The 41 km. Banadad Ski Trail System is accessible from two trail heads, both with free parking; the eastern trail head is located 30 miles up the Gunflint Trail off the Lima Grade; the west end trail head is on the Gunflint Trail at Fire # 10045. In addition to the Banadad the trail system consists of the Lace Lake, Tall Pines and Tim Knapp Trails. The Banadad is the BWCA longest tracked ski trail and likely the longest wilderness tracked ski trail in the USA. For more info call 218-388-4487.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Getting the Banadad Trails Ready for Skiing

According to Ted Young co-owner of Boundary Country Trekking and Banadad Trail Coordinator, “opening the 39.8 kilometers of the Banadad Ski Trail System is no easy undertaking. Twenty-seven Kilometers of the trail system are located within the BWCA where only hand tools can be used to cut the summers accumulation of brush and down trees and crews are only able to travel to the work site under their own power-by foot or canoe. The remaining portion of the trails, outside the BWCA, power equipment including mowers is allowed and when possible used. Annually some 500-600 of labor is require to open the trails for skiing each year. This year’s maintenance will be no acceptation.”

Over the pasts two weekends nine volunteers from the North Stars Ski Touring Club and thirteen volunteers from Adventure Vacations, a Twin Cities based adventure travel company logged 332 hours cutting brush and down trees along the Banadad and hand cleared the Tall Pines Trail. Prior to this volunteer effort, Boundary Country Trekking, staff had cleared and mowed the Lace Lake, and Seppala Trails outside the BWCA. Earlier this summer a group of eight youth and staff from the Minnesota Conservation Corp spent two days widening approximately 1.2 kilometers of an overgrown portion of the Banadad around Moose Kill Hill.

As a result of these efforts, to date the Lace Lake, Tall Pines and Seppala Trails and the first 1.6 Kilometers of the Banadad now only needs snow to be opened for skiing. Along the 32 kilometer Banadad, most of which is within the BWCA, crews have cleared 21 kilometers.

Minnehaha’s Academy’s High School Ski Team is scheduled to work on the trail in mid-November. They will round out this years volunteer maintenance effort. Then, as in past years, the remaining clearing of the Banadad will occure when snow arrives and the trail packing by snowmobile groomers can take place. These groomers, as they pack, will hand-cut the remaining brush in the remote interior sections of the trail, which volunteers could not reach.

Young when on to state that, “normally there is enough snow to start skiing on the Lace Lake, Tall Pines, Seppala and the eastern end of the Banadad by Thanksgiving. Packing and tracking of the full length of the Banadad is usually completed and the trail opened for skiing by mid-December.”

Saturday, October 25, 2008

North Star Ski Touring Club Writes about Weekend of Trail Clearing on the Banadad

Andrea Johnson, NSSTC -Nine North Stars arrived at host Ted and Barbara Young's Poplar Creek B & B on the evening of Thursday, October 16, ready to clear the BWCA’s Banadad Ski Trail. The group was put-up in the Little Ollie Lake Cabin and one of the rooms in the Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B. Each day a huge farm-style breakfasts was prepared for us and we returned to mouth-watering dinners and a refrigerator stocked with beer.

On Friday morning, we paddled across a very calm Poplar Lake. We left our canoes at one end of Mead portage and hiked a long trail, part of which was steep and rocky. The day's work consisted of nipping alders and overhanging pine branches as well as cutting down and removing larger trees. Two men took down a stony berm in the trail.

Hiking to our canoes in the late afternoon, I noticed gold underfoot – gold leaves, gold cedar tips, gold pine needles – a welcome cushion for tired feet.

The second day, we drove to a different area on the Banadad. Our group cleared from the western Banadad Trailhead in approximately four miles. A few of us ate our trail lunches sitting in the sun on a bridge crossing a rushing creek between East Dawkins and West Dawkins lakes.

In the evening, several North Stars attended a meeting which saw the initial formation of the BWCA Banadad Trail Association, a non-profit dedicated to maintenance of the Banadad for future generations Ted agreed to continue to serve as Trail Maintenance and Grooming Coordinator.

Our last day, we hiked to an area near Tall Pines yurt where we worked through the morning clearing the western side of the Tall Pine Yurt.

Then we showered, packed, and ate lunch with in the B & B Guesthouse dining room. Ted thanked us for successfully clearing more than seven miles of the Banadad and he noted that North Stars have volunteered trail-clearing there for over 25 years, longer than any other group of volunteers. Barbara pointed out that only she has “volunteered” for Ted longer than the North Stars.

Together, we all shared the highlights of our invigorating trail-clearing experience: beautiful fall weather; lovely small trees on the side of the trail -trees that will need nipping in future years; fascinating lichens, fungi, and rare sphagnum moss spores; a old two-holer outhouse along side the trail at the site of the "Old Logging Camp" which one North Star passionately wishes to be forever preserved; lively discussions touching on diverse topics, including politics; and absolutely fabulous meals, including a roast turkey dinner and an ethnic Nordic brunch.

Trip leader Tom Rice summed it up: “Great crew! Great hospitality!”


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