There are some spots where the ice can be many feet thick and less than 100 feet away the ice can only be inches.
A groomed marked trail provided by your local snowmobile club should be safe, but if you have any doubt check the trail conditions before you head out. You still must be cautious of ice ridges and slush. IF YOU HIT SLUSH DO NOT SLOW DOWN.
As for small creeks I am always a little leery of them if I am off trail. I try to spend as little time on them as possible. If there is a prior snowmobile track there I follow it.
Or, if the trail across the lake is groomed by your local snowmobile club, then they would have checked the ice before hand...... either that, or the groomer's sitting at the bottom of the lake.
Personally, I just ride where everyone else has been riding. OR..... if it's a remote lake, then I'm just there to fish, so I walk out a few feet, drill a hole with the auger.... if there's lots of ice, I walk out a bit further and drill again.... If there is at least 6 inches of ice at the second hole, then I'll ride across (but we're talking small lakes here). I'll run at about 3/4 throttle across the lake, and if I see a dark spot, then I put it to the bar knowing that there's still some throttle left. Don't slow down..... don't look back.... If the ride across the lake is good, then from you driving across, any slushy spots will soak through the packed snow.... and show up grey. So on your way back, you know where the "iffy" spots might be.
HOWEVER...... that being said..... if you have no way to test the ice, and you're not sure if it's safe.... then PLEASE.... just stay off the ice.
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