Youth Trail Sleds
We’ve had an increased number of questions this year from parents of new snowmobilers as to what their kids can and cannot ride on the trail. Each year the sled manufacturers come out with new models, new features, and have recently started to provide more options for young riders; bridging that gap between kid sled and trail sled. But luckily there is some pretty clear legislation in place to determine what can and can’t be on the trail.
There are a few legal requirements and some legislation in place that determines who, what, where, and when you can operate a snowmobile. Keep in mind that we’re looking at this through the lens of a parent who is attempting to determine what their child can ride and where; as such won’t be covering every single topic.
In order to operate a snowmobile in Saskatchewan, the operator must be at least 12 years of age and, if born on or before Jan 1 1989, must have completed a snowmobile safety course. You can take a snowmobile safety course online or in person. Visit our safety page for more info.
If the operator is 12 years of age or older, but less than 16 years of age and has completed a safety course, they must be accompanied by a person who holds a valid class 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 driver’s licence. The supervisor can either be riding with the operator on the same sled, or riding alongside them so long as they’re always within 50m and have them within sight. A superviser may only supervise one underage driver at a time.
Learn more about this in the SGI snowmobile handbook.
The machine in question must meet the definition of a snowmobile as set out in the Snowmobile Act:
“snowmobile” means a vehicle, other than an all-terrain vehicle or a
vehicle that has been converted to operate on snow, that:
(i) has a mass of not more than 500 kilograms;
(ii) is designed primarily for travel on snow;
(iii) has one or more steering skis;
(iv) is driven by means of an endless track or tracks in contact with the
(v) complies with the requirements of the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety
Standard existing at the date of manufacture; and
(vi) bears a Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard label of compliance;
That means no ATVs, SxS, UTV, or anything else that been modified for use on snow.
In order to utilize the snowmobile trail system, the sled must first be registered. In many cases for the youth snowmobile models, this will be the determining factor. Unfortunately we at the SSA can’t say exactly which models are and aren’t registerable. There are number of safety standards that need to be met in order for you to be able to register a sled (must comply with Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, etc.) and most of these youth sleds do not meet these standards. So simply put, if SGI will allow you to register it you can ride it on the trail.
Each snowmobile needs to be registered, so if you’re planning on riding a separate machine, you’ll need two registered sleds.
There is over 11,000kms of SSA trail across the province. To find trail near you, visit our interactive trail map. Remember, you are only granted permission to ride ON THE TRAIL. Any and all off trail riding on private land, without permission, is trespassing.
The snowmobile season runs from December 1st to April 15th of each year. In many cases there may be snow falling sooner, or the trail may be around longer, but it’s important to note that before or after the season there is nothing stopping other vehicles from using the trail in ditches or on crown land. Also our landowner permissions may no longer be in place. This means operating during these times becomes more dangerous and is not recommended for young or new riders.
Keep in mind..
Aside from these legal requirements, there are few things worth mentioning:
- You don’t need registration to drive it on privately-owned land if you have permission from the owner or tenant.
- An insurance premium surcharge is imposed when children 12-16 operate a machine between 350-550 cc (depending on the insurer). No insurance is provided when children operate a snowmobile in excess of the cc’s allowed by the insurer.
- No insurance will be provided when children under 12 operate the machine, even on private land.
Ideally you’d have a child starting on something like a 120cc, playing around on private property, in an open and safe spot with plenty of supervision before later transitioning onto a larger machine that can be registered and safely operated on the trail. Older sleds are also a great option as they’re much smaller and often have less power than newer models. Reaching out to friends or family who own land and have a safe practice area is a great start.
Of course this isn’t always an option and many kids are starting out on larger machines. While there are certainly more risks involved, what’s most important is that you’re still giving them that safe and supervised area to get a feel for the machine before ever taking them into winding or forested sections of trail. If you don’t know anyone with private land to practice on, and your child is legally able to ride the trail, try reaching out to your local snowmobile club. They know the area/trails better than anyone and should be able to help you find a space to learn.
Remember, the speed limit on the trail is 80kph. That means your little operator could very well meet another machine traveling at that speed on a trail with two way traffic. So always stick to short sections of trail with as few twists and turns as possible to begin with. You can use the interactive trail map to pre-plan your route.
A safety course ensures your child is prepared for various scenarios and understands the different signage and hazards on the trail. Many parents opt to take the safety course with their kids. Not only is a great opportunity to bond over snowmobiling, but it can give you a better perspective on what to watch for as you guide your new rider.