A trip to the Badger State in the winter would not be complete without a visit to the Chute Pond Snowmobile Club (CPSC) in Mountain, Wis., a small town in Oconto County – an hour-and-a-half drive north of Madison.
Originally formed in the early 1970s as the Near North Snowmobile Club, it was renamed the CPSC in 1982, and granted non-profit status by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
“The formation was named Chute Pond Snowmobile Club due to the organized participants who lived on or near Chute Pond,” said CPSC president Deb Uhlenbrauck.
“Since Chute Pond was well known to most people from major municipalities of distance (Appleton, Green Bay, Milwaukee, and all of Wisconsin) and a major ‘up north’ tourist location, they chose the name for that reason. Several local business owners were the first formation leading the way to become a community support system as we know it today. We strive to support our community that ranges from Suring to our south, Lakewood to our north, Boulder Lake to our west, and Crooked Lake to our east.”
100 miles of scenic trails
With some of the most scenic and beautiful trails in Wisconsin, the CPSC has 85 funded and 26 unfunded snowmobile trails spanning 100 miles that require grooming maintenance at least four times a week to ensure they are “ready” for all snowmobile tourists – no matter what day of the week.
“Our trails (located in Oconto County) connect to the Gillett trail system to the south, Bagley-Brazeau to the southeast, Iron Snowshoe in Marinette County, Lakewood Paul Bunyan to the north, Red Arrow Townsend to the northwest and Boulder Lake trails to the southwest,” said Uhlenbrauck.
“Our season opens as soon as we have a trail base and enough snow to groom. It may fluctuate every year, but it is safe to say mid-December to mid-March is a general rule of thumb. It is strictly up to Mother Nature.”
Currently, the CPSC has 12 regular seasoned groomers and 25 trail maintenance volunteers. Its trail system is divided among groups of volunteers in the form of an Adopt-a-Trail program.
“Each group has a trail that they are responsible to maintain, and should they require help, they let us know so we can assist them,” said Uhlenbrauck.
“They brush trails and remove fallen trees from storms, as well as sign the trails. We pride ourselves with having many volunteers to be able to offer the program and have a waiting list should someone choose to be removed from the program.”
Since the CPSC is located in the town of Mountain – which is a flowage of the Oconto River – it is near the center of their trail system.
“Therefore, we have our own snowmobile shop and equipment storage building where we store and maintain our grooming equipment,” she said.
The CPSC owns two current model year Case tractors, a New Holland Sur Track, one LMC 1994, a Case 110 and a Case 145, in addition to five grooming drags which are used to groom the 100-plus miles of trail.
“All of our trail brushing and preparation is done by club volunteers, organized by our CPSC Adopt-A-Trail program,” said Uhlenbrauck.
“We groom as needed at least four times a week. With snow, we may groom daily to ensure safe conditions for all active snowmobile tourists. At the present time we do not plan on utilizing snowmaking systems.”
Many safety practices are followed by the CPSC to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. For example, Uhlenbrauck says groomers have been educated on equipment use and troubleshooting prior to being allowed to groom solo, and on the use of trail brushing chainsaws.
“The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR) signage handbook is utilized to ensure all signage is as required. We work closely with the WI DNR and the U.S. Forest Service to ensure no harm is sustained on our behalf. At times, a bridge project may be postponed until the hibernation of a species has been deemed safe, so we do not disrupt any bird or insect.”
Club membership and volunteers
At present, the CPSC – in conjunction with the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) – has approximately 375 memberships, which include businesses, families and singles. An application for membership can be made through CPSC’s website at www.chutepondsnowmobileclub.com or by mail.
“We meet from October through April on the second Saturday of the month,” said Uhlenbrauck. “We hold family-friendly annual events for our club members such as our Hayride & Bonfire Cookout in October, Blast from the Past: a Vintage Ride and Show in March and [a] Trailside Cookout.”
The CPSC strives to support the communities where they have trails. Emergency services such as ambulance, fire and police departments, as well as schools and veteran organizations have received financial donations from the CPSC. Additionally, Oconto River Kids and National Multiple Sclerosis Society have benefitted from the CPSC’s fundraising efforts.
Committed to the local community, CPSC is a member of the Mountain Area Business Association and the Dusty Trails ATV Club.
“We hold an annual food drive for the local pantry every December. We also have our own section of Highway 32 as our Adopt-a-Highway, and have donated money and volunteered hours to our local community and other charitable causes including Mountain Area Ambulance Service, local food pantries, Old Glory Honor Flight, Oconto River Kids, Mountain VFW Post 2119, Suring American Legion Post 283 and Vets 4 Vets of Northeast Wisconsin,” said Uhlenbrauck.
When it comes to the CPSC’s volunteers, she couldn’t be more pleased.
“Our volunteers are awesome and our working partnerships with neighboring clubs have a proven track record. With the 2019 storm, I was able to coordinate Team Rubicon to help clear our trails, so we were able to have a season – versus cancelation – as the U.S. Forest Service was speculating. This was for not only the Chute Pond Snowmobile Club, but other clubs in neighboring counties as well. Sharing resources with those in need is an asset we have! We fundraise all summer long to support ambulance, vets and Suring School as they are teaching our future generation!”