Snowmobile trails across the Northwoods are starting to close as the forecast calls for temperatures in the 50s this week.

Oneida County will close its trails at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 9.

Vilas County trails close at midnight Monday.

Lincoln, Langlade, and Forest County Trails are already closed.

In a statement Oneida County said, “The Oneida County Forestry Department would like to thank all the snowmobile clubs and volunteers for their hard work and dedication in keeping our trails safe and in great shape despite the challenges of a short season.”

Winter started late this year in Northern Wisconsin, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at snowmobile sales.

Like other outdoor equipment, snowmobiles are in high demand this winter.

Snow finally arrived in the Northwoods last week, and snowmobilers took to the trails to celebrate.

But even before the ground was a blanket of white, snowmobiles were flying off the floors of local dealers.

Joe Yakey has been in the snowmobile business for more than 30 years, and he’s the general manager at Antigo Yamaha.


Lincoln County will be opening some of its snowmobile trails this Friday, February 5.  

Most of Zone 1 trails will open at 8:00 in the morning. There are few exceptions.

Zone 1 Trails remaining closed are as follows: Portions of Trail 86 and Corridor 19 that are located south of Highway 86. Also, Corridor 17 south of the Park and Ride at intersection #30 remains closed. The Hiawatha Trail in Tomahawk from SARA Park north to the Lincoln/Oneida County line which is already open, will remain open.

Zone 1 is the northern half of Lincoln County.


This weekend’s snow was enough to open snowmobile trails in Oneida County.

The Oneida County Snowmobile Council voted to open the trails earlier this month before rescinding that decision after more consideration of trail conditions.

The trails will now officially open at noon on Tuesday, January 26.

The Oneida County Forestry, Land, and Recreation Department says trails are still in rough, early season condition.

Snowmobilers should not onto lakes until the trail is clearly marked by barrels.


The second snowmobiler in less than a week has died in Iron County.

The Iron County Sheriff’s Office said it responded to a crash at 11:00 Thursday night.

It happened in the Town of Pence.

The Sheriff’s Office said two snowmobiles were driving down the trail. The lead one looked back and saw the second one was no longer behind him.

He turned around and found the other driver crashed and unresponsive.

A 38-year-old Minnesota man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Vilas County Sheriff's Office Facebook Page

Update 1:26 p.m.: The Vilas County Sheriff's Office has now identified the snowmobile rider as Gregory Parkinson, 40, of Tomahawk. 

Orignal post: A person died yesterday evening after breaking through ice while snowmobiling on Catfish Lake in Vilas County.

According to a press release from the Vilas County Sheriff’s Office, the snowmobiler left the marked trail and drove to a part of the lake with thin ice.

Emergency rescue personnel arrived on the scene after a 911 call around 7 pm yesterday. 

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Oneida County Snowmobile Trails will not be opening Saturday.

Thursday, the County Forestry Department said the council had voted to open the trails.

Now it’s saying it is reversing the decision. The department says the decision was based on further consideration and evaluation of the trails.

There is no new date for when the trails might open.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Update 1/8/21: Oneida County has reversed its decision. The county snowmobile trails will not open Saturday. 

There is no date for when they may open. 

Original Post 1/7/21: The Oneida County Snowmobile Council voted to open trails over the objections of the Oneida County Forestry Department.

The Forestry Department said the council voted 7-2 in favor of opening the trails. The trails will open Saturday at 8:00 a.m.

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.

Minocqua Winter Park Facebook Page

On the last day of December, a white blanket of snow finally covered the ground in Rhinelander, WI.

The snow arrived more than a month later than usual.

That means cross-country ski and snow mobile trails are just now starting to open.

“We are now operating,” said Mark Stuber, the chalet coordinator at Minocqua Winter Park. “We have been biting our nails waiting for enough snow and we finally got it.”

After a late start to the ski season, Stuber said their core trails are groomed and ready for classic skiing.


Snowmobilers in Vilas County will get to start the New Year off right.

Trails open this Friday at 8:00 a.m. This is for snowmobile trails county-wide.

The Vilas County Forest, Recreation, and Land Department says riders should be aware that conditions vary across the county.

The lake and ice conditions are also questionable. Snowmobilers should be familiar with the area before going on the lake and stick to the markers.

Iron County, Wisconsin and Gogebic County, Michigan trails are already open.

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

In the Rhinelander area, snow is starting to pile up on the sides of roads where it’s been plowed, but in the woods with more tree cover, tall, dry grass and brush still pops up through the thin layer of snow.

To the north, Iron and Gogebic Counties have upwards of four inches, even a foot in some places.  Those counties has snowmobilers hitting the trails over the weekend.

But places Vilas County and to the south barely have two inches of snowpack on the ground.

Dispute Develops Over Signs Along Snowmobile Trails

Oct 22, 2020
WAOW Television

Twenty one legislators sent a letter to Gov. Tony Evers over action they say is "dangerous to the sportsmen and women of Wisconsin."

They say the Department of Natural Resources instructed snowmobile clubs last week to remove signage for establishments along ATV/UTV and snowmobile routes throughout the state. These signs allegedly have been along the routes for decades and are emblematic of a public-private relationship and the foundation of tourism for the Northwoods. 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.”