Snowmobiling clubs in the area are revving up for the season in spite of low membership and, so far, a lack of good snow. Groups have prepared their trails and are ready to start grooming as soon as enough snow hits the ground.
The Bridgton Easy Riders club is ready for the season. Its trails are open, its trail maintenance has been completed and a new groomer has been purchased, bringing the group’s total to three.
Now all that is needed is more snow.
“You never know about snow. I hope we get some snow before the first of the year. We need another decent storm, and then we can get going,” said Trail Master Steve Brill.
The club maintains 67 miles of trails and has 100 family members and 30 business members.
Crooked River Snowmobile Club maintains 50 miles of trails, and Trail Master Bob Symonds said, “We’ve got a pretty nice machine. We take pretty good care of our trails.”
Crooked River completed its work days in the fall and is planning its Pancake Breakfast in March as well as other events, including a cookout.
Symonds said the group is looking for new members. “There are plenty of people out using the trails, but no one wants to step up and do anything,” he said.
He is hoping for a strong snowmobiling season.
“I’ve got my groomers all ready to go. We need more snow, though,” he said.
Muddy River Sno Seekers in Naples, which has been in existence for more than 30 years, is looking for new members.
President Bernie Flood said the club currently has 50 members, “which is really way down from past years.”
She speculates that low membership is a pervasive problem across the state, saying that “the younger generation isn’t necessarily interested” in joining snowmobiling clubs.
Another problem the group is facing is weather.
“Our weather in the past few years has been so inconsistent. It’s hard to get people excited,” Flood said.
The group maintains 63 miles of trails and is working on trail access to new businesses in town, like Annette’s Country Skillet Diner and Dunkin’ Donuts.
“We’re just looking forward to some good conditions so that we can try to get people out, and I’m hoping for a good snowy year to get people energized,” Flood said.
Royal River Riders of New Gloucester and Gray is opening a new trail to the Upper Gloucester area and recently held a work day to begin the project.
According to Club Treasurer Andrea Segars, the group will now have 25 miles of trails in the New Gloucester/Gray area.
She added, “Most clubs like ours are in need of new active members.”
Royal River Riders is holding a calendar raffle with ticket sales continuing through the end of December and winners picked each day in January. Tickets can be purchased on their website, royalriverriders.com.
The club has also scheduled a dance for April 13 at the Gray American Legion.
Raymond Rattlers Snowmobile Club is improving its bridges this year, building a new one and improving a brook crossing on Rattlesnake Mountain.
The group, which maintains 30 miles of trails, is also hosting a cookout at its warming hut in Raymond on Jan. 12.
Membership Chairman and Vice President Larry Wood said it’s hard to predict how the weather will be this season.
“We had a lot of snow last year. We’ve had good snowmobiling for a few weeks and then bad for a few weeks,” he said.
Wood welcomes new members, saying, “Whoever wants to join, we love new people to come in.”
Standish Sno-Seekers is opening a snack shack this winter near Johnson Field, according to President Paul Politz. The shack will be open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will serve soup, hot chocolate, coffee and hot dogs.
The group will also open a new section of trail on its R1 trail between Job and Middle roads.
“We’re looking forward to opening that,” Politz said.
The club maintains 62 miles of trails and has 24 members, and Politz said “we’re always looking for more.”
Snowmobilers will have to wait to use the trails, however, until there is enough snow.
“Our gates remain closed until we can actually groom the trails and get the snowmobiles out on the trails,” Politz said.
The Westbrook Trail Blazes club “is in really good shape as far as the trails go,” says Trail Master Anthony Latini.
“We are actually to the point where we’re getting our equipment ready, tune-ups, all our trail work is done,” he said.
The club boasts 32 miles of trails, 40 bridges and five pieces of groomer equipment. But its biggest problem, Latini said, is keeping ahead of development.
“We’re losing connectivity with our trails with all the building going on. And once we get under 30 miles of trails, we lose state funding and it all goes to hell. Trying to keep a snowmobile group in a city like we are is our biggest challenge,” he said.
The group is working on rebuilding bridges and maintaining trails.
Latini urged young people to join the Trail Blazes, saying the club is “trying to get more young blood into the situation to carry things on.”
The Windham Drifters Snowmobile Club has 37 miles of trails across many towns.
“We cover all the way from Raymond to Westbrook to Gorham, and we’re very much a central system,” says treasurer and groomer operator Barry Bernard.
The group is working to create a new spur trail to Binga’s Wingas in Windham.
Bernard explained that funding is an issue for the club, which receives some money from the town and state but mostly from group membership and donations.
In addition, the group must get permission from 115 land owners each year to use its trail system.
“These trails exist at the grace of these landowners. A large part of our system goes right across people’s lawns. We cross 156 parcels of land,” Bernard said.
Windham Drifters is pushing to increase its membership since, Bernard said, there are about half a dozen volunteers keeping the trails cleaned and groomed.
He encourages residents to join the club and take advantage of the trail system.
“It’s not just snowmobilers that are out there. There are people walking dogs, cross country skiers, snow-shoers. It’s an incredible recreational resource.”
Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at email@example.com.
The Bridgton Easy Riders out on the trails earlier this year.
The Windham Drifters Snowmobile Club has 37 miles of trails.