FKT: Alexander Falconer - Snowbank Lake Loops (MN) - 2020-08-29

Route variation
Snowbank-Old Pines
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
8h 48m 59s
GPS track(s)

This is the conclusion of establishing the Snowbank Loop series. This one adds an extra 11 miles to the Snowbank Loop. I ran counter clockwise so starts on the Kekekabic Trail headed east. It passes the Snowbank turn, then the Disappointment Turn until the trail winds between Moiyaka and Medas Lakes. The turn is a little hard to find but it is marked by a characteristic "sign" that's a carved log propped up by rocks. You'll know it when you see it. Hang a left and head north toward Alworth Lake and you're now on the Old Pines loop. 

This section of the forest was left alone during the logging days early last century. I have un-verified stories from locals that a logging recession hit and the crews pretty much just dropped everything and apparently never came back. I did come by some old rusty logging equipment - but if it's close to 100 years old I couldn't tell. Regardless, the is an area of old growth red and white pines that live up to the hype. They're 300-400 year old trees and running amongst these sentinels of the forest is run through history. 

This section is also the most remote of all the segments of the Snowbank series. Definitely less traveled though still easy enough to follow. Lots of trees down to scramble over, fairly bushy making finding your footing hard, and the characteristic constant up and down, scramble over boulders characteristic of the Boundary Waters. It's a grind but worth it. It catches up with the Disappointment trail which until this one, I considered the most remote. So back to back remote, thick, difficult trail finally winds back to the Snowbank trail at the Boot Lake portage.

Water refills are easy along the lakes and at the Boot Lake portage at the rapids you'll have to cross (there's a log bridge laid down) and then along Snowbank again.

As with the other runs, the northern side of Snowbank is exposed granite and you'll prob get lost here and there. Just follow the cairns and have fun scrambling up and down the cliffs and over beaver dams. 

Western side of snowbank is a beautiful run through the Red Pines and Black Spruce stands with several sections right along Snowbank and eventually gets back to the trail head.

I'm doing these runs as a way to highlight the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining to the Wilderness. On this run took a break for about 45 minutes to shoot some videos asking Senator Tina Smith to introduce legislation as well as calling congressional offices asking for protection. There's cell service in this area making communication with the outside world possible. Please do what you can to Save the Boundary Waters and advocate for protections against sulfide-ore mining. to learn more.

Have a great run everybody. These trails are truly unique and special.