So you’ve seen hundreds of trailers loaded with snowmobiles being towed along Ontario highways each winter. You’ve heard friends or relatives talk about how much fun it is. Maybe you’ve even spotted sleds zipping along trails close to the road. Perhaps you used to ride when you were a kid, or before you had kids. Or maybe there’s still an old snowmobile parked in the back of the shed. Or perhaps you’re an avid rider from another province or state. Whichever of these descriptions fit, are you wondering what Ontario snowmobiling’s really like? Now’s your chance to find out – and you can even rent a snowmobile to do it!
Why the New Date for 2018?
Ontario’s popular Try Our Trails Weekend returns for the winter of 2018 with a new date. February 3 & 4 is when you can access OFSC trails this season, after going online to register for a no cost, 2-day Try Our Trails Permit. And it’s on the house!
Yes, the date has moved from Ontario’s Family Day Weekend, so plan accordingly. Rationales for the date change include moving Try Our Trails off Ontario’s Family Day long weekend because many trails were getting too busy thanks to the combined holiday and Try Our Trails traffic.
From a tourism perspective, moving this promotion to a different weekend also gives snowmobile-friendly businesses an additional and earlier weekend to be busy. What’s more, welcoming new participants to Try Our Trails earlier in the season provides a better opportunity for them to ride again this winter. Finally, Try Our Trails as a stand-alone promotion on Saturday, February 3 and Sunday, February 4 enables the OFSC to better measure its economic and participation impact.
The Tradition Continues
The no-charge Try Our Trails promotion is now six years old. The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs introduced the concept to provide newcomers, out of province visitors, and former or lapsed riders with the opportunity to test-drive its more than 30,000 kilometres of snowmobile trails. The hope was that many would fall in love with Ontario snowmobiling and buy a permit to come back for more.
Try Our Trails has delivered. Since the 2013 season, Try Our Trails participants have registered almost 67,000 sleds for no-cost permits. A huge number of these riders have come back for more, racking up $5.5 million in new permit revenues to help support provincial trail operations.
So if you have any friends or family who want to try our trails, their best bet is to test drive OFSC trails at no cost on February 3 & 4. Here’s a quick overview of what else everyone needs to know…
Where and when can I get a no-cost 2018 Try Our Trails Permit?
No cost 2018 Try Our Trails Permits are only available from the OFSC Online Permit website starting Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 12:01 am and ending 11:59 pm on Sunday, February 4, 2018.
How do I register for a no-cost 2018 Try Our Trails Permit?
The process for registering for a 2018 Try Our Trails Permit is exactly the same as if a snowmobiler were going online to buy a permit, except that when you select the Try Our Trails Permit option no payment is required. After completing registration, you will receive an email confirmation that enables you to immediately print your permit.
Note that because Ontario law requires every sled entering an OFSC Prescribed Trail for recreational purposes to have and display a valid permit, it is imperative for you to go online to get a permit. Otherwise, you could be stopped and fined for not having one. Riders must also carry a valid driver’s licence or Motorized Snow Vehicle Operator’s Licence, sled registration, proof of insurance, and follow all the rules and assumptions for safe OFSC trail riding.
How do I affix a 2018 Try Our Trails Permit to my sled?
After you print out the permit, you must affix it to the sled to which it was assigned. The permit must also be and remain clear and legible in case you get checked on the trail. Because the permit is printed on paper with no adhesive backer, try these methods for affixing to your sled:
- Put it in a clear plastic packing slip envelope from an office supply store. These have adhesive backs.
- Laminate it and tape to sled.
- Affix to sled with clear packing tape that will allow it to be seen and also protect it from the elements.
- Place it in a Ziploc baggie and tape to sled or attach to top inside of windshield with alligator clips.
They're calling for a return to the classic Canadian winter this year. For those who don't buy a permit for the entire season, this is your chance to get a taste of what snowmobiling in Ontario is all about. Enjoy!