Flip flops gone … winter sports on in The County

After a lack luster summer and fall mother nature is delivering a timely start to winter in The County…….now for those flatlanders who don’t know….The County is one of the highest rated destinations for snowmobile enthusiasts in north America…….nope, no lighthouses, but 2300 miles of some of the best trails anywhere supported by great people, great food and great scenery.   Add to that mix some great ice fishing locations, some great Nordic ski venues and and a couple of  awesome downhill ski areas in Mars Hill and Fort Kent and you have a great place for a winter family vacation !

But for now let’s talk snowmobiling because that is what I am suppose to do…..so here goes….

With a foot and a half of fresh snow and a pretty good base in the valley the groomers have begun rolling to get systems open for the 2013-2014 season….HOWEVER…..it is still early so please read below and use caution and lots of common sense…

CAUTIONARY NOTES

  • The lakes are freezing up pretty nicely BUT, it is still early in the season so the best advice is to stick to the trail and give the lakes a few more weeks of  artic temps
  • There is a LOT of logging going on……remember it is THEIR land and they are trying to make a living so some trails will remain closed for a few more weeks until they are done
  • There have been a number of reroutes so pay attention and follow the signs.
  • Keep in mind that there are some long distances between gas stations so look at the reroutes and plan accordingly
  • Many clubs are unable to place field markers until it snows so markings will be a bit lean until clubs have a chance to get out and this fluff won’t make it easy for them

Trail Info

ITS 85   south of Ashland there is still quite a bit of logging going on so it will be a bit into the first of the year before some of the projects can make some headway and that will include a significant amount of rerouting.   Ashland is still trying to work out a reroute going north to Portage so keep that in mind as you set out.   Portage will be packing their new reroute which they have worked hard on this fall.  Remember ITS 85 will now be off Portage Lake so please look for signage.   Eagle Lake is waiting for a bit more moisture in the snow but will probably try to pack the end of this week .St Francis is noting that their Carter Brook trail will be closed until the end of January or mid  February due to logging.   Ft Kent has packed to Carter Brook.

ITS  83   has a bit of a hole in it between Oakfield and Linneus while those projects look for a reroute.  Another big reroute occurs south of Bridgewater where traffic will be rerouted off the railbed due to logging and will be traveling to well north of Mars Hill…..that section isn’t marked yet so call ahead before you venture out.    From north of Presque Isle 83 should be packed by the holiday and ready for early season traffic but use caution.

ITS 81  Once again not too much happening down south but snow cover is there and we are looking at more Friday so most projects will get out to begin the packing and set up. Moving north Madawaska, Frenchville and Van Buren have been out packing.  Grand Isle will probably get out after the holidays they are working on their groomer.  Ft Fairfield will probably get out over the weekend weather and snow cover permitting.  There is a two mile reroute on the Ashland/Masardis end so watch for signage.

ITS 92  Ft Kent, St Francis and Allagash have opened their sections however check intown Ft Kent as there was still work being down on the international bridge so the dike trail wasn’t open but indications are it will be by the weekend.

ITS 90  Caribou should be opening their section to Rt 105 which has a new bridge over Salmon Stream thanks to the gracious financial assistance from a landowner.  Portage was out with their new groomer and just wants to caution folks that there are some beaver dam areas that may open when the groomer crosses so use caution.    Ft Fairfield will try to pack their section east weather and snow cover permitting this weekend.

ITS 88 will have a reroute on the Ft Fairfield section so please stay clear until they work that out.   Presque Isle west will be a little shaky until groomers can get access although from Aroostook River Club west to Ashland is passable and maybe packed for the weekend but please watch for signage.

ITS 86  the Meduxneakeag Ramblers will try to get to St Croix however heading west has lots of logging and Ox Bow is working on reroutes so that section won’t be open until after the first of the year

ITS 105  will be packed from Van Buren for the weekend south to Washburn and Mapleton then sledders should check locally.

Rt 100    Caswell has made a big change with this trail between Caswell and Rt 89 so watch for signage.

Rt 89 between ITS 83/90 in Caribou north to Rt 94 is not open yet

Daigle has been out packing on their sections of smaller trails.

Soldier Pond will be working on their groomer but may be out next week

So there you have it……and by the way……the downhill skiing at Big Rock in Mars Hill and at Lonesome Pine in Ft Kent is fantastic and Nordic ski enthusiasts are out and about across The County……so have a good holiday and don’t forget to visit The County for your outdoor pursuits this winter !!!

 

 

 

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Kathy Mazzuchelli

About Kathy Mazzuchelli

Kathy Mazzuchelli is superintendant of the Caribou Parks and Recreation Department where she has worked for 38 years. An avid snowmobiler, Mazzuchelli’s first sled was a 1968 Polaris Mustang back in the days when groomed trails were done with snowmobiles, bedsprings and some pretty feisty folks.