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Taconite Trail 30th Anniversary
30th Anniversary Celebration of the Taconite Trail


Contact: Megan Christianson

Phone: 218-326-9607


Taconite State Trail 30th Anniversary Celebration

February 8, 2016, Ely, Grand Rapids, and Side Lake, Minnesota - The Taconite State Trail turns 30 years old this year, and several communities along the trail will be celebrating with community and snowmobile club open houses, ribbon cuttings, a landowner appreciation dinner, vintage snowmobile rides, and kitty kat races.  Grand Rapids, Side Lake and Ely, Minnesota will all be conducting ribbon cuttings simultaneously to signify the 30th Anniversary of the Taconite State Trail.  Following the ceremony they will be hosting open houses where the public is invited to attend to help celebrate the significance of the trail to their community.

The Taconite State Trail stretches 165 miles from Grand Rapids to Ely and intersects with the Arrowhead State Trail just west of Lake Vermillion. The first 6 miles from Grand Rapids are paved for biking and in-line skating. The remainder of the natural surface trail is used primarily for snowmobiling in the winter. The trail goes through a few areas that have standing water in the summer.  Portions of the trail are suitable for horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking. 

The Taconite State Trail winds through forests of birch and aspen intertwined with pine, leading the visitor by many isolated lakes and streams. From Grand Rapids heading north, you see the impact of the taconite and iron mining industry. The northern portion of the trail terrain is rolling and tree covered as it winds through state and national forest land. Eight trail waysides and picnic facilities offer scenic vistas of the hills, lakes and rivers of this area. The trail links to state parks: Bear Head Lake, Soudan Underground Mine, and McCarthy Beach. The landscape in and around Bear Head Lake State Park is very rolling and rocky.

Retired Minnesota Department of Natural Resources staff, Les Ollila shares his recollection of the development of the Taconite State Trail. “In the early 70’s the idea of permanent long distance trails connecting communities and recreation areas was a new concept of a few visionaries.   After the success of the Taconite Trail this concept is the ideal standard for new trails 40 years later.  When we were developing the Taconite State Trail and the connecting club trails the Iron Range was in an economic slump as may be described today, trails were seen as an economic boost to the area banking on consistent snow and lots of beautiful country to explore.  Summer resorts started to winterize for snowmobilers and service businesses wanted spur trails to them.   Ski hills were having trouble keeping afloat.   The opening of this big snowmobile system (trails and services), had a huge impact on our economy.   We also boasted to have the best system in the country which brought lots of visitors here and they left saying…we had a great experience in northern Minnesota beginning with the Taconite State Trail”.

Ollila explains of all the wonderful people that greatly influenced the development of the Taconite State Trail, “Don Ledin, Don Carlson, Loren Filter, our State Representatives and Senators at the time, and Ron Potter who managed the majority of the development including acquisition, construction and maintenance.  My job was to get miles on the ground because people were expecting progress”.

For more information about the Taconite State Trail, check out the resources and additional information at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website:  For more information about Minnesota Snowmobile Clubs check out the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association website:

Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association
7040 Lakeland Avenue N., Suite 212, Brooklyn Park, MN, 55428, United States
Phone: 763-577-0185     Fax: 763-577-0186
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