It's that time of year again. The air is cold, the snow is falling, and while a lot of folks are trying to think of ways to get away from the winter weather, sledders everywhere are making plans to do just the opposite.

If you are new to snowmobiling, you might have a lot of questions. You will have to find out where to ride, when you can ride, what sled you ought to buy, what sort ofsnowmobile shocks are right for you, and a whole lot more. While this can seem overwhelming, the best thing to do is take it one step at a time, and you'll be on the trails in no time!

The easiest way to learn is to find someone who already has snowmobile experience. If you have a friend or family member who is an avid rider, it will probably be pretty easy to convince them to take you on a “test drive” and show you the basics. They are usually looking for any excuse they can find to hit the trails.

Whether you have a friend to help you along or you're doing it yourself, you first need to figure out which questions to ask. What follows is a guide to some of the basics to get you started on your snowmobile adventures. From here you can keep going and be an expert by the end of the season.

Q: How much snow does there need to be?

Snowfall can vary a great deal depending on your location, and so can riding restrictions. Technically, you don't need any snow at all to make quick rides on your machine. There are some things to consider though. If these are met, you can feel safe heading out.

Most public areas have minimum snow restrictions. If there isn't enough snow or if the ground isn't frozen you can really tear up the ground under the white. It can also get muddy and sloppy. Rough trails without plenty of snow on top can be downright dangerous, both for you and your sled. Hitting a stump or a rock can damage your snowmobile shocks, skis or worse. If you're thrown off and land on one of these hidden dangers you can potentially receive serious injuries.

Keep in mind that if it's been a while since the last snow storm, there could be a lot of ice on top. The best snowmobiling is when there's fresh powder to give you plenty of cushioning and traction. As a final consideration, the snow keeps the heat exchangers cold, so you want enough snow to keep from overheating.