The effects from a pair of severe late-November snowstorms are still being felt across much of northern Michigan as work crews continue efforts to clear and groom snowmobile and ski trails.
“The number of downed trees and limbs is astonishing,” said Rob Katona, central Upper Peninsula trails specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Parks and Recreation Division. “We haven’t seen conditions like this in recent history.”
Many trails remain open, but riders are urged to use extra caution, watching out for hazards obscured by snow, like logs, rocks or stumps, or trails left impassable.
The storms brought more than 2 feet of snow to some areas, blocking trails and weighing down tree limbs. In many places, young birches, oaks and other small-diameter trees have been bent over, arched across trails to the ground, where treetops are held in place, buried with snow.
“Heavy, deep snows have created a good base for snowmobile riding but with that has come fallen and blown-down trees,” said Jerry Fitzgibbon, DNR acting district law supervisor for the eastern Upper Peninsula. “Trail crews have been working to clear the trails, but many trails remain cluttered and not passable.”
Backroads, wetlands and lake surfaces also present hazardous challenges.