snowmobile Charlesheldt

With two exceptions, the Oneida County funded snowmobile trail system will officially open for this winter season at 8:00 a.m. this Friday. Not all trails are open. A portion of the Hodag Sno-Trails in the McNaughton area and a portion of a trail in the Three Lakes area remain closed.

All lake trails in Oneida County remain closed and are considered unsafe until they have been clearly marked by a local snowmobile club. Oneida County requests riders stay on clearly marked trails. The trails are in rough, early season condition.

Wikimedia Commons Tony Webster

MINOCQUA – The Cross Country Cruisers (CCC) Snowmobile Club will mark Lake Minocqua with orange barrels and stakes for snowmobile travel by this weekend, according to a club official. “I will be getting the Lake Minocqua trail marked by this weekend,” said CCC board member Jim Hartwig, following Tuesday's town board meeting on lake ice conditions. “That way people will know where it’s safe to ride.”

The Oneida County funded snowmobile trail system will officially open for the winter season Saturday(12/29) at 5:00 p.m.

According to a release from the county Forestry, Land and Recreation department, there is one exception: along the Three Lakes Trails, the funded corridor 13 is closed from Rice Lake Road to the intersection north of Burnham Lake.

All lake trails in Oneida county remain closed and are considered unsafe until they have been clearly marked by a local snowmobile club.

The trails are said to be in rough condition.

Wikimedia Commons

The new fallen snow will help snowmobile riders itching to get out in the Northwoods. Oneida County has announced the state funded snowmobile trail system administered by the county will open for the season at noon on Tuesday.(Dec. 20)

Oneida County Snowmobile Council President Jim Wendt says the late warm fall weather postponed the hard freeze necessary to get the land under the trails in good shape for snowmobiling. But that has changed with the recent cold. He says the trails can't hold grooming equipment yet, but they can hold sleds.

Snowmobile Accident Leaves Woman Dead

Mar 2, 2015

A 19-year-old woman from Beaver Dam has died after crashing her snowmobile.

The accident happened in St. Germaine, near Highway 70 just south of East Holiday Drive.

The Vilas County Sheriff’s office says Emily Lyons went off the trail and struck a tree.  She was airlifted to Wausau hospital for her injuries, but died Sunday.

The accident is under investigation by the Vilas County Sheriff’s Office and the WI DNR.

It’s the 11th snowmobile fatality so far this winter.

Emily Bright

The World Championship Snowmobile Derby take places in Eagle River this weekend, with the vintage classes wrapping up last weekend.  WXPR’s Emily Bright takes a behind-the-scenes look at the camaraderie and competition of the international snowmobile races going on in our own backyard.

Two Fatal Accidents Claim Lives in Vilas County

Jan 12, 2015

A 34-year-old Pewaukee man was killed in a snowmobile accident Saturday in Plum Lake Township --off of Birch Spring Road near Sayner.

Vilas County investigators say Jason Ringle fell off a snowmobile and was struck by another snowmobile in his group.

It was the first snowmobile-related death recorded in Wisconsin this year.  

The accident remains under investigation by Vilas County authorities and the DNR.

Wisconsin recorded three snowmobile-related deaths in December.  

Conover Delays Action on Bike Trail Project

Oct 30, 2014
Robert Thigpen

Conover hasn’t yet decided whether to change course on its plan for a federally-funded bike and snowmobile trial.

The Conover Town Center was packed and tempers flared last night during a special town board meeting called to discuss allowing ATVs on part of the trail route.

An ATV trail in Conover would connect trails between Eagle River and Phelps. But silent sport enthusiasts were concerned that motorizing the trail would be a danger to bikers, pedestrians, and equestrians alike.

With the World Championship Snowmobile Derby ending Sunday in Eagle River, many enthusiasts are in the Northwoods to enjoy some of the best snowmobiling in years. This is also International Snowmobile Safety Week.

DNR Snowmobile Administrator Warden Gary Eddy says with busy trails, always keep in mind safety...


"....some of the traditional complaints we have out there when it is busy are snowmobilers cutting corners, not staying on the right side of the trail, speeding and just overall reckless operation...."

Not Your Parents' Sled: Vintage Racing in the 21st Century

Jan 17, 2014
Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The Snowmobile World Championship is expected to draw tens of thousands.  But the vintage races also draw a crowd.

Vintage cars, vintage records…but vintage snowmobiles?  That I had not heard of before moving to the Northwoods. I was curious about what draws people to the sport, so I headed to the offices of the Eagle River derby track for the weekend of the vintage racing championship. 

I interrupt the busy office clamor with my request.  Audrey Decker is wearing a vintage snowmobile  – black sweater with orange stripes, and fluffy lambs wool boots. 

Vintage Racers Hit the Track

Jan 10, 2014
Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

Vintage snowmobile racers compete this weekend in Eagle River in the world championship.  

The world championship may be a week away…but spectators at the vintage race are all about the here and now.  The qualifying rounds for the vintage championship are filled with sleds from the 70s and 80s…or older.  They’re smaller and more antique looking than today’s ultrafast monsters.  And though next weekend’s races will draw a bigger crowd, more people enter the vintage categories.  Elmer Jensen is a longtime volunteer at the derby. 

Ski Conditions: Like February in December

Jan 7, 2014
Tim Gillin

The frigid weather may have kept skiers indoors for a few days…but otherwise this season’s conditions have been prime for cross country skiing. 

Tim Collins, Director of Minocqua Winter Park says the park had its biggest day ever the Saturday after Christmas. 

“We had over a thousand people out at Winter Park, on Saturday December 28.  And the numbers before and after were very close.  So all of our trails, 100 kilometers of ski and snowshoe trails have been groomed to perfection this season.”

Ice Castle Rises Again After Two-Year Hiatus

Jan 2, 2014
Eagle River Fire Department

Eagle River’s legendary ice castle has been built once again by the area fire department.  

The design is new every year, but the method isn’t:  Eagle River deputy fire chief Jim Bonson says the ice harvesting saws and other tools date back more than 80 years.   

 “We’ve been doing it since 1933 as a community and it just has become a tradition.  When we don’t have it, like the last two years due to weather conditions, people get excited when all of a sudden it appears.”

Manfred Werner

Snowmobile trails are opening across the Northwoods.  Phelps trails open Thursday, and Forest County trails open Friday.

Most Oneida County trails opened Wednesday.  Minocqua Chamber of Commerce Director Kim Baltus says wintry conditions this early in the year is a big deal.

“It’s been several years since the trails have been open before the holidays, and a very long time since we’ve been able to really invite tourists to come and spend their holiday vacation hopefully between Christmas and New Years in the Northwoods.”

Vilas County Snowmobile Trails to Open Early

Dec 10, 2013
Joe Ross

An early opening for Vilas County trails has snowmobile clubs and local businesses in good spirits.  The date was moved up from Tuesday December 17th to this Friday December 13th at 6 pm.

Vilas County Parks and Recreation Forester Dale Mayo says opening day usually happens after the four-day antlerless deer hunt ends.  But he says this year low temperatures and snow conditions seem to have discouraged many hunters.