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Digital Subscriptions > Cottage Life > Winter 2016/17 > >COMFORT>SPEED>FUEL EFFICIENCY>UNBRIDLED JOY

>COMFORT>SPEED>FUEL EFFICIENCY>UNBRIDLED JOY

A snowmobile is your ticket to ride this winter. Pick the one that checks all the right boxes

IT’S THE BACK OF BEYOND, real Group of Seven territory: ice-covered lakes, snowy jack pines, and the broken remnants of mountains that soared over this landscape more than two billion years ago. You might call it untracked wilderness. But you’d be wrong.

When Stephen Alexander and his snowmobiling posse are around, the wilderness is tracked, nearly every weekend. “We get out there, and we ride,” says Stephen, who runs across the big white in this area north of Kenora, Ont., with up to 15 friends and fellow cottagers. “We ride for fun, to find new lakes and see places we never see in the summer.” In this little piece of Northwestern Ontario, “there are no trails.” Instead, there’s new territory to explore, with stops to banter around a cookout fire.

Not every cottager loves snowmobiles— detractors cite the assault of noise and fumes. But, for many, including the Alexanders, it’s the only way to access the cabin when there’s snow on the ground. And these days, there’s a sled for everyone: practical machines for basic access and cottage chores; sleds for long-distance tours; agile, go-fast machines for deep powder; sporty all-rounders; and quiet, cleanburning machines to placate the antisledders. “Snowmobiles are a major part of our enjoyment at the cottage,” says Stephen. “Winters here just wouldn’t be the same without them.”

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Get outside! 50+ ways to embrace the magic of winter. Snowmobile buyer's guide. Wolves in crisis. The coolest hot tubs. 25 cottage gifts. Best cottage photos of 2016.