Officials are planning to open snowmobile trails in the Black Hills area on December 15, 2012, weather permitting. The snowmobile trail program is a cooperative effort between the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Recreation Department and the Black Hills National Forest.
"There have been several changes to the trail system, particularly in the O'Neil Pass area, this season due to increased logging activity in the area," Bonnie Jones, Recreation Specialist, Northern Hills Ranger District, said. "For your safety, do not ride snowmobiles around active logging as it is difficult for the operators to see individuals on snowmobile machines."
Some snowmobile trails have been rerouted to avoid the timber sale areas. "It is very important that you pick up a new map before heading out on the trails this year," Jones said. "If you use an old map you may end up in an area that is being logged." (O'neil Pass and Cement Ridge re-route map attached)
New maps may be picked up at the Game Fish and Parks Recreation office in Lead, at any Forest Service Office or other visitor information offices in various towns throughout the Black Hills and also online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills and http://gfp.sd.gov/to-do/snowmobile/map.aspx.
Officials ask Forest visitors to always be aware of their surroundings. Recently thinned areas are sometimes subject to blow down of remaining live trees that depended on adjacent trees for support during strong winds. Snowmobilers should be especially aware when riding near dead trees, whether or not there is wind, as snags have been known to fall without warning.
"Please do not drive snowmobiles on plowed roads. Plowed roads are used for full sized vehicles and there is a real possibility that you may encounter a loaded log truck that doesn't have the ability to stop quickly, especially on icy roads," Jones said.
Snowmobile trails are typically open on the Black Hills National Forest from December 15 to March 31.For more information on the Black Hills National Forest, please visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills.