Welcome to the Itasca Moraine Chapter’s website!


An Itasca Moraine Chapter work crew on the Trail

An Itasca Moraine Chapter work crew on the Trail

About our trail segment:

The Itasca Moraine Chapter covers 75 miles of the North Country Trail in Minnesota between Cass Co. 125 within the Chippewa National Forest and a point within Itasca State Park defined as the intersection of the Eagle Scout (NCT host trail) and Nicollet Trails. This boundary was established commensurate with the establishment of the Laurentian Lakes Chapter.  Check out an interactive map of our trail segment.  For more info on our activities, visit our Meetup group.

ITM Chapter Map

Itasca Moraine Chapter area map

The chapter’s neighbor to the west is the Laurentian Lakes Chapter and to the east is the Star of the North Chapter. If you plan to hike or hunt sections of the Itasca Moraine Chapter trail within the Chippewa National Forest, within the Paul Bunyan State Forest, and/or Itasca State Park and have questions about the trail, please E-mail.  Learn more about our Chapter’s history.

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Source of the Chapter Name:

The chapter took its name from the Itasca Moraine, which is the dominant landform over which the trail will traverse. Itasca is an end moraine, formed when the Wadena Lobe stopped moving southward and began its retreat at the end of the Wisconsinan glaciation which took place 75,000 to 10,000 years before the present. An end moraine is an irregular, hilly deposit of till at the ice margin or toe of the ice sheet. Often a huge chunk of ice, buried by debris, becomes isolated from the glacier. It then slowly melts, and leaves a collapsed pit of debris. This is called a kettle or ice-block, which often becomes a kettle lake when conditions are right. Along the margins of the glacier, wet sediment collects, then settles and slumps, forming hummocks and uneven terrain. A chain of lakes often forms along these glacial margins. This moraine has a very irregular surface with large numbers of depressions without surface drainage.

The Itasca Moraine contains many scattered small kettle lakes and a chain of lakes called the Gulch Lakes lies along its northern border. The topography is very hilly, providing some challenging hiking and excellent vistas. The Itasca Moraine is surrounded by pitted outwash plains that have excessively drained soils. As a result, its vegetation was subject to regularly recurring fires that originated on the outwash plains, and it became dominated by fire-dependent plant communities containing upland conifers or aspen and paper birch. The present forest contains much more aspen and paper birch than prior to European immigrant settlement. The elevation ranges from 1,100 to 1,890 feet (335 to 576 m)

Source of the Word “Itasca”
The headwaters of the Mississippi proved elusive to early explorers. There were many attempts that ended in failure. Those failures were due to in large part to the unique terrain formed by the impact of several major overlapping glaciers that covered this area over a period of 2.5 billion years.  For more on the headwaters, visit Wisconsin NCTA volunteer John Lindquist’s page.

In 1832, An Anishanabe guide Ozawindib guided explorer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft to the source of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca, now part of Itasca State Park. It was on this journey that Schoolcraft, with the help of an educated missionary companion (William Thurston Boutwell), created the name Itasca from the Latin words for “truth” and “head” by linking adjoining syllables: verITAS CAput, meaning “true head.”

Chapter Saying:

I have been told that when we walk the land our breath falls to the earth and in that place we are remembered always. Therefore, on a certain fragrant day, I considered all who had climbed these hills before me, stepped through fallen leaves and walked beneath the pine. I thought of those who were coming, too. Surely they will remember that our living breath has fallen in this place and cannot be removed from our good and ancient land.” .. Anne M Dunn (Anishanaabe Ojibwe Grandmother Story-teller)

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