Some Parts of Minn. Off to Early and Exceptional Start for Snowmobiling

Updated: 12/19/2013 7:22 PM By: Beth McDonough

Minnesotans are anxious to get outdoors and cross-country ski or snowmobile. Many are heading North, and for good reason. 

The DNR says once you get past Hinckley- Minnesota is experiencing the best start to the recreation season in three years.  

Usually snowmobiling starts in earnest around New Year's. But, two weeks ahead of schedule, groomers are busy smoothing out trails, including in Shakopee. The DNR believes it's because of below normal temperatures and consistent snowfall.  

In Shakopee, the Minnesota River Valley Trail is considered a go-to place for snowmobilers. "It's kind of like the winter version of a road trip vacation on snowmobiles," says Kim Werkmeister, a seasoned snowmobiler and groomer.

Werkmeister is counting on another round of much needed snowfall to bring riders out, "we're crossing our fingers hoping another 3-4" of snow will fall, if we could get that then our trails will be as good as they ever will be."

He's been measuring mere inches in the West Metro. In the upper two-thirds of the state, they're enjoying the kind of winter conditions riders live for. "There's a lot of snow over a wide swath of north here we're measuring snow in feet not inches," according to Scott Kelling with the DNR.

Near Duluth and the Arrowhead areas, the DNR calls riding 'gangbusters' right now. Snowmobilers are taking advantage of the consistent snowfall so early in the season. 

There are 22,000 miles of trails in Minnesota, and 217,938 people registered their snowmobiles this year. Which means, they can ride any trail in the state.

Werkmeister is watching the weather, hoping for the same kind of snowmobile conditions in Shakopee as folks have up around Duluth.

Groomers in every county try to get to trails once a week. In Scott County, they are all volunteers. They don't get paid, they do it because they love it. 

As for the cost of equipment, fees from the gas tax and snowmobile licenses help to cover those. 

Scott County gets a $75,000 budget from the DNR to take care of trails.

If you're planning a trip, there's a guide for that. Every Thursday, the DNR updates its trail guide.