The City of Ely is continuing to plan and develop a Trailhead Complex on the entrance to Ely on Highway #169. This facility will serve as a trail head for the David Dill Taconite Snowmobile Trail, Prospector’s Loop ATV Trail and Mesabi Trail. The facility will also function as a rest stop and tourist information center for visitors. To that end, in 2018, the City / EEDA applied for and received a state bonding award from the State of Minnesota for $1,300,000 to begin the planning, engineering and site design of the facility.
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The multi-faceted Ely Trailhead facility features an estimated 3,400 square foot trailhead building. The four season facility is planned to include cultural heritage displays, regional business and tourism attraction information, ADA restrooms, interpretive kiosks, and changing areas. The Trailhead facility will serve to interconnect the 145-Mile Mesabi Trail, the 165-Mile Taconite Trail, and the 130-Mile Prospectors Loop with vending machines, trail maps, and varied services.
It is anticipated that construction would start in early 2021. The West End Redevelopment District portion of the project will include roadway and utility extension and will also allow for the potential of future workforce housing, and the redevelopment of the old city garage property. This portion of the project is a multi-acre piece of property that could be developed for housing and commercial use. A concept map (above) shows the planned redevelopment.
The Prospectors Loop Alliance is working to develop an all terrain vehicle trail system connecting Ely and many other communities in the region by a designated route. This effort is a collaboration of all area cities, townships and Lake and St. Louis County. The City of Ely is the fiscal agent for a grant recently secured from the IRRRB to complete construction of ATV trails in north east Minnesota including the Prospector’s Loop. The continued development of ATV and other multi use trails is a priority for the City of Ely to continue to expand our growing tourism economy.
The Taconite Snowmobile Trail is also a significant economic and recreation resource for the businesses and citizens of the region. The Taconite Snowmobile trail is a State corridor trail maintained by the DNR, and the Division of Parks and Trails with an office in Tower, MN. In addition the local snowmobile club maintains the Tomahawk trail.
The Mesabi Trail is also working on the final sections of trail alignment to complete the trail route from Ely to Grand Rapids. The Ely City Council and Town of Morse recently approved the final alignments to complete the trail to Ely. We are working closely with the Director of the St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Railroad Authority on the trail connections and the development of the trailhead facility. This will be another great asset for the region to attract additional visitors and drive economic development investment and additional recreation opportunities.
The continued development of ATV and other multi-use (such as downhill biking) trails is an ongoing priority for the City of Ely. The expansion of our tourism seasons is a high priority of the EEDA.
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