Thursday, February 5, 2015

Plethora of day hiking trails await in Rutledge, Minn., region

D.A.R. Memorial State Forest.
Photo  courtesy of Minnesota DNR.
A scenic river and woodland walks await day hikers to the Rutledge, Minn., area.

Rutledge is easy to reach from Minnesota’s two largest metropolitan areas; it is about half-way between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Duluth-Superior off of Interstate 35.

Day hiking trails in the Rutledge area include:
g Cartway Trail segment – Banning State Park touches the southern edge of the city limits, but the developed trails are located at the main park area. The northernmost of them is the Cartway Trail. On the entry road, leave your vehicle at the park office-military kiosk and walk the side of park road north. Go left onto Cartway Trail, which heads through woods and skirts an open area. Turn around at the paved road for a roughly 1.33-mile round trip.
g D.A.R. Memorial State Forest center trail – An unnamed jeep trail heads into the state forest’s center for a 1-mile round trip. Park at the trailhead off of Partridge Road east of Minn. Hwy. 23, northeast of Askov.
g McCormick Lake Day Use Area Trail – At the McCormick Lake Day Use Area in General C.C. Andrews State Forest north of town, hikers can walk through tree plantations via the day area’s access road and a trail, open to ATVs, north of Walters Road. Add the spur trail for a 1.5-mile round trip. A parking lot and picnic tables are at the day use area.
g Northern Pine Trail south jeep trail – An unnamed ATV/OHM trail runs 2-miles round trip through woodland in the Nemadji State Forest east of town; extend the hike by a mile total via the spur trails at the end of the main trail. The trailhead is on the south side of Northern Pine Trail, east of the Lower Tamarack Road intersection.
g Solana Forest Road Trail – Day hikers are likely to spot a variety of northern Minnesota wildlife on the 1.5-mile round Solana Forest Road Trail. The trailhead is west of Rutledge on 220th Street past the County Road 41 intersection in the Solana State Forest.
g Willard Munger State Trail, Rutledge segment – Park at the City Hall and Community Center off Minn. Hwy. 23 N., taking a stem trail behind/north of city hall to the Willard Munger. Heading north brings hikers over and along the Kettle River. Be aware that the four miles south to Finlayson are the entire trail’s most difficult section, as there are several small but steep hills.

Read more about day hiking Northeast Minnesota in my Headin’ to the Cabin: Day Hiking Trails of Northeast Minnesota guidebook.