LOWVILLE — While parts of the Lewis County all-terrain vehicle trail system opened a couple weeks ago, the season will kick off in earnest this weekend with the annual SNIRT Run.
And county Recreational Trail Coordinator Jacqueline L. Mahoney is asking for rider cooperation both on Saturday and throughout the season as she works to continue expanding trail offerings.
“We always want them to respect what’s there so we don’t lose it,” she said. “You need respectful riders to get a great system.”
While the trail system technically opened April 1, only the main corridor providing a connection between Brantingham and Tug Hill is now available, as most off-road trails on Tug Hill remain snow-covered, Mrs. Mahoney said. “We’re opening as conditions allow,” she said. “Please respect the signage.”
The 14th annual SNIRT Run, sponsored by the Barnes Corners Sno-Pals snowmobile club, will be held Saturday. County trails will allow participants to ride over from Brantingham, but any who do so must have county ATV trail permits, Mrs. Mahoney said.
This year’s early-season ATV poker run will include 16 stops from Barnes Corners to Highmarket. Pre-registration will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Sno-Pals groomer barn, Timberview Lodge in Houseville and the Edge Hotel in Lyons Falls. Registration will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the groomer barn and Timberview, as well as at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin and Barrows Performance in Highmarket.
Last year’s event drew a record crowd of 4,256 registered riders and also included six crashes, twice the previous high of three. Organizers and law enforcement officials had suggested the sheer volume of participants and extremely dusty conditions were contributing factors.
Conditions at this year’s road-only event will likely be much different, with the main challenge being giving riders alternate routes for snow-covered roadways to keep them from cutting across private property, Mrs. Mahoney said.
Organizers have also said they are unsure if having the event on Easter weekend will impact attendance.
To help alleviate the parking issues seen last year, the county has opened a section from Barnes Corners to Corey Road to ATV traffic for the one-day event and is restricting parking to only one side of the road. Snow Ridge is also offering parking for the first time this year. “That will help tremendously,” Mrs. Mahoney said.
For more information on the event, visit www.sno-pals.com.
Mrs. Mahoney about a week ago also kicked off a new “Lewis County ATV Trail System” Facebook page to list trail openings and closings, alert riders of ongoing trail work and provide general information on the system.
“We’ve had really good numbers already,” she said. “I think it’s a great forum to get information out there to everyone in the ATV system.”
The system now includes 76 miles of off-road trails and 450 miles of seasonal roads opened to ATVs, but Mrs. Mahoney said she is continuing to work to expand that and move riders off roads wherever possible.
The county just added the Yancey property to the trail system to provide an off-road connection between Carey and Flat Rock roads in the town of Martinsburg, slightly reducing road miles. The Bauer property in the town of Leyden was also added to start discussions on opening portions of Neff, Zeigler and Fitch roads to connect with the 140-acre Grower property, which was added to the system last year, she said.
Annual trail permits cost $65 for the first ATV and $20 apiece for any additional machines, while three-day passes are $20 per ATV. New this year, members of the Tug Hill Adirondack ATV Association, Tug Hill Wheelers and Highmarket Wheelers also receive a $20 discount on annual passes and the county plans to offer a free riding weekend Aug. 4 to 6.
As for recent discussions on ways to improve the Sheriff’s Department recreational patrols, Mrs. Mahoney said the hope is that more manpower will be available after a few new deputies complete their training this summer. However, any talks on additional dedicated patrols will likely have to wait until this fall’s budget deliberations, she said.