When local resident Carol Booth got involved with planning a new trail near Lake Vermilion in 2010, she knew it was going to be a long-term project. “One of the first things I did was make calls…and found it’s not uncommon to take 10 years to get a trail started,” she says.
Technically, by that point the trail idea was already 30 years old; it was back in the 1980s that resort owners with the Lake Vermilion Resort Association first proposed the trail. But it was one of those good ideas that sat on the shelf. With increased interest in rounding out the destination status of Lake Vermilion, beyond just its superior fishing reputation, it seemed like a good time to dust off the trail idea and give it some legs.
Booth, who was a recently retired planner with the Forest Service, along with a handful of local volunteers formed the Lake Vermilion Trail Work Group.
The Group’s momentum quickly grew and by 2011 they had a 25-page conceptual plan. Prepared by the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC), a planning organization focused on northeastern Minnesota, this plan was an important step in building community support. A couple years later, with the help of two grants, they hired a consultant, who mapped out preferred alignments for selected segments of the trail.
Then in 2017, with the help of the National Parks Service, they made the major step of forming a Joint Powers Board to manage the trail. “Making that decision was one of the most important things we’ve done,” says Booth. It was no small feat to convince five townships, two cities and the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa tribal government to all agree to work together in building and managing the trail. It’s perhaps the largest such board in the nation.
The Trail Work Group plans to work closely with the newly formed board. Booth says volunteers are needed more than ever to help with everything from fundraising to flagging proposed routes. With a tailwind at their backs, it’s looking like this group has momentum.