Favorable early-season weather means planning for spring events

ATV rides, DNR programs provide unique opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts

Jesse White via  Mesabi Daily News 

Considering how much snow fell this winter, I figured for sure we were in for a long, cold spring and while anything can happen in April when it comes to weather patterns, the long range forecast looks pretty good.

So now that the snowmobiles are put away it’s time to start planning some spring and summer fun in the backwoods of Minnesota.


Off road

For those who like it dusty and dirty, it’s time to get the ATVs and Side by Sides ready to rock.

I know some of you never put the ATVs away (I’m looking at you Northern Traxx guys and gals) but for the rest of us, there is a separation of seasons.

Kind of.

I still use my Ranger in the winter but for plowing so that doesn’t really count as fun time.

But now the plow is off and I’m looking forward to getting into the woods. My first big ride will probably come on May 4 during the Quad Cities ATV Club spring ride.

This will be the third annual spring ride, each attracting more riders than the year before. This year’s event starts at 9 a.m. at the Britt Lounge. The actual route is yet to be determined but knowing the Quad Cities members, it’ll be a good one.

Anyone can participate, member or not, but I would suggest if you like riding ATVs and you like the idea of reaching just about any city or location via a trail or designated route, you might want to consider signing up for a membership to help support the group’s efforts.

A family membership is only $30 a year and individual membership is $25. If you want to get even further involved the group meets the first Wednesday of every month upstairs at the Sawmill in Mountain Iron to discuss various issues and initiatives – like expanding riding opportunities.

Recently the club drafted a resolution to the All Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota (the leading ATV lobbying organization in St. Paul at the legislation level) at the annual meeting to leverage $1.9 million for the next two years for several local projects including:

• Opening seven miles of trail north of Virginia to the Britt area utilizing improvements to existing trails and also legal county roads.

• Creating 10 miles of trail to connect Gilbert to Giants Ridge.

• Creating two miles of trail from the Pfeifer Lake Road to County Road 361.

The request includes construction, trail improvements, and labor. According to the club newsletter, the monies will come from the MN ATV Dedicated Fund, which is generated through gas taxes and ATV registration fees.

The work would connect Quad Cities Club trails to other local club trails like the Prospector Loop ATV Club in Ely, the Voyageur Club in the Crane Lake, Cook and Orr areas, and the Northern Traxx trail near Chisholm.

The group also applied for an IRRRB grant in order to finish the process of connecting Virginia to Gilbert and Eveleth heading south across the Highway 53 bridge. A trail connecting Gilbert to the bridge is slated to be finished this spring.

According to the club, recent accomplishments include working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the US Forest Service to successfully connect Forest Road 257/Big Aspen Trails to the Taconite Trail west to Highway 53.

For more information about the club or to join, you can visit their web site, www.quadcitiesatv.com and click the download the membership form.

The website also has ride details, updates, and a list of some board members and contact information. The club also has a page on Facebook and be reached by email at quadcitiesatv@gmail.com or by U. S. Mail at PO box 83 Virginia, MN, 55792.


The “I Can!” Program

For those looking for a quieter way to spend some time in in the wild a new program administered by officials from Minnesota’s state parks and trails branch might be just what you’re looking for.

The program is called “I Can!” and offers participants the chance to learn the outdoor skills necessary to take an overnight canoe camping trip. According to DNR officials, the overnight adventure trip is one of many summer programs available for beginners of all ages who want to learn to camp, paddle, mountain bike and fish.

Participants on the overnight trip will paddle down the St. Croix River to a riverside campsite, learning canoeing skills along the way. After a night of camping on the river, participants will paddle a few miles downriver to St. Croix State Park where the outdoor adventure will come to an end.

“Our goal is to make it easy for busy families to discover the fun of spending time outdoors together,” said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR Parks and Trails Division said in a news release this week. “We provide all the gear, along with friendly instructors who can show you how to use it.”

Registrations for the “I Can Paddle! Canoe Camping” program and other classes are being taken now.

Programs start in June and continue through August.

They include:

• I Can Paddle! Canoe Camping – Learn how to plan for an overnight canoe camping trip. Meals and the use of canoeing and camping equipment are included. Participants must be at least 10 years of age; children under age 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian ($85 for the overnight program; up to two people per canoe).

• I Can Camp! – Develop or refine fire starting and camp cooking skills. Sleep on comfortable air mattresses in tents large enough to accommodate two adults and up to three children ($60 for one-night programs or $85 for two-night programs).

• I Can Paddle! – Get out on the water for a sea kayaking adventure on Lake Superior ($35 for ages 12-18, $45 for adults) or a guided canoeing or kayaking trip on a Minnesota lake or river (prices vary).

• I Can Mountain Bike! – Learn riding techniques and explore mountain bike trails with guides from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Club ($15 for ages 10-15, $25/adults).

• I Can Fish! – Experience the fun of casting into the water and the excitement when there’s a tug on the line ($7/person, children under age 12 are free).

The “I Can! ” series also includes the Archery in the Parks programs, which are free. No reservations are needed.

For more information about the programs—including dates, times, locations, and minimum age requirements—visit mndnr.gov/ican or contact the DNR Information Center at info. dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

To register for an event, visit mndnr.gov/reservations or call 866-857-2757 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, except holidays).

The “I Can!” series is made possible with funding from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the three-eighths of one percent sales tax revenue from the Legacy Amendment. Revenue to the Parks and Trails Fund may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

According to the DNR, the I Can! programs received a Government Innovation Award in 2015. Nearly 18,000 people have participated in these programs since they were first offered in 2010.