BINGHAM, Maine — Many Mainers end their week on the trails. Not skiing or snowboarding, but snowmobiling. Thousands of trail miles provide residents and non-residents the perfect environment to ride.
Those trails allow for tens of thousands of riders to explore Maine each year. Along with enjoying themselves, sled riders also impact the state's economy.
The University of Maine and the Maine Snowmobile Association released data from the 2019 season that showed the snowmobiling industry generated $459 million in direct spending to Maine's economy.
Including indirect spending, snowmobiling generated more than $606 million dollars in total to the state's economy.
The data also showed that snowmobiling supported more than 3,000 jobs last year and non-resident sled registration has more than doubled in the last 20 years.
There are several rider-friendly spots in several communities across Maine but in Bingham, the impact of the snowmobiling industry is easy to see.
The 'Sled Triangle' is made up of 201 PowerSports, North Country Rivers Restaurant and Pub, and local gas stations. The businesses are located at crossroads of multiple trails, a prime spot during the winter.
“Bingham is kind of the gateway north to getting big wide-open groomed trails," Mallory Newton, a co-owner of 201 PowerSports, said.
201 PowerSports opened four years ago and has grown each year -- enough to open a second location in Jackman. The store rents sleds and sells winter gear, sled gear, and anything you need for a great ride.
But they're not the only ones benefiting from the sled traffic.
“It’s not just our business, it’s every business," Newton added.
Next door, riders fuel up on gas and outnumber cars at the pump. Across the street, North Country Rivers Restaurant and Pub is the perfect spot to sit down for lunch.
Jeromie Papa said that every day around 11 a.m. the sleds start to line up out front as the kitchen opens up.
“This whole area really survives on tourism and recreation. This whole town comes alive on Fridays, you can see hundreds of trucks and trailers coming north," Papa added.
Mainers aren't the only ones giving back to the state's economy. Non-residents also spend their weekends enjoying the 14,000 miles of trails.
“Up here you have free reign, the trails are gorgeous and beautiful," Rhode Island Native Brian McMahon said.
“We’re up for the week for February vacation, up to have some fun and rip around," Tyler Abell, a Massachusetts resident, said.
Regardless of where the riders come from, the thousands of snowmobile lovers make a serious impact on the state and the growth of the industry isn't slowing down.