Entry Point 74 - Snowbank Lake Trail / Kekekabic Trail (West)
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Entry Point: Snowbank Lake/Kekekabic Trail #74 Last Visited: September 4, 2016
Maps: Fisher F-10, F-31; McKenzie #9 Daily Quota: Unlimited
Fire History:
Nearest Ranger Station: Kawishiwi Ranger Station, Ely, MN on MN Hwy. 1
Portage Length from Parking Lot: None Restroom at Entry Point: No.

Entry Point 74 - Snowbank Lake Trail / Kekekabic Trail (West)

Kawishiwi Ranger District

From Ely, Minnesota, BWCA Entry Point 74 is about 21 miles. Drive 19.5 miles east on the Fernberg Trail (aka Highway 169) until you reach Snowbank Lake Road. Turn left and continue for 1.5 miles to the entry point parking lot which will be on your left. Note that the Kekekabic Trail (heading east) starts on the right side of the road, across the road from the parking lot. The entry point for Snowbank Lake is just a bit further down the road.

This entry point is for both the Snowbank Lake Trail and the west terminus of the Kekekabic Trail. The Snowbank Lake Trail is a loop trail circumnavigating Snowbank Lake. The Kekekabic is a linear trail that has its eastern terminus on the Gunflint Trail about 42 miles away. On the otherside of the Gunflint Trail (literally across the road), is the west terminus of the Border Route Trail. That trail continues another 65 miles east until it connects to the Superior Hiking Trail. So from this point it is possible to hike across the BWCA over to Lake Superior and down the North Shore to Duluth and eventually to the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, a distance of about 415 miles. Note that the Kekekabic Trail is now part of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST). The Border Route Trail and the Superior Hiking Trail are also part of the NCNST.

The Kekekabic Trail Club maintains both of these trails (the Snowbank Lake Trail and the Kekekabic Trail). They also publish an excellent trail guide for the Kekekabic Trail. For more information check out their website.

Another blowdown occurred on July 21, 2016 which will require some serious trail clearing effort to make both of these trails functional again. As of summer 2019, the Kekekabic Trail is fully open. The Snowbank Lake Trail still has some rough sections and am not certain of its overall condition. The Snowbank Lake Trail receives rather minimal maintenance in general, so it is always challenging.

Exploring the Entry Point

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Snowbank Lake Trail 1
Sign for Snowbank Lake entry point and the Snowbank Lake Trail entry point seen along the Fernberg Trail. The west terminus of the Kekekabic Trail also is located at the same place as the Snowbank Lake Trailhead.


Snowbank Lake Trail 2
Another sign along Snowbank Lake Road showing the turn off to the parking lot for the trailheads.


Snowbank Lake Trail 3
The parking lot is visible on the far left of your view. The Snowbank Lake Trail begins just to the left of those two signs. The Kekekabic Trail starts/ends just to the right, out of your view directly across the road from that faintly visible sign posted to the birch tree near the right side of your vision.


Snowbank Lake Trail 4
The parking lot where your car will hang out while you hike. It will usually have some company.


Snowbank Lake Trail 5
There are two bulletin boards at this entry point. The one on the left is the usual board you see at every BWCA entry point. The board on the right is a nice map and description of the Kekekabic Trail. The Snowbank Lake Trail starts just to the left of these two signs (you can see small sign in background). Notice that even at the start of the trail, it is relatively hard to see it. These hiking trails aren't like portages; they are often more overgrown and difficult to follow. There are blazes on the trees to help you follow the path. Also you can look for sawn trees as they are along the sides of the trail because of past trail clearing efforts. Bring a map and a GPS/compass if you plan to hike. The Kekekabic Trail starts across the road from this parking lot.


Snowbank Lake Trail 6
Sign showing "The Kek". You're standing on the very left side of this map by the Fernberg Rd. The trail ends on the right side of the map at the Gunflint Trail. After you walk across the Gunflint Trail, you can continue east along the Border Route Trail.


The Beginning of the Snowbank Lake Trail - heading in the direction around west side of Snowbank Lake


Perhaps 20 feet in from the parking lot is this sign post with a blue blaze attached. The trail is also visible.


Walking from Start of the Kekekabic Trail (West end) to Beginning of the Snowbank Lake Trail which starts in the Parking Lot


The Beginning of the Kekekabic ("The Kek") Trail -- (This is the west end of the trail - from here you head east)

Snowbank Lake Trail 7
This sign is just past the entrance to the parking lot. The Kekekabic Trail which runs conterminously with the Snowbank Lake Trail is on the right side of the road from this vantage point. From this point it is about 42 miles to the east end of the Kekekabic Trail which ends at the Gunflint Trail (which is really a road - Cook County Road 12 in fact).



This is what the beginning of the Kekekabic Trail looks like while standing on the Snowbank Lake Road. As you can see there is a blue blaze and a yellow sign beneath it. The yellow sign is a warning that the trail is in bad shape. Really bad shape. In Summer 2016 a severe blowdown impacted the area and the Kekekabic Trail was nearly impassable. That broken tree fell right into the middle of the trail. Update: As of 2019 things are improved and the trail is in good enough shape for hiking.


Snowbank Lake Trail 8
A look back across Snowbank Lake Road while standing about 10 feet down the Kekekabic Trail. The parking lot entrance is on the far left of your view. The sign for "Kekekabic Trail" is faintly visible in profile toward the right of your view.

Now that you've reached the trailhead, start hiking the: KEKEKABIC TRAIL or the SNOWBANK LAKE TRAIL

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