Your Online Trail and Travel Guide for Snowmobiling the U.S. & Canada

Ely, Minnesota

Ely, MN Chamber of Commerce

Ely, MN Chamber of Commerce

Reporter: ElyChamber
Trail Conditions: Good
Snow Cover: 30"
Date of Report: January 16, 2020
Area Report:

GENERAL INFORMATION: Many area lakes are now staked, and riders are asked to please ride in staked areas to ensure best conditions. We continue to have slush in the bays, but good reports from snowmobilers indicate that conditions are improving.  As always, please use caution if venturing out on lakes by foot or machine.  Areas around moving water may have not developed thick ice.  Test ice depth before proceeding.   Wetland areas have not frozen solid in some areas.  Trails may divert around wetlands, so please follow the groomed trail sections.  Forest trails are groomed for snowmobiles and skiing and are in good condition with the recent snow.

Area Trails:Lakes on the Grassy Loop, specifically Burntside, Shagwa, Little Long, Mud Lake and White Iron Lake, are now staked for snowmobile trails, and conditions are good along staked areas.  Cedar and Birch are not staked.  Mud Lake to Vermilion is not groomed as it is still too swampy.  This area is passable by snowmobile, but riders should use caution.

Arrowhead State Trail

Snowmobiling: Condition-Very Good Trail – Partially groomed  Base – 1-4”

The Arrowhead State trail is the backbone to an extensive Grant-in-Aid trail system that travels through remote areas.

TRAIL CONDITIONS: The entire trail has been groomed from the Taconite State Trail junction north to the Blue Ox trail except for a five-mile portion west of Hwy 53, in the Ericsburg area.  This portion remains ungroomed due to thin ice remaining in beaver swamps.  Trail crews continue to pack ice on those portions to allow ice to thicken enough for grooming equipment. 

Bearhead Lake State Park

Snowmobiling: Condition – Very good  Trails – Groomed  Base 4-8”

Bearhead State Park trails provide rolling topography through birch and pine stands.  You may see a variety of wildlife ranging from deer, wolves, ruffed grouse, and pine martens.  You can snowshoe anywhere in Minnesota’s state parks and recreation areas, except on trails that are specifically groomed for another activity, such as snowmobiling or skiing.

Lake Vermilion – Soudan Underground Mine State ParkSnowmobiling: Condition – Good to Very Good Trails – Groomed  Base – 1-4”TRAIL CONDITIONS: Except for the last mile and a half of trail to Cable, all the trails in the park have been groomed and are in good condition. Use caution on the trail to Cable Bay as there is a rough section of trail going through a swamp. We will be filling and grooming that section on Monday.

The park has 5 miles of snowmobile trails that connects from the Taconite State Trail to the Lake Vermilion ice trail.  The ride takes you through old growth pines and young aspen forests with large wetland complexes to view along the way.  You can snowshoe anywhere in Minnesota’s state parks and recreation areas, except on trails that are specifically groomed for another activity, such as snowmobiling or skiing.

Putnam/Fishing Lakes – Bear Island State Forest

Snowmobiling: Condition – Good to Very Good Trails – Groomed  Base – 1-4”

The Putnam and Fishing Lakes Trails traverse forested, rolling topography through birch, ash, and pine stands.  Several small lakes dot the landscape along these scenic trails. 

TRAIL CONDITIONS: Riders should be aware that there are active logging operations on multiple sections of the trails.  Please travel at appropriate speeds and stay to the right. 

Taconite State Trail

Snowmobiling: Condition – Fair Trails – Groomed  Base 1-4”

Taconite State Trail stretches one hundred sixty-five miles from Grand Rapids to Ely through many scenic vistas of rolling hillsides, lakes, rivers and forest.

TRAIL CONDITIONS: The entire Taconite is groomed from Ely to Hwy 73.  With the recent snow in the last week, and early-season traffic, the trails are holding up well and looking great!

Taconite Spur West – Last groomed 1/14/20

Taconite Spur North – Last groomed 1/12/20

News and Reports:

Upcoming snowmobile events include:

2020 Snowmobile Fun Run January 25, 2020

Northland 300 Snowmobiling for Special Olympics January 22-26

More information on these events can be found by visiting our website at

Snowmobiling Information

The Ely area is northern Minnesota’s premier snowmobile hub with numerous on-trail facilities, accommodations for both large and small groups, and with plenty of food, entertainment and service centers. The Taconite Trail is the main thoroughfare in and out of Ely in the winter. Stretching 170 miles between Ely and Grand Rapids to the southwest, many spur routes will take you just about anywhere you want to go. The Tomahawk Trail, heading to the east, has 86 miles of varied terrain which the avid snowmobiler can use to connect up with hundreds of miles more of groomed trails.

If good snowmobiling gets you excited about winter, then try out the 170 mile long Taconite Trail and the 80 mile Tomahawk Trail. The Taconite Trail, or the “Mighty Taconite” as the locals call it, runs from Ely to Grand Rapids. It stretches across three state forests and the Superior National Forest. Smooth rides along this famous route are loaded with history and the Taconite’s many spurs and loops make for some quality modern day pioneering.

The Tomahawk Trail runs from Ely to the North Shore and Yukon Trails. The trail works closely with natural terrain and is one of the most scenic trails in the state. The tree cover that surrounds the trail edges, the lack of traffic and development allows you to have an uninhabited experience.

Many riders return to the Ely area each winter to enjoy its sheer beauty and varied terrain. It’s a region where people clearly love snowmobiling and they know how to make you feel welcome. Find out for yourself!