Trail clearing on North Shore another example that public are future to public lands

Another spring work weekend on the Superior Hiking Trail reinforces a wider story: Some of Minnesota’s favorite footpaths are nothing without the sweat and commitment of volunteers.

The morning woke up dry and with promise. It was warming fast in the early sun, which set the North Shore’s boreal tree line in sharp relief against an almost bluebird sky. It was outdoors weather, and good thing.

In the early light and quiet of May 13, a few dozen or more people huddled up in the parking lot of the Clair Nelson community center off Hwy. 7 for the day’s instructions before grabbing maps, hard hats, loppers and hand saws. Then, in groups of four or five, they lit out for sections of the Superior Hiking Trail and almost eight hours of trail clearing.

This scene truly was the public in public land. Like the Kekekabic, Border Route and other well-known Minnesota footpaths in the region, the Superior trail survives — and thrives — on the backs of stewards like those who gathered over the course of three May weekends to help prepare it for hikers. It seems volunteer hands have never been more paramount.

All had arrived here at the behest of the Superior Hiking Association to burn their weekend clearing downed trees and brush from a section of the trail from the state’s Caribou River wayside down to Split Rock. Volunteers had cleared nearly 60 miles the previous weekend near Schroeder, and some of the same people would go on to work 56 miles near Grand Marais on Memorial Day weekend.

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