The Sno-Eagles Snowmobile Club groomer operators were out on Monday, trying out a new Pisten Bully 100 groomer. The Sno-Eagles recently purchased the 2017 machine and now have three groomers. —Staff Photos By GARY RIDDERBUSCH
The Sno-Eagles Snowmobile Club groomer operators were out on Monday, trying out a new Pisten Bully 100 groomer. The Sno-Eagles recently purchased the 2017 machine and now have three groomers. —Staff Photos By GARY RIDDERBUSCH
The North Woods was hit with 4 to 6 inches of snow Monday, which should give area snowmobile trails the much-needed base for grooming this week.

While the snow turned to rain later on Monday, colder temperatures predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday should help the trails set up for the coming weekend.

Trails are expected to be in fair to good condition by the weekend, as more snow is in the forecast for Wednesday and Friday.

Due to the snow and slippery road conditions Monday, school and school-related activities were called off at Northland Pines and Three Lakes. Classes resumed in both school districts on Tuesday. 

Snowmobile trails have been in early-season riding condition since the trails opened just in time for New Year’s weekend, but the trails were in poor shape and some lake crossings were not marked. 

In Eagle River, the Sno-Eagles Snowmobile Club has marked the crossings on both Eagle and Catfish lakes. Lake crossings also have been marked on the Three Lakes Chain of Lakes.

Snowmobilers are being advised to stay next to the markers when crossing the lakes. Officials report that several snowmobiles and ATVs broke through the ice near channels where there is moving water and thin ice already this season.

Many businesses, which depend heavily on snowmobile traffic for winter tourism, are looking for activity to pick up this weekend with the improved trail conditions.

Area businesses should see a boost in activity the next two weekends, as the Vintage World Championship Snowmobile Derby is set for this weekend and the 56th running of the World Championship Snowmobile Derby will be held in Eagle River Jan. 17-20.

While snowmobile trails in Vilas and Oneida counties have been open for over a week, Forest County trails are scheduled to open this Thursday, Jan. 10, at noon.

Forest County has 405 miles of state-funded trails maintained by five snowmobile clubs including the Three Lakes-Brule River Trails, the 100 Mile Snow Safari, Lumberjack Memorial Trails, Black Bear Sportsmen’s Club Trails and the Tombstone-Pickerel Trails.

Snowmobile clubs in Forest County have been panning the trails and have all trails cleared and signed.

The Sno-Eagles in Eagle River are reporting their trails to be in good riding condition following grooming many of the trails on Monday.

According to Howard “Rusty” Wolf, president of the Sno-Eagles, the club’s three groomers were out almost all day Monday.

“There were two reasons for that. First, it had snowed so we wanted to pan the trails. Second, we got a new groomer and we wanted our groomer operators to get some training in the new machine,” said Wolf.

Wolf said there was some mist Monday, but that helped freeze the trails Tuesday morning. 

“I got a call from the groomers last night and they said the trails were excellent,” said Wolf. “With the cold weather coming this week, the trails should be real nice this weekend.” 

Wolf said the Sno-Eagles purchased the 2017 Pisten Bully 100 groomer with just 280 hours on it. The machine is made in Germany, and according to Wolf, has plenty of power, as well as wide and long tracks for getting through low-land areas.

“We now have three groomers, the Pisten Bully, a tractor and our Tucker,” said Wolf. “We should be in good shape for awhile.”

While snowmobiling got off to a slow start this season, ice fishing has been an opportunity for outdoor recreationists. 

Lakes are covered with 10 to 13 inches of ice. Anglers are using snowmobiles, ATVs and UTVs to access their fishing locations. Pick-up trucks have been seen on some lakes, though caution is urged.

Safety experts from the Department of Natural Resources advise anglers to check with local sources before driving any vehicle on the ice.