December 31, 2012

Happy trails seen for snowmobilers

By BEN MCCANNA Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 1)

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Ernie Rice, front, and Dennis Harris, both members of the Belgrade Draggin Masters club, groom snowmobile trails on Sunday. The early snow is a blessing for area snowmobilers.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

"When you see that nice stack of spit wood, you feel good about it. When you groom and look behind and see it's just perfectly flat, it's the same thing. You get that same sense of accomplishment."

The club members predict that the 2012-2013 snowmobiling season will be in full swing as early as next week, when an incoming cold snap will likely freeze lakes throughout central Maine. About half of the Belgrade's trail system rides atop the Belgrade Lakes. Without the ice, many of the trails' loops are incomplete.

Several area businesses are looking forward to the ice, particularly the Sunset Grill on West Road, which is at the nexus of four trails. During winter, many of the Grill's weekend customers are Patriots fans and sledders, said manager Kayla Pease.

"After football season, if there's no snow, it's slow," she said.

Last season, the restaurant lost business due to the mild winter, but this year might be better, Pease said. She fondly recalls the 2010-2011 season, when there were as many as 60 snowmobiles parked nearby on weekend days.

Dan Swett, owner of Sweet Dreams convenience store on Village Road in Smithfield, said his shop serves about 30 sledders on a good day, and he's trying to build the store's reputation among sledders as a destination. Swett said the lack of riders was noticeable last season, but the recent snow has been encouraging.

"You don't need a ton of snow to get people going," he said.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Ben McCanna can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:


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