Volunteers begin clearing downed trees from Superior Hiking Trail near Two Harbors
Kalli Hawkins
Outdoor News

Volunteers begin clearing downed trees from Superior Hiking Trail near Two Harbors

Many trail-clearing crews and volunteers in northeastern Minnesota have their work cut out for them this spring and summer. 

The severe weather experienced this past winter, particularly the high wind event in Dec. 2022 in Cook County, has led to many trees snapping or uprooting across much of the Northland region. 

On Dec. 23, sustained 60 mph winds lasted nearly 48 hours in areas of Cook County. The Grand Marais harbor recorded wind gusts at 74 miles an hour during the intense storm. Many other areas encountered similar high wind gusts.

Cook County and other Northland regions again experienced high wind gusts reaching 50 mph in early May, leading to more downed trees and debris. 

While there remains plenty of snow and ice along many northern sections of the Superior Hiking Trail, volunteers have begun clearing small sections of the trail surrounding Two Harbors. 

“Our volunteers have been busy,” Lisa Luokkala, the executive director of the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA), said. Many volunteers spent this past weekend clearing trees south of Two Harbors. Before taking to the trails with chainsaws in hand, the SHTA hosted a work party that included a hearty breakfast for volunteers. 

Luokkala said after the long day of clearing, she received reports from the volunteers that they encountered plenty of snow and ice on the trail. In many spots, people were post-holing in knee or thigh-deep snow in some sections. 

Despite the lingering snow conditions, volunteers will continue moving northward to clear trails. Volunteers will continue clearing efforts this weekend, May 13-14, surrounding Finland. 

“Our volunteers have been busy already and will continue to be as we cut a lot of debris and, you know, fallen trees down from the trail,” Luokkala said. 

At this time, volunteers in Grand Marais have begun scouting the trails near Pincushion and clearing efforts will begin this week. 

As the SHTA prepares for the upcoming busy summer season, it is happy to announce a recent collaboration with local Grand Marais artist Betsy Bowen. Luokkala said the SHTA has partnered with signature artists along the North Shore in the past and is “so happy to collaborate with such an iconic North Shore artist” in 2023. Bowen’s collaborative designs are available in prints, greeting cards, and apparel. 

WTIP’s Mark Abrahamson spoke with Lisa Luokkala, the executive director of the SHTA, for an update on trail conditions and more. Audio from the interview is below.