Monday, December 17, 2014
Minnesota State Snowmobile Trails officially opened on December 1.
The Ely Area has has about 2-3 inches of fresh snow on the ground. Winter decided to return!
Taconite Snowmobile Trail - This trail stretches 165 miles from Grand Rapids to Ely through many scenic vistas of rolling hillsides, lakes, rivers and forests. There are several trail shelters along the trail located at popular stopping points offering scenic vistas. Local snow depth is 203 inches and packing and grooming will begin when conditions allow. Groomed Mileage: 165 Miles
Stony Spur Trail – This trail is 24 miles long and will not be groomed until conditions allow.
Tomahawk Trail & Local Trails– This trail is 85.5 Miles long and will not be groomed until conditions allow.
Taconite Spur Trail – This trail is 39 Miles long and will not be groomed until conditions allow.
Bear Island State Forest - Putnam and Fishing Lakes Trails traverse 17 miles of forested, rolling topography through birch, ash, and pine stands. Several small lakes dot the landscape along these scenic trails. Local snow depth is only 2-3 inches. Packing and grooming will begin when conditions allow.
Soudan Underground Mine State Park – This two mile trail is not packed or groomed and has a snow depth of 2-3 inches. Mine tours are closed to the public for the season and will re-open on Memorial Weekend. Only group tours by reservation are scheduled during the winter months.
Lake Vermilion State Park – This new state park has added some temporary snowmobile trails (trails may change in the future years) for this winter. The 6 miles of trails take you through some of the best viewing areas on the property. It connects up with the Lake Vermilion lake ice trail and a spur of the Taconite Trail that goes through the Soudan Underground Mine State Park. Local snow depth is only 2-3 inches and packing and grooming will begin when conditions allow.
Cross Country Ski Trails
Bear Head State Park - This trail provides rolling topography through birch and pine stands. You can expect to see wildlife ranging from deer, wolves, moose, martens and squirrels. Snow depths vary from three inches in the forest to five and a half inches in the open areas. Much more snow is needed to groom the trails. Some eager folks have taken their rock skis out on the seven miles of trails. Difficulty is intermediate to expert (track).
Hidden Valley Ski Trails - 30k trails pass though rolling hills, paper birch and pine stands and newly planted red and white pine plantations. They are nicely groomed regularly by volunteers of the Ely Nordic Club and funding provided by MN DNR Grants-In-Aid, and membership dues and donations. The trails are marked by ‘You are here’ maps. A MN Ski Pass is required to ski this trail and donations are welcomed and appreciated. Look for the box at the trail start/end. This trail system will be closed beginning December 12 until we receive more snow.
Trezona Trail - This 6.4 km trail winds around Miners Lake, a historic mining pit and old mine shaft head frame. The flat to rolling terrain is machine groomed. Skiers, walkers, snowshoes and dogs are all welcome. Ski in the morning, during the day or at night, right in the center of town! Please consider dropping a donation in the red box near the parking lot. Those funds go specifically to the grooming of the Trezona Trail. No current report.
Babbitt Golf Course Trail –Anxious skiers are out on the Gold Course trail. Although it has not been groomed as of yet, there are enough skiers to keep some classic tracks available. Skiing has not been too bad. Grooming will begin when conditions allow.
North Arm Trails - The North Arm Trails are skier-tracked and are classic in every sense of the word (though skate skiing can be fabulous in late winter on the hard crusted lakes.) Because only some of the trails are occasionally machine groomed, they can be challenging at times even for intermediate-skilled skiers. They are some of the most beautiful in the area as they roll up and down over forested ledge rock and across lakes through the wilderness. The trails are easy to follow and each intersection has a ‘you are here’ map. Beginner skiers can first test their proficiency on the Moose Horn Loops. No current report.
Hegman Lake Pictographs – BWCAW entry point, about 15 miles north of Ely off the Echo Trail. Walk the portage down to the lake and then ski the lakes to the pictographs. North and South Hegman are very nice small scenic lakes that have the bonus of the pictographs. This is a popular spot for ski and snowshoe and you will most likely find a trail made by previous groups on the west side of the lake. It’s a good idea to follow the trails of other skiers to avoid open water or slush. No current report.
North Junction Trail - These trails consist of a series of loops. There are two loops south of the North Arm Road. The Beaver Meadow Trail is a beginner to intermediate trail that goes through an area occupied by beaver. The Moose Trail is an intermediate level that goes through hilly upland areas, a spruce swamp, and a beaver pond. The west end of the Beaver Meadows Trail leads to Camp Widjiwagan, where the trail follows the road through the camp. While on the road, watch for vehicles and respect camp property. These trails do not have enough snow cover yet to ski.
Birch Lake Plantation Trail - This trail system is partially within the first white pine plantation in the Superior National Forest, covering 120 acres. The plantation was planted in 1915 and has been thinned out in recent years. While touring the area, you may see white paint on some of the trees. These mark out research plots to study growth of the trees which remained after the logging operation. The area east of Forest Road #131 is generally flat. Those areas west are more challenging but relatively easy. This trail is not skiable yet.