Oberholzer Trail Highlight; Voyageurs Winter Ice and Trail Conditions Report - Feb. 4, 2015

Grab a pair of snowshoes and experience the 2 mile round-trip Oberholtzer Trail. Visitors to the park often hike this trail in summer due to its convenient location - near the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. In winter, the ice and snow cover creates a completely different trail experience. Oberholzer Trail in Winter

The Oberholtzer Trail was named after conservationist Ernest Oberholtzer, who lived not far from the doors of the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. Ober (as he was known) built his home on Mallard Island in 1915. Years earlier, Ober met an Ojibwe Indian guide - Billy Magee and became fast friends. They traveled, by canoe, thousands of miles throughout the area and into Ontario, Canada.

American explorer, author and conservationist Ernest Oberholtzer (right) with dog Skippy and Ojibwe trapper and guide Billy Maggie (left) holding cabbage.

After years of travel with his Ojibwe companion, Ober realized the area should be set aside for all to enjoy and spearheaded a movement to stop dam development in the region. Oberholtzer’s persistence led to the passage of the Shipstead-Newton-Nolan Act in 1930. This legislation, based largely on Ober’s alternative plan for the region, prohibited the changing of water levels in the Superior National Forest. It was the first legislation ever passed by the U.S. Congress that mandated wilderness values on federal lands.

Ober and the many other conservationists, with whom he worked, were successful in setting aside nearly three million acres of wilderness known today as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Many of his fellow conservationists would later help establish Voyageurs National Park.

After enjoying the Oberholtzer Trail, if you need a little more adventure, snowshoe across landscapes under water spring, summer, and fall; trek across frozen wetlands, across lake ice, and around the nearby islands for a unique winter view. On Saturdays, starting February 7, join a ranger to explore these different frozen landscapes, the history the snow shrouds, and the wildlife that adapts, survives, and thrives, during northern Minnesota’s winters.

The park has a variety of snowshoes styles and snowshoe sizes for all ages to enjoy. They are free-of-charge (donations welcome) and can be checked-out at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center Wednesdays through Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The most up to date winter trail conditions are available at www.nps.gov/voya.

Snowmobile Trails

Pressure ridges, places lake ice has buckled or heaved due to winds or currents, have developed both on and off designated snowmobile trails within Voyageurs National Park. Pressure ridges have settled down but will continue to be monitored. Slush conditions have gotten better with the lower temperatures but pockets of slush exist off the trails. Trails are rerouted as hazards are found, but visitors are encouraged to check each pressure ridge prior to crossing due to changing conditions.

  • International Falls to Kettle Falls (Purple Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed
  • Rainy Lake/Black Bay to Kabetogama Lake to Ash River (Green Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed
  • Ash River to Crane Lake (Green Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed
  • Chain of Lakes (Dashed Black Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed
  • Ash River to Kettle Falls (Yellow Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed
  • East Namakan Lake to Sand Point Lake (Blue Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed

Ice Roads

  • Rainy Lake Ice Road – Open to Cranberry Bay and around Dryweed Island
  • Kabetogama Lake Ice Road – Open

Ski Trails

  • Echo Bay Ski Trail – Open, packed, and tracked
  • Black Bay Ski Trail – Open, packed, and tracked – Pine Loop rocky in places.
  • Tilson Connector Trail – Open, packed, and tracked
  • KabAsh Trail – Open

Snowshoe Trails

  • Black Bay Beaver Pond Trail – Open, not packed
  • Blind Ash Bay Trail – Open, not packed
  • Oberholtzer Trail – Open, not packed
  • Sullivan Bay Trail – Open, not packed

Need to borrow cross-country skis or snowshoes? They're available at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center.