Hiking and Backpacking

Take the trail well-marked or blaze your own across countless square miles of steep

Hiking and Backpacking

Discover the hiker's and packpacker's paradise. Explore to your hearts delight. Take the trail well-marked or blaze your own across countless square miles of steep, forested glacial moraines, along scenic lakeshores, or through old logging towns.

Cass County is laced by hundreds of miles of trails to suit every ability, inclination and temperament. Some are graded, even paved; others require a keen sense of observation and careful map reading. Some connect our many communities, while other pass unseen for miles across untouched wilderness.

Many are located in Cass County's national treasure, the Chippewa National Forest, while others are located in our equally beautiful state forests; the Pillsbury, Foothills, Remer, Battleground, Welch Lake or Land O'Lakes, while still others are located in one of our many county forests.

Just out for a good day's exercise? Simply follow one of our many scenic backroads as it passes through some of the most beautiful landscape to be experienced anywhere in northcentral Minnesota.

Best of all, hiking is a great activity just about any time during the year (although a winter outing might require you to master the art of snowshoeing - something that might take you all of maybe...10 minutes). And, it is the perfect way to unlock our natural wonders; to view eagles and other rare bird species in their natural habitat, to watch beaver, muskrat, otter and mink swim across a quiet lake, to cross fresh-laid tracks of fox, coyote, deer or wolf, or to stalk the seasonal arrival of rare flora and fauna.

The Chippewa National Forest offers over two dozen non-motorized hiking trails liberally scattered around or close to Cass County. While many are just a few miles in length, two very scenic and longer trails, the Shingobee Recreation Trail and the County Road 50 Walking Trail, skirt the beautiful Shingobee River Valley south of Walker, often intertwining with the North Country National Scenic Trail (see below). Another gorgeous trail, the Mi-Ge-Zi, extends west and south of the Norway Beach Recreation Area on Cass Lake.

For that truly special experience, hike Cass County's segment of the transcontinental North Country National Scenic Trail, one of only two completed portions in the Midwest. Spanning over 60 miles across the most scenic portion of the lower Chippewa National Forest, the trail crosses rivers and streams, traverses lakes, wetlands and glacial moraines, and wanders wonderfully through the geologically unusual, Shingobee Recreation Area. It follows at times a fully blazed woodland path; at others, requiring a careful reading of trail markers through densely packed forest - and it connects to miles and miles of other designated forest trails.

Don't overlook the Paul Bunyan, Heartland and Soo Line Trails built along abandoned rail corridors. They offer great leisurely venues for the less agile or more physically impaired. And additional trails both designated or following miles of old logging roads provide outings of varying degree of difficulty in the state and county forest areas. A comprehensive list of designated trails is provided below. Of course, Cass County is laced with hundreds of miles of interconnecting, scenic backroads, as well, just perfect for a easy afternoon's walk or an adventurous grand rounds marathon hike.

And don't forget. Most of our trails make for some truly fabulous backroad or mountain biking. Also, Camping & RV sites, or Mid to Spring, Summer and Fall lodging accommodations are conveniently accessible to the trail of your choice. For more detailed information about available lodging, other local services, or specific local walking trails, click on the Local Information page. It is there to make it easier to contact one of our local tourist organizations or forest management agencies.

Additional portions of the Mi-Ge-Zi Trail along Pike Bay are now being cleared and will likely be ready in 2000, as will be the trail link between the Norway Beach Recreation Area and the City of Cass Lake. A 7 mile long, paved stretch of the Paul Bunyan State Recreational Trail from Lake Bemidji State Park to the City of Bemidji opened in early Fall 1997, and a portion of the Paul Bunyan Trail from Walker to Nary is scheduled for paving in 2000. Finally, the Heartland State Recreational Trail from Walker to Cass Lake is also scheduled for paving in 2000, while the connnecting link of the Paul Bunyan Trail from Hackensack through the Chippewa National Forest to Walker is scheduled for paving in 2001. In the interim, any unpaved portion of either the Heartland or Paul Bunyan Trails remains available and is highly recommended for hiking and/or wide tire/mountain biking.


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