Saturday, August 9, 2014

Minnesota Arrowhead snowmobile trail makes for great summer hikes

The C.J. Ramstad/North Shore
State Trail is named for C.J.
Ramstad, the owner/editor of
Minnesota sports publications
 and an avid snomobiler who
died in a car accident.
A number of snowmobile trails that crisscross northern Minnesota also can be used as hiking trails during summer. One of them is the C.J. Ramstad/North Shore State Trail.

About half of the 146-mile trail that parallels the Lake Superior shore is traversable during summer; that inland stretch links Finland to Grand Marais. Portions of the rest of the trail often are underwater once the snow melts.

This summer trail in turn can be broken into manageable day hikes thanks to several access points.

Most of those hikes will take you into remote, wooded areas where wildlife from moose and black bears to white-tailed deer and wolves can be seen. Fall marks a great time to hike the trail as brilliant maples cover the ridges while bronze-leafed birch and aspen groves hug streams and rivers (One more bonus: The bug count will be low in autumn.).

To ensure you stay on the trail, watch for the snowmobile trail signs, which include diamond-shaped orange blazers, typically found on trees and posts.

Access points for the trail (heading south to north) include:
g Finland – Head west for 2.5 miles (5-miles round trip) to the Baptism River or walk northeast for 1.7 miles (3.4-miles round trip) to Egge Creek. Parking is available off of County Road 7 just south of Airbase Road; take the connecting trail northwest to the trail running through Finland State Forest.
g Cramer – Go southwest for 0.6 miles (1.2-miles round trip) to Rock Creek Cut in Finland State Forest or head northeast, partially through George H. Crosby Manitou State Park, to the creek flowing out of Kowalski Lake. Park at the lot off of County Road 7 south of the Manitou River.
g Tofte – In Superior National Forest, walk west a little more than a mile (2.25-miles round trip) across the Temperance River to Blind Temperance Creek or go northeast 5.2 miles (10.4-miles round trip) to the Lutsen Trail intersection. Park in the pullout lot at the County Road 2 and County Road 166 intersection about 4.5 miles north of Tofte.
g Lutsen – Head 0.75 miles (1.5-miles round trip) west to the Tait River or go east 1 mile (2-miles round trip) to the stream flowing out of Mistletoe Creek into Vat Lake in the Superior National Forest. Park in the lot off of County Road 4 north of the County Road 164 intersection, about 6.5 miles north of Lutsen.
g Grand Marais (Little Devil Track River area) – Walk 2.1 miles (4.2-miles round trip) northwest to Blueberry Lake's shores or go southeast about 0.45 miles (0.9-miles round trip) over the Little Devil Track to the Superior Hiking Trail intersection. Park in the pullouts at the intersection of County Road 6 and Forest Road 1367 in the Superior National Forest.
g Grand Marais (city) – Walk southwest 0.45 miles (0.9 miles round trip) to the Gunflint Trail or head northeast for the same distance to the trail’s second stream crossing in Superior National Forest. Park in the turnaround at the end of Cedar Grove Drive, north of the Cedar Grove Drive intersection in town.

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