the single most important reason people come to northern Michigan
to snowmobile is because of our extensive trails. Northern
Michigan has a network of trails that sprawl the entire northern
lower peninsula. From Grayling in Crawford County, you can
easily reach Roscommon, Kalkaska, Otsego and Oscoda Counties.
Michigan also boasts many restaurants and motels so you will
never be left out in the cold. No matter how big or small
your next snowmobile trip to northern Michigan, remember these
few little tips to help make your trip a great experience.
Ahead - Determine where you are going. Research lodging
in the area and make accommodations. Try to find out what
types of dining or grocery stores there are in the area. Acquire
some trail maps ahead of time, and depending on your riding
skill level and the level of those around you, choose trails
that will not be too challenging or too long. Plan your days
of riding and let friends or family at home know where you
are and when you will be returning, checking in periodically.
Never ride alone. Be sure to follow maps, and if you get lost,
ask a local business or citizen for directions. If you must
approach a private residence, park your sled at the end of
the driveway and walk up with your helmet off preferably alone.
This will reduce intimidation of the property owner. Most
people are very willing to offer directions.
- Detailed maps are the key to snowmobiling fun in northern
Michigan. You can Acquire maps at county chambers of commerce.
Chambers are also a great resource to find restaurants, lodging
and other points of interest in the area. Chamber staff members
are always eager to help and very resourceful.
Courtesy - It is common knowledge that speed and alcohol
kills. Every year hundreds of people are injured due to careless
snowmobiling. Many are injured seriously and many die. Nearly
all these fatalities are directly related to excessive alcohol
use and excessive speed. Currently under Michigan law it is
illegal to operate a snowmobile while under the influence
of alcohol. It is also illegal to travel at a rate of speed
greater than is reasonable for existing conditions. These
laws are strictly enforced by local and state police as well
as the Department of Natural Resources. Sledders, do us all
a favor, keep you speed down and save the drinking until after
Courtesy - This one is simple. Pack out trash. If you
see some along the way, pick it up. I keep a garbage bag on
board for this reason alone. If you are doing something that
leaves more that a snowmobile track, you are doing something
wrong. Lets all try to keep Michigan the cleanest and most
beautiful state in the union!
in northern Michigan is with out a doubt some of the very
best in the world. These are just a couple of simple guidelines
mainly to refresh your memory and to introduce a few basic
sled concepts to new riders. Both sled veterans and newcomers
can benefit by reading about sled laws and trail courtesy
from time to time. So next time you are out on the trails,
try to practice these simple guidelines, this will help insure
a safe and fun ride and keep Michigan a great place to live.
a snowmobile trailer can be tricky business. A lot of time
is spent moving sleds around town, on the highways and down
driveways. Often the type of trailer you have can make the
difference between a weekend wonderland or a highway horror.
Here are a couple tips on trailer purchasing, maintenance
and laws that will help insure your next up north trip is
a fun, safe and trouble free one.
early - there are many discount incentives for pre-season
buying and consumers should try to take advantage of these
according to your needs - Keep in mind your vehicle, the
number of sleds you normally tow and the features that are
the most important to suit your needs.
braking methods - One of the most important features on
a trailer is brakes, and many customers are unaware of which
braking method to choose. While electric brakes are less expensive
and allow a driver to adjust the strength, they are difficult
to adjust once weather conditions start to change. Surge brakes
do not require a control box and can be used by any towing
vehicle, however they give the driver little control over
how much braking is used.
all comes down to personal preference - Only you know
what you truly want in a trailer. By researching options ahead
of time, you can avoid the last minute decisions that may
be made in haste or confusion.
Trailers are no different than snowmobiles, they require pre-season
checkups to make sure they perform properly and safely.
Tires - Remove the tires, check air pressure, and for
slow leaks. Look on sidewalls for dry, cracked sidewalls,
strange or uneven wear patterns and embedded debris. If you
suspect any problems, replace them, it is always better to
be prepared. Always keep a spare trailer tire, jack and a
safety jack on board just in case.
Bearings - Cleaning and greasing the wheel bearings
can be a big job, however it is very important for the proper
performance of your trailer. Solvent from your local hardware
store and an old toothbrush are the best tools for this messy
job. Once you have cleaned the bearings, inspect them for
discoloration, pitting and excessive play. Bearings are relatively
inexpensive, so it is better to replace them if you suspect
Wiring - Many people are apprehensive when it comes
to inspecting anything electrical, but checking the lighting
on your trailer is safe and easy. First walk around the trailer
and conduct a general inspection for broken lenses or water
filled housings. Next, check all the connections for corrosion
or broken wires. Sometimes a little corrosion can be sanded
with a fine grit sandpaper. Dielectric grease can also be
applied to wires to prevent future corrosion. Finally, hook
up your lights to make sure they work.
Each year sledders are ticketed because they failed to follow
new or obscure Michigan trailer laws. These laws can be confusing,
however it is important to research them to insure your next
trip is not interrupted by the state police. Here are just
a couple tips that might help next time you head out.
~ Trailers weighing less than 3.000 pounds do not require
brakes, unless the weight of the trailer and cargo exceed
40% of the total weight of the towing vehicle.
~All towing vehicles, excluding pickup trucks, cannot exceed
55 miles per hour on the highway while towing their sleds.
~ The width of a trailer cannot exceed 102 inches.
~ A state law just passed raising the weight limits for surge
brakes. It is now legal to operate a trailer with surge brakes
as long as the gross weight of the trailer does not exceed
15,001 pounds. This is an amendment to the old gross vehicle
weight of 5,500 pounds. A trailer that exceeds this weight
limit must have electric brakes.
These are just a few tips on pre-season
checkups, most of it is common sense, some of it is tedious,
but all of it will help make your next snowmobile adventure
a great one. Remember being prepared and safe can allow you
to enjoy this great state for years to come. For more information
on Michigan towing laws, visit www.michiganlegislature.org
and click on Michigan Compiled Laws. By using keywords like
"trailer" or "towing," you will be able
to access all the state trailer regulations. MichiganŐs Secretary
of State also has brochures and pamphlets on trailer laws.
Laws and Regulations
A snowmobile may not be operated on a public highway excepting
~ A snowmobile maybe operated on the right-of-way of a public
highway (except a limited access highway) if it is operated
at the extreme right of the open portion of the right-of-way
and with the flow of traffic on the highway. Snowmobiles operated
on a road right-of-way must travel in single file and shall
not be operated abreast except when overtaking or passing
~ A snowmobile may be operated on the roadway or shoulder
when necessary to cross a bridge or culvert if the snowmobile
is brought to a complete stop before entering onto the roadway
or shoulder and the operator yields the right-of-way to any
approaching vehicle on the highway.
~ A snowmobile may be operated across a public highway, other
than a limited access highway, at right angles to the highway
for the purpose of getting from area to another when the operation
can be done in safety and another vehicle is not crossing
the highway at the same time in the immediate area.
~ An operator must bring his or her snowmobile to a complete
stop before proceeding across the public highway and must
yield the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic.
~ Snowmobiles may be operated on a highway in a county road
system, which is not normally snowplowed for vehicular traffic;
and on the right-of-way or shoulder when no right-of-way exists
on a snowplowed highway in a county road system, outside the
corporate limits of a city or village, which is designated
and marked for snowmobile use by the county road commission
Operation of a snowmobile
~ A person shall not operate a snowmobile: While under the
influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or a combination
of the two.
~ At a rate of speed that is greater than is reasonable for
~ In a forest nursery, planting area or public lands posted
or reasonably identifiable as an area of forest reproduction
when growing stock may be damaged; or as a natural dedicated
area which is in zones 2 or 3.
~ On the frozen surfaces of public waters within 100 feet
of a person, including a skater, not in or upon a snowmobile
or within 100 feet of a fishing shanty or shelter except at
a speed required to maintain forward movement of the snowmobile
or on an area which has been cleared for ice skating, unless
the area is necessary for gaining access to public water.
~ Within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling between 12 midnight
and 6 a.m. at a speed greater than the minimum required to
maintain forward movement of the snowmobile.
~ In or upon the land of another without consent of the owner
or his agent, when required by the recreational trespass act.
~ In an area open to public hunting during the firearm deer
season from 7 a.m. to 11a.m. and 2p.m. to 5p.m.
~ While transporting on the snowmobile a bow unless unstrung
or a firearm unless unloaded and securely encased or equipped
with and made inoperative by a key locked trigger locking
~ On or across a cemetery or burial ground, an airport, a
public or private parking lot, within 100 feet of a slide,
ski or skating area, a railroad or railroad right-of-way.
~ To chase, pursue, worry or kill any wild bird or animal.
The law requires that the operator of a snowmobile involved
in an accident resulting in injury, or death of, any person,
or property damage in an estimated amount of $100 or more,
must immediately notify a law enforcement agency within the
county in which the accident occurred.
Restrictions on youthful operations.
A person under the age of 12 may not:
~ Operate a snowmobile without direct supervision of the parent
or guardian except on property owned or controlled by the
~ Cross a highway or street.
~ A person who is at least 12 but less than 17 years of age
may operate a snowmobile under the direct supervision of a
person 21 years of age or older or have in their immediate
possession a valid snowmobile safety certificate.
~ A person who is at least 12 but less than 17 years of age
may not cross a highway or street without having a valid snowmobile
safety certificate in their immediate possession.
Safety education and training Snowmobile safety training is
recommended for all snowmobile operators and required for
youth ages 12 to 17. For more information on snowmobile training,
please contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources
office in your area or call (517)373-1230, Law Enforcement
Division, Lansing, Michigan. Or you can visit the DNR on the
web at www.dnr.state.mi.us
Each snowmobile must have a braking system capable of:
a)Stopping a snowmobile in not more than 40 feet from an initial
speed of 20 mph while the snowmobile travels on packed snow
carrying an operator who weighs 175lbs or more.
b)Locking the snowmobile's traction belt(s).
Noise - Each snowmobile manufactured after July 1,1977,
shall be equipped with a muffler which does not exceed 78
decibels of sound pressure at 50 feet as measured by the 1974
Helmet - All persons operating or riding on a snowmobile
must wear a Department of Transportation-approved crash helmet.
Lighting - All snowmobiles must display a lighted headlight
and taillight at all times during operation.
and Trail Permits
A snowmobile shall not be operated unless the owner first
obtains a certificate of registration and a registration decal.
Before operating If owned by a nonresident, before operation
in Michigan, a snowmobile must display a valid registration
from the operator's home state or province, or be registered
in Michigan. The registration certificate expires on Sept.
30 of the year indicated on the decal.
time a registered snowmobile is sold to another person, the
registration must also be transferred. Contact the Secretary
of State for transfer information. State Law requires that
you affix the registration decals issued to the snowmobile
to each side of the forward half of the cowl above the footwell.
Beginning on July 1,1999 the registration decals will include
the registration numbers assigned to the snowmobile.
person who desires to operate a snowmobile in this state shall
obtain a snowmobile trail permit sticker. The snowmobile trail
permit sticker shall be valid for the period of 1 year which
begins October 1 and ends September 30 of the following year.
The trail permit sticker shall be permanently affixed to the
forward half of the snowmobile directly above or below the
headlight. Snowmobile trail permits are available from snowmobile
dealers, Department of Natural Resources and license agents.
are exempt from Registration and Trail Permit if they are:
operated on lands owned or under the control of the owner;
used entirely in a safety education program conducted by a
certified snowmobile safety instructor; or exclusively operated
in a special event of limited duration which is conducted
according to a prearranged schedule under a permit from the
governmental unit having proper jurisdiction.
addition, a snowmobile used solely for transportation on the
frozen surface of public waters for ice fishing is exempt
from the trail sticker requirement, but must still be registered.
October 1, 2000 Suspended Operators License If your license
to operate an automobile has been suspended by Michigan or
your home state, you may not operate a snowmobile. Points
assessed Operators License A person convicted of manslaughter,
negligent homicides or a felony resulting from snowmobile
operation shall have 6 points assessed against their driver's
license. A person convicted of operating a snowmobile under
the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or with
an unlawful blood alcohol content shall have 6 points assessed
against their driver's license. A person who is convicted
of operating a snowmobile while visibly impaired due to consumption
of alcohol or a controlled substance shall have 4 points assessed
to their driver's license. The information above was taken
from the Michigan DNR
Michigan is known
by snowmobilers nationwide for its unique combination of abundant
and dependable snow, exciting terrain, and extensive trail
~ Over 5,900 miles of designated snowmobile trails are located
throughout the state in six State Forests, three National
Forests, and many acres of privately owned lands.
~ Michigan is one of only three states that offer a large
system of interconnected snowmobile trails.
~ More than 100 grooming tractors are used by 11 DNR offices
and by 60+ grant program sponsors to groom the 5,900+ mile
~ Registration fees and snowmobile permit fees account for
over 2.5 million dollars annually allocated for trail grooming.
Equipment for Operators and Passengers
~ An insulated snowmobile suit.
~ Sturdy gloves that provide both hand and finger protection
and a secure grip on the controls.
~ Insulated boots for ankle and foot protection. Emergency
~ Tool kit (knife, pliers, adjustable wrench, electrical tape,
plug wrench, and screwdriver).
~ Flashlight (extra batteries and bulb).
~ Matches (candles).
~ Disposable blanket (heat reflecting 'space' type).
~ First aid kit.
~ Always keep your machine in top mechanical condition.
~ Always wear insulated boots and protective clothing including
a helmet, gloves and eye protection.
~ Never ride alone.
~ Avoid when possible, crossing frozen bodies of water.
~ Never operate in single file in a single file when crossing
frozen bodies of water
~ Always be alert to avoid fences and low strung wires.
~ Never operate on a street or highway.
~ Always look for depressions in the snow.
~ Keep headlights and taillights on at all time
~ When approaching an intersection, come to a complete stop,
raise off the seat and look for traffic.
~ Always check the weather conditions before you depart.
~ SLOW DOWN - speed is a contributing factor in nearly all
~ DON'T DRINK - alcohol impairs judgement and slows reaction