Friday, March 5, 2021

Recreation Highlight: Snowmobiling in the Adirondacks

Snowmobiling is a fun and adrenaline-filled way to experience the Adirondacks during the winter. Some trails even allow riders to experience the wilderness of Adirondack Forest Preserve lands.

Snowmobiling on Forest Preserve lands gives riders the opportunity to enjoy a wild forest character while navigating a system of seasonal motor vehicle roads and designated trails. These trails typically wind through hilly or mountainous terrain within a natural setting, connecting small communities and area attractions. These trails generally are narrower than trails on private lands. Snowmobiling is not permitted on all Forest Preserve lands, so be sure to stick to designated snowmobile trails.

When snowmobiling, remember these tips for a safe and responsible experience:

  • Wear your snowmobile helmet.
  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Avoid frozen waterways and lakes.
  • Travel at safe speeds and reduce your speed when approaching the tops of hills, corners, and when riding at night.
  • Stop at road crossing and cross at a 90-degree angle.
  • Be aware of unmarked hazards or obstacles hidden beneath the snow.
  • Any snowmobile operated in New York State must be registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  • Snowmobilers must carry registration and proof of insurance documents on their person at all times while snowmobiling.

For up-to-date snowmobile trail information visit the NYSSA Snowmobile Webmap.

Related Stories

Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.


26 Responses

  1. Particularly when in the Park, “Do not ride alone!” IN some cases help can be many, many miles away and you are likely to not have a cell signal!
    “Throttle back” and get home safe.

  2. Zephyr says:

    There’s one of the snowmobile superhighways in the photo! Not appropriate in a wilderness area.

    • Ed says:

      Hiking trails are probably more damaging.

    • Dan says:

      Where are there snowmobile trails in a Wilderness area? I thought they were in lands classified as Wild Forest?

      • Pete says:

        There are no snowmobile trails in “Wilderness” except for a couple special exemptions on the edge where they follow old roads. Nearly 50% of Forest Preserve lands are classified as Wilderness where you can’t even ride a mountain bike or a horse. There are also restrictions on snowmobiles in “Wild Forest.” Most of it is not readily accessible by snowmobile. It very easy to find places where there are no snowmobile trails within miles. Yet despite the facts, the extreme environmentalists paint a picture of the entire Adirondacks over-run with snowmobiles traveling on “superhighways” somehow destroying the forest. It just is not true.

        • DPC says:


          Can you please ratchet down the rhetoric? There are “extremists” of all varieties on any issues. One does not need to be an “extreme environmentalist” to feel passionately about perceived problems with snowmobiles.

          Whether one might be viewed as an extremist depends to a certain extent on context, does it not? If we think about the snowmobile superhighways in Canada, the miles and miles of trails in Maine and the UP of Michigan among other places, or even the Tug Hill closer to the Adirondacks, the acres of Wilderness in the Forest Preserve that are off limits to snowmobiles seems very small. Even within the Blue Line, there are far more acres available for snowmobiling than not, if we factor in private land as well as Wild Forest.

          There are opportunities for snowmobiling throughout the rural area just outside the park boundaries. In this light, is it really an “extreme” position to think things are not in balance? Seems like there’s not much area on the planet humans do not use in one way or another. The Park is one place where it is possible to regain a better balance. One need not be an “environmentalist” or an “extremist” to appreciate that, I think.

          • Pete says:

            If I was an ‘extremist’ I would be advocating that snowmobiles should be allowed everywhere, just like hikers. I’d also be advocating for ATV use.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      You really need to ratchet down the “superhighway” hyperbole. It makes you look a little rabid (i.e. foaming at the mouth) when you post the same regurgitated comment on every article that covers snowmobiling.

      There are no “superhighways”. There aren’t any now, nor will there ever be any. This is pure hyperbole that originated from the mouth of Peter Bauer. It is a patently false and highly dishonest narrative designed to trigger en emotional response. In short, it’s lying and manipulating people to advance a personal cause.

      A “Superhighway” is a paved road with 6 or more lanes of traffic in each direction. No such thing exists anywhere in the park. Making the comparison between this and a snowmobile trail is highly disingenuous and dishonest. A more apt comparison would be to that of an unmaintained dirt road not a superhighway, but even though that is the truth it doesn’t have the emotional manipulative power of the ‘sky is falling’ narrative that DEC is allowing “Superhighways” to be built in the FP.

      • Zephyr says:

        That photo is not a “trail!” Sorry, but that is a snowmobile superhighway. Just imagine how many trees were removed in that one little stretch shown in the photo. The noise from those two sleds travels for miles. The road allows illegal use by ATVs in the offseason. This known and accepted destruction of the wilderness benefits a small number of wealthy sledders while destroying wilderness owned by all the people of New York.

        • Pete says:

          How do you know that the photo is not a “trail” on a seasonal road? How do you know that it is even on state land?

          The word “trail” when used in snowmobiling context means any route used by snowmobiles. Could be on a wide seasonal road or a narrow actual “character of a foot trail” trail.

          “Snowmobile superhighway” is hyperbole when referring to trails on Forest Preserve lands. I’ve ridden hundreds of miles of trail in the Adirondacks. No such thing exists. Some of the seasonal roads, mostly on private or easement lands, might be wide enough to be called ‘snowmobile highways’ but that’s about it.

          If you want to see real snowmobile superhighways, you have to go to Canada, where they have some high-speed trails that are divided in to one-way lanes.

    • adkcamp says:

      A pro-preservation and pro-protection AND pro-snowmobile advocate here. Your comment is not based in fact… snowmobile trails are not in Wilderness and nearly 100% are either:
      1) seasonal roads (such as the road system in the Massaweepie Boy Scout Camp)
      2) inactive logging roads
      3) a rail road bed.
      None of these trails represent the cutting of a single tree for the sake of snowmobiles – they are existing roads, with trees down for all sorts of other reasons.

      Grab a map of the snowmobile trails in the Park (they are free or on-line) – please let us know the name or number designation of snowmobile superhighway in the Park, in Wilderness because the photo is clearly not one of them.

      • Boreas says:

        Not weighing in on either side here, but within the Park, “wilderness” and “Wilderness” are not interchangeable. One describes nature, the other describes APA classification types. So in the Park we have wilderness that is not Wilderness, and we have Wilderness that is not wilderness.

        • Eric says:

          From the DEC website
          B. Wild Forest

          [APSLMP] A wild forest area is an area where the resources permit a somewhat higher degree of human use than in wilderness, primitive or canoe areas, while retaining an essentially wild character. A wild forest area is further defined as an area that frequently lacks the sense of remoteness of wilderness, primitive or canoe areas and that permits a wide variety of outdoor recreation.

          [CPSLMP] A wild forest area is an area of Forest Preserve land whose character as a natural plant and animal community receives the same degree of protection under Article XIV of the Constitution as in areas classified as wilderness, but which differs from wilderness in that generally:

          The physical characteristics of wild forest areas are capable of withstanding higher levels of recreational use;Wild forest areas convey less of a sense of remoteness and provide fewer outstanding opportunities for solitude for visitors, and therefore;Wild forest areas are managed to provide opportunities for a greater variety of recreational activities and a higher intensity of recreational use

          • Boreas says:

            “A wild forest area is an area of Forest Preserve land whose character as a natural plant and animal community receives the SAME DEGREE OF PROTECTION under Article XIV of the Constitution AS IN AREAS CLASSIFIED AS WILDERNESS, but which differs from wilderness in that generally:

            The physical characteristics of wild forest areas are capable of withstanding higher levels of recreational use;…” CAPS mine.

            That last sentence is key. Where are the independent scientific studies that initially supported allowing off-road, backcountry motorized usage ~50 years ago? Have new studies been funded to evaluate larger Class 3 connector trails?? What are the limits? Who decides? So far, the decisions to allow snowmobile usage have been political and socioeconomic – not based in science.

            My point is, should decisions regarding navigating Art. 14 be purely political? Are local governments and Albany to be given the authority to circumvent Art. 14 as desired? I feel snowmobile activity should be determined and delineated by constitutional amendment, not political expedience. Get it approved by amendment, and the legal arguments fall by the wayside.

            • Pete says:

              Article 14 does not enumerate any form of recreation, either permitted or prohibited. Why should it be necessary to amend it to permit or deny one type when no other types are explicitly permitted or prohibited?

              Article 14 also does not call for “wilderness,” only “wild forest lands.” The word is only used once, as part of the phrase “wilderness character,” in a paragraph referring to “lands OUTSIDE THE FOREST PRESERVE counties.”

              Article 14 does not call for the creation of a “wilderness” Yet nearly 50% of the forest preserve is designated as “Wilderness.” This goes way beyond the requirement for lands being kept as “wild forest lands.” It could be said that the extreme restrictions on public use in Wilderness is unconstitutional.

  3. wash wild says:

    Given the threat climate change poses to the Adirondacks DEC is promoting expensive carbon spewing toys? Really?

  4. Zephyr says:

    Snowmobile lovers here might want to read the Adirondack Almanack a little more closely to realize what these snowmobile superhighways are doing in parts of the Adirondacks. That photo was used previously in this article explaining the destruction these trails mean:

  5. Eric says:

    Even bushwacking could be construed as a bad thing , an unnecessary disturbance of wildlife . Wildlife that is trying to feed , rest , raise young , live . This is something that is already put into action at nature centers .

  6. John boy says:

    The 1st reply ( comment) was a body count article shame shame

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