Echo Bay Trail

Voyageurs National Park - Echo Bay Trail

Voyageurs, so-named for the intrepid French-Canadian trappers of old, is a largely undeveloped and inaccessible National Park in the far northern reaches of Minnesota. A patchwork of water and rock, the landscape remains nearly as wild and rugged today as it was for those who passed through some 300-years ago. At 218,200-acres, Voyageurs is larger than Zion and Arches National Parks combined…yet barely a dozen miles of road provide access to its four main entry points…Rainy River, Kabetogama Lake, Ash River, or Crane Lake. To explore the park beyond you’ll have to do as the early voyageurs did, and go by water. Arriving as we did in early-October, this meant the great interior would have to wait to be explored on another visit. This was our second day in the park and we had two trails left on the agenda. The first was located in the yet unvisited (for us) Kabetogama Lake access area of the park. Located off US-53 about 25-miles south of International Falls, Kabetogama Lake has a small visitor center (seasonal) with boat access. Also, about 3.5-miles north of the visitor center, is the hike featured in this album…the Echo Bay Trail.

The Echo Bay Trail, based on what we saw, isn’t the most popular in the park. The likely main reason being it doesn’t really lead anywhere unique…no lakes, no streams, just a simple 2.5-mile loop through the forest. I expect in the winter, when the trail becomes a cross-country ski route, it’s likely more appealing. Even so, I felt the Echo Bay Trail was a worthwhile stop. If for any other reason than that’s it’s a quick, easy hike. Anyone can do this trail. It’s also quite pretty, granted you appreciate the nuances of the Northwoods forest. Voyageurs sits directly in the transition zone between deciduous forests to the south and the great boreal forest of the north. Along the Echo Bay Trail this transition zone is obvious, with trees of both biomes represented in abundance. There’s also a nice, albeit restricted, overlook just off the loop which provides a beautiful look through the treetops at the forest and nearby marshlands.

As the Echo Bay Trail is mostly flat and a loop it doesn’t much matter which direction you should hike it. We did it in a counter-clockwise direction simply to leave the overlook until nearer the end. The trail is well-marked, wide, and easy to follow. Though in places the ferns overhang it a bit it sees just enough use to keep it clear. A marked cross-cut trail splits the loop in roughly its center also, providing the option of shortening the loop by a mile should you desire. Overall we had a wonderful time exploring this short footpath and, though it lacked the visual pzazz of other trails we visited at Voyageurs, still left us grateful to have spent some time on it. So with that, it’s my pleasure to share with you our quick jaunt around the Echo Bay Trail at Voyageurs National Park…as always, ENJOY!!

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  48.46511, -93.07450

Route Type: Loop                        Difficulty: MODERATE (Petzoldt Rating: 2.80 )

Hike Length:  2.5 miles                Hike Duration:  1:00

Trailhead Temp:  55'F                  Trail Traffic: 1-5 people 

Min. Elevation:  1,130'                    Max. Elevation:  1,230'

Total Vertical Gain:  150'              Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  60'

Trails Used (blaze color): Echo Bay Trail (unblazed)


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