Superior Hiking Trail volunteer and Cook County resident Jim Shinners honored at appreciation ceremony
Kalli Hawkins
Outdoor News

Superior Hiking Trail volunteer and Cook County resident Jim Shinners honored at appreciation ceremony

As the hiking and trail maintenance season comes to an end, trail associations along the North Shore are hosting appreciation dinners and recognizing the efforts of committed volunteers. 

The Superior Hiking Trail recently held a volunteer appreciation event in Grand Marais on Nov. 9 at the Community Center Log Cabin. During the event, the Superior Hiking Trail Association celebrated another successful year and honored a Cook County resident and long-time volunteer. 

Jim Shinners was appropriately honored with the ‘Trail Maintainer’ award, which honors volunteers who have demonstrated exceptional dedication or achievements during a three-year period or more in maintaining or restoring pre-existing Superior Hiking Trail segments. 

“Jim is always just showing up for anything,” Lisa Luokkala, the Superior Hiking Trail Association executive director, said in a recent interview with WTIP. “We often call on him for some of the extra kind of complicated stuff. He seems to really like to take on a challenge.”

Shinners has volunteered with the Superior Hiking Trail for many years and, in the summer, can frequently be found roaming the trails surrounding Pincushion and beyond with a chainsaw and orange hard hat. His dedication continues into winter as he helps maintain trails via snowmobile or sled. “He’s very positive and has a great attitude towards the work. We’re just so grateful for Jim,” Luokkala said. 

Shinners recognition as ‘Trail Maintainer’ reached far beyond the Community Center Log Cabin and 310 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail. On Sept. 28, the North Country Trail Association, which stretches from North Dakota to Vermont, recognized the volunteer efforts of Shinners at an annual event in Chesteron, New York. The Superior Hiking Trail joined the North Country National Scenic Trail in 2019, contributing 310 miles to the 4,800-mile trail. The Superior Hiking Trail intersects with the North Country Trail south of Duluth and traverses north along the North Shore. 

Annually, the North Country Trail Association acknowledges and appreciates volunteers’ outstanding service to the organization and its affiliate trails during the annual event. Shinners was among four other Superior Hiking Trail Association volunteers honored for their efforts. 

“Jim is extremely dedicated, dependable, and easy to work with,” Tamer Ibrahim, the trail operations director for the Superior Hiking Trail, said in a recent statement. “He is a great mentor and example to newer volunteers. We are truly fortunate to have him in our community.”

While Shinner’s volunteer efforts are one for the record books, so are the overall volunteer hours received by Superior Hiking Trail volunteers in 2023. This year, the Superior Hiking Trail Association tallied over 8800 volunteer hours.

“That is another record-breaking year for us,” Luokkala said. “A big shout out to you all. Thank you so much for taking good care of the trail.”

WTIP spoke with Lisa Luokkala, the executive director of the Superior Hiking Trail, for an end-of-the-summer update. Audio from the interview is below.