Snowmobiling is a popular winter activity in Minnesota, attracting residents and visitors to its scenic trails and landscapes. However, one question that often arises among enthusiasts is the legality of using snowmobile studs in the state. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the laws and regulations surrounding using studs on snowmobiles in Minnesota.
History of the Ban
In 1998, Minnesota passed a law banning snowmobile studs on all trails except private land and ice ovals. Snowmobile Studs were effectively banned on all 21,000 miles of the Minnesota trail system to protect 210 miles of state paved trails. The reason for the ban was a claim that the studs were damaging the pavement. The ban sent shockwaves through the sport, and the Minnesota United Snowmobile Association took fast, precise action to help reverse the ban, not allowing it to take effect a year later. Jesse Ventura, the governor who signed the law repealing the ban, campaigned at Haydays on the issue in favor of the repeal.
Are Studs Legal in MN?
Yes, studs are legal in Minnesota. They are forbidden are a portion of state paved trail, and part of the law requires an alternative parallel route where a studded machine is legal to ride. In years past you had to get a permit to run studs but that is no longer necessary.
Locations Where Studs are Illegal
Snowmobile studs are restricted on the following trails:
Goodhue Pioneer - Partial Restriction
Great River Ridge
As you can see, a minimal amount of trail is restricted, with the restricted portions having an alternative legal route.
Penalty for Getting Caught
The penalty for using studs on restricted trails is minimal but ramps up to more severe fines.
1st Offense - $50 Fine
2nd Offense - $200
3rd Offense - $500
Where to Ride When Studs Are Banned
Alternative trails are available to avoid restricted trails. With only 1% of the trails being restricted, it’s easy to navigate. We often hear that alternative trails are not groomed, and riders accept the risk of a minor penalty and ride restricted trails with studs anyway.
Do Any Other States Have Restrictions?
Legislation and bans can be contagious, and after the ban was passed, anti-snowmobile legislators in Wisconsin started to organize. Here at Fast-Trac, we got involved in making sure a ban did not happen. We met with Governor Tommy Thompson, explained the benefits and safety of studs, and let him ride our snowmobile. It had a severe impact as no stud ban was ever passed in Wisconsin, and no states have followed.
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