Bass Lake Trail

Ely, Minnesota 55731

Bass Lake Trail

Bass Lake Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Bass Lake is a spectacular recreation area that offers day hiking, overnight camping, canoeing, swimming, fishing, and snowshoeing. The hike circumnavigates the lake and covers a variety of terrain, traversing an old lakebed, streams, waterfalls, rocky overlooks, and sandy beaches. More than a beautiful hike, Bass Lake is unique in its geology, history, and ecology. Its story unfolds as you follow the trail.

Bass Lake underwent a major transformation in the spring of 1925. At that time Bass Lake and nearby Low Lake were separated by a large glacial ridge that held Bass Lake 60 feet higher than Low Lake. A logging company cut into this natural dam, which had stood for thousands of years, to make a sluiceway that enabled the movement of logs downstream from Bass to Low, and on to the Range River. In the spring of 1925 the ridge gave way, and Bass Lake drained at a phenomenal

Bass Lake Trail Reviews

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The trail was a little overgrown in spots and at times, hard to follow. The beauty of the area more than made up for that. We made our trip a week or two early to hit the peak of the fall colors but, it was well worth the time and effort. The trail does have a couple of difficult spots where the trail is steep. There is an option early in the trail to go either right or left around the lake. I reccomend going left at that point. The most difficult part of the trail is that way and I feel it is better to tackle that part early than late. Also, it is easier to go up that section and to go down it. There are a couple of other trails off of the main trail. We went to 5.25 mile trail around Bass Lake. Next time I go, I will take the 3 mile Dry Lake Trail. This is a very beautiful part of Northern Minnesota and I reccomend the Bass Lake Trail. Again, it is a little overgorwn in spots and does have a couple of difficult steep areas.
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Easy trail at the start, then begins gradual climb to the top of a ridge which opens up to a high view of the lake. After moving through the forest you begin to move down to the area where the gravel dam failed in 1925. This is a wide flat sand area. Good place to sit and ponder. Moving around to the North side of the lake you again start up into the woods where much of the trail is over rock outcroppings. Many good high views of the lake. The trail meanders in an out of the woods along the lake and eventually comes down through a gulley which has a little water fall into the lake. This little falls is visible from the heights on the other side of the lake. After going through some rough areas the trail levels out and follows the contours back to the trail head. Most notable thing about this area is the history of the 1925 natural dam break. This information is detailed at the trail head. I was carrying a 25# ruck and was able to do this trail in about three hours. I didn't spend much time sitting around. I met or passed six other souls on the trail. The leaves were just starting to turn, but there was plenty of color. I saw no wildlife other than a few Turkey Buzzards flying around. Nice trek..I would recommend it.

Bass Lake Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
2.5 hours
Year-round; used by snowshoers in winter
Season & Limits
1,455 feet
Trailhead Elevation
1,490 feet
Top Elevation
U.S. Forest Service, Kawishiwi Ranger District, Ely, MN; (218) 365-7600;
Local Contacts
USGS Ely, Shagawa Lake
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018