Minnesota Snowmobile TrailsMaddy Scheinost
Minnesota Snowmobile Trails
The Best Minnesota Snowmobile Trails
We’re from Minnesota, and we look forward to winter each year so we can take advantage of 22,000 miles of the best snowmobile trails in the nation. The fact that many of the best places to go snowmobiling anywhere are in this state is one of the few advantages to the long Minnesota winters. But the acres of forest, hillsides, rivers and 10,000 lakes in the state make this a premier area for snowmobiles. (We also have two of the premier snowmobile manufacturers located here, Polaris and Arctic Cat. And for the record, despite our “Land of 10,000 Lakes” state motto, we actually have 14,380 lakes, according to the DNR.) You can find great snowmobile trails in pretty much every county here. Which are the best Minnesota snowmobile areas? Where is the best snowmobiling near me when I’m in Minnesota? How can I find the best snowmobile trails in Minnesota? Below is a list of just a few of the most popular Minnesota snowmobile trails, compiled by the experts at Treadworld, with location information and websites where available.
Blue Ox Trail/Voyageur Trail/Paul Bunyan Trail/Heartland Trail
Location: Northern MN at International Falls
We’re beginning in northern Minnesota with one of the most popular Snowmobile trails in Minnesota, the Blue Ox-Voyageur Trail. Then we’re connecting with the Paul Bunyan Trail, which combined forms one of the longest rail-to-trail conversions in North America with a total distance of 213 miles, the longest of Minnesota’s state trails, because (duh!) Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox go together, right? Then we’re adding in Heartland State Trail because, why not? They’re all connected.
Voyageur/Blue Ox Trail runs nearly 100 miles providing well-marked snowmobile trails along an abandoned railroad grade between International Falls and Lake Bemidji State Park. Weaving through remote stretches of forest on the higher slopes of mountains just below the timberline, through spruce swamps and upland stands of aspen, linking towns along the way, this trail offers some of Minnesota’s most scenic landscapes. The trail also incorporates beautiful railroad trestles across the Little Fork and Big Fork rivers. It’s a great place to ride snowmobile if you’re a beginner. Expect to see tons of wildlife – eagles, moose, beavers, bobcats, and wolves and more.
At its southern end in Lake Bemidji State Park, you’ll run into the Paul Bunyan State Trail, which you can follow for approximately 123 miles, all the way to Brainerd, providing well-marked and groomed snowmobile trails for riders all skill levels will enjoy. Primarily located on a former Burlington Northern Railroad grade, the trail provides some challenges with its rolling hills and curves. The Paul Bunyan State Trail runs through a region rich in history boasting thirteen recorded prehistoric sites nearby. The trail connects to the Heartland state trail, one of the first rail-to-trail projects in the country. It is a 49-mile paved multiple-use trail between Park Rapids and Cass Lake that also provides options for many additional miles of groomed snowmobile trails. Keep an eye open for whitetail deer, raccoon, red fox, porcupine, beaver, muskrat, coyote, weasel, mink, bobcat, black squirrel and black bear.
C.J. Ramstad/North Shore State Trail
Location: Begins in Duluth, MN
Hailed as one of the best places in the state to snowmobile, the C.J. Ramstad/North Shore State Trail is 146-miles long, running from Duluth to Grand Marais, winding through the rugged, natural, undeveloped terrain of the Northwoods. The trail runs through birch and aspen stands and maple-covered ridgelines overlooking Lake Superior, and past lakes, rivers and valleys, providing spectacular views of Minnesota landscapes all along the way. Don’t be surprised if you surprise wildlife such as deer, fox, timber wolves, bears, grouse and moose. The trail is named for a long-time advocate of Minnesota snowmobiling, in fact known as “Mr. Snowmobiling.” C.J. Ramstad, a noted journalist and photographer who died in an automobile accident in 2007, especially enjoyed this remote section of snowmobiling, which he also worked to preserve and protect. Sections of the snowmobile trail offer tight switchbacks, and there are also wide-open, flat areas where you can really let the throttle out.
Ely Area Trails
Location: Ely, MN
Some of the best snowmobiling in Minnesota starts at these premier snowmobiling hub, where you can experience the 170-mile Taconite Trail to the southwest, stretching between Ely and Grand Rapids with a ton of spur routes that can get you pretty much anywhere you want to go, and the 86-mile Tomahawk Trail to the east, which connects of hundreds more miles of groomed trails. The Taconite Trail is well-maintained by the Minnesota DNR and provides a winding route through forests of birch and aspen intertwined with pine, past many isolated lakes and streams along the way. The trail links to several state parks including Bear Head Lake, Soudan Underground Mine, and McCarthy Beach. The landscape in and around Bear Head Lake State Park is very rocky and rolling. The Tomahawk was recently listed by Supertrax International (a 250,000-circulation snowmobile magazine) as “One of the Ten Best Incomparable Snowmobile Adventures.” To quote the article, “Woven by time, travail and timber through some of mid-America’s deepest, least civilized and most remote country, the Tomahawk links the incredible scenery of the 154-mile Lake Superior North Shore Trail with one of Minnesota’s best developed trail hubs at Ely, Minnesota, a town Charles Kuralt called one of the most authentic northern experiences in America.”
These trails work have very much developed as a result of the natural terrain, while tree cover surrounding the trail edges and the lack of traffic means you can expect a true wilderness experience, along with one of the most scenic trail rides in the state.
Goodhue Pioneer State Trail
Location: Begins in Zumbrota, MN
This soon-to-be-completed 47-mile snowmobile trail is not among the most popular Minnesota snowmobile trails because it’s not finished yet, and still has gaps. But the part that is finished may be just what you’re looking for if you prefer the trail to yourself, devoid of other snowmobilers, and if you enjoy seeing wildlife in a natural state. When completed, the trail will serve to connect two very popular and well-used trails, the Red Wing’s 19.7-mile Cannon Valley Trail, and Pine Island’s 12.5-mile Douglas State Trail, also connecting those two Minnesota cities as well as Goodhue, Zumbrota, Mazeppa and Bellechester. And, it will be another special trail for snowmobiling in MN thanks to its valleys, high plains, trout streams and rivers, and also its challenging curves and slopes.
Superior National Forest
Location: Arrowhead Region of the state of Minnesota between the Canada–U.S. border and Lake Superior.
Offering around 700 miles of snowmobile trails maintained through partnerships with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, numerous local snowmobile clubs and the Superior National Forest, this area provides a collection of some of the best snowmobile trails in MN. Trails are well-marked and easily navigable, through forest land or around the shores of Lake Superior. Expect varied terrains weaving through wooded areas, meadows, lakes, and rolling hills. These groomed trails will lead you to a network of around 1,500 miles of connected snowmobile trails.
Willard Munger Trail
Location: Begins in Hinckley, MN
One of the most popular Minnesota snowmobile trails, the Willard Munger Trail includes about 70 miles of interconnecting snowmobile trails following the nineteenth century railroad route through deep woodlands wilderness and past scenic areas including Soo Line Trail, Moose Lake, Willow River, and Lake Mille Lacs. The main trail is well-kept and primarily flat, so great for first-timers.
It is linked with the Alex Laveau Memorial Trail, in Carlton, and the Matthew Lourey State Trail, located east of the other two trails, bringing the total length of snowmobile trails you can travel to approximately 160 miles through scenic Minnesota. The Alex Laveau Memorial trail runs just south of Jay Cooke State Park and allows snowmobilers to ride from the Gary-New Duluth neighborhood through Wrenshall to Carlton. It’s named to honor the memory of a former county commissioner and dairy farmer who strongly advocated reusing abandoned railways as public trails. The 80-mile Matthew Lourey State Trail honors the memory of a U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer from Minnesota who lost his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. The trail travels through remote forests and is one of the MN DNR snowmobile trails that weaves through DNR-administered land. With luck you’ll see some raccoons, whitetail deer, red fox, muskrat, porcupine, coyotes, bobcats and possibly some black bear in this area.
That’s Only A Few…
It’s a challenge. Not the snowmobiling itself, but deciding where to go snowmobiling in Minnesota. That’s the beauty of the Minnesotans loving to ride their snowmobiles, there’s so much choice. You can go where others love to go, or you can find lesser-known trails that will allow you some solitude. We’ve only highlighted a few of the great Minnesota snowmobile trails here, but there are many others. Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to check Minnesota snowmobile trail conditions before you go.
We’re Treadworld, Home of the Best Specialty Tires Anywhere
When you do decide to snowmobile outside your own backyard, one of the safest ways to transport your machines is with a snowmobile trailer. And you can count on us to provide you with the high performance tires for snowmobile trailer that will get you safely from point A to point B. Even the best snowmobile trailer is worthless if it’s not equipped with dependable tires. Here at Treadworld, we have the right trailer tires for every occasion. You can count on Rubbermaster brand trailer tires to provide the best in top quality, long-lasting, never-let-you-down reliability, manufactured with strict tolerances from top rubber compounds, triple-tested for quality before being X-rayed to be sure they’re perfect, then covered by our Ultimate Advantage Lifetime Warranty. Don’t hesitate to contact our tire experts via live chat or email with any questions you may have.