Bring up the subject of snowmobiles in a group of people in New Hampshire, and you’re sure to hear two divergent opinions. Someone will talk about the thrill of getting out on the trails in the winter or will marvel at the wild parts of the State that snowmobiles have allowed them to experience in whole new ways. Someone else will curse them as a noisy scourge.
Without picking sides, we can say that snowmobiles make more noise and may smell more than a skier on a pair of cross-country skis, but the extensive network of trails that snowmobile clubs maintain have become one of New Hampshire’s greatest assets, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to hike, bike, ski, and ride horses through some of the most stunning scenery in the state.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, snowmobiles are here to stay, and there are no fewer than 15 snowmobile clubs in Coos County, New Hampshire, dedicated to creating and maintaining the trails that snowmobilers—and many others—enjoy throughout the year. Here’s an introduction to five of those 15 clubs.
- Waumbek Methna Snowmobile Club, in Jefferson, is typical of snowmobilers throughout New Hampshire. They combine the arduous volunteer work of maintaining trails with a lot of fun. The group holds an annual Poker Run and Steak Feed each February and every March they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a party at the clubhouse, located at 116 Presidential Highway.
- The Lancaster Snow Drifters pride themselves on being the oldest snowmobile club in the United States, and refer to their town of Lancaster as Snowmobile City USA. The club incorporated in 1966 and currently maintains more than 80 miles of trails. Although the event has been cancelled for 2018, for decades, the club’s signature event has been the International Snowmobile Grand Prix, an exhibition race featuring classic sleds. Members also entertain themselves and raise money for trail work and charity with dances, barbecues, raffles, and poker runs.
- The Jefferson Hi-Landers is another snowmobile club centered in Jefferson. Why does a town need two clubs? To provide snowmobilers with more trails, of course! Each club creates and maintains its own network of trails, with the Hi-Landers concentrating on trails located to the east of Route 11 and to the south of Route 8. Like nearly all snowmobile clubs, the Hi-Landers maintain a website that offers maps of their trails.
- The Twin Mountain Snowmobile Club maintains and grooms trails just north of Franconia Notch, allowing snowmobilers to travel through the heart of the White Mountain National Forest. Twin Mountain itself, after which the club takes its name, is an unincorporated community located within the town of Carroll. Some of the club’s trails come right through the community, with awesome views of North and South Twin Mountains at the south end of the village.
- The Presidential Range Riders maintain more than 75 miles of trails, extending from the towns of Gorham, Berlin, Randolph, and Shelburne in New Hampshire and heading east into Gilead, Maine. All work is done by volunteers, who initially groomed trails by hitching anything from an old bed frame to wooden pallets to the back of their sleds. Today, the club operates two Pisten Bully groomers, pulling Mogul Master drags.