ELY – The new Trailhead Complex here is starting to take shape as trees are being cleared, rocks are getting blasted, and earth is being moved at the west entrance of the city. The facility …
ELY – The new Trailhead Complex here is starting to take shape as trees are being cleared, rocks are getting blasted, and earth is being moved at the west entrance of the city. The facility will serve as a trail head for the David Dill Taconite Snowmobile Trail, Prospector Loop ATV Trail and Mesabi Trail, and will serve as a rest stop and information center for visitors.
A $1.3 million state bonding grant has enabled the city of Ely to begin the planning, engineering and site design of the facility, although additional funding that was included in this year’s bonding bill was not approved as the legislative session adjourned last Sunday without agreement on a number of major issues. That project and many others may yet be resurrected if the Legislature and Gov. Tim Walz can agree on a special session to complete a bonding package, among other items.
If approved, the funds will be used to complete roadway, water, sewer and electrical infrastructure work on the expansion at Fifth Avenue and Pattison Street, an expansion project for Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, future workforce housing projects, and redevelopment of the former city garage property.
“This is an important facet for our local economy,” Novak said.
The trailhead facility will feature a 3,400-square foot trailhead building to include cultural heritage displays, regional business and tourism attraction information, restrooms, interpretive kiosks, and changing areas. Plans are also being made to relocate the Ely Chamber of Commerce facility to the area.
The Trailhead facility will connect the 145-mile Mesabi Trail, the 165-mile Taconite Trail, and the 130-mile Prospector Loop and will include vending machines, trail maps, and varied services, along with expansive parking areas.
The Prospector Loop Alliance is working to develop an all-terrain vehicle trail system connecting Ely and other communities in the region by a designated route. This effort is a collaboration of area cities, townships and Lake and St. Louis counties.
The city of Ely is the fiscal agent for a recent grant awarded by Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation to complete construction of ATV trails in northeast Minnesota including the Prospector Loop.
“The continued development of ATV and other multi-use trails is a priority for our city to continue to expand our growing tourism economy,” Novak said.
The Taconite Snowmobile trail is a state corridor trail maintained by the Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Parks and Trails. The local snowmobile club maintains the Tomahawk trail.
Mesabi Trail officials are working on the final sections of trail alignment to complete the trail route from Ely to Grand Rapids. The Ely City Council and town of Morse recently approved the final alignments. City officials are working closely with the St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Railroad Authority on the trail connections and the development of the trailhead facility.
“This will be another great asset for our region to attract visitors and drive economic development and additional recreation opportunities,” Novak said.