The Lake County Board of Commissioners had several discussions regarding ATV, dirt bike and hiking trails during the action meeting Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Proposed ATV route
Seth Christenson, a representative of the Wild Country ATV Club based in Two Harbors, visited with commissioners Oct. 15 at the Committee of the Whole meeting in Silver Creek to request designation of Bailey Road for ATV use to connect the Wild Country Trail to Kane and Marble lakes.
The proposed route would much of the trail that already exists as a forest road, as well as a section of County Road 2. Christenson claimed the move was being blocked by the county forestry department.
County Administrator Matt Huddleston raised the issue of the proposed trail again this week, having discussed it further with forestry.
“The big concern is that it’s a logging road. It has a lot of logging traffic on it,” Huddleston said. “It is already allowed to have ATVs on it and some locals do use it. But the issue is if we let it be designated as part of the trail, then it will see more use by people who might not know what to look for and how to use it safely.”
Huddleston also suggested a few alternate routes to connect to Kane and Marble Lakes, both of which would require more trail building, but less traffic.
“I’d suggest meeting with them, giving them the pros and cons of each of the options,” said commissioner Rick Goutermont. “Then letting them see where they want to run.”
A new dirt bike trail
Land Commissioner Nate Eide presented the board with a proposed a single-track dirt bike trail off the Alger Grade snowmobile trail parking lot area.
“There’s a group out of Duluth who are into dirt bikes riding single-track trails. So picture a mountain bike trail, but they’re using dirt bikes,” Eide said. “It’s essentially twisty-turvy route trails through the woods that don’t really have to be constructed because the dirt bikes don’t care; they just go over mostly everything. It’s very low-speed technical riding.”
A member of the Duluth group has flagged out a proposed path that is about to go through the conditional use permit process. Eide didn’t have the exact number of miles that the proposed trail would cover, but said “there’s a lot of county acres in that neck of the woods to play around with.”
“One of the benefits of this kind of trail is that it doesn’t involve much construction, just clearing of brush,” Eide said. “It’s fairly ridgy, fairly rocky and that’s just what they’re looking for.”
The board wasn’t being asked to take action on the trail on Tuesday but might in the future.
Hiking trail parking overflow
During the Committe of the Whole meeting in Little Marais on Sept. 17, several residents addressed the board with concerns about the Superior Hiking Trail parking lot on County Road 5. Whenever there have been large events on the trail or heavy use weekends throughout the summer, the community members reported several vehicles parking along both sides of the road causing low visibility and safety concerns.
Huddleston said he followed up with the Highway Department following the meeting to see if the county-owned property adjacent to the lot and could offer to help alleviate the parking issue with more lot space. Unfortunately, the land surrounding the lot is state school trust land and instead requires permission from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
However, Huddleston reported the Superior Hiking Trail Association is already in talks with the DNR about the issue.
“I suggest we let the Superior Hiking Trail move forward. I do want to make sure they’re looking at doing something that alleviates our concerns as well as giving themselves more parking area for the trail,” Huddleston said.
Commissioner Goutermont agreed, adding that the county’s involvement may move the state to move more rapidly to resolve the issue. Huddleston agreed to discuss things further with the SHTA and DNR.