While winter's late arrival has altered the opening of snowmobile and winter ATV trails in the Allegheny National Forest, come this weekend everything will be good to go.
ANF administration originally hoped to open all trails on Dec. 20, but the weather didn't cooperate.
"The 'official' opening of the snowmobile trails is always December 20, but that of course is dependent on whether there is snow or not," Kathy Mohney, acting affairs specialist with the ANF, said. "This year, we were fortunate to receive snow shortly after that date so riding and grooming could begin shortly after that."
ATV trails didn't make that deadline.
"December 20 is also the regularly scheduled opening of the ATV trails for winter riding, however that is often delayed if the ground has not sufficiently frozen to allow riding without resource damage," Mohney said.
However, in a statement released Thursday, the ANF said, "The Rocky Gap Trail (located in Warren County), the Marienville ATV trail (located in Forest County) and the Timberline Trail (located in Elk County) will all open for winter riding beginning Saturday, January 5."
The press release indicated that the section of the Timberline Trail from Forest Road 339 to Buehler Corners will remain closed and a detour is in place.
The Marienville Bike Trail and the Willow Creek trail do not open for the winter season.
"In order to use the Allegheny NF ATV trail system, riders must purchase either a daily pass at a cost of $10 per day or an annual pass at a cost of $35 per year," the release said. Passes can be purchased at ANF offices in North Warren, Marienville and Bradford as well as at several local businesses, including locations in Corry and Tionesta.
"(ATV) Trails are scheduled to remain open for winter use through April 1," the release added. "However, riders are strongly encouraged to call ahead or check the website (fs.usda.gov/allegheny/recreation/) during the winter season as trails may be closed during adverse conditions."
On the snowmobile side, Allegheny Snowmobile Loop (ASL) connector 14 will be closed this season due to heavy truck traffic and no available re-routes, according to the Forest Service
A number of other connectors that utilize dual-use roads may also experience intermittent heavy truck traffic throughout the winter snowmobile season. The ANF cautioned that riders should travel slowly, use caution and be prepared to move to the berms when operating in those situations. "Snowmobile grooming schedules and current trail conditions are updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday throughout the season. That information can be accessed from the recreation page and selecting the 'Snowmobile Trail Conditions Report.'"