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Ely Trail Conditions & Updates

Thursday, January 22, 2015

With the fresh snowfall this week, the Ely Area has about 9-12 inches of snow on the ground at this time.  All snowmobile trails are expected to be groomed before Thursday of this week, right in time for the Northland 300 Ride for the Special Olympics on Thursday & Friday and the Fun Run, Saturday.  There’s still time to join in on the fun. Travel by car or snowmobile in Fun Run 2015 January 24, 2015 to the towns of Babbitt, Tower and Ely and increase your chances of winning over 200 prizes. Money raised will go to support Snowmobile Trails in Ely, Babbitt and Tower! Prize drawings will be held at Fortune Bay Resort and Casino at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Your $20 pre-registration will automatically be entered for the Fun Run Grand Prizes. You need not be present to win for these prizes. Plus, Bonus Prize Tickets will be given to you on the day of the Fun Run between 8 AM and 4 PM. When you register at one of the three Check-In Points you will receive your Trail Map and one Bonus Ticket, at your next Check-In Point you’ll get two more Bonus Tickets and at your third and final Check-In, you’ll get an additional three Bonus Tickets for a total of 6! Support your trails, have a great time with your friends and family and have a great chance of winning prizes. A fun, fun day for ALL AGES with Fun Run 2014 on January 24, 2015!  Check-In points – Tank’s Bar in Babbitt, Grand Ely Lodge in Ely, and Benchwarmers in Tower.

 Snowmobile Trails

Taconite Trail:                                     Arrowhead Trail:

Snow: 10-12”                                                   Snow: 10-14”

Base: 1-2”                                                       Base: 1-3”

Groomed: Partially                                         Groomed: Yes

Condition: Fair                                                Condition: Fair

For all trails, please use caution and watch for exposed rocks and brush on the trails.

The East End of the Taconite Trail, between Ely and the intersection of the Taconite Trail and Arrowhead Trail, has been groomed twice. Between the Arrowhead-Taconite intersection and the Wolftrack-Taconite intersection, the Taconite Trail has been groomed once. Snow conditions remain lower than normal, especially on the western portion.

 The Arrowhead Trail has been groomed twice and conditions are fair. Update: For the portion of trail from the Crane Lake Trail intersection south to The Landing trail intersection (goes to Head of the Lakes Bay on Lake Vermilion), be aware of rough terrain and exposed rocks and dirt. Grooming on that portion has been suspended until we receive more snow.

 The Putnam-Fishing Lakes Trail has been groomed once. Conditions are fair.

 Lake Vermillion State Park and Soudan Underground Mine State Park snowmobile trails have been groomed once and are in fair condition.

 Beginning on Monday, January 26, the Arrowhead Ultra 135 will be taking place on the Blue Ox Trail and Arrowhead State Trail, starting in International Falls and ending at Fortune Bay Casino in Tower. Use extra caution when riding these trails: during the race these trails will be shared with race contestants on skis, bikes, and on-foot.

 Stony Spur & Taconite Spur Trails – The Stony Spur trail is 24 miles long.  The Taconite Spur is 39 miles long.  Crews groomed the Stony Spur Wednesday and will groom Taconite Spur to Ely cutoff by Thursday.

 Tomahawk Trail & Local Trails–This trail is 85.5 Miles long.  The Tomahawk Trail and Local Trails are in fair condition with a 2-3 inch base, depending where you are on the trail.  The Tomahawk trail was 100% rolled and  groomed on Wednesday night.  Local trail and lake trails are groomed.  Please follow the staked trail when choosing lake travel.  The trail between Burntside and Vermilion Lake is rolled and may be groomed this week if possible.  Trails will be touched up again before the Fun Run on Saturday, January 24.   

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 depth is 5-8 inches.  Classic ski track was set on the Beach Trail and the campground loops on Tuesday (1/20) with good results. Use caution as there are a few areas on the trail with a thin base. You may also find pine needles and small branch debris on trail. The park is beautiful with the snow covered pines. Snowshoe through the forest. Search for animal tracks. White tail deer, pine martens, and wolves have been very active lately. Bobcat tracks were spotted on park road January 15th. Take a break at the heated Trail Center on a comfy leather chair. More snow is still needed to groom the Norberg Trail.  Trail base is .5-2.5 inches and conditions are fair.  

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.  Hannah’s Trail and Pine Park are packed but not groomed.  Everything else is really nice.  The snow is a great mix of hard base, soft over layer and some great grooming.  The tracks are very nice for classic skiing.  Excellent skiing. 

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.  The Trezona Trail was rolled, combed, and retracked on Sun., Jan.18 following about a 3 inch snowfall.  The trail is in great shape for both classic and skate skiing with a 3 inch base.  Please, snowmobilers, be courteous and do not wander onto the Trezona. It makes grooming more difficult and costly. 

Babbitt Golf Course Trail – Babbitt golf course is groomed and is in excellent condition. 

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.  

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.   The North Junction trails are in good shape.  Quite well covered and they’ve all been skied on.


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.  Birch Lake Plantation trails are groomed for classic and in excellent condition.

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