Those same two heavy snow storms in December that packed a punch and caused personal property damage throughout the Northland has also affected a popular outdoor trail.  The Superior Hiking Trail Association is reporting that similar damage has occurred on the Superior Hiking Trail that runs along the North Shore.

Since the storms, the 300-mile corridor has been littered with downed trees and crisscrossed vegetation, making navigation difficult if not impossible in some stretches.

And it potentially might not be getting better any time soon.

An article in the Superior Telegram [paywall] shares the message from the Superior Hiking Trail Association:

"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.  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."

The news might come as a surprise to some people; many might wrongly believe that the Superior Hiking Trail was cleared of downed trees, like many area snowmobile and cross-country sk trails were. The difference comes due to access and volunteer help.  Some of those trails are more easily accessed by "heavy equipment like groomers that can move trees and shuttle people in with chainsaws".  That's not the case with the Superior Hiking Trail, where "cleanup crews have had to hike in with saws to do the work, making the effort slower going".

The deep snowpack is also a concern.  "In some areas of the trail, nearly three feet of snow also covers the ground, making travel even in snowshoes difficult".

While the trail association has cleared some parts of the route, others remain untouched.  For the time being, it's an "as-needed" basis.  But again, most of the 300 miles will remain the way they are until later in the spring.  Lisa Luokkala, Executive Director of the Superior Hiking Trail Association shares:

"Cook County was hit pretty hard.  We had a crew out this past week clearing a very popular section of the Superior Hiking Trail from Pincushion to County Road 53.  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 impassable and is being addressed.  For the safety of our staff and volunteers, most clearing will need to wait until Spring when Superior Hiking Trail organizes large volunteer-powered Clearing Weekends along the entire trail corridor."

You can get updates and learn more about the Superior Hiking Trail and the Superior Hiking Trail Association on their website.

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