Ely Minnesota Trail Conditions & Winter Fishing Report

Trail Report for 01/14/2021

Snow Depth – 4-16” inches


GENERAL INFORMATION: The area has not received much for new snow, and the warm weather over the last couple days has caused the snow to settle/disappear a little bit more. However, crews have been able to groom certain parts of the Arrowhead and Taconite a 2nd and 3rd time and were able to do a first groom through the swamp/thin ice sections that were too unstable last week. Portions of trail going through swamps, e.g., Lost Lake swamp on the Arrowhead, are generally smoother and less rocky than upland portions. Please use caution while riding, slow down, and stay to the right.


There is active logging happening on a number of spots throughout the Grant-in-Aid and State Trail system. Please slow down and give trucks and logging equipment space. No Motorized Vehicles other than snowmobiles are allowed on State Trails or Grant-in-Aid snowmobile trails.


Area Trails:

The Tomahawk has been groomed once towards the North shore as there is a little more snow at the North Shore side with more grooming in that area. Mud lake is now staked which completes the Ely Area for stakes. The trail between White Iron Lake and Birch Lake has been groomed. The trail from Birch to Babbitt’s trail has also been groomed. Most lakes have some slush except by the stakes where it is packed and frozen.


Arrowhead State Trail

The Arrowhead State trail is the backbone to an extensive Grant-in-Aid trail system that travels through remote areas.


Snowmobiling: Condition-Poor to Fair Trail – Groomed; Base – 0-2”

The entire Arrowhead State Trail has been groomed and is in poor to fair condition. Much of the trail has been panned only due to rocks and lack of a good base. Novak Rd/Elephant Lake Rd Jct. south to the Orr South GIA trail got its first groom on January 12. Conditions are rough especially south of the Crane Lake Road due to ledge rock outcrops throughout the trail. There is active logging at numerous locations throughout the trail. Please maintain awareness and caution at all times while riding.


Bearhead Lake State Park

Skiing: Condition – Fair Trails – Partially Groomed; Base – 2-4”

Snowmobiling: Condition – Fair; Trails – Groomed; Base 2”

TRAIL CONDITIONS: The Taconite Trail in Bear Head Lake State Park was groomed on December 24 and is in fair condition with some areas of debris under the large pines. Cross Country ski track was set in the campground and Beach Trail and is in good condition. More snow is needed to set track on Norberg Loop.


Bearhead State Park trails provide rolling topography through birch and pine stands.  You may see a variety of wildlife ranging from deer, wolves, ruffed grouse, and pine martens.  You can snowshoe anywhere in Minnesota’s state parks and recreation areas, except on trails that are specifically groomed for another activity, such as snowmobiling or skiing.


Lake Vermilion – Soudan Underground Mine State Park

Snowmobiling: Condition – Poor Trails – Not Groomed; Base – 0”

TRAIL CONDITIONS:  Trails have been groomed once and will be groomed again when we get more snow. The park trails are open, but snowmobile travel is not recommended. 


The park has 5 miles of snowmobile trails that connects from the Taconite State Trail to the Lake Vermilion ice trail.  The ride takes you through old growth pines and young aspen forests with large wetland complexes to view along the way.  You can snowshoe anywhere in Minnesota’s state parks and recreation areas, except on trails that are specifically groomed for another activity, such as snowmobiling or skiing.


Putnam/Fishing Lakes – Bear Island State Forest

Snowmobiling: Condition – Poor to Fair; Trails –Partially Groomed; Base 0-1”

The Putnam and Fishing Lakes Trails traverse forested, rolling topography through birch, ash, and pine stands.  Several small lakes dot the landscape along these scenic trails. 

TRAIL CONDITIONS:  The trail remains ungroomed due to impassable swamps (thin ice) and insufficient snow (this trail needs more snow initially due to rocks and topography). Crews are planning on checking ice January 13 and grooming the trail if possible.

Taconite State Trail

Snowmobiling: Condition – Poor to Fair Trails –Groomed; Base 0-2”

Taconite State Trail stretches one hundred sixty-five miles from Grand Rapids to Ely through many scenic vistas of rolling hillsides, lakes, rivers and forest.

TRAIL CONDITIONS: The entire Taconite between Ely and Side Lake has been groomed and is in poor to fair condition. Trail base is thin, so watch for rocks and bumps in uplands and spruce swamps. Rocks are prevalent especially between Hwy 53 and 73 and also between Ely and the Babbitt Spur trail. Lehtinen Creek to the Wolf Track got its first groom January 12, is in fair condition.


Taconite Spur West - Not groomed

Taconite Spur North - Not groomed

Stony Spur East – Not groomed



Babbitt Golf Course: is groomed for skate and classic skiing and in great condition. 


Birch Lake Plantation is still waiting for a few more inches of snow before grooming because of a thin base.  Some trails are skier groomed.


North Arm Trails

Skiing: Dogs and skijoring are allowed on these trails.  Dog sleds would find it difficult to negotiate most of the trails.  If you are using dogs, please leave no trace by picking up dog litter and any remains of food or bedding materials.  Try to avoid ski tracks, and repair tracks melted out by dog droppings.


Ski Trail Conditions: The North Arm Trails are skier tracked, but there is not quite enough coverage yet to machine groom. Rocks and roots still exposed in some places.


Hidden ValleyTrails will be groomed prior to January 14 ski meet and again after the forecasted snow.



Trezona - is multi use, so there may be walkers and other users which can cause the conditions to break down faster. Not much snow in the forecast, but trails are in good shape


 Fishing Report 01/14/2021 (Arrowhead Outdoors)

Walleye - Walleye fishing has remained slow overall this last week. Fish seem to be there one night and then gone the next. Anglers continue to find them in 18-25 feet of water, off points, sunken islands and transition areas. Deadsticking a lively minnow was the top producer last week, but loud buckshot spoons and Rippin’ raps are calling them in.


Lake Trout - Lake trout fishing was a little slow overall, but there were stories of some excellent fishing happening out there. Anglers caught trout along weed lines to 40 feet of water, but the 40-foot range was the most productive. Tube jigs were the most popular way to catch trout, but lying dead baits on the bottom was also very productive. Deep water, close to shallow flats seemed to be the most productive areas to find active lakers.


Pike - Pike remained fairly active again this last week, with a few fish well over 40 inches being reported. Large suckers or smelt fished under a tip up, along weed lines or rocky points was very productive for anglers. Depths ranged from 10-25 feet of water.



Panfish - Crappie and sunfish anglers reported a consistent bite this last week. Anglers found active fish in 20-30 feet of water. Small jigs tipped with wax worms were very effective on sunnies, while small jigs tipped with a crappie minnow were more effective on crappies sitting in the basin.


More information on area events can be found by visiting our website at http://www.ely.org/mn/events

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