The Missoula Snowgoers have started grooming the snowmobile trail system in the Lolo Pass area on the Missoula and Powell ranger districts and the West Central Montana Avalanche Center began issuing regular advisories on Saturday 12/16.
The grooming of the trail system by the Snowgoers is permitted by the Lolo and Nez Perce Clearwater National Forests and supported by the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks.
Under the Special Use permit administered by the Forest Service, the Missoula Snowgoers may begin grooming any time after December, 1 each year. Typically the Lolo Pass and Elk Meadows areas are groomed first and the remainder of the system groomed as snow accumulates at the lower elevations.
Although some trails will not yet be groomed due to lack of snow at lower elevations, all gates providing access to the snowmobile trail system are closed to prevent vehicle access and ensure the roads/trails are available for snowmobiling. If trail restrictions are necessary for administrative use, maps with the trail restrictions will be posted at affected trailheads, the Lolo Pass Visitor Center, and the Lolo Hot Springs Resort. The maps will be updated as restrictions change.
The West Central Montana Avalanche Center will issue three advisories a week — Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The advisories are posted at http://www.missoulaavalanche.org. The Avalanche Center, with support from the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation and the Lochsa Powell Ranger District, will also once again have a beacon park in place near the Lolo Pass Visitors Center for those wanting to test and practice using their avalanche beacons (http://www.missoulaavalanche.org/beacon-training). The beacon park will be available for use weeklong.
Winter recreation passes are required at all times to park at the Lolo Pass Visitors Center. Day, Bundle and season passes will be available at the Visitor Center during normal hours of operation: Thursday through Monday from 0730 – 4:15 Pacific Time. After hours, day passes will be available at the Visitor Center front door for exact cash or check. Season and day passes will also be available at Lolo Hot Springs, The Trailhead in Missoula, and the Lolo National Forest Supervisors Office at Fort Missoula.
For additional information or questions please contact Carl Anderson on the Missoula Ranger District at (406) 329-3976.