Roaming Rob: Snowmobiling 

The western mountains of Maine offer scenic views throughout the year, including the winter months. But accessing these views with a blanket of snow on the ground is not always easy and may require the use of a snowmobile.“I’m joined right now with Tony Rinaldi. He’s here with Three Rivers Whitewater and The Inn By the River here in The Forks and he’s going to take us snowmobiling today. Take a look at these beasts. Tony, what can we expect and what kind of safety things should we consider on our way to the top of Coburn Mountain?” “Well, we’re heading out ITS-87 towards Coburn Mountain today. We’re got some nice snowmobiles all gassed up and ready to go. There are a couple of quick safety features. Each rider is going to be clipped to this tether here, which will be hooked to your glove or jacket. If you do happen to exit the sled, that pulls off and kills the engine. Your throttle is on your right hand, your right thumb. And your brake is on your left hand.”With our helmets and winter gear on, we rode off towards the trail. It took a little getting used to the throttle, but it reminded me of riding an ATV or jet-ski. The rev of the engine and the reaction of the throttle indicated that although we were travelling around 20 or 30mph, this snowmobile was capable of going a lot faster and almost wanted to.“All right, so the snowmobiling – a lot of fun Tony. We’re heading down this trail right now. Where exactly are we and where are we headed?” “Well, we’re still in the West Forks here. We’ve left ITS-87 out of The Forks. We’re heading north on 87 towards the Coburn Mountain connector: it’s a trail. We’re going to cross 201 and see what we can see on the side of Coburn Mountain today.” “Awesome. So we should be able to get some good views. I know it’s a little cold, but we’re bundled up and we’ll continue down along this trail.”Snowmobiles have a lot of features that help you have fun no matter hold cold it is. Heated handle grips and throttle keep your hands nice and toasty. I also found that you can tuck your feet in close to the engine to keep warm. “So we’ve made it to an intersection here, Tony. And I see a lot of businesses listed here, and also these are the trails that we’re on. Who maintains these trails?” “The Coburn Summit Riders maintain the trails, which is a group of the area businesses putting their effort together to keep the trails maintained well.” “So that means they groom the trails and mark the trails?” “Yes.”Continuing along the trail, we passed some wildlife and beautiful scenes of the mountains in the distance. After reaching the base of Coburn Mountain, we began to drive up. The ride up the mountain was steep and reminded you to pay attention to how your weight was distributed on the snowmobile. The trail meandered through a gorgeous snow-covered forest before opening up at a midway point on the mountain.“What an absolutely beautiful drive up here today Tony. We’re midway up Coburn Mountain right now. We’re actually not going to make it to the summit today. It’s a bit too windy for that and it’s very cold up here but we’re still seeing some beautiful views just behind us.” “Yes, gorgeous views up here all the time. We’re actually looking back into the valley, back to the southwest a little bit. It’s snow-covered on the trees up here. There’s almost always some sort of snow flying around when you get up this high in elevation. We’re at a staging area: midway point at Coburn Mountain. The top of the mountain is actually 3750 feet above sea level and it’s the highest point you can get to on a snowmobile on a groomed trail in the state of Maine.”After riding back along the scenic trail, we stopped at The Inn By The River, which is a popular place for folks to stay while snowmobiling in western Maine. Sitting by the fire gave us a chance to thaw from my first, and definitely not last, snowmobiling adventure. A big thanks to Tony Rinaldi and the folks at The Inn By The River. Also, thanks to WABI-TV5 Photographer Suzanne Laidman for the excellent footage and editing!For more info about The Inn By The River, be sure to check out their website at