Good snow means good business on Tug Hill

Two people ride on a Polaris snowmobile Monday morning outside of Constableville on trails groomed by the Turin Ridge Riders. Trails were busy with riders Monday after heavy and much-needed snowfall over the weekend. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

LOWVILLE — With about a foot of snow on the ground after weekend precipitation, snowmobilers hooked up their trailers and made their way to the Tug Hill Plateau to take advantage of the trails. And local business owners were happy to see them back after more than a week of unseasonably warm weather.

Snow club groomers, like those from the Turin Ridge Riders and Southern Tug Hill Sno-riders, were in high gear on Sunday and Monday preparing the trails and sending out social media posts letting their thousands of followers know about conditions after reporting about 12 inches of snowfall from Saturday.

Sledders could be found on every trail, filling up restaurants across the plateau and making up for some of the very warm days last week when trail bases dissolved in the heat.

Sporadic snowfall over the holidays and earlier this month made weekend reservations for lodging and equipment rentals vulnerable, according to some business owners, but the minute trails were passable, the sledders showed up from hours away.

“A lot of snowmobilers live right in the moment. They follow the snow wherever it is, so we went from empty to full,” said Jennifer Myers, co-owner of the Towpath Restaurant & Lodge, Turin. “We normally only serve breakfast on Sunday, but we were so busy we went straight through until lunch. There were a lot of sleds on Sunday.”

Parking lots and roads with trail access were lined with trucks hauling snowmobile trailers, while many restaurants had lines for tables throughout the day on Sunday and Monday, similar to the sledder reaction to snowfall earlier in the month.

At the Lewis County Snowmobile Association meeting held on Jan. 13, representatives from around the county talked about how quickly snowmobilers from near and far filled the trails on Jan. 9 after a few days of steady snow accumulation.

“Everybody took the day off,” said one association member while others added that local establishments like the Montague Inn and the Hook & Ladder were full and by noon there was “no parking to be found in Redfield” or at the end of Smith Road in Constableville near the trail.

The excitement was short-lived, however, as temperatures stayed above freezing, even at night, and rose to the mid-40s by day. Even the ice base disappeared on many trails until Saturday’s storm.

As of Monday, trails higher on the hill are in good condition according Christopher Skipper, president of the Ridge Riders, although some trails in the area have some “water holes” and, further down the hill, even some mud holes and some closed trails.

The National Weather Service forecast for later this week predicts daytime temperatures reaching the high 30s with the nights dipping back down well below freezing, but that hasn’t kept people from making plans.

“All eight of our rooms are full,” Mrs. Meyers said. “The phone has been ringing non-stop, and if I had more rooms, I am pretty sure they would be full, too.”

And as long as there’s snow to ride on, they will come, at least for a day on the trails.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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