by Lynn Meredith
Regional—Little do we know when the weather is warm and the ground is clear that a web of trails surrounds the Kaneland community. The De-Kane Sno-Trackers, a club of about 45 snowmobile enthusiasts, mark and groom the 20 miles of snowmobile trails when the snow is deep enough.
Snowmobilers can ride on the Great Western bike path from Wasco to Sycamore, take some spur trails on Peplow near the Elburn Coo-op, ride through Maple Park and to the gas station in Cortland, and possibly end up at Mott’s in Hinckley.
“You can actually ride from here to Lake Superior, from Presque Isle to Hinckley,” said club member Jerry DeBruyne. “But there’s no trail into Elburn unless you ditch-ride on Route 47, and that’s illegal.”
As part of the Illinois Association of Snowmobilers, the local club is interested in promoting snowmobiling as a safe and family-friendly sport. Since DeBruyne joined in 1979, he has seen more kids getting involved. He wants to dispel misunderstandings of what it’s all about. He will join with other members to become part of the Forest Preserve’s safety patrol.
“They will provide us with a vest, and we’ll act as Forest Preserve officers. If we see somebody doing something wrong, we can pull them aside and explain how they might be giving snowmobiling a bad name with their actions,” De Bruyne said. “We can ask them to stop or call a Forest Preserve cop to help. Also, if we see someone in trouble, we can help them out.”
The club will also be allowed for the first time to mark the bike path. Two snowmobilers were killed a few years ago where the trail dips. Now, the club can put up signs indicating caution, speed limits and bridge ahead.
The De-Kane Sno-Trackers gather for meetings once a month to plan outings both locally, such as a Poker Run to raise money for needy families, or a three- to four-day overnight trip into Wisconsin.
“The advantages of being in the club are that you get to know the trails. You help put the trails in and mark them. You’re not just riding out in a field,” DeBruyne said. “Also, it’s family-oriented. You meet a lot of people, and there’s socializing.”
The trails open Wednesday, Dec. 15. The drag pulled by a tractor to groom the trails will be out as well as the truck track. The $40,000 truck track purchased in 1989 was paid for by state grants. The club receives occasional money, but it’s very sparse, according to DeBruyne.
The real appeal for club members is the things you see while you’re out on the trail.
“I like seeing the wildlife. I’ve seen wolves, bears, eagles, deer. Once I saw an albino deer. It’s spectacular the things you see late at night when it’s quiet and so clear,” DeBruyne said.
The DeKane Sno-Trackers
• Formed in 1972,
with 148 members at its peak
• Membership dues of $25 per year
• Meets the first Tuesday of every
month from September to April
• Any land owner who is willing
to let the club cross their
property, please call