Businesses hurting while La Crosse Co. snowmobile trails remain closed

Published On: Dec 22 2012 04:15:20 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 22 2012 11:43:26 PM CST
LA CROSSE COUNTY, Wis. -

This week's storm dumped enough snow for most snowmobile trails in our area to be opened this weekend, but you won't see anyone riding yet on the trails in La Crosse County.

It's going to take a lot more snow and colder temperatures to freeze the ground before the trails in La Crosse County can open.

That's almost becoming normal here. Last year the trails only opened for a day.

But riders aren't the only ones waiting. The longer businesses wait, the more money they lose.

“Just a little bummed I guess,” said Steve Falkenberg, La Crosse County Snowmobile Alliance president.

Walking down the state trail in Bangor, he said the sound of dirt crunching under his feet isn't exactly what he wants to hear -- especially after this week's snow storm.

“Going by the forecast and of course the anticipation, we were all really excited and really had our hopes up, but obviously we didn't get as much as we would hope,” said Falkenberg.

For now, soft ground and bare spots are keeping the more than 185 miles of trails in the county from opening.

Falkenberg said that's a shame for riders who come specifically to our area to use the trails.

“(There are a) Lot of hills,” said Falkenberg. “The people that do come here to our area really enjoy the hills the view. The farther north you go you see it’s just a lot of farm land and more not as open.”

But it’s not just the riders anxiously waiting for the trails to open.

“Right over there is the state trail,” said Don LaBarre, owner of the Log Cabin Bar and Tavern, as he pointed out of the window.

The state trail is just a block away from the Log Cabin Bar and Grill in Bangor.

Owner Don LaBarre remembers many weekends a couple years ago when open trails meant he had to be ready for a packed house.

“You'd have a weekend when there were helmets on all of the tables, and you'd have people sitting and eating,” said LaBarre. “The pool tables would probably be covered with snowmobile uniforms and stuff. It was really a good part of the business.”

LaBarre and Falkenberg said while the trails remain closed, they still have hope that will change in the coming weeks.

“It's freezing up good now,” said Falkenberg. “This was mush a few days ago. There's still a lot of winter left.”

Volunteers usually try to get out and groom the trails at least two to three times a week, but said there's only so much they can do without enough snow.