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Superior National Forest Update - March 2, 2018

National Forest Update – March 2, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update, a round-up of everything that for the next two weeks may affect your visit to the Superior.

Thanks to Mother Nature, it’s a different world out there.  Is it too early to say if March will come in like a Lion or a Lamb?  We know February sure went out with a bang. In the past week and a half we have gotten anywhere from 8 to 30 inches of fresh snow from Silver Bay to the top of the Arrowhead and up the Gunflint Trail and more is expected early next week.  If you haven’t made time yet, it’s time to get those snowshoes or cross country skis out and hit the trails and enjoy what has been given to us.  My suggestion would be to stay on the trail, because it’s deep!  If you are one that likes to compete in a good old fashioned cross country ski and you missed signing up for the Birkebeiner last week, this Saturday, they are having the Sugar Tour ski challenge on the Sugarbush Ski trail system out of Tofte.  Meet at the Oberg Parking lot and they will take registration starting early Saturday morning.  The event begins at 10:00 and goes until 2:00 p.m.  They are offering a 5k, 8k, and 18k distance skis along with some other events for the whole family.  If you are one that prefers the motorized approach to winter recreation, the snowmobile trails are groomed perfectly for a nice, smooth ride.  With the warmer temperatures, you will be in for some great snowmobile trail riding.  The different trail groomers have been extra busy this last week keeping all of our trails in tip top shape.  Thank you so much!
If you are planning a winter camping trip, travel across lakes by ski’s or snowshoes is becoming more difficult with the amount of snow we have.  Being that the weather is warmer, overnight winter camping is picking up.  If you go, make sure you pay attention to leave no-trace camping techniques or stop in a Forest Service office or check out the BWCAW trip planner on the Forest Service website and get a refresher on what to do if you go.   

This week, the Forest was visited by a film crew that was taking footage of outdoor recreation sports on the Superior National Forest.  One of your friends or relatives may be highlighted in a National Forest commercial within the next year that spotlights the beautiful Superior National Forest.  A big thank you goes out to the Cook County Visitors Bureau for their help with this.   
For those of you traveling back roads, remember, reports from the locals on the Gunflint trail are that the moose are still hanging around the roadside and licking salt off the roads, so please travel with care.   There are probably more critters than the moose hanging out on the road.  If you have stepped off the beaten path, it’s tough moving around out there, and even tougher for them to jump over the big road banks to get back where they belong.  There is no need to race where you are going, take your time, drive slowly and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.   People have reported seeing boreal owls and great gray owls in the Forest and even in their yards.  This new snow will make dinnertime a challenge for them, so you may see more owls hanging around your bird feeders looking for an easy meal of mice.
Travel in the Forest should be pretty good, though as Minnesotans we all know that depends on the weather.  In years past, the road restrictions have gone on as early as mid-March, but as late as into the month of April.  Warmer temperatures will determine when restrictions are put in place.  At this time we have no idea how soon or how late they will occur, it will all depend on that big yellow thing in the sky.  We will also be springing our clocks ahead on March 11th so it won’t get dark so early. 

As for now, the roads are in good shape.   On the Tofte District there are no active timber sales, so there is no log truck traffic. There are a few places on the Gunflint where you may find logging activity and trucks.  Watch for hauling in the same places as the last few weeks on the Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, and Greenwood Lake Boat Access Road.  Also, for the next couple of weeks, there will also be hauling on the Homestead Road off of the Caribou Trail, and on the Caribou Trail itself.  The Homestead Road has a ski, bike, and snowmobile trail parking lot, so people accessing that facility should be cautious.  As always, be careful on the roads that are also snowmobile trails, like the Firebox Road.

Enjoy the winter, it sure looks like we will have it around at little while longer.  Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.