This sport is a Canadian invention, having been jump-started by Bombardier's invention of the Ski-Doo snowmobile. It became a major recreational sport in the mid-sixties, and has become a great family winter sport. Today's snowmobiles are quieter, more stable, and more reliable than the early snowmobiles, and some models are downright luxurious, with foot and snack warmers aboard.
To drive a snowmobile, remember that you throttle (accelerate) with your right hand and brake with your left. You straddle the seat cushions, and rest your feet on the running boards, letting your legs absorb the bounces on the bumps. Today's snowmobiles can go as fast as 100 km/h, though you do not want to go at speeds beyond 50 km/h if you wish to see the natural terrain around you.
For safety, when snowmobiling, stick to marked/tracked trails, carry emergency food & fuel, and if in the backcountry, carry emergency transceivers.
To go snowmobiling you need a snowmobile, and a truck or trailer to carry it. You do not need a licence to drive a snowmobile, but the vehicle must be registered with the provincial Motor Vehicle Branch. Snowmobiles can cost from $4000 to $15000, with trailers starting at $400. Fortunately in good snowmobiling areas, you can rent them by the hour or by the day. You should also wear warm winter clothing, like a one or two-piece snowmobile (or ski) suit, goggles and helmet.
The provincial snowmobile association boasts just over 2,000 members, and over 3,000 members in the province when you add in the smaller clubs. Call the PEI Snowmobiling Association at (902) 894-7669 or toll-free 1-877-708-7669 for information or the club nearest you.
Heavy snowfalls bring out the trail groomers and club members are extremely diligent in ensuring that about 450 kilometres of trail, including all of the Confederation Trail, are kept in perfect condition. Groomed branches off the main line include the Emerald to Borden-Carleton run, Winsloe to Charlottetown, Harmony Junction to downtown Souris and from Mount Stewart to the Montague-Pooles Corner area.
Season passes to the province's snowmobile trails cost $100 per machine until December 15 and $150 after December 15, while visitor permits cost $25 per day. You must carry a permit in order to legally use the trails. They are sold by the association, major hotels, snowmobile dealers and gas stations.
Visitors: Visiting snowmobilers (except Nova Scotia (SANS) members), require a valid PEISA trail permit and the snowmobile must be registered in their home province. Trail permits are available from dealers, and many other businesses across the Island. Drivers must carry their drivers license's with them when snowmobiling and are required to produce them upon request of a Police Officer or Trail Warden Peace Officer.
Snowmobile Trail distance charts: