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Trails not ready

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Despite recent snowfall throughout much of northern Minnesota, snowmobile trails are not yet ready for riding, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

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Minnesota's snowmobile trails officially open December 1. However, several conditions must be met before trails are open and ready for travel:

• The ground must be frozen to allow for crossing of wet areas.

• Adequate snow cover, about 12 inches, must be on the ground to allow for trail packing and grooming.

• Landowner permits that allow trails on private land must be in place.

• Trails must be cleared of dead falls, signs must be in place and gates must be opened. Snowmobile club volunteers and DNR staff are currently working on these tasks.

Snowmobile clubs and trails crews are preparing trails, but it could be a few weeks before those trails are ready. Work in many wet or swampy areas cannot begin until those areas freeze.

When the trails open, the DNR urges riders to use caution. Early season trails may have fallen trees or other debris across the trails, unfrozen areas, rocks or ruts, or standing crops and closed gates. Also, road ditches have obstacles to watch for under grass and snow, such as culverts, signposts and rocks.

Trail users are encouraged to call in advance or research online to get local conditions for the area they plan to ride. State trail conditions are posted each Thursday on www.mndnr.gov. Trail information and local contacts are also available there.

Local trail conditions are often posted online by local tourist associations, chambers of commerce and volunteer snowmobile clubs. To find the nearest club, visit www.mnsnowmobiler.org.

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