Ride the family-friendly trails of Carlton County
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
The 25-plus inches of snow that fell over a week's time earlier this month been a boon to our area’s economy as well as its people. Industries and businesses that cater to outdoor sports have suddenly sprung to life, and outdoor enthusiasts are hitting the slopes, trails and lakes with renewed vigor.
For the first time this winter season, the snowpack is truly deep enough make snowmobilers ecstatic, and last weekend they were out on the trails in droves – almost too much so for those riders who don’t relish fast speeds, high jumps and quick cornering. Face it, though snowmobiling is truly a sport meant for all ages, it seems the lion’s share of most weekend riders are young men between the ages of 18 and 35 who love little better than to join together with a large group and fire up the horsepower of their high-performance machines. It’s part of the adrenaline rush the sport provides, and that’s great – but it’s not for everyone.
In fact, it can be daunting – if not outright dangerous – for more sedate riders to meet or be passed by snowmobilers going at top speed, especially when rounding a corner or coming over the top of a hill.
There’s a recreational area in New Hampshire that has taken that fact into account by opening a “family-friendly” snowmobile trail intended strictly for those who enjoy snowmobiling as a family sightseeing outing. The one-way, 50-mile closed circle trail has lower speed limits than the maximum allowed by law, requires that riders wear helmets, bans alcohol and is routinely groomed and patrolled by the state. The trail features scenic pullouts and areas for winter picnicking. And best of all, it’s geared for safety for the very youngest to the very oldest riders.
That concept makes a whole lot of sense. In these days when snowmobiles feature increasingly customized features and higher horsepower engines, the gap between thrill seekers and sightseers is growing wider and wider. As Cloquet and Carlton County continue to re-examine their parks, recreational and “green” spaces, it’s not so wild a dream to consider a snowmobile trail built with family recreation and safety in mind.
After all – isn’t that how Walt Disney got his start?