Upcoming Snowmobile and Cross-County Ski Season
December 03, 2010
Darren Marsh, Parks Director 608-224-3766
Land & Water Resources
Dane County Parks
Dane County Council of Snowmobile Clubs - Paul Statz, President (608) 849-7535
Dane County Sheriff’s Marine and Trails Enforcement Bureau - Sergeant Dave Ritter (608) 284-6878
The Snowmobile season is upon us and there are a few reminders that Dane County Parks wants to share with trail patrons. The snowmobile trails within Dane County are maintained from December 1st through March 31st. The majority of the trails are located on private lands that are closed to all public use except snowmobiling when the trails are officially open. Snowmobile trails may be opened when there is at least 6 inches of snow and below freezing temperatures. Trails may not open immediately after a snowfall, states Darren Marsh, Parks Director, in order to allow time for the snowmobile clubs to make sure that the trails are ready for use, i.e. gates open, closed signs removed and trails inspected. Marsh notes that patrons are responsible to make sure the trails are open in their area before they ride. The trails are patrolled and all rules are enforced. Information is readily available to the public by calling our 24/7 Trails Information Line (608) 242-4576 or online at .
Over the last several winters, south central Wisconsin has had outstanding snowmobiling conditions, some of the best in the Midwest. Snowfalls have arrived early in the season and temperatures have been low enough to hold snow throughout the season. "The snow has generated a surge in new interest for snowmobiling," according to Paul Statz, President of the Dane County Council of Snowmobile Clubs.
Statz, a long time snowmobiler and ambassador for the sport, likes what he sees; more families and first-time snowmobilers becoming involved with the sport. However, he’d like to see all these new patrons sign-up for snowmobile safety class and join their local snowmobile club. According to Statz, it’s important for new snowmobilers to get involved at the local level. Volunteer members work with landowners to help insure there are well-maintained trails to ride each winter. Plus, it’s a great way to meet people with similar interests and learn about organized rides and events. To locate a club in your area, visit the Dane County Council of Snowmobile Trails Website at and go to Snowmobile Clubs for contact information.
Sergeant Dave Ritter, Dane County Sheriff’s Department’s Marine and Trail Enforcement Bureau agrees with Statz. "New snowmobilers should consider participating in a Recreational Safety Class," said Ritter. "Any person who is at least 12 years old and who is born on or after January 1, 1985 must have a valid snowmobile safety certificate in order to operate a snowmobile on public trails, lands or frozen waters," stated Ritter.The safety courses are geared towards all new riders, young or old. It’s essential that new snowmobilers have the proper training before they start riding. Not only will they receive the best training in operating snowmobiles, they will also learn trail rules and riding etiquette as well as discovering what the entire Snowmobile Recreation Program has to offer. To locate a Snowmobile Training Classes in your area, visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Website at or go to WDNR home page and select Recreational Safety Training Classes - Snowmobile. Ritter also reminds all winter recreation enthusiasts to use caution around lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Many of these water bodies will not freeze over enough to support activity and may become hidden by snowfall. There is a Dane County Ordinance, Chapter 71, that requires certain motorized vehicles operated on lakes within Dane County to be equipped with flotation. The information on the ordinance and the floatation requirements are available on our website at . Vehicle inspections will begin this weekend.
For additional information on the County Snowmobile Program and lake safety information, visit the following websites:
Cross Country Skiing
Dane County Parks will providing groomed Cross County Skiing at the following County Parks: CamRock Park (Cambridge), Indian Lake Park (Town of Berry), Lake Farm Park (South Madison), Token Creek (DeForest). Dane County and the City of Madison Parks have a joint Ski Trail Permit that allows patrons to ski at all City or County designated ski areas. Permits are available on line at
According to Marsh the county’s protocol on the first couple of snowfalls is not to immediately groom the trails, but to allow patrons to use the available snow to ski by setting their own track. The County will then pack this remaining snow down creating a trail base that will help hold snow for the rest of the winter. Once the trail base is deep enough, tracks will be set for those skiers that prefer parallel stride skiing.
Skiers can get up to date trail information by either calling the 24/7 Trails Information Line at 608 242-4576 or going to the County Parks website at .