Grooming

We're hoping for a snowy winter that's cold enough for good skiing, but not too cold! Assuming the weather cooperates we will be grooming some of the Laurel Mill Trails. The grooming will start out with a rubber tired roller to compact the snow and build a good base. Once we've got a good base we'll switch over to the tracksetter. As there are a number people who walk or snowshoe the trails, we will set ski tracks on one side of the trail and leave the other side flat. If we get a heavy snow we will switch back to the roller to pack it down, then set tracks.

On the north side we are only planning on grooming the Elk Loop. Due to the stairs on the Scout Loop it can't be groomed and the Lewis Run Bridge is not strong enough for the groomer to cross it. We may groom out to the Lewis Run Bridge. The Hemlock Loop has a number of issues with bridges, culverts, ruts and wet areas and will not be groomed this year. Hopefully we can get these issues fixed next year and be able to groom more of the trails on the north side next season.

On the south side we plan to groom the Laurel Mill Trail, Perseverance Loop, and One Mile Loop. The Sparrow Nest Loop has never been groomed due to wet areas and bridges. Perhaps in the future we may be able to improve it to allow it to be groomed.

Grooming Equipment . . .

The Laurel Mill Trails present a challenge for grooming as they are narrow, hilly (in spots) and twisty. Most modern grooming equipment is designed for wide trails that cross open country and is not suited for use on narrow trails through the forest. The natural choice for narrow trails is a snowmobile, but most are not powerful enough to pull a tracksetter and the low speeds used for grooming can cause them to overheat. The Boot Jack Snow Gliders tried a number of different machines and in the end used a Bombardier Bombi. This machine had more than enough power to handle the tracksetter and the hills, but it was a tight fit on the trails.

Unfortunately the Bombi isn't around anymore, but we've located a smaller machine that should be powerful enough to do the job. It's called a Ferret Tractor and they were in production from 1961 to 1993. We believe ours is 1969 model with an 18 horsepower engine. It has rubber tracks with steel grousers for traction. A blade on the front can break up ice crusts and push snow around to fill in ruts. Best of all it is 4 feet wide and only 8 feet long, a perfect fit for our trails.