By now we've all heard the winter weather predictions, and we've seen the news. It's going to be a cold mess of a winter with plenty of snow and deep dark temps. Anytime we look at the global warming forecasts, it seems like Ontario was left out of the picture. We're on track to get bigger and badder dumps of snow over and over all winter long with lots of cold days to keep the snow on the trails.
When will the season start exactly is a total guess, but based on all the information we've seen, especially Jeff McGirr's thorough "Winter Forecast" article, and what we saw last season I'd take a wild stay at December 15th. But how soon under we see a rideable loop? I'm not sure, but I'm gonna bet we'll see another "Early Season Power Tour" from Ontario Tourism and Yamaha, bringing the latest sleds to the club that opens first (check out our podcast from that event.) Last year the Sault Trailblazer's edged out the Cochrane Polar Bear Riders, and the previous year it was Snow Country the first to open enough trails to "go for a rip." My guess - I think the Highlands will be the first this year...based on some of the things we're seeing in the Farmer's Almanac and the El Nino weather currents, we're gonna get it right across the mid-section.
What do I need to get this season started right?
You're going to need a sled, a permit, insurance, gear and a plan. That's right, a plan. Because if you're not thinking about what long weekend or week you're going to turn into this year's epic trip, winter will be over before you know it. And you know what else? Rust never sleeps. Keep those motors revving. If you're the kind of person who waits until the last minute, then you'd better stay connected with the clubs on Facebook. Here's the listing of clubs on Facebook add them all so you can see who's out grooming and got their trails ready, and who is asleep at the switch.
If you like riding with other people and fancy a club feel, here's the complete list of events that we're updating every day throughout the season.
And finally, if you just can't wait, check your trail availability daily right HERE.
Where are people gonna go for their big sled trips this year?
If you live in Ontario, we're going to bet that people will be heading north and west this year - either to ride the trails in the Algoma Region, or the Northeastern Ontario region. This "loops" craze seems to be resonating with sledders and I'm guessing we're going to see even more people trailering far from home to experience totally different trail systems than the ones they have in their backyards. If I were picking destinations to hand out to all the sledders I know in the province, this is how it would go (in no particular order)
- Gateway to the North Loop
- Gold Rush Tour(check the killer video of this loop here)
- Abitibi Canyon
- The RAP Tour
- Chiniguchi Loop
- Park to Park combined with Ride the Edge
And some version of an Algoma ride that includes Halfway Haven, a legendary sledding, ATVing and off-road joint that has just re-opened. By all accounts it looks like things will be different in Algoma this winter - but we don't know what that will look like yet.
If you live in the US, my bet is Sault Ste. Marie is gonna see a lot of sledders this year as Ontario gets the snow and Michigan gets the shaft. The good thing is Canadians are supposedly welcoming and polite.
Are we going to see any more amazing snowmobiling videos, like "The Groomer Guy" or "This is Winter?
Well duh. Of course we are. You just saw one. But more importantly, are we gonna see other people jump in the epic Ontario snowmobile video game? I mean, those guys in Scandinavia can launch sleds off mountains and parachute into the valleys below, so where are our great sledding videos? We found this one showcasing volunteers, but what about the ones that just hit on how freaking awesome sledding here is? My guess is that someone, or some bunch of people are going to step up and start regularly producing killer snowmobile videos that set a new standard.
(check the bottom of the article if you want to see those videos again, or the one we shot with Klim last year in Mattawa - pretty much sums up what sledding in Ontario is all about)
What gamechangers are we gonna see on the Ontario trails this year?
Side by side sleds, like the Ski-Doo Elite are gonna make a comeback in a big way...just kidding. The biggest thing in sledding in the province that no one sees coming? The demand for off-trail riding. The massive playground northeast of Wawa known as the "Top Secret Boondocking Location" changed the way a lot of people thought about sledding here. Will we see more of these powder playground. My money says yes.
But I've never been snowmobiling before! How can I get in on the fun?
You're in luck young man - we'll take your money! Check out one of a dozen rental places all across the province. They are all good people who want you to have a fun and/or safe time.
Top Videos to Get You Pumped for WINTER!
The Groomer Guy
This is Winter
Gold Rush Tour in Northeastern Ontario
Klim Visits Ontario