Snow Rider’s Rendezvous: All Things Snowmobiling in the Sugar River Region

On the Sugar River Recreation Trail. Image Credit: Derek Ferland.

Snow Rider’s Rendezvous: All Things Snowmobiling in the Sugar River Region

Written by Madeline Ferland on February 23 2024. 

Snowmobile Clubs In and Around Sullivan County

In the Sugar River Region, winter sports are a huge part of the local culture. Snowmobiling has been a favorite winter pastime for decades and will, almost certainly, continue to be (weather permitting…). There are ten different snowmobile clubs that collectively manage a network of trails running all across the county and connecting regions beyond. Every single club maintains their respective trails through member and volunteer work.

Snowmobile Clubs in the Sugar River Region. Image Credit: New Hampshire Snowmobile Association.

Here is a map of all the snowmobile clubs in New Hampshire, provided by the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association (which all our clubs are part of!). These clubs play a crucial role in trail maintenance and promotion of responsible snowmobiling, ensuring safe and enjoyable experiences for snowmobilers across the region. Without them, the notion of snowmobiling wouldn’t be conceivable and wouldn’t be as important to our region’s wintertime identity as it is. Thank you snowmobile clubs for your continued dedication and preservation of our trails!

Balthazar’s Ice Shack in Goshen. Image Credit: Derek Ferland.

  • The Blue Mountain Snowdusters oversee approximately 65 miles of trails in and around the Grantham area. 
  • The Blow-Me-Down Snowriders maintain about 56 miles of trails traversing through Cornish and Plainfield. 
  • The Lake Sunapee Snowmobile Club manages an extensive network of over 80 miles of trails spanning Bradford, Newbury, and Sunapee – the general Lake Sunapee region. 
    • Weekend riders have the opportunity to take a rest break at one of the most well-known ice cream and food shacks – Balthazar’s Ice Shack in Goshen (and they have a warming hut!). 
  • The Mascoma Valley Snow Travelers maintain trails in Springfield, Wilmot, and Grafton, from which you can access Sunapee, Grantham and Canaan. 
  • In Charlestown, the Old #4 Rod, Gun & Snowmobile Club dutifully maintains 35 miles of trails throughout the town. 
  • In and around Claremont, the Shugah Valley Snow Riders provide access to 65 miles of trails that connect one end of town to the other. 
  • The Tri-Town Trailblazers serve the southernmost Sullivan County towns of Alstead, Langdon, and Acworth. 
  • Twin Ridge Mountaineers Snowmobile Club services the town of Goshen. 
  • The Washington Snow Riders maintain the town of Washington’s trail system and run a local warming hut also known as The Bun Warmer. 
  • The Crescent Lake Regional Sno-Riders of Unity and Acworth maintain 60 miles of trails throughout the township of Unity, as well as parts of Acworth, Charlestown, and Lempster. 

Snowmobiles on a Field at Sunset. Image Credit: Madeline Ferland.

Sugar River Region Snowmobile Trails, Maps, and Resources

As highlighted by Visit NH, there are more than 7,000 miles of trails used for snowmobiling across the state. Yet limitations in the amount of New Hampshire public land present challenges for countywide and statewide snowmobiling and trail use, as 70% of the state is privately owned land. With fewer fully designated snowmobile trails compared to states with more extensive public land holdings, snowmobilers may find their options restricted, leading to potentially congested trails during peak times. This often happens on well-traveled and multi-use trails, such as the Sugar River Recreational Rail Trail. The most difficult part about maintaining these well-traveled trails is typically inadequate weather conditions. 

Nighttime View of a Trail. Image Credit: Madeline Ferland.

Due to the need for trail use permissions from private landowners, occasionally access rights  change from year to year and thus complicate navigation across multiple properties. This is why snowmobile clubs are so important – they help mitigate trail use on private land and keep up positive relations so everyone can benefit from the land. There are also multiple trails in the area which are classified as Class VI roads, which are not maintained at all. These roads and trails are typically in decent condition for use, but quickly become unusable the more over-traveled they are (especially during peak season). Due to management and property rights, there can be lots of disconnected points in the trails, so it is imperative to familiarize oneself with the season’s currently open trails in the region and be sure to keep weather conditions in mind. 

On TrailFinder, there are 68 trails listed in and around the Sugar River Region, although the Sugar River Recreational Trail (currently open) is the only one marked for snowmobiling. One of the most helpful and up-to-season resources is this interactive map provided by Sled NH. You can also view this Snowmobile Corridor Map, provided by the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association, which shows the entire state’s primary trail systems and the corridor trail systems. 

NH Snowmobile Corridor Map. Image Credit: New Hampshire Snowmobile Association.

Unfortunately, the 2023-2024 winter season has not brought ideal conditions for snowmobiling in the Sugar River Region. Many of the clubs provide regular updates on their trail openings and closures, so it’s best to check in with them before heading out on a ride. Here are a few updates from some of the local clubs, for example: 

Trails listed by Shugah Valley Snow Riders: 

  • Corridor 5-  CLOSED
  • West Side Loop 395 – CLOSED
  • Burger King Trail –  CLOSED
  • White Water and Skyline Trails 395/396- CLOSED
  • Cathole Trails- 395 – CLOSED – (Non maintained)

Lake Sunapee Snowmobile Club: “Our trails are not officially closed, but riding is STRONGLY not recommended. Yes, we got some snow, but it covers many hazards, such as rocks, ice, water bars, and many stretches of bare trails. Grooming will restart when we get more snow. Thanks for your understanding!”

Washington Snowriders recent Facebook update: “Trails in Washington are closed. Fields have melted off and gates are closed at this time.  So do not park at the Eccardt Farm Inc. lot.”

Two Snowmobiles on the Trail. Image Credit: Madeline Ferland.

Parking Locations for Snowmobilers around Sullivan County

The following are the most popular and public locations for parking vehicles and easiest access to trailheads in the Sugar River Region: 

  • Claremont
    • Parking located at the western terminus of Sugar River Rail Trail 
    • Behind Burger King   324 Washington St, Claremont, NH 03743 – Park in back of Burger King in the designated parking area
  • Grantham
    • Lot 31 at Walker Rd off Croydon Turnpike Road 
  • Newbury
    • Sunapee State Beach, Route 103 
  • Newport
    • From center of town, Left on Belknap Ave. Parking lot is on the right .1 miles 
  • Washington 
    • Intersection of Millen Lake Rd and Faxon Hill Rd.
    • Eccardt’s Farm, East Washington Road 
    • Highland Lake General Store and Barden Pond Road

Sugar River Recreation Rail Trail and Sled. Image Credit: Derek Ferland.

Snowmobile Rentals in the Sugar River Region

Despite the abundance of winter activities in Sullivan County, there is a noticeable absence of snowmobile or snowmachine rental businesses. If you find yourself in need of a snowmobile for a day of adventure, you’re faced with the inconvenience of having to travel north to towns like Gorham or Pittsburg, where rental services are available. This not only entails a considerable time commitment but also adds to the expenses associated with renting, including fuel costs and potential overnight stays.

This presents a compelling opportunity for an entrepreneur to fill a void in the local market. By establishing a snowmobile rental business in the Sugar River Region, they could cater to the needs of residents and visitors alike who crave the thrill of exploring the snowy terrain without the hassle of lengthy journeys. A local rental service would also contribute to the economic growth of the county, keeping revenue within the community and potentially attracting more tourists interested in winter recreation. There’s ample potential to capitalize on the region’s natural beauty and provide unforgettable outdoor experiences for customers. 

View of Mount Ascutney, VT. Image Credit: Derek Ferland.

General Safety Tips and Rules for Snowmobiling… Anywhere

Here are ten essential safety tips for snowmobiling, not just for in the Sugar River Region but for the activity overall:.

  1. Always wear proper safety gear, including a helmet and insulated clothing, while snowmobiling.
  2. Familiarize yourself with your snowmobile’s controls and ensure it’s well-maintained before riding.
  3. Stick to designated trails and avoid riding on bodies of water unless they are marked as safe.
  4. Obey speed limits, trail signs, and other signage to prevent accidents and getting lost.
  5. Stay alert for hazards such as sharp turns and other riders, and maintain a safe distance from them.
  6. Respect private property by staying on marked trails, avoiding noise disturbances, and not littering.
  7. Familiarize yourself with local snowmobiling regulations and obtain necessary permits before riding.
  8. Never operate a snowmobile under the influence of alcohol or drugs to prevent accidents and ensure safety.
  9. Carry emergency supplies such as a first-aid kit, map, flashlight, and food/water for unexpected situations.
  10. Whenever possible, ride with a companion or in a group for added safety and assistance in emergencies.

Day Out Riding on the Machines. Image Credit: Madeline Ferland.


If you liked this blog on all things Sugar River Region Snowmobiling and are feeling inspired, don’t be afraid to get out there and explore! Be sure to contact one of the local clubs for trail updates or anything snowmobile-related.