We have had a lifetime of playing in the snow. When we were kids 40 years ago we only had snowmobiles and we could not think that one day we would be snow grooming with an UTV. We tried to make the snow smooth for certain activities. We did not even call it grooming. The need to groom has grown and the experiences of the past still are true in how to make your snow trails with your side by side.
When making snow trails with your side-by-side a key point is to make sure whatever you are pulling does not get caught in your tracks. A hitch that is 14” inches long or more just puts your pivot point back far enough that in turning the chance to catch your tongue in the tracks is significantly reduced.
The hitch on side by sides is usually on the back of the frame. The problem is that tracks can be 2 feet farther back than just tires. So when you are pulling a groomer or drag it is easy to get the tongue or chain caught in your tracks. There is a simple solution to this. Get at least 14” inches hitch that stickers out from the frame.
When I was young I tried to pull a pallet to smooth out some snow. Bad idea. The chain pulling it broke off part of the pallet and that became a weapon and barely missed me. So then we pulled a truck hood and that was fun to ride on. That was our backyard snow groomer. However, the paint got rubbed off the hood and the next year it was all rusted and broke apart and was not even safe to ride on. The chain never broke off the truck hood. I am glad it did not. That truck hood would try to pass us on the steep tubing hill and the chain did not hold it back. Now I am talking about what not to do instead of how to groom with your side by side. Do not use a chain.
Is your groomer wide enough to groom the snow trail made by your side by side. Most tracks stick out farther than just wheels. If you have tracks that are wider than the groomer then your trail is leaving ruts and not nice groomed corduroy. Ruts on the side of your trails are not as good as no ruts. When skate skiing on the trails having a hole that your pole goes in just plain stinks. Have a groomer that covers the complete trail. Even on the corners where a groomer may cut the corner a little and leave a track mark.
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How to safely make snow trails
Over the years we have made too many mistakes. We have learned from these mistakes. These mistakes would be made worse if making a trail with your side by side. Grooming trails often have unseen obstacles. Whether they are rocks that have rolled into the trail and are covered by snow. Same thing for a tree or tree limbs. The limbs fall and get covered by snow. Then when grooming you hit them. Different things happen when hitting obstacles from your groomer getting all broke up or your towing machine getting stopped and you get whiplash. I have even had hidden wire from a fence get caught on the machine.
To help solve the safety issues we have shear pins that shear off when hitting whatever it is that happens when groomer. Side-by-sides or SxS are bigger and if there is no shear pin when hitting stuff then things just get busted up worse than in the days when we did it all with snowmobiles. The other thing there are different places that might catch on your groomer we have built in bolts that are meant to shear when there are issues. This not only saves your groomer but your pulling machine and if extreme cases the driver. Even when your groomers are designed to be tough, efficient and long lasting. There is no substitute for experience and learning the problems that happen in real life use. Then we built in solutions to those real life problems.
We love making snow trails with our Side-by-Sides. They go at speeds that are great for grooming with the right snow grooming equipment. They have backrest seats. They get stuck less often than when we groom with our snowmobiles. Riding your UTV in the snow with a little company is often fun to have when making your snow trails.