The closure of a major snowmobile trail in a Northwood Wisconsin hotspot is once again reinforcing to snowmobilers the need to respect landowners and cherish relationships with them for the access they grant for our trails.
The very popular Trail 13 that previously connected the snowmobiling mecca of Eagle River and Three Lakes will be severed this winter. The reason: a landowner chose not to renew his land lease to allow access to his property.
There were several factors that led to the landowner’s decisions, according to Sno Eagles Snowmobile Club President Keith Nettesheim. They included but were not limited to concerns about a select few riders trespassing elsewhere on his property beyond the trail corridor he previously granted, plus the noise from loud exhaust systems.
That actual section of land that particular landowner has contains less than a mile of trail. But because of where it’s located, and the fact that finding a re-route of the trail has proven extremely difficult, it will disconnect the direct link between the trail towns this winter and perhaps long-term.
Trail Closure Details
According to Nettesheim, the landowner expressed some concerns two seasons ago and then officially told the club that he wouldn’t renew the lease last spring.
Since then, Sno Eagles club officials have spent “well over 100 manhours” working with other landowners and governmental agencies trying to solve the problem, Nettesheim said. It’s proven tricky due to the amount of wetlands in the area, he noted, plus some nearby land is owned by folks in the silent sport community.
For this winter, riders will be unable to directly connecting Eagle River and Three Lakes by the old Trail 13 that more-or-less paralleled the path of nearby Highway 48. They’ll instead have two choices. Riders near Three Lakes will either have to go west toward Sugar Camp and then connect with Trail 17 north toward Eagle River. Or they can go east quite a distance on Trail TL 5, eventually riding up to Highway 70 east of Eagle River.
Both of those options are interesting rides we’ve done ourselves here at Snow Goer. But they’re definitely quite a bit further. And the lack of a direct connection will affect not just snowmobilers but also businesses along the way that depend on snowmobilers.
Trail Closure Notes
The local clubs will maintain stretches of the trail north and south of the closure, which will be just north of Clearwater Lake, Nettesheim said. That will enable riders who live along those stretches access to the rest of the trail system. But the trail will definitely halt in one area coming from each direction, with no route or bypass around. The club is working on one potential long-term solution, but that will likely involved funding and then building a new bridge in the region. And that’s only if other parts of the re-route come together.
Nettesheim stressed that folks shouldn’t villainize landowners in situations like this.
“You have to respect the landowners, it’s their property and their right to do with it as they wish,” Nettesheim said. “It’s their choice regardless.”
While trespassing and loud machines weren’t the only issues in this case, the situation should re-stress to snowmobilers the fragility of the trail network, and the importance of our actions as riders.
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