La Crosse County snowmobile trails causing issues

With a cool down headed our way, it might almost be time for you to break out your snowmobile. But there’s one stretch of land that could pose a problem for riders.

With the snow and cold weather that came early this season those snowmobile trails are looking pretty good. La Crosse County’s 175 miles of trails aren’t open yet, but when they do, there’s a quarter-mile stretch in Onalaska that might make for a long ride, and not in a good way.

“Well we were on the railroads property down there. We had a verbal agreement with the railroad and apparently that no longer is good.” Steve Falkenberg, President of the La Crosse County Snowmobile Alliance. He doesn’t know why, but says, things have changed.

For years, snowmobile’s have been cruising the quarter mile of land underneath Highway 35 between Onalaska and La Crosse.

“For safety purposes it’s the best way to cross the highway,” Falkenberg said.

That’s no longer the case. The land is owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and after two decades, they’re denying access to riders. As of now that area of the trail is closed, which is going to cause riders quite a detour.


“Basically a two hour detour if you were trying to travel from northern part of the state to the southern part of the state.”Falkenberg said.

If a rider wanted to head south from Onalaska they would need to go north to Holmen, then through Stevenstown, Mindoro, Bangor and then into West Salem.

A detour like this could leave some snowmobilers with risky options.

Falkenberg said, “Another option would be crossing the highway somewhere else. As you can see it’s a busy highway, so it may not be the safest.”

Rod Hall, co-owner of Rod’s Ride On Powersports said,”When snowmobilers approach a road they want to of course look both ways just like you tell your kids, look both ways before you cross.”

Weather you hit the detour or not Hall wants to remind riders to be safe. “Go perpendicular with the road. Don’t go along it, go straight across it. Get across as quickly as possible.”

The snowmobile clubs in La Crosse County are trying to avoid the detour but have had no luck yet.

“We’re looking at several options obviously trying to get back on that piece of property to come up with some agreement with the railroad,” Falkenberg said.

In La Crosse County, there are over two hundred private land owners who allow snowmobiles trails on their property and if riders do find themselves going on that long detour, experts are reminding them to always ride with a buddy.

If you would like to find out when the trails will be open, or for more information on closures, you can call the Snowmobile Trail Hotline at 608-782-4500.