The best hiking in Minnesota
The Ely area provides unique opportunities for those seeking wilderness hiking in Minnesota. Depending on the experience you are seeking, assorted Minnesota hiking trails can lead you either on a short jaunt, vigorous day trip or an extended wilderness trek.
Discover the beauty of the boreal forest in a landscape formed by glaciers that retreated 10,000 years ago.
There are many Minnesota wilderness hiking trails in the Ely area. The most popular trails include the Bass Lake Trail, the Angleworm Trail, Trezona Trail, Hidden Valley, Secret/Blackstone Trail and the Snowbank Lake Trail.
Bass Lake Trail:
Features: 5.6 miles around Bass Lake. Backpacking campsites. Historically and ecologically unique. Requires at least 4-6 hours.
Location: On the Echo Trail – six miles north of Ely, Minnesota.
Description: Bass and Low Lakes are located in a basin gouged out of pre-Cambrian rock. Prior to 1925 the two lakes were separated by a ridge of glacial gravel which acted as a natural dam. Logging operation led to the construction of a sluiceway to move logs through the gravel ridge – a drop of 60 feet. Seepage soon weakened the sluiceway as water moved through the gravel adjacent to the structure. The sluiceway and glacial ridge washed out in the spring of 1925 leaving a gorge over 250 feet wide. Bass Lake was lowered 55 feet in 10 hours, reduced to 1/2 its original size and two small lakes, Dry and Little Dry, became isolated in the old lake bed. Approximate 250 acres of land was then exposed and available to the establishment of pioneer plant species.
Features: 14 mile trail, with 11 miles forming a loop around Angleworm, Home and Whiskey Jack lakes. 9 designated campsites.
Location: 14 miles northwest of Ely, Minnesota on the Echo Trail.
Description: Rugged trail through stands of red and white pine with many high ridges with scenic overlooks. Moose love to frequent the north end of the trail in the Home Lake area. Pink ladyslippers demurely display themselves along the trail in the spring.
Features: Scenic Overlooks. Various types of terrain. 1 campsite Firegrate, tent area & latrine. Approximately 8 miles of trail.
Location: 20 miles northeast of Ely, Minnesota off the Moose Lake Road (Cty Rd 183)
Description: The moderate terrain trail, with a few steep hills, includes a loop around Blackstone Lake. The high vistas provide scenic views to low moist areas. The trail also winds across small waterfalls. Habitat for various species of wildlife are provided by trees and vegetation. The trail destination is a rock cliff overlooking Ennis Lake which is frequently used for rock rappelling and climbing. A back country campsite is located on Blackstone Lake.
Features: Flat to rolling terrain. Historic mining pit and old mine shaft headframe. Great views.
Location: 3 blocks north of Sheridan Street in Ely, Minnesota.
Description: The trail is just under 4 miles in length and goes around Miners Lake, a former iron ore mining pit. History abounds in the area providing a glimpse into the economic lifeblood of the past. The south side of the trail is flat to gently rolling, following old railroad grades and mine haul roads. The north side of the trail is rolling to hilly, passing through white pine stands, residential areas, and the historic Pioneer Mine buildings and headframe.
Features: Rolling to hilly terrain. Birch and white pine stands.
Location: 1 mile east of Ely, Minnesota on the Hidden Valley Road.
Description: The trails pass through rolling hills, paper birch and pine stands and newly planted red and white pine plantations.
Snowbank Lake Trail:
Features: Ledge rock outcroppings. Red and white pine stands. Hilly Terrain. BWCAW campsites. Scenic Overlooks.
Location: 23 miles east of Ely, Minnesota with trailheads on the Snowbank Lake Road and on the Fernberg Trail.
Description: The trail winds about 25 miles along the shorelines of Snowbank and Disappointment Lakes. Side trails spur off to Flash Lake on the west and to the Old Pines Loop on the east. The trails offer some of the most scenic hiking terrain in the area. Rock outcroppings, pine stands, shoreline bluffs and abundant wildlife mark the character of the trail.
Kawishiwi Falls Trail:
Features: A popular 1.5 mile round-trip hiking trail offers stunning views of the 70ft. drop Kawishiwi Falls/Fall Lake Dam.
Location: Approximately 5 miles from Ely, Minnesota off the Fernberg Road (Lake County #18).
Description: The name Kawishiwi in Ojibwe language means “river full of beaver or muskrat houses”. Native Americans, explorers and voyageurs portaged around the falls. The watershed drains from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and flows 2,000 miles north to Hudson Bay. This wooded and winding trail down to the falls offers beautiful photo opportunities. The path is relatively easy and can be extended to include the portage trail between Garden and Fall Lakes.