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ATV friendly Koochiching County, Minnesota.

Updated on August 22, 2012

There are hundred of miles of trails to explore here!

Koochiching County has vast tracts of public lands that allow for off highway riding whether on an ATV or OHV. Remember, safe and responsible riding is essential to expanding opportunities for the sport. ATV rides can include spots to watch for wildlife, pick blueberries or hike to historic or scenic points of interest. It's great fun and a growing sport and I hope this lens will show you why our International Falls area truly is Minnesota's Vacation Paradise.

The brochure to the left shows trails, forerstry and county roads where it is legal to ride ATV's. If you would like a copy, contact me, Pete Schultz at cvb@rainylake.org and I will get one in the mail for you. Better yet, stop by the Convention and Visitors Bureau office at 301 2nd Ave. in International Falls and browse through all of our brochures and publications.

Blue Ox Trailhead
Blue Ox Trailhead

Start Here!

The Blue Ox Trail is a mulitiple use recreation trail that Starts in International Falls and heads southwest. The trail could be considered the major conduit to bring you to many, many trails and areas to explore. You will find gas, food and other services available about every 20 miles or so on this main artery. As you come across other forestry roads and trails, you may find some that are gated or marked closed to ATV travel in order to protect the road beds, please respect those closures. The roads were constructed and are maintained to allow for harvest of wood for the timber industries, and we like to keep our county residents working.

Larry Koch Group of ATV riders.
Larry Koch Group of ATV riders.
Larry Koch group passes through Littlefork
Larry Koch group passes through Littlefork

Or, end here?

We like to think this is the beginning of the trail, but for Larry Koch, Ken Nelson, Rick Thompson and Greg Olson of Burnett County Wisconsin, this was the end. The group rode 347 miles on designated trails from their home to the Canadian Border to show it could be done and help promote safe and responsible trail riding. They completed the three day journey in the afternoon of June 12, 2012 and posed at the trailhead sign for a group photo. They picked up two other riders, local guides Bill Larson and Lyle Larson, along the way.

riding
riding

Bill Larson met the group near Cass Lake to escort them north to Bemidji and then rode along to Big Falls, where they met Lyle Larson (no relation) who led the group from there to International Falls. Thanks Lyle and Bill. The group emphasized the benefit of the growing recreation to small town economies situated along the trails systems.

Larry Koch presents Wisconsin Chees to IFPD
Larry Koch presents Wisconsin Chees to IFPD

Who wouldn't like some Wisconsin cheese?

Here, Larry presents International Falls Police Department Captain Tom Lynch with a box of Wisconsin Cheese, the police department met Koch and his group to provide a safe escort to the Canadian border. The point of their trip was to show that could be done.

Mayor Mason presents key to the city
Mayor Mason presents key to the city
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Or, a key to the city?

After reaching the border area, the group posed at the Welcome to Minnesota sign that greets visitors from Canada. At that time, International Falls Mayor Shawn Mason presented Larry and the group with a key to the city, and they in return, provided another box of cheese from Wisconsin. Incidentally, the cheese was a variety of Edam that was creamy and flavorful, and processed in their home county in Wisconsin.

What else is there?

What can you see touring Koochiching county and the area on an ATV? Keep scrolling down!

Cascades on the Big Fork River

Cascades on the Big Fork River
Cascades on the Big Fork River

History display at Big Falls

History display at Big Falls
History display at Big Falls

Big Water at Big Falls

The cascades on the Big Fork River are always worth a look, there are hiking trails all around the cascades providing great views and photo opportunities. While you are in Big Falls, check out the Killifer Fire Plow, Holt Crawler and statue of Uncle Dan Campbell at the intersection of US 71, Minnesota 6 and County 31.

Keuffner's Landing, Big Fork River
Keuffner's Landing, Big Fork River

Picnic Areas

There are all sorts of county or municipal parks where you could stop for a picnic, and most offer great views of one of the rivers or smaller lakes in the area. This is Keuffner's Landing on the Big Fork River between Big Falls and Lindford off of County Road 13.

Not far from Koochiching County, in the Chippewa National Forest, you can visit a truly unique point of interest, and you will say the trip was worth it! While the Lost 40 is not really lost, it is remote.

Hiking Trail

Hiking Trail
Hiking Trail

Fall Colors

Fall Colors
Fall Colors

Things You Might See! - Click to Enlarge and Rotate

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Smallpox Camp forest roadGlove LakeMargieLittlefork Next!Blazin Tree?Hay ManBronco BusterChipmunkLittle American FallsBlue Ox Trail heading north from Littlefork.
Smallpox Camp forest road
Smallpox Camp forest road
Glove Lake
Glove Lake
Margie
Margie
Littlefork Next!
Littlefork Next!
Blazin Tree?
Blazin Tree?
Hay Man
Hay Man
Bronco Buster
Bronco Buster
Chipmunk
Chipmunk
Little American Falls
Little American Falls
Blue Ox Trail heading north from Littlefork.
Blue Ox Trail heading north from Littlefork.

Do You Know Where This Is?

Do You Know Where This Is?
Do You Know Where This Is?

Minnesota's Champion Red Pine

Minnesota's Champion Red Pine
Minnesota's Champion Red Pine
east gemmell ridge road
east gemmell ridge road

There are rules

Riders on County Maintained roadways must stay on the extreme right hand side of the road, making left turns across the road only if it is safe. You may not ride on the inside slope, ditch bottom or outside slope of the right of way. You must comply with all state, federal or local restrictions. You may not exceed 20 miles per hour on county maintained roads and you may not operate an ATV on the designated Bike Trail between International Falls and Ranier. All Minnnesota Off-Highway regulations apply, and using an ATV in wetlands is against the law.

ATV riders at Northome
ATV riders at Northome

It's a growing form of recreation

There will be an estimated half-million ATV riders in Minnesota by 2020 according to the ATV Association of Minnesota, and that means we will all be looking for well marked, safe trails to ride and enjoy. Ride safely and responsibly to preserve the opportunities we now have and to gain support for future trails.

Are you a rider?

ATV trail riding
ATV trail riding

Can we all get along?

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      Pete Schultz 3 years ago

      @Pete Schultz: Lynn,

      There are a lot of great things to see and do in northern Minnesota, as you know. I wish I had time to set up lenses for all the great trips I've been able to make in the Arrowhead. Thanks for the comment.

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      Pete Schultz 3 years ago

      @atvaccess: That's true, and there's a wide variety of forest types providing lots of different shades of gold, red, brown and orange. Want more information on ATV riding here, contact me at cvb@rainylake.org

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      atvaccess 3 years ago

      ATVs are a great way to see all of the great colors provided in the fall by mother nature.

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      Sharyn Read 4 years ago from ... either in the kitchen or at my laptop...

      Would love to come and see that red pine!

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      julieannbrady 4 years ago

      Smallpox Camp? That sounds like a fun place to visit! Seriously, never been on an ATV and would love to give one a ride some day!

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      floppypoppygift1 4 years ago

      I have never met anyone from MN I didn't like. Great lens! Cheers~cb