Friday, September 6, 2013

Day trails abound in Nemadji State Forest

White spruce - a common sight in Minnesota's Nemadji State Forest.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
The Nemadji State Forest, which spreads several thousand acres across northeast Minnesota, offers day hikers a number of great trails to choose from.

Four trails or their segments particularly stand out:
g Gandy Dancer Trail (Hay Creek segment) – Hikers can walk at the edge of a pine barrens with some forested areas on this 4-mile round trip trail. Take State Hwy. 31 north from Kingsdale; there's a parking lot at the state forest line. Take the trail north, paralleling Hay Creek to the right. Go two miles to Moose Junction Trail; turn back at the junction.
g National Christmas Tree Trail – The three-mile trail (2.6 miles for loop plus 0.4 miles round trip for stem) sits in the northwest corner of the massive forest. In 1977, a white spruce cut from the Nemadji served as the National Christmas Tree in the nation’s capitol. Forestry officials created the trail in 1987, naming it in honor of that tree. Parking is available at the day-use area along Pickerel Lake.
g Old Willard Munger State Trail – The William Munger trail since has been moved, but its original path through the state forest remains. From north of Nickerson, take County Road 146 to County Road 145 then Harlis Road/County Road 363; south of Bley Road, as the road turns east, look for parking lot. Follow the trail to the Northeast Extension Forest Road for 0.9 miles; turn back there for a 1.8-mile round trip through a largely wooded area that opens onto scenic meadows.
g Yellow Birch Trail/Gandy Dancer Trail (State Line segment) combo – The 3.2-mile round trip trail is entirely wooded. To reach the trailhead, from north of Nickerson take County Road 146 to County Road 145 then Harlis Road/County Road 363 (which upon entering the forest becomes Harlis Forest Road); a parking area is located where the forest road intersects with the Yellow Birch Trail. Take the Yellow Birch Trail for 0.3 miles to the Gandy Dancer Trail, where there’s a shelter. Go north on the Gandy Dancer for 1.3 miles, crossing two branches of the State Creek Trail, turning back at Wisconsin border.

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.