Friday, October 7, 2016

Experience boreal forest at Voyageurs NP

Boreal forest on Beaver Pond Overlook Trail.
Voyageurs National Park is a great destination for exploring boreal forests.

The park marks a transition zone between the hardwood forests common in the United States to the conifer-based boreal forests of Canada. Boreal forests – which account for a quarter of the planet’s remaining forests – largely consist of spruce, fir and aspen trees. Because they exist in a cold climate, the decomposing of pine needles and other dead plants on the forest floor is slowed considerably, allowing for the storage of carbon that if otherwise released would heat up the planet.

A few major park trails cross though this spruce-, fir- and aspen-dominated woods. Those trails include:
• Beaver Pond Overlook Trail – The short hike runs 0.4-miles round trip to a former beaver pond. A parking lot for the trailhead sits off of Mead Wood Road (on the way to the Ash River Visitor Center) north of County Road 129/Ash River Trail.
• Kab-Ash Trail – The 28-miles trail runs between the terminus of County Road 672/Salmi Road and the end of County Road 129/Ash River Trail. It also can access it via a stem trail off of Hwy. 129 east of Hwy. 53.
• Blind Ash Bay Trail – The 2.9-mile round trip trail sits at the southern tip of North America’s vast boreal forest. The best time to visit is June through August when temperatures are warmest.
Gold Portage Trail – The Kabetogama Peninsula is virtually all boreal forest. The Gold Portage Trail, which runs 0.25-miles one way alongside the rapids-portion of the waterway connecting Black Bay and Kabetogama Lake, is a good way for hikers to experience it via canoeing.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.