Side Hill Croncher Newsletter


February 2008



John Murphy, Jr.








Trail Work:

If you would like to help with some of the trail work, please contact our Trail Master Randy Ellison 802-228-7266



TMA information avialable on our Website.


VAST = Vermont Association of Snow Travelers



Upcoming Events:




Next Meeting:

Will be held at 

Bob & Rose Pawlowski’s Saturday February 16th.

Bob and Rose live at 499 Chapman Road in Ludlow.

Time: 6:30pm













We’ve had the groomer out many times this season and our crews have been making sure the trails are in good shape for our sleds.

This is all volunteer work and our groomer operators really deserve a lot of praise for the efforts they put in.  Without them, and our landowners, we would not have trails to ride on.


There is a fair amount of work that takes place each time the groomer goes out to ensure everything is working properly.


Before the groomer hits the trails, the operators do a safety check to make sure everything is in working order. They make sure the lights all work, they check the oil, the tracks and the nuts and bolts to make sure they are tight, and of course there is a warm-up period once the groomer is started.  The average check takes about ˝ hour, and is important to ensure the safety of our drivers.   These guys do a really great job maintaining the groomer and our trail system.

 It takes anywhere from 10 to 12 hours (sometimes more) to  groom the full 32 miles   (64 miles round trip) of Sidehill Croncher Trails, and that’s if everything runs smoothly.

If there are trees down on the trails or other obstacles that require fixing along the way, they will have to stop and fix the problem. 

At a speed of 5 to 6 miles an hour this is a long challenging ride. Going much faster does not make for well groomed trails.  I’ve been told it’s often like riding on a bucking bronco for most of the trip.  It can be a very bumpy ride in some places and, if there are problems along the way, a lot of hard work. 

The snow that is leveled off by the groomer needs to “set up or freeze” for a period of time to be best for snowmobiling. Please do not spin your track if you are on a freshly groomed trail, it defeats the purpose of grooming and makes the trails bumpy for everyone else.

Occasionally, the groomer may get stuck in a snow drift or go slightly off the trail due to poor visibility.  Going up an icy hill can be a big problem and they may end up backing down. Not an easy task with a machine that weighs close to 5,500 lbs is 15 feet long, 7.3 feet wide with tracks that are 16.1 feet long.   In addition to that, it is pulling a drag (trailer) that is about 20 feet long. The groomer holds 50 gallons of fuel (most of which gets consumed each time we do the full 64 mile run.) And we all know what fuel costs these days.


It is important to note also that the groomer has (and needs) the right of way on the trail system.  It is much easier for you to move out of the way than a 5,500 lb machine.  Remember, these guys are doing this for you.  So please respect the groomers right of way if you come across him on the trail.

Each time the groomer returns from a trip, there is additional work to be completed before the operator can go home.

The tank needs to be refueled so it is ready for the next trip out.   All excess snow on the drag must be cleaned off so it doesn’t freeze and have an affect on the groomer’s hydraulics.  All tools need to be put back in place and a trip report of the night’s activities needs to be completed.

So it may look like a big power trip to drive, but there is a lot of work involved for the operator and it’s not all fun.   Our operators have been stuck out on some very frigid nights, and as you know, cell phones don’t always work.

 To volunteer for a non-paying job for 10 to 12 hours at a time takes a special person. Our groomers are the best. They don’t get enough praise for their efforts, and without them you would not have a nice trail to ride on.  So the next time you see them around please let our groomers know you appreciate their hard work and effort to keep the trails in good condition. You can also send an email to the club.  I’m sure they would love to hear from you and it would be a nice way for us to show our appreciation for this dedicated group of individuals.