Snowmobile Trails at Your Fingertips: Use the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide

A row of snowmobilers ride over a winter trail

OFSC trails are the most important reference point for snowmobilers in Ontario, so throughout the season, tens of thousands of Ontario snowmobilers visit the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide

The basic app is free. This means everyone can access trail availability status with or without wifi or data. And for a few dollars, you can upgrade to the pro version and get all the added functionality, like sharing your location with friends and more. Improvements in features and functionality are always in the works.


Available on the Apple and Google stores, the new app includes these great new features:

  • See all of the trails, no cell connection required  
  • Share your location with friends and family 
  • Plan your trip around the various snow tours in Ontario 
  • Create a custom trip and share it with friends 

The mobile-friendly Interactive Trail Guide can still be opened and used on a smartphone as-is, without downloading the app, either.  
 

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Province-Wide Reference Tool 

The OFSC Interactive Trail Guide is Ontario's only province-wide snowmobile trail reference tool. This one-stop source provides real time trail status and trail network information on trail accessible services, fuel, and other points of interest. It provides two primary functions that are very beneficial to snowmobilers: "Trail Status" and "Trail Network." 


One-Stop Source 

Snowmobilers need to be aware that the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide is the only authorized source to get the most recent Trail Network data, as provided by OFSC member clubs through their districts. For Garmin GPS device users, the OFSC provides this data to its official and only partner in this technology, Trak Maps which provides OFSC trail data for an annual fee.

Snowmobilers also need to be aware that the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide is the only authorized province-wide reference source for the very important Trail Status information that assists in your decision about where and when to ride legally. This data is not provided or available to any third party. For both current Trail Network and Trail Status, the OFSC recommends that you be sure to check the Interactive Trail Guide before accessing any OFSC snowmobile trail. 


About Trail Status View 

When looking at the Interactive Trail Guide, a rider can select to view either Trail Status or Trail Network. Trail Status is the default view that automatically shows when the Interactive Trail Guide opens on your screen. You can switch to Trail Network View by de-selecting the checked box beside Trail Status in the Legend box in the lower left corner of your screen. Trail Status displays information provided by OFSC districts about trail availability.

This should not be misinterpreted as a grooming report. Rather, Trail Status reports provide notice of trail route accessibility. This information is not an assurance of trail quality either. Snowmobilers are reminded that snowmobiling occurs in a wilderness, thus this non-engineered environment and the condition of the trail can significantly change over the course of a day due to climate, traffic, and other conditions. Snowmobilers access trail routes at their own risk and are reminded to exercise caution at all times. Although a trail may have been last identified as available or with limited availability—when in doubt, do not enter the trail. 


A given trail's status will display as one of four possible categories on the Interactive Trail Guide:

Available
The identified trail or section of trail showing up in green means it is available to ride. But every rider must understand that anything showing as green will likely vary considerably in quality, attributes, and terrain over its length. Specifically, "Availability" is not any indication of grooming.

Limited Availability
The identified trail or section of trail showing in yellow means it has limited availability. Every rider must exercise extreme care and reduce speed when entering and riding a trail marked as yellow because access is limited and riding opportunities are marginal. Again, "Limited Availability" is not any indication of grooming.

Unavailable
The identified trail or section of trail showing in red means it is unavailable to enter or ride at this time. Every rider must understand that access is prohibited and anyone entering the property may be trespassing. Entering or riding a trail marked as red could also result in permanent trail closure.

Not Reported
Although this rarely happens, the identified trail or section of trail showing as grey means that no trail status report is entered in the system. If a trail shows grey, riders should assume that it is unavailable until such time as its status and colour change.

About Trail Network View 

As noted above, you can select Trail Network View after the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide opens on your screen. Note that while the trail colours in this view may look similar to those shown in Trail Status, they indicate the different kinds of trail listed below and have nothing to do with trail availability. 


Trail Network is the view that shows the entire OFSC trail system. It is best used for trip planning, locating trail updates, calculating ride distances, and viewing Snow Tours, attractions, staging areas, and services. Network views will display as one of four possible categories on the Interactive Trail Guide:

Club Trails
Club Trails display as orange. When you zoom in, their trail numbers as visible. Club Trails include any local and regional trails that are not part of the Trans Ontario Provincial (TOP) Trail system. 

Trunk Trails
Trunk Trails are shown in red and designated by a single letter of the alphabet (e.g. A). Each Trunk Trail displays as this colour and letter on every trail guide and all on-trail signage. As the name implies, a Trunk Trail is a main provincial route that crosses through multiple districts and measures a longer distance than other kinds of TOP Trails.

Connector Trails
Connector Trails are shown in green and designated by a letter/number combination (e.g. A101D). Each Connector Trail displays as this colour and combination on every trail guide and all on-trail signage. As the name implies, a Connector Trail links two Trunk Trails. Connectors tend to be all within one region and shorter in length than a Trunk Trail. In the previous example, Connector Trail A101D links Trunk Trail A and Trunk Trail D.

Feeder Trails
Feeder Trails are shown in blue and designated by a letter/number combination (e.g. C112). Each Connector Trail displays as this colour and combination on every trail guide and all on-trail signage. As the name implies, a Feeder Trail flows sleds from communities and club trails to the nearest Trunk Trail. Feeders tend to be more prevalent in populated areas and shorter than Trunk Trails. In the previous example, this Feeder Trail C112 flows traffic to Trunk Trail C.
 

As a public service, the OFSC provides snowmobilers with free access to the Interactive Trail Guide as part of its added value thanks for supporting organized snowmobiling in Ontario. If you're looking to go touring around the province, it's your primary navigation tool. And if you're an avid snowmobiler who isn't already internet savvy, that makes the Interactive Trail Guide one more very good reason to get yourself up to speed, pronto! 


Craig Nicholson Popularly known as "The Intrepid Snowmobiler," Craig Nicholson is a freelance journalist, writer and communications consultant who specializes in motorized recreational activities, including snowmobiling. As an avid snowmobiler, he logs thousands of kilometres on the snow each winter in every region of Canada. His one-of-a-kind tour book, "Canada's Best Snowmobiling – The Ultimate Ride Guide", chronicles his adventures. His Intrepid Snowmobiler blog features Canadian touring articles, sledding tips, reviews and comments. You can also follow him on Facebook.
 

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