Though winter got off to a slow start here in the Driftless, area snowmobilers have done their best to enjoy their sport. And with conditions improving, many area trails are groomed and suitable for sledding. Here are some recommended rides from clubs based in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota.
Winneshiek Trail Twisters
The Decorah area is a great place to snowmobile, with almost 170 miles of trail available in northern Winneshiek County, according to Winneshiek Trail Twister president Jake Ludeking of rural Decorah.
“It’s really pretty up by Bluffton and Burr Oak,” Ludeking said. “We also have a trail that runs through the south edge of Decorah that goes all the way over to Waukon in Allamakee County. There’s a trail that runs south of Decorah to Ossian. West of Decorah, we have snowmobile trails that head through Cresco.
“We have trails that run through different types of landscapes,” Ludeking added. “When you get closer to Allamakee County, the landscape turns hillier. There are also some big valleys that you can’t see from the road too. A trail that heads to Waukon is a pretty one that goes through the woods.” Another club, Trails Unlimited, maintains 150 miles of trail, also in northeast Iowa.
Ludeking said that, after a slow start to winter, conditions have improved somewhat.
“We picked up four to five inches in several areas,” Ludeking said. “The trails opened up after the recent snow, and a lot of people took advantage.”
For more information on snowmobiling in Winneshiek County, give Ludeking a call at 563-380-6747, or check out the club’s Facebook page.
Spring Valley, Minn., bills itself as a place where “the prairies meet the bluffs.” It’s also home to the Tri-County Trailblazers Club, which tends to snowmobile trails in the diverse natural environment of Fillmore County. “Our club maintains over 70 miles of trails,” said Troy Lange, club president.
The Tri-County Trailblazers join forces with other clubs in the county to provide area snowmobilers an unforgettable experience. The trails crisscross southeast Minnesota, including places like Fountain, Wykoff, Forestville State Park, Spring Valley, Ostrander and the Iowa border.
“There’s another club in Grand Meadow, another in Preston, and Stewartville, so between the groups, there are a lot of miles to ride in southeastern Minnesota,” added Lange.
Lange said area trails offer a range of riding experiences. There are flat runs that bisect farm country and steeper climbs through the bluffs. There are many hills and valleys to try out on the edge of southern Minnesota’s bluff country.
“There’s even a trail that runs down through Forestville State Park,” Lange said. “It’s very scenic no matter which direction you ride in. You can be up on hills, down in valleys, and riding along the bluffs too.
“If someone wants an easier ride, they’d try the trail from Spring Valley over to Ostrander, through Grand Meadow, and back to Spring Valley,” he said. “It’s a flat and easy route. If you go northeast from Spring Valley up to Wykoff and Forestville, it’s a little hillier and more scenic. Whatever you’re in the mood for, we have it to offer you.”
For more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chad Loppnow, president of the Mabel-Canton Trailbusters club, said his group has been enjoying some good rides this season.
“We had another four inches during the last snowfall, and it’s put down enough of a base for people to do some riding. I know people are out riding because we’ve got a perfect setup for snowmobiles.”
Located close to the Iowa border, the club’s trails offer a scenic glimpse of southern Minnesota.
“We have a combination of landscapes for snowmobilers around here,” Loppnow said. “You’ll get into more bluffs the further east you go from Mabel and Canton. We also have a mixture of forests and farmland in our immediate area. We try to route our trails so that we don’t have people sledding through too many ditches.”
When possible, the group likes to host events, Loppnow said.
“We like to do a barbeque drive-in. People ride to a certain location, and we’ll have burgers and brats. The last few years, it’s been a lot more difficult to do that, but we’re hoping things will be better this season.”
The Trailbusters meet monthly during the winter season. For more information on the club and its activities, contact Brady Bergey in Canton at email@example.com
Houston Money Creek Sno-Riders
The Sno-Riders are located just 14 miles south of Interstate 90, right at the intersection of Highway 16 and 76 in the beautiful Root River Valley. The club was established in 1972 and maintains about 90 miles of some of the most scenic trails in the state.
“Our favorite trails around here seem to depend on where people live,” club president Ron Lewison said. “A lot of the people who live right in Houston like to run toward nearby Rushford and make a loop that way. A similar loop runs toward Caledonia that people from the Houston area like to run on too. Our trail system branches out from Houston in different directions. The trails will take you through the bluffs, hills, valleys, and flatlands. You’ll go through every kind of landscape we have here in our bluff country.”
Lewison said the club typically does “Radar Runs”, but the lack of snowfall and COVID-19 put a damper on that schedule.
Contact Ron Lewison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on Houston County snowmobiling.