Trails don’t just happen

LutsenThe Lutsen Trailbreakers have come a long way since the nonprofit organization was formed in 1983.

Old-timers remember the early days of North Shore snowmobiling in the 60s when 8-, 10-, and 12-horse Ski-Doos made their way across lakes and even to Ely past Dorothy Molter’s cabin, where she served soup and her famous root beer. Others will remember the first trails that went over lakes and into the brush with just enough room between trees, taking turns breaking trail, getting stuck—no reverse then, right?—and having picnics where ever you got to an opening and a view.

In the late 60s and early 70s, Lutsen residents and friends got together to plan for trail rides and needed trail work. Fred Schmidt Sr. created the club emblem with the current name. It features a snowmobile and a moose on a snowy trail through the woods. When Leo Tschieda became the president, trails were laid out. As an attorney, he saw the need to become a nonprofit as well and the bylaws were created. About 60 miles of trails were first built and maintained. Mike Rose has said that USFS or DNR personnel were often just ahead of his equipment putting in markers to guide the trail building.

Some trail portions are available to ATV’s and others to bikers; all trails are open to hikers. The vistas and the variety of trails are exceptional. The Lutsen Trailbreakers have built bridges, two shelters, moved a “retired” fire truck garage to act as a groomer building, and added signs to ensure safe travel on the now 51 plus miles of trails for visitors and residents. Who does this work? The club members. We are always open to have others join us in this effort. Writing and receiving grants and grant-in-aid provides funding, but there is always sweat equity in maintaining trails. The old-timers who put hours into opening these trails are to be commended because they often did not use heavy equipment. Chain saws and a tractor maybe; definitely muscle power. A recent MN USA quote said, “Snow happens. Trails don’t.” We—the Lutsen Trailbreakers—hope you join us in the work and the fun. Our plan this year is to ride each second and fourth Thursday together, starting from the groomer building on Caribou Trail.

One special event is our third annual Blast from the Past Vintage Ride, which will take place tentatively on February 24 at Cascade Lodge. Riders of all ages and machines of all ages enjoy either a short route or a longer 20-mile ride out and back to the Lodge. Even if you don’t ride or don’t have an “old” sled, you will enjoy seeing these vintage models and the folks who ride them.

Lutsen Trailbreakers are just one of the clubs in Cook County. Maps are available each year so riders can find their way between them and along the state trail. What isn’t seen is the work done each year so that all can enjoy.
—Sharon Hexum Platzer