2nd Annual Covered Bridge Challenge

Public invited to participate in 2nd Annual Covered Bridge Challenge Festivities! A Ribbon Cutting ceremony, Chicken BBQ, and “Branch Ride” are being held this January in Oneida County to help celebrate a statewide challenge for snowmobile enthusiasts.

The 2nd Annual Covered Bridge Challenge runs the entire snowmobile season. It was created to encourage snowmobilers to explore new trails across New York. Last year’s challenge route earned national attention: American Town Media named it as one of the top 15 best snowmobile trails in the US. Each of this season’s two routes include trails that travel through 11 covered bridges (and one tunnel) found on many of the state’s 11,000 miles of trail. Two of the six locations on the eastern branch are located in Oneida County. One bridge is found on the Hajdasz family farm in Deerfield, and the other location is the Boonville covered bridge, the last remaining public covered bridge located in the county.

Festivities begin on Saturday, January 14, 2017 with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony running from 11:30 am - noon at the Boonville bridge in Erwin Park. Built in 2005, this covered bridge is owned and maintained by the Village of Boonville. It carries pedestrian and snowmobile traffic across the Black River Feeder Canal. Members of the Lost Trail Snowmobile Club, who maintain this active snowmobile trail, will be present. Following the ceremony, the Deerfield Snow Trails club invites the public to join them for their annual Chicken barbecue, which runs from 12-4 pm. A short presentation about the bridge and the challenge itself will be made at 2:00. The BBQ will be held at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, 10513 Cosby Manor Rd, Utica, NY 13502. Festivities continue on Saturday, January 21st,, 2017 with a “Branch Ride” between both Oneida County bridges, beginning at 9:30 am. Co-led by Dan Stysh of the Lost Trails Snowmobile Club and Bill Hajdasz of the Deerfield Trails Snowmobile Club, the 70 mile loop begins at the Boonville Bridge. Riders are welcome to meet prior to the ride for breakfast at 8 am at Freddie’s Diner in Boonville prior to the 9:30 am departure. Should conditions warrant, cancellation will be made the night prior to the event. Call Cathy Light for further information and to make reservations for the ride at (518) 605-3668. Further information is available online at www.NYSnowmobileWebMap.com. Both branches are included as “Public Routes” on the interactive webmap found on this website, as well as a free statewide phone app which includes the entire New York trail system. Garmin GPS map overlays are also available.

How to win the Covered Bridge Challenge: This year’s Challenge does not require that riders snowmobile to every location: with enough snow, successfully completing the challenge should be within reach of most snowmobilers. The rules are simple: riders choose to either snowmobile or trailer to five of six locations on either the western or eastern branch of this year’s challenge. On each branch, a “wildcard” location has been included, in order that riders can customize their route. Each entrant is required to merely snap of photo of themselves, their sled, and the bridge. It must then be posted online at www.NYSnowmobileWebMap.com. Once an entrant has posted 5 of the 6 bridges, he or she will be mailed this year’s winner’s decal, to proudly display on their sled, helmet or trailer. Created by Mohawk Valley GIS, the Covered Bridge Challenge was founded in 2015 as a season-long fun, social event for riders and as a way for riders using the www.NYSnowmobileWebmap.com promotional project to explore new trails and visit new areas and businesses within our vast, interconnected statewide trail system. Both Oneida County Tourism and the Boonville Chamber, among other organizations and businesses, are sponsoring this year’s challenge. The trip planning website on which both routes can be found, www.NYSnowmobileWebMap.com, was created in partnership with member clubs, local businesses, and organizations. An Oneida County Snowmobile “Getaway Guide” is also available. This downloadable guide gives detailed information about the trails, clubs, parking, and how to use both the free online interactive web map and phone app. Juicy tidbits about each of the eleven covered bridges (and one tunnel) located in this year’s challenge are available at www.CoveredBridgeChallenge.com. Contact Catherine Light, event coordinator, for further information, at (518) 605-3668.