Snowmobile trails in northern Minnesota need snow, but riders are getting out and the North Shore State Trail between Duluth and Grand Marais has recovered from an early season beating by Mother Nature.
“The main arteries up here are all open,’’ said Forrest Parson, owner of Hungry Jack Lodge on the Gunflint Trail.
Joe Russell, area supervisor for DNR Parks and Trails in Two Harbors, said an ice storm coupled with snow and warm weather greatly disrupted the Arrowhead’s trail system just before the December holidays.
Fallen trees and broken limbs were widespread and cleanup efforts were hampered by unfrozen wetlands, halting the movement of heavy machinery. Recent cold weather has solidified the system, and the main ridgeline trail is now under regular grooming, Russell said.
“It’s not perfect riding conditions, but it’s open and the state trail is in very good condition,’’ he said. “More snow is needed.’’
Russell said 13 area snowmobile clubs and other trail users deserve a lot of credit for clearing much of the mess on surrounding trails. They were mostly limited to using chainsaws and pole saws. Four-member volunteer crews were working all day to clear just 3 miles of trail.
“It was exhausting work,’’ he said.
In the Bemidji area, groomers have been hesitant to work the trails because snow depths are just below 10 inches, said Nettie Cole of DNR.
Further south, trails in the Brainerd area have had a little more snow and the paved Paul Bunyan State Trail has been getting a lot of use, said Wade Miller, also of DNR. Miller said all trails in the area could use more snow, but the current cold snap was welcomed by local snowmobile clubs because it solidified wetlands and lakes where ice conditions were unsafe.
Neither Brainerd nor Bemidji was hit by the ice storm that hurt the Arrowhead region, the officials said.