Ontario snowmobilers aren’t hard to please. All we want is smooth Ontario snowmobile trails operated by the, good signage and easy access to services – without having to trailer too far from home to find good snowmobile conditions. Located in the Haliburton Highlands, Minden is one town that’s well on its way to welcoming snowmobilers with open arms. Theirs is a success story that many other towns are emulating.
Some fifteen years ago, Minden had a strong snowmobiling reputation, but for a variety of reasons, that gradually slipped away. So although located only a few kilometres west of the major, north-south, rail trail corridor through the Ontario Highlands known to snowmobilers as TOP B103, this summer cottaging centre has been largely bypassed by sledders in recent years. Local trails had deteriorated. So had access to town services. Signage was iffy. Bisecting Minden, the Gull River made east-west travel through town (assuming there was even a route) difficult. Sounds like a no-win situation, doesn’t it?
Minden may well have continued to slip farther into sleepy winter oblivion but for several convergent factors. One, the Haliburton County Snowmobile Association (HCSA) renewed itself as a viable leader and advocate of snowmobiling in the area. Two, the ATV boom helped re-kindle local interest in motorized trails. And three, the Township of Minden Hills’ sparkplug of a reeve, Barbara Reid, became a believer in the economic opportunity of winter tourism (read: snowmobiling tourism. It also helped that Minden is the Central Ontario headquarters of Supertrax Media, and home of one Mark Lester, who took Barb out for her first ride and initiated her into the wonderful world of snowmobiling.
The rebirth of Minden started with a dedicated snowmobile bridge over the Gull River. This eliminated much road running and sled/pedestrian conflicts on the sidewalks. More important, the new snowmobile bridge proved that something could be done and created the impetus for more.
With funding from the HCSA, the Haliburton ATV Association (HATVA), the Township of Minden Hills and the Haliburton County Development Corporation, the next phase focused on the upgrades to Club Trail 2 (access from TOP B103) necessary to bring snowmobilers back into town for the winter of 2012. These improvements have made the trail easier to groom and better to ride, so much so that it has been upgraded to a TOP Trail and designated B112. To help ensure that the new TOP B112 gets priority treatment, two HCSA grooming units are now located in Minden.
But that’s not all. Major trail intersections now have new destination signage for Minden, including for services and amenities. Minden also has clear destination signage throughout the village, showing riders how to get in and out of town.
This is just the beginning. Barb Reid envisions Minden bustling with snowmobilers in winters to come. She’s interested in putting her whole area back on the snowmobiling map, and maybe even setting up a few designated tour routes staging from Minden. But those are for the next phases of the rebirth. For now, Minden will be happy just to welcome snowmobilers back.
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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.