Background of the Sport
This sport is a Canadian invention, having been jump-started by Bombardier's invention of the Ski-Doo snowmobile. It became a major recreational sport in the mid-sixties, and has become a great family winter sport. Today's snowmobiles are quieter, more stable, and more reliable than the early snowmobiles, and some models are downright luxurious, with foot and snack warmers aboard.
To drive a snowmobile, remember that you throttle (accelerate) with your right hand and brake with your left. You straddle the seat cushions, and rest your feet on the running boards, letting your legs absorb the bounces on the bumps. Today's snowmobiles can go as fast as 100 km/h, though you do not want to go at speeds beyond 50 km/h if you wish to see the natural terrain around you.
For safety, when snowmobiling, stick to marked/tracked trails, carry emergency food & fuel, and if in the backcountry, carry emergency transceivers.
To go snowmobiling you need a snowmobile, and a truck or trailer to carry it. You do not need a licence to drive a snowmobile, but the vehicle must be registered with the provincial Motor Vehicle Branch. Snowmobiles can cost from $4000 to $15000, with trailers starting at $400. Fortunately in good snowmobiling areas, you can rent them by the hour or by the day. You should also wear warm winter clothing, like a one or two-piece snowmobile (or ski) suit, goggles and helmet.
New Brunswick has over 20,000 snowmobile users.
The Fredericton area offers many kilometres of scenic, groomed snowmobile trails.
The Fredericton Snowmobile Club (472-7669) has 67 kilometres of groomed trails. Trail passes are required for
users of the groomed trails. Mactaquac Provincial Park (363-4747) offers 25
kilometres of groomed and marked trails with maps, fuel stops and food service.
The use of New Brunswick Federation of Snowmobile Clubs trails requires a valid trail permit. These permits are available at any snowmobile club, selected motels and gas stations. The trail permits allow snowmobilers on trails of the various clubs. Out of province snowmobilers may purchase a daily or seasonal trail permit by contacting N.B.F.S.C. at 506 325-2625. The cost of trail permits for 2002-2003 are:
- Annual Trail Permit $150.00 ('early bird' price of $100.00 if purchased on or before December 15th)
- Seven Day Trail Permit $100.00
- One Day Trail Permit $30.00
A snowmobile entering New Brunswick must be licensed and registered from the province or state of origin.
In New Brunswick it is mandatory that you carry personal liability insurance on your snowmobile from your province or state of origin. For safety, collision, theft and fire insurance are recommended but not mandatory.
You can get trail conditions for the N.B. Provincial Trails by calling 1 800 561-0123 or the N.B.F.S.C. office at 506 325-2625.
In New Brunswick the following rules apply:
- A snowmobile may not be operated within 7.5 m (approx. 25 ft) of the travelled portion of a highway except to cross the highway or when necessary for loading and unloading purposes.
- Before crossing a public road, stop, look and listen. If the way is clear, it is safe to cross.
- Snowmobiles must be equipped with lights, and it is recommended that they be turned on during daytime travel.
- Always drive on the right-hand side of the trail.
- Any person who drives or is a passenger of a snowmobile must wear an approved helmet,securely fastened.
- Obey all signs posted along the trails.
- Snowmobiling while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited and against the law.
- Always travel in the company of other snowmobilers.
- Dress appropriately for the condition; be adequately protected from the cold.
- Permission has been granted for the use of trails only. If you leave the trails, you may be trespassing.