Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ely MN a gateway to BWCA's many trails

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, near Ely,
Minn. Photo courtesy US Forest Service.
A number of day hiking trails in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are within an hour’s drive of the Ely, Minn., area.

Though technically part of Superior National Forest, the BCWCA is a unique area of more a thousand pristine streams and lakes and more than 1500 canoe routes connecting them. National Geographic recently listed it as one of “50 Destinations of a Lifetime.”

Among the many BCWCA trails easily accessible from Ely are:
g Big Moose Hiking Trail – The 3-mile out-and-back trail (6-miles round trip) heads through a conifer forest to Big Moose Lake’s northern shore; the last quarter mile of the trail is within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Park in the lot along Forest Road 464, southwest of Echo Trail about 20 miles northwest of Ely.
g Burntside Lake North Arm Trail – A number of trails connect Burntside State Forest to the BWCAW and Chippewa National Forest, including this 2-mile loop from North Arm to Slim Lake. To reach the trailhead, take County Road 644 to the parking lot near the highway’s end along the North Arm of Burntside Lake.
g Kekekabic Trail segment – Known as “The Kek,” the trail runs 41 miles from north of Ely to Grand Marais; its western trailhead easily can be day hiked through an aspen, jack pine and conifer forest to the shores of Snowbank Lake and then back for a 4-mile round trip. The trailhead is off of Snowbank Lake Road in the BWACW, just under 20 miles east of Ely.
g Secret/Blackstone Trail segment – A 1.33-mile segment of this 8-mile trail can be done around scenic Blackstone Lake. The trailhead is about 20 miles northeast of Ely, off of Moose Lake Road (County Road 438) across the road from La Tourell’s Resort.
g Sioux Hustler Trail segment to Devil’s Cascade – For fit families with a lot of energy and a whole day to spend, this 11-mile round trip in the BWCAW rewards with the 75-feet Devil’s Cascade through a granite gorge. Park at BCWAW Entry Point #15 off of Echo Trail northeast of Ely.
g Snowbank Lake Trail – The 25-mile trail around Snowbank Lake in the BCWAW can be shortened to a 2.5-mile out-and-back segment. Use the same trailhead as described above for the Kekekabic, except go north; take the first spur east to the Snowbank Lake’s shore.

Read about other trails in or near Ely.

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