Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Blue Ox Trail between International Falls and Littlefork

Today, and one week ago today, I had opportunities to bicycle parts of the Blue Ox Trail between International Falls and Littlefork, Minnesota. The Blue Ox Trail is used primarily by snowmobiles in the winter and ATVs in the summer. Here are accounts of how my rides went on each of these days.

May 2, 2017

Today I got my bicycle ready after a long rest period over the winter. Surprisingly, there wasn't much to do as the tires held their air stowed away in the garage. I pulled out of the garage and rode the alley and roads to Kerry Park and the start of the Blue Ox Trail behind the Holiday gas station.
Blue Ox Trail
Signs of spring abound along the trail. There are lots of catkins on trees and shrubs
and frogs call from every puddle and wetland along the trail (of which there are many). Even the tamaracks are starting to leaf out.
tamarack needles

The ride was pretty uneventful. I found a few railroad spikes on the trail,
RR spike
reminders of the trails previous use as a rail line. There were lots of views across wetlands off to the side of the trail,
looking across wetland
and even a few beaver ponds here and there.
beaver dam
I rode to the point where a branch trail splits off and heads to Loman, Minnesota.
turnaround point
I took a rest in the warm sun at the junction, then turned around and headed back to International Falls. Along the way I passed the skeletons of 3 deer together along the side of the trail,
deer skeletons
along with some deer legs that had been deliberately arranged on the trail. It was decidedly strange.

May 9, 2017

For the second part of my ride on the Blue Ox Trail, I drove to Littlefork to start. I had a difficult time actually finding the trail in Littlefork. Eventually I followed County Road 22 and found the trail, a two track headed northeast.
trail near Littlefork
Soon enough the trail traversed some wetlands. There was a striking view of a slow flowing stream from a bridge.
winding stream
corridor 37
Almost immediately after crossing the bridge the trail was covered with small rocks, the type of which you typically see holding railroad ties in place. The stones made for slow and bumpy riding.
riding trail
However, the stones were nothing compared to the water.
riding wet trail
 In fact, the trail soon became a long shallow pond that was unrideable,
wet trail
and I was forced to turn around. I took a short break on the bridge
resting at bridge
and shortly thereafter I was back at the car. I'm not sure how long the wet section extends, but just from the look of it, it appears to go on for at least a half-mile. I'm not sure I will give the ride another try.

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