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Ely, Minnesota

Ely, MN Chamber of Commerce

Ely, MN Chamber of Commerce

Reporter:Ely Chamber of Commerce/Explore MN Visitor Center
Trail Conditions: Fair
Snow Cover: 4-16"
Date of Report: January 14, 2021
Area Report:

GENERAL INFORMATION: The area has not received much for new snow, and the warm weather over the last couple days has caused the snow to settle/disappear a little bit more. However, crews have been able to groom certain parts of the Arrowhead and Taconite a 2nd and 3rd time and were able to do a first groom through the swamp/thin ice sections that were too unstable last week. Portions of trail going through swamps, e.g., Lost Lake swamp on the Arrowhead, are generally smoother and less rocky than upland portions. Please use caution while riding, slow down, and stay to the right.

There is active logging happening on a number of spots throughout the Grant-in-Aid and State Trail system. Please slow down and give trucks and logging equipment space. No Motorized Vehicles other than snowmobiles are allowed on State Trails or Grant-in-Aid snowmobile trails.

Area Trails:: The Tomahawk has been groomed once towards the North shore as there is a little more snow at the North Shore side with more grooming in that area. Mud lake is now staked which completes the Ely Area for stakes. The trail between White Iron Lake and Birch Lake has been groomed. The trail from Birch to Babbitt’s trail has also been groomed. Most lakes have some slush except by the stakes where it is packed and frozen.

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

TRAIL CONDITIONS:: Snowmobiling: Condition-Poor to Fair Trail – Groomed; Base – 0-2”

The entire Arrowhead State Trail has been groomed and is in poor to fair condition. Much of the trail has been panned only due to rocks and lack of a good base. Novak Rd/Elephant Lake Rd Jct. south to the Orr South GIA trail got its first groom on January 12. Conditions are rough especially south of the Crane Lake Road due to ledge rock outcrops throughout the trail. There is active logging at numerous locations throughout the trail. Please maintain awareness and caution at all times while riding.

Bearhead Lake State Park: Snowmobiling: Condition – Fair; Trails – Groomed; Base 2”

TRAIL CONDITIONS: The Taconite Trail in Bear Head Lake State Park was groomed on December 24 and is in fair condition with some areas of debris under the large pines.

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 – Not Groomed; Base – 0”

TRAIL CONDITIONS:  Trails have been groomed once and will be groomed again when we get more snow. The park trails are open, but snowmobile travel is not recommended. 

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 to Fair; Trails –Partially Groomed; Base 0-1”

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 remains ungroomed due to impassable swamps (thin ice) and insufficient snow (this trail needs more snow initially due to rocks and topography). Crews are planning on checking ice January 13 and grooming the trail if possible.

Taconite State Trail: Snowmobiling: Condition – Poor to Fair Trails –Groomed; Base 0-2”

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 between Ely and Side Lake has been groomed and is in poor to fair condition. Trail base is thin, so watch for rocks and bumps in uplands and spruce swamps. Rocks are prevalent especially between Hwy 53 and 73 and also between Ely and the Babbitt Spur trail. Lehtinen Creek to the Wolf Track got its first groom January 12, is in fair condition.

Taconite Spur West – Not groomed

Taconite Spur North – Not groomed

Stony Spur East – Not groomed.


News and Reports:

For more information an area trails and events, please visit https://www.ely.org/



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!