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Superior Hiking trail crisscrossed with downed trees

Much of the trail may be impassable and won't be cleared until spring.

Clearing crew, Superior Hiking Trail Association
From left, Josh Dix, David Jansen, Tamer Ibrahim, Sven Hoaglund, Jason Furtney and Ben Exley, members of a Superior Hiking Trail Association crew that cleared a section of the trail in Cook County hit hard with trees downed in December's snowstorms. Much of 300-mile trail remains impassable after the storms.
Contributed / Jim Shinners
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TWO HARBORS — Much of the 300-mile length of the Superior Hiking trail has been impacted by the heavy December snow storms that were accompanied by ice and wind, with trees and brush down and the trail itself obscured or impassable.

That’s the word from the Two Harbors-based Superior Hiking Trail Association that maintains the popular trail running parallel to Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior.

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“Travel may be difficult to impossible along the entire corridor due to wind-thrown trees and snow laden shrubs obscuring the path of the trail for the remainder of the winter,” the association reported this week. “In many circumstances it will also be very difficult to follow the trail corridor. Exercise caution and be prepared for difficult winter conditions. If you are hiking and feel you have become lost, do not continue, turn around and follow your tracks back to safety.”

While many snowmobile trails and cross-country ski trails have now been cleared following the December storms, thanks to a massive volunteer effort, those trails are more easily accessible for heavy equipment like groomers that can move trees and shuttle people in with chainsaws. Along most of the remote Superior Hiking Trail, cleanup crews have had to hike in with saws to do the work, making the effort slower going.

“Cook County was hit pretty hard. We had a crew out this past week clearing a very popular section of the SHT from Pincushion to County Road 53,” Lisa Luokkala, executive director of the nonprofit trail association, told the News Tribune. “Typically we don't do much winter clearing, but with the popularity of this section and the heavy blowdown, it felt necessary. We have another section near Lindskog Road that is currently impassible and is being addressed. For the safety of our staff and volunteers, most clearing will need to wait till spring when SHTA organizes large volunteer-powered Clearing Weekends along the entire trail corridor.”

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In some areas of the trial, nearly three feet of snow also covers the ground, making travel even in snowshoes difficult.

For more information on the association or trail conditions go to superiorhiking.org .

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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