TheKekekabic Hiking Trail can be accessed from the Gunflint Trail and from the Fernberg Road in Ely, MN. The trail meanders through remote areas in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As with most paths in the forests this trail has a story and the founder of the Kekekabic Hiking Trail Club will be telling it tonight.
The Centennial Hiking Trail follows a portion of the Kekekabic Hiking Trail and is travels along an old railway bed. There's a rich history about this trail and mining on the Gunflint Trail that will also be discussed tonight.
Today is the first day of deer hunting up here so if you do want to take a hike on the Gunflint Trail then be sure to wear blaze orange. Otherwise just plan an evening on the Gunflint Trail.
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 6, 2010
The Centennial Trail is a loop trail of 3.3 miles. It incorporates 1.2 miles of the Kekekabic Trail and connects the Port Arthur Railroad bed built in the early 1890's. After the Ham Lake Fire, several of the old mine pits and railroad beds were exposed and that's how Tom Kaffeine, USFS Forestry Technician and wilderness guru, came up with the idea of this historical trail.
8:00 pm "Kekekabic Trail from 1990 to present, 20 years of volunteer maintenance,"
by Martin Kubik, Kekekabic Trail Club Founder
The Kekekabic Trail is a 42 mile long deep wilderness trail. Built as an access trail for fire fighters in 1930’s, the trail became a recreational trail in the 1960’s. In 1980’s, the Forest Service abandoned the trail due to budget cuts. In an attempt to bring the trail back, Bill Rom, retired canoe outfitter from Ely, put up a reward of $500 to anyone who would clear the interior 20 miles in 1986.
Back then, the Kek as it is called, had between 2,000-3,000 treefalls blocking the path. In 1990, Martin Kubik recruited volunteer co-workers from 3M Company in St. Paul and together they cut a clear path between the two trailheads. Later, Martin Kubik founded the Kekekabic Trail Club and in 2002, the BWA Committee was formed to help maintain historic hiking trails.
The Kekekabic Trail remains a wilderness challenge. The 1999 storm decimated 2/3 of the trail. Following two major fires in 2006 and 2007, much of the path was burned to the rock bed and made it extremely difficult to follow even by experts. The trail gained nationwide attention in 2008 when two hikers from Duluth were lost on Kek for four days. Today, the Kekekabic trail is regenerating itself and is ready for those willing accept its challenge. It is currently maintained by several volunteer organizations working with the USDA Forest Service to keep trail over-growth in control.
Boundary Waters Advisory Committee is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserve existing, historic and intrinsically beautiful wilderness hiking trails of the BWCAW in the Superior National Forest . It accomplishes its mission by organizing trail clearing trips in cooperation with the USFS, increasing awareness about the wilderness hiking trails, and by lobbying to preserve existing trails.
located 45 miles up the Gunflint Trail out of Grand Marais
7:30 pm "History of the Centennial Trail" by Tom Kaffeine, USFS Wilderness Ranger