course. It is the longest trail, with a variety of terrain and the widest trails. Be careful on the golf course, which is wide open to ride, due to the fact you may not be able to see another sled coming at you through the dips and valleys.

You can access the lake about a quarter mile down Hoffman and across state Route 9. Trail 6 provides the best access to local restaurants, gas, service and other amenities. The North end is located at Paradox Lake. If you take the trail south you can reach the Fish and Game Club, Sticks and Stones, Witherbee’s and other trails that continue south into the Warren County system.

The state is currently working on connecting our local trail systems so we can travel to points we haven’t been able to access in the past. Remember when you join a club you can register your sled at a discounted price. You can find all kinds of information by following the links here. Questions come up often about age to ride and courses available. We offer a snowmobile licensing course annually at our local Fish and Game Club.

Here are a few of the basic guidelines:
The New York state Office of Parks and Recreation website states that, "Youth ages 14 through 17 years old may operate a snowmobile, on lands upon which snowmobiling is allowed, without adult or other supervision if they have completed a snowmobile safety training course recognized by the State of New York. If youth ages 14 through 17 years have not completed the training course, they may operate a snowmobile if accompanied by (within 500 feet of) a person who is at least 18 years of age.

Youth ages 10 through 13 may operate a snowmobile, on lands upon which snowmobiling is allowed, if they have completed a snowmobile safety training course recognized by the State of New York and are accompanied by (within 500 feet of) a person who is at least 18 years of age.

Children less than 10 years old or less than age 14 without a safety certificate may operate a snowmobile only on lands owned or leased by their parent or guardian."

Visit the NYSSA website for a detailed reference to the New York state laws pertaining to or affecting snowmobiles, including OPRHP Law § 25.19, operation by youthful operators.

Photo credit: Patricia Strickland

Our trails wind for miles around beautiful snow-covered trees, along frozen streams and through quaint communities. I consider Schroon Lake one of the best places in the Adirondacks to snowmobile in New York. There are other amazing places to ride, but I think the combination of our trail system, restaurants, access to the lake and our tight-knit community make it a truly special experience. See you on the trail! Ready…set…ride...


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