Members of the North Warren Trailblazers Snowmobile Club head down a trail in a recent year’s excursion. Every year, a veteran rider leads a trip for club members into territory they are familiar with, but the other sledders may not have yet experienced. Courtesy photo
The Northern Warren Trailblazers Snowmobile Club, which will soon be holding its premier annual party this next week, has experienced remarkable growth during its 20 years of existence.
The Trailblazers club was established in 1994 as a not-for profit corporation with about 20 members. Today the club has grown to an average annual membership of 700, with snowmobilers from many other states from the northeastern U.S.. A $25 family membership in the club provides a $45 discount on the New York State snowmobile registration fee, and in many cases provides an additional discount on liability insurance.
The club is operated on a volunteer basis, maintaining continuous 68 miles of groomed trails that allow snowmobilers to go from Warrensburg to Chestertown, Brant Lake, Pottersville, Schroon Lake and Hague. The club is working on linking North Warren trails with trail systems of Southern Warren Trailblazers and Thurman Connection Snowmobile Club so that riders can travel to and from our area, through Lake George, Lake Luzerne, Washington County and as far away as Vermont and Canada.
Also, the Trailblazers also voluntarily groom the ski and sliding hills at Dynamite Hill in Chestertown, which is open at no charge to the public.
The Trailblazer members enjoy participating in local events like they did in the 2013 Warren County Bicentennial parade and festival.
During the winter, they host events which include picnics and cookouts on the trail system as well as a club rides, which gives members of all abilities the opportunity to ride in other locations with members who have previously been over those trails. Such trips have included excursions to northern New York and Canada.
This year’s club ride is scheduled for Feb. 15 through Feb. 17. For details, see: http://northernwarrentrailblazers.snowclubs.com or their FaceBook page for details.
The Trailblazers’ clubhouse on Knapp Hill in Chestertown is open on weekends during the riding season for all snowmobilers riding the trail system to use as a warm-up stop and rest-room break. Riders stopping in are offered free coffee, cocoa and popcorn. The clubhouse is also available for local organizations to use, free of charge, for educational seminars and meetings of civic organizations.
The core of the Northern Warren Trailblazers membership is about 20 die-hard snowmobiling members who are committed to making the riding experience an enjoyable one for area sled enthusiasts — and getting the trails ready is no easy job. In addition to grooming, these volunteers contact land owners to obtain permission to use their lands for new trails. Trail maintenance — including trimming brush and cleaning up downed trees, building new trails, and installing trail culverts — is required on a year-round basis.
Event coordination and planning are also important. Website management and social media outreach are vital in communicating with members as well as attracting new ones.
Looking toward the future, the club hopes to recruit more local businesses to become actively involved as monthly meetings are held at their club house and club news is posted on the Trailblazers’ website.
Several years ago, the snowmobile club provided to Warren County a report of sales tax and business income generated by snowmobiling, and these numbers are substantial, confirming that this sport has a huge benefit to local businesses, a club official said this week.
At this time, the North Warren Trailblazers are in need of more volunteers to join in the fun and the work they face — and club officials believe that young people are needed to assure the future of this organization.
To encourage new riders, the Trailblazers club offers snowmobile safety courses annually. Completion of a safety course is required for youthful operators 16 years and younger and is recommended for all riders of any age to learn trail etiquette.
Trailblazers’ Winter White-Out on Jan. 18
The North Warren Trailblazers’ 19th annual Winter White-Out party is set for Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Clubhouse on Knapp Hill Road in Chestertown.
To be held from noon to 5 p.m., the fest features a barbecue available from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. as well as live music and bonfires. The fee for the event is $15 per person with children under 10 free. All community members are welcome to attend.
A drawing for a 2014 Ski-doo MXZ Sport 600 is to be held after the barbecue. This snowmobile features an electric start, reverse and liquid cooled engine. The drawing’s second prize is a 2013 covered Triton trailer. Tickets for this raffle can be purchased at local businesses or call Mike Hill at 796-1603. Drawing tickets are $20 each or three for $50, and all proceeds are to benefit the club.