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Trail Report – : Ely, Minnesota – January 16, 2020

Ely, MN Chamber of Commerce

Reporter:Ely Chamber of Commerce/Explore MN Visitor Center
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