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:Ely Tourism Bureau
Trail Conditions: Poor
Snow Cover: 8-18"
Date of Report: March 19, 2020
Area Report:

Trail Report for 3/19/2020

Snow Depth 8-18” inches


GENERAL INFORMATION:   Most grooming operations have ceased for the season, however, with 3-4 inches of new, fluffy snow, there may still be some late season snowmobile fun to be had.   Trails are reported as rideable, but icy and hard with numerous bare spots.  Be sure to use caution if venturing onto the ice on foot or machine.   If heading out, please keep in mind that many of the usual stopping points will be closed in compliance with the governor’s mandate regarding business closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so be sure to pack snacks and water as it will be more difficult to get those things while out on the trail. 


Area Trails:  The Tomahawk trail is still being groomed and is in fair shape.  Grassy Lake Loop is not being groomed, but Mud, Birch and White Iron Lake will be groomed before the weekend.  Lakes are still reported to be okay for travel near staked areas. 


Arrowhead State Trail:  Snowmobiling: Condition-Poor  Trail – Not Groomed  Base – 0-5”

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 Arrowhead is in poor condition.  The trail base is thin due to warm weather and heavy trail use, and there are many stretches of exposed rock and ground throughout the trail, especially on hills and corners.  The last groom of the season took place on March 10, from Highway 53 east to Tower and from Tower east to Babbitt Spur.


Bearhead Lake State Park:  Snowmobiling: Condition – Fair  Trails – Groomed  Base 1-5”

TRAIL CONDITIONS: The Taconite Trail and Cub Lake Spur to the Trail Center are in fair condition.   

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 Park:  Snowmobiling: Condition – Poor Trails – Groomed  Base – 0-6”

TRAIL CONDITIONS:   Trails were groomed at the beginning of the month and are in poor condition. 

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 – Poor Trails – Groomed  Base – 0-6”

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: The trail was last groomed on March 5 and is in poor condition. 


Taconite State Trail:  Snowmobiling: Condition – Poor Trails – Not Groomed  Base 0-5”

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 Taconite is in poor condition.  The trail base is thin due to warm weather and heavy trail use.  There are many areas of exposed rock and ground, especially on hills and corners.  Grooming was attempted on March 10, but the groomer was breaking through in the swamps, so additional grooming has been suspended for the season.   


Taconite Spur West – Last groomed 3/9/20

Taconite Spur North – Last groomed 3/9/20

Stony Spur East – Last groomed 3/10/20

All trails are reported to be in good spring condition with some bare spots.

News and Reports:

More information on area 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!