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Oneida County's Snowmobile Trails Still Need Snow


As snow slowly accumulates, snowmobile trails throughout the Northwoods are beginning to open.

The trails in Iron County, WI opened on Christmas morning.

Vilas County’s trails opened on New Year’s Day.

But the holidays did not bless Oneida County’s snowmobile trails in the same way.

Without enough snow, trails in Rhinelander, Three Lakes and Minocqua, WI remain closed.

But that’s not stopping some snowmobilers from taking a ride.

Clint Zimbeck is the trail boss for Three Lakes Trails.

He said he’s put up barrels and ‘do not cross’ police tape to stop riders from illegally entering trails on private property.

But it’s not working.

“They tore the ribbon down, and moved the barrels and went around them anyway,” he said.

Zimbeck said private landowners allow trails to run through their property.

If people continue to ignore the warnings, those property owners could change their minds and close down their portions of the trail.

“We lose the trail, now what do you do?” Zimbeck asked. “There’s been cases where trails have been totally shut down. And if we lose these trails, it’s detrimental at times.”

Tyler Young, the patrol captain at Oneida County’s Sheriff’s Office, has similar concerns.

“That would really put a kibosh to snowmobiling in Oneida County because a lot of the snowmobile trails do go across private land,” he said.

Young said riding across sections of land without enough snow doesn’t just pose a safety risk, it deteriorates the land, which is what private landowners are concerned about.

On top of that, snowmobiling on closed trails is against the law.

Young said the sheriff’s office has issued citations and warnings for violators.

The office is trying to spread the word that even though other counties have opened their trails, Oneida County hasn’t.

So when will the trails open?

Unless an unexpected snowstorm blows through, Young doesn’t anticipate them to open soon.

“We just need mother nature to cooperate a little bit and give us some more of that white stuff,” he said.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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