Northwoods ATV Trails

M-F | 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
502 Minnesota Ave N, Aitkin, MN
Chris Johnson / Recreation Specialist

ATV Trails are now open for use May 15th to October 31st 2024 unless posted.

Aitkin County Northwoods ATV Trails

What is the Aitkin County Northwoods ATV Trail; The Northwoods ATV Trail is actually a system of trails that are accessed from various places along the Soo-Line Trail. All told, Aitkin County alone has 207 miles of connected, maintained ATV Trails as part of the greater Northwoods ATV Trails System.

  •  Soo Line Trial; This trail is the abandoned Soo Rail Line entering the Southern part of Aitkin County near Mill Lacs Lake traveling Northwesterly through Aitkin County. The Soo Line serves as the “Backbone” of the Northwoods ATV Trails System, allowing the rider to travel through the county to reach destinations along the trail such as lodging, food and fuel as well as the trail loops and connectors. As the backbone, the following trails in the County are all accessed to or from the Soo Line.

    • Red Top Trail; accessed from the Soo Line in the old community of Red Top. The Red Top is approximately 25 miles with a skills challenge among the several loops. The Red Top trail can be accessed from the Snake River Campground in the McGrath Area in Southern Aitkin County

    • Solana Forest Loop; accessed off the Soo Line north of the City of McGrath. A narrower, winding trail through the beautiful Solana State Forrest, approximately 19 miles in length.

    • Lawler Loop, North and South; accessed from the Soo Line in the community of Lawler, each loop features a variety of terrain and forest types, picnic areas are on each loop, approximately 16 miles between the 2 loops.

    • Blind Lake Loop and Connector Trail; the Blind Lake Trail is a 15 mile trail featuring the Blind Lake Shelter. Trail head is near Blind Lake, 8 miles North of Aitkin. From the Blind Lake Loop, the Soo Line can be accessed by the Blind Lake Connector near Swatara. The Blind Lake Connector is an additional 20 miles and features the Willow River Bridge crossing and picnic area.

    • Hill City Connector; departs from the Soo Line near Swatara to Hill City and Quadna Mountain and is approximately 15 miles. In the Quadna Mountain portion, the trail traverses the steep hills and hardwood forests with picnic and rest areas. Trail can also be accessed at the Quadna Mountain Resort and Convention Center. Hill City Connector joins the Rabey Line Trail near Hill City.

    • Rabey Line Trail, UPM Blandin Trail and the Goodland Connector; from the Hill City Connector you access the Rabey Line in Hill City and then can access the 20 mile UPM Blandin Trail near Washburn Lake. Traveling further East to Jacobson, the 20 mile Rabey Line Trail connects to the Jacobson Campground and the Jacobson.

    • Moose River Connector; accessed from the Soo Line North of Swatara. The Moose River Connector travels into Cass County to connect to the Cass County, Ben Draper ATV Trail. Connector and trails are approximately 35 miles.

Features; The Northwoods ATV Trail System is a Family Touring Trail with limited “mudding” type of opportunities. The system is made up of multiple linking trails encompassing an area the size of the State of Delaware. Great care was taken in the design and constructions of the trail system to take advantage of Aitkin County’s Scenic Beauty yet have a low impact on our environment. Some of these features include;

  • Scenic trails, the 207 miles of trail the rider will traverse in Aitkin County will cover virtually any type of land and forest types found in Northern Minnesota. Pine and Hardwood forests as well as lowlands, with environmentally sensitive crossings, rolling hills and meadows.

  • Wildlife, with the variety of land features covered by the trail, one would expect to and will encounter a similar variety of wildlife. Numerous types of Plants and fauna as well as Deer, Grouse, Bear, Moose, Fox, Coyotes, small mammals and songbirds can be seen along the trail.

  • Low Impact, in constructing over 75 miles of new trails and converting over 130 miles of existing forest roads and rail grades, less than one-half acre of wetlands were disturbed.

    • Construction techniques included the use of geo-blocks and puncheons to cross over wetlands rather than disturbing them. The wood on the puncheons and tread ways where locally sourced.

    • Winter construction was utilized almost exclusively to avoid rutting and damage to plant life. Materials were stockpiled at remote areas during the winter to avoid rutting.

    • For all but less than one mile of trail, the Aitkin County Northwoods ATV Trail System is on public lands.

  • Histories, all along the Soo Line Trail in Aitkin County are old town sites from communities from the bygone Railroad Era, look for the interpretive signage for Bain, Shovel Lake and others.

  • All Riders, the Aitkin County Northwoods ATV Trail System was universally designed for all riders to give a variety of riding experiences.

  • Geo Caching, the Aitkin County Northwoods ATV Trail System has a number of geo cache sites along the trail. Many are sponsored by the Trail Towns, find coupons and if you find them all, get your card verified and receive an Aitkin County Naturally Bird and Wildlife Trail Guide.

Trail Towns; The Aitkin County Trail Towns of McGrath, Lawler, McGregor, Palisade, Hill City and Jacobson welcome you to the Aitkin County Northwoods ATV Trail System. From trail heads and parking lots located in the Trail Town communities you find marked routes to establishments offering food, fuel and other amenities.

  • McGrath; Hwy 65 South, located on the Soo Line. McGrath is an old logging town founded by James E. McGrath, and is home to the White Pine Logging and Threshing Show.

  • Lawler; Aitkin County Roads 16 and 13, located on the Soo Line and near the North and South Lawler Loops, Jackson’s Hole in the old town site of Lawler has food and fuel available.

  • McGregor; Hwy 65 and Hwy 210, located on the Soo Line. An old Rail Road Town and home to Big Sandy Lake. Food, Fuel and Lodging are available and accessible from the trail.

  • Palisade; Aitkin County Roads 3 and 5, on the Soo Line. Palisade is located on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi and the old rail road bridge over the Mississippi is now part of the trail. The trail runs along Berglund Park with camping and shower facilities.

  • Hill City; Hwy’s 169 and 200 on the Rabey Line and Hill City Connector Trails. Sprawled along beautiful Hill Lake. The Municipal campground has all facilities, Quadna Mountain Resort is located in Hill City and offers amenities and a 9 Hole Golf Course.

  • Jacobson; Hwy’s 65 and 200 on the Rabey Line. Also located on the Mississippi River, you can access the Jacobson Campground which has two Camper Cabins as well regular camping. Food and Fuel is easily accessible.

page last modified on October 09, 2023