Our Stories

Crews finish their hard work to restore the Kekekabic Trail

Categories: Trail Maintenance, Volunteer Stories


Recently, a significant downfall was cut from across the Kekekabic Trail, an unofficial portion of the NCNST within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern MN.

It was the last tree that fell across the western 15 miles of the Kek during last summer’s very strong windstorms to be cut.  These storms left the Kek virtually impassable as thousands of trees were uprooted or snapped off and piled up on top of the trail.

Can you spot where the Trail goes?


Trail…what trail?

This spring, the Kekekabic Trail Chapter and Superior National Forest mobilized a volunteer army to pick up where volunteer crews and U.S. Forest Service staff completed their clearing last October.  Our spring crews included:

  • A crew of 7 volunteers led by Derrick Passe that worked on the Kek during the first week of May. They endured wind and snow to clear the first mile into the wilderness, providing a path of egress for subsequent work crews camping on Parent Lake.
  • A long weekend trip led by Mark Stange of the Kekekabic Trail Chapter that worked in the Parent Lake area on the Snowbank Lake Trail.
  • A four week-long CASP crew that was led by Derrick Passe of the Kekekabic Trail Chapter. In addition to his volunteer efforts last fall, Derrick spent the entire month of May out clearing the trails.  The CASP crew worked on the Disappointment Lake Trail, the Snowbank Trail, the Becoosin-Benezie loop trail, and the Kekekabic Trail east to Thomas Pond.
  • Two American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation crews led by the NCTA’s Matthew Davis and Brian Bittner of the Forest Service.  Check out a couple photo galleries from these two crews that worked on the Disappointment Lake and Kekekabic Trails in the Disappointment Lake area. Below is a photo chronology from these crews that shows what a trail clearing trip is like:
The crews met in Ely at the Forest Service office for the project orientation, which included watching the BWCAW Leave No Trace movie.


Jamie Lowe of the Forest Service talks about the work and issues PPE


The crews get ready to depart the Boy Scout Camp for the Snowbank Lake canoe landing. Thanks to SPACE Trailers (spacetrailers.com) for lending us the trailer to haul the group’s gear.


Canoeing 101 at the landing with Jamie Lowe and Brian Bittner of the Forest Service

The two crews separately canoed into their campsites as the maximum group size in the BWCAW is 9.

Crew members set up their camps on the SE corner of Disappointment Lake

The crews enjoy a celebratory dinner in Ely after paddling out and cleaning up


A special shout out goes to Derrick Passe for volunteering hundreds of hours during the entire month of May and making a HUGE difference!

Our thanks go to Jamie Lowe, Trails & Volunteer Coordinator for the Superior National Forest’s Kawishiwi District for all of his hard work on the trails and for his logistical support and assistance. Thanks also to Brian Bittner of the Forest Service for pinch hitting as a Volunteer Vacation crew leader…you saved us!

Our thanks also go to Keith Nelson and the entire staff of the Charles S. Sommers canoe base outside of Ely for hosting the crews before we went into the BWCAW and also the night we came out.