(BPT) - Yes, there is still snow on the ground in the early spring in Ely, and yes, you can still go snowshoeing. It's a great way to experience the great outdoors with very little prior skill required. If you can walk, you can snowshoe.
Snowy spring in the Northwoods is this area's best-kept secret. It's warm enough to not freeze into a block of ice while you're trying to enjoy nature outside (That spring sun is strong!) and it's a fun time to snowshoe because you'll see animal tracks (Bears might be out and about this time of year!) and you might see spring shoots poking up out of the snow. Another added bonus: It's not crowded. Spring puts the "wilderness" back in the BWCAW. Yet another bonus: Many resorts run specials this time of year.
A few basics about snowshoeing for newbies:
- Dress in layers. This is true for any activity in any season in the Northwoods, but be advised that you'll be getting a workout and may want to shed a layer.
- Bring water and a snack. Essential on trails of any length, but especially on longer treks.
- Pro tip: Don't back up. Walking backwards on snowshoes is a recipe for falling into the snow. If you need to turn around and go the way you came ... turn around.
- Don't walk on groomed ski trails. Lots of areas allow cross country skiing and snowshoeing, but be mindful to stay off of the groomed trails. Ditto for your dog.
Here are a few trails near Ely for you to enjoy the last of the snow:
Angleworm. Angleworm trail sits 18 miles outside of Ely, and is easily accessible from a parking lot on Angleworm Lake. Follow the signs and you'll find several scenic overlooks, but be advised, it's a 12-mile loop. Bring your compass and a map, and consider walking for a specified period of time, an hour, say, and then just turning around.
Secret Blackstone. This hiking trail is located 20 miles northeast of Ely. You can choose between the Blackstone Loop, 2.1 miles, Secret Loop, 3.1 miles, or to Ennis and back for 3 miles. It's ideal for taking short hikes, for people who aren't avid snowshoers, or those with small children. You'll find numerous scenic overlooks above Secret, Blackstone and Ennis Lakes.
South Farm. This trail is 7.5 miles outside of Ely on the Kawishiwi Trail. Park along the road at the top of the hill before South Farm Lake, but make sure not to block any private driveways. This trail is five miles long and is intermediate level with rolling hills. Especially this time of year, when crossing ice (the trail crosses two small drainages) use caution. Look for water holes and weak ice. This trail follows an old road and takes you through a spruce forest that will make you feel like you're far, far north.
Trezona Trail. Trezona is a six-mile loop right in Ely, with very convenient access from Grand Ely Lodge. Anything goes here, including skiing, skijoring, walking and snowshoeing. Dogs are allowed. It's a great way to ease into the wilderness.
Spring snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the snow without all of the cold. When you've done your loop, crack a beer and sit outside to soak up the Northwoods sunshine!