The critical need for outdoor activities has never been more evident than during this past winter season. Clubs like CNY Snow Travelers Inc. provide these opportunities, and take great pride in their work when doing so.
“We have over 25 active members that take care of the site,” said Dave Adams, president of CNY Snow Travelers Inc. “It’s not a job for the faint of heart. Our volunteers spend five to six hours outside in the cold to ensure the trails are usable.”
Adams says the volunteers spend time grooming over 120 miles of hilly terrain. Large swathes of pine trees give way to open spaces and intimate trails that reach across Oneida County and Madison County in New York. The club’s trails also lead to destinations in Waterville, Solsville, Brookfield, Bridgewater, Deansboro, and Sherrill, with the majority of snowmobile trails on private property.
Adams says the club works closely with the landowners to minimize their inconvenience while creating and maintaining the best trails possible. “We provide snowmobilers with guidance on where snowmobile traffic is allowed. It’s a privilege what these landowners have given us.”
With over 120 miles of trails dedicated to snowmobiling, along with cross-country skiing, hiking, snowshoeing and horseback riding, it takes time to create a landscape that can cater to all five. The club uses four Class A Tucker Sno-Cat groomers and drags (two are eight-feet-wide and the other two are 10-feet-wide) to maintain the trails.
Adams says the club’s Sno-Cats range from 1995 to 2000 model years. However, the club’s equipment requires an upgrade, according to Adams.
“Every year we work on building our trail system to make it better,” said Adams. “Right now, I’m writing a grant for a new groomer because the ones we currently use are 25 to 30 years old.”
The club has received grants in the past to purchase new equipment. In 2019, the club applied for a grant to buy a new trail paver drag for their Deansboro location. Still, even the best equipment can’t wrestle with bad snowfall and persistent rain.
“Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t been very kind this year. We’re in a snow deficit,” said Adams. “Normally, we get around 100 inches of snow, but we don’t have that yet. Along with the warm weather, the average temperature is 10 to 12 degrees above what it should be – so, all the beautiful snow melts – it’s far from perfect, but it’s adequate.”
Even with less-than-ideal trail conditions, that hasn’t stopped people from putting on their snow boots to take a ride on their snowmobile. Adams, who has led the organization for the last 17 years, understands the positive impact nature has on humans.
“I grew up outside,” said Adams, who bought his first snowmobile for $200 in 1966. “I was 12 years old when I got my first snowmobile and ever since I’ve lived outside. I have been doing this my entire life.”
CNY Snow Travelers Inc. started in the 1990s when two clubs merged with the Waterville Area Snow Travelers Association to make it the largest club in New York, south of the thruway. Due to the vast area that the club serves, it changed its name to its current moniker, CNY (Central New York) Snow Travelers Inc. to reflect more accurately what area the club represents.
Prospective members can join online for a yearly fee of $30, which includes a New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA) membership. However, if someone is ready to commit, other membership options are available. A Lifetime Membership costs $255 with a $5 charge for NYSSA. A Trail Defender membership costs $45 with an additional $20 going towards NYSSA to reimburse clubs for defense costs related to trail issues. Landowners have a free membership with the club and NYSSA due to the donation of their land for the trails.
“Our volunteers work with their hands,” said Adams. “It’s not an easy job, spending time outside in freezing temperatures, working a snow machine entirely for the benefit of others.”
It’s not merely the winter months that keep members busy. Year-round maintenance remains a top priority for the club. Members volunteer their time, including the use of personal equipment such as backhoes, dump trucks, brush hogs and other heavy equipment for building and maintaining trails. Volunteers also routinely update way-finding and advisory signage for trail users.
CNY Snow Travelers also holds events including cookouts and barbecues, and the club participates in friendly competition with other clubs in the form of snowmobile races. Even though riding snowmobiles remains a large draw for members and visitors, the club also offers a youth safety course.
“The safety class is for 10-year-old kids to learn the rules and regulations of snowmobiling,” Adams said. “We want them to go out and get their certificate so they can ride safely.”
Adams says they look to the future generation to take on the club’s operations and invest in its future. The youth safety course aims to ensure that happens.
“Technology takes kids away from nature,” said Adams. “Our youth-oriented class provides future generations of snowmobilers with the tools and skills to continue maintaining these trails. We want them to become good citizens.”
Interested parties can learn more about these events through CNY Snow Travelers’ website, newsletters, social media and monthly meetings. CNY Snow Travelers also actively posts on their Facebook page. Posts detail the maintaining and grooming of the trails, complete with on-site pictures and club anecdotes.
Finally, CNY Snow Travelers always looks for opportunities to fundraise for the club and humbly receives donations whenever possible. Visit www.cnysnowtravelers.com to learn more.