Snowmobiling kind of flies under the radar in California. You just don’t seem to hear much about it.
And that’s kind of surprising considering the state’s 2,500 miles of groomed snowmobile trails spread across a dozen and a half distinct riding areas plus more areas that offer off-trail sledding.
Because sledding doesn’t seem to be on the majority of snowmobilers’ radars, there are not many crowds in most places.
Considering all that, we’re not quite sure how California seemingly slips by undetected.
No matter. The state is a great place to snowmobile with its own unique mountain ranges and snow conditions.
It’s just about 650 miles from where you can ride in northern California near the California/Oregon border to the Angeles and Los Padres national forests in the south. While you can’t ride from the north to the south non-stop on a snowmobile, there are dozens of riding areas scattered from one end of California to almost the other where you can ride.
Most snowmobiling is on the western slope of the famous Sierra Nevada (which is Spanish for Snowy Range) Range, which has a reputation for its deep snows. Some places in the state can get as much as 40 feet of snow.
There are swaths of riding areas spread from the northern border with Oregon to the central part of the state and pockets of riding everywhere else. You just have to do a bit of sleuthing to find them and then enjoy them. We’ve listed the most popular and best developed areas in this section. For example, we’ve listed the snowmobile area of Siskiyou County, home to 14,162-foot Mt. Shasta, but head to the Modoc National Forest website and you’ll read about the Medicine Lake Highlands, which offer 31 miles of groomed trails and the Doorknob Snowmobile Park. That seems to be a somewhat common theme in California—well-developed trail systems with a smaller riding area nearby.
A good website to check out for snowmobiling is the California OHV site—http://ohv.parks.ca.gov—which gives information on the sno-parks. The California-Nevada Snowmobile Association (www.csna.net) is another good source of information on riding in the state.
In listing the primary snowmobiling areas in California, we chose to list the name of the trailhead that serves the trail system or use the county in which the trailheads are located for easier referencing when trying to locate each area.