The portion of trail open to ATVs between the Big Aspen Trail system (east of Hwy 53) and Sturgeon River/County Rd 65 is closed to ATVs as of Nov 1, and it will be open again May 2021.
The trail portion between Ely and the Purvis Lake area – specifically to State Minimum Maintenance Rd 934 – is closed to all trail use due to contract work being completed for the Taconite ATV upgrade project. Please call the Tower Area Parks and Trails office at 218-300-7841 with any questions.
Many trails get busy in nice weather and on weekends - consider visiting during off-peak hours if you can. Visitors are encouraged to use trails close to their homes, and to practice safe social distancing by keeping at least 6-10 feet away from others, including when approaching or passing on the trail. If you see a lot of cars in the parking lot or at the trailhead, turn around and find someplace else for outdoor recreation.
Updated November 4, 2020
The Taconite State Trail stretches 165 miles from Grand Rapids to Ely and intersects with the David Dill/Arrowhead State Trail just west of Lake Vermillion. The David Dill/Taconite State Trail extends from the David Dill/Arrowhead State Trail to Ely. The first 6 miles from Grand Rapids are paved for biking and in-line skating. The remainder of the natural surface trail is used primarily for snowmobiling in the winter. The trail goes through a few areas that have standing water in the summer, however portions of the trail are suitable for horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking. Off-highway vehicle riding is allowed on some trail portions.
The Taconite Trail winds through forests of birch and aspen intertwined with pine, leading the visitor by many isolated lakes and streams. From Grand Rapids heading north, you see the impact of the taconite and iron mining industry. The northern portion of the trail terrain is rolling and tree covered as it winds through state and national forest land. At the trail intersection east of the David Dill/Arrowhead State Trail, this segment is called the David Dill/Taconite State Trail.
Eight trail waysides and picnic facilities offer scenic vistas of the hills, lakes and rivers of this area. The trail links to state parks: Bear Head Lake, Soudan Underground Mine, and McCarthy Beach. The landscape in and around Bear Head Lake State Park is very rolling and rocky.
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- Trail uses
Primary uses of the developed trail include hiking and snowmobiling. From May 1 through November 20, all terrain vehicle (ATV) and off highway motorcycle (OHM) riding is permitted on 17 miles of trail at the U.S. Highway 53 junction. More information about off-highway vehicle use of the trail. Other trail users include mountain bikers, backpackers and horseback riders.
You will need a horse pass if you will be horseback riding, and for snowmobiling, a snowmobile must be registered or have a snowmobile state trail sticker. No other fees or passes are required to use the trail.
- Trail shelters
From Grand Rapids, east to Ely. For winter trail users, use the Interactive Snowmobile Trails map.
- Prairie Lake
- North of Grand Rapids, Highway 38.
- Clearwater Trail
- Joint trail stretch with the Clearwater Snowmobile Trail and Taconite State Trail.
- South from Highway 50
- George Washington State Forest
- West Fork of the Prairie River, Herb Branstrom Snowmobile Trail intersection, south of Highway 53.
- North of Little Moose Trail.
- Intersects with Bear Lake Trail.
- Located west of West Sturgeon Forest Roard intersection.
- McCathy Beach State Park
- East of Ridge Trail.
- Located on the Ridge Trail.
- Superior National Forest
- Along County Road 65, west of Highway 73.
- North of Lake Leander, near Lake Leander Road.
- Taconite/Arrowhead Junction
- Pike River Flowage, south of Hwy 1, west of Tower.
- Bear Island State Forest
- Located east of Bear Head Lake State Park.
- Located west of Bear Island State Park.
- Bear Head Lake State Park
- Parking and interpretive center located within the state park.
- Prairie Lake
Do not leave valuables in your vehicle!
Parking is available for the following trail segments:
- Bear Head Lake State Park: parking, camping and interpretive center located within the state park
- George Washington State Forest: Highway 53
- George Washington State Forest: Highway 65
- McCarthy Beach State Park: parking and campgrounds located within the state park
- County Road 336
- Highway 169, south of Tower
Most communities provide public restrooms nearby with some in local parks in proximity to the trail. Organizations such as chambers of commerce or tourism agencies provide restroom facilities within some larger communities. Local businesses provide restroom facilities for customers.
- Bear Head Lake State Park: Parking and interpretive center located within the state park.
- George Washington State Forest: Campgrounds offer seasonal facilities, check ahead.
- McCarthy Beach State Park: Parking and campgrounds located within the state park.
- Soudan Underground Mine State Park: Parking and interpretive center located within the state park.
- Restrooms and amenities are also available in the towns along the trail.
All users must yield to horses. Stop and dismount if requested.
- Stay on designated trail.
- Keep to the right so others can pass.
- All pets must be on a leash.
- Clean up all pet waste.
- Obey traffic signs and rules.
- Pack out all garbage and litter.
- Respect adjoining landowners' rights and privacy.
- Warn other trail users when passing by giving an audible signal.
- Overnight camping and campfires are permitted only on designated campsites. Never leave campfires unattended.
- Enjoy the beauty of wild plants and animals, but leave them undisturbed for all to enjoy.
- Trail users are legally responsible for obeying the rules and regulations provided in Minnesota Rules, 6100.3000.