Forest Service seeks group to maintain PowWow Trail

The Superior National Forest is looking for an organized volunteer group to adopt or maintain a section of the Powwow Trail located in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

The Powwow Trail was heavily impacted by the 2011 Pagami Creek Wildfire. Vigorous regrowth of vegetation and falling dead trees have thwarted efforts to keep the trail cleared following the fire. The Forest Service, partners, and volunteers have dedicated more resources to the Powwow Trail than to any other long distance hiking trail on the Forest in recent years. This includes a concerted effort by Forest Service and Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa crews that totaled more than 2,445 work hours in 2012 and 1,280 work hours in 2015.

All of these combined efforts have yet to re-establish a recognizable tread in most locations around the trail.

Therefore, the Forest Service has decided not to invest further effort at this time in maintaining the entire trail but is inviting a volunteer group to adopt or maintain the six-mile section of trail from the trailhead near Isabella Lake to Pose Lake. The volunteer group would be expected to maintain the six-mile section of trail twice a year, clearing fallen trees and clearing brush with the use of primitive (non-mechanized) tools.

Efforts to clear the trail in this area are more likely to be successful over the next 10 years because vegetative regrowth is less vigorous than along most other sections of the trail. This effort would provide a hiking opportunity for visitors on a portion of the Powwow Trail in the short term. If a group does not volunteer to maintain the six-mile section, the entire 29-mile trail will remain unmaintained.

While the rest of the Powwow Trail route will officially remain open to the public, hikers are cautioned to anticipate many hazards. The trail is nearly impossible to follow without navigational aids and exceptional way-finding skills. There is little-to-no shade since all of the mature trees burned in the Pagami Fire and many remain as standing, dead snags that continue to fall across the trail.

Forest Service crews have re-established the campsite at Pose Lake with a fire grate and backcountry latrine and the Forest Service will consider maintaining other segments of the trail if volunteers are fully successful at maintaining the segment from the trailhead to Pose Lake.

Trail maintenance will continue to be difficult until more burned trees fall down and the tree canopy closes, shading out the undergrowth. This is expected to occur in another 10 to 20 years. The Forest Service will post a map at the trailhead and sign the junctions to notify hikers of the trail section that is maintained, if any, and the part that is not maintained. Current information, including a GPS track log, will also be available on-line, in the Recreation-Hiking section of the Superior National Forest web page, at

Historically, hiking trails on the Superior National Forest have been maintained primarily through the dedication of volunteer partner groups. Their contributions have helped to provide opportunities for the American public to access and enjoy their national forest and their efforts are greatly appreciated. Volunteer groups wishing to help maintain the Powwow Trail from the trailhead near Isabella Lake to Pose Lake can contact Anna Botner at 218-387-3200.


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