Cave · Views
All types of use except a car are allowed on the trail, and "dispersed" camping is permitted in Minnesota State Forests, though the site does feature a primitive campground. Standard state forest rules apply regarding firewood gathering, alcohol consumption, and foraging - typically "just for me, just for today" uses are fine, but anything beyond that requires a permit with MNDNR.
The best advice for those trying to run the straight loop echoes Prefontaine: Run Fast, Turn Left. Prefontaining will ensure you stay on the outer loop and not get turned around on the connector or spur trails.
While the trail is pretty wide in most places, this is an ATV/Dirtbike trail and riders can zip along pretty fast. Respect their hobby, and they'll respect yours; try not to be in the way and pay attention around corners or to vehicles approaching from behind.
This is a really fun run, but don't expect a transcendent natural experience - this is more for trail runners wanting to feel like a mountain bike for a day.
The Snake Creek Management Unit of Minnesota's Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest features a long and winding trail system through forested hills, open prairies, and the occasional crop ground.
The trail system has two access points, both off gravel roads accessed via Hwy 61. One is off of 608th Street and one is off of T-152 (with a primitive campground). There is excellent signage directing users to the unit off of Hwy 61.
The trail purportedly has a 13.5-mile loop, though it is a tad confusing as the "loop" also includes a lollipop on the west end, and several spur trails which can lead unwary users astray. Most of the junctions have a map with an icon marking "you are here," and for the most part they are accurate. A few, however, do NOT have the icon, which means users can spend a lot of time trying to figure out their location. When in doubt, staying to the left will keep you on the outer loop.
Using this strategy from the EAST access, the trail climbs steeply through the first few tenths of a mile over cobbly dirt before topping out into a forest/prairie area. The trail lopes enjoyably through rolling terrain. The trail snakes back on itself quite a bit in the first few miles, and meets several junctions: remember to turn left unless the goal is to get turned around.
On the south end, the trail straightens out as it travels through a gorgeous pine stand; a few wet spots stand out amongst the otherwise dry, rutty, and rooty dirt path.
The stretch of pines is fairly long, and ends in a T-junction: THIS IS THE MOST CONFUSING SECTION. A left turn here will take users out to the lollipop, the end of which is roughly the loop's halfway point. A nice vista provided by powerline right of way tells you you're on this section - it's the only "wow" view on the trail.
After the lollipop, continue back along a track running parallel to the pine stand. The next left is a gravel road with "no motorized vehicles allowed;" this route will take users down across a creek and dump them out on a T-152, which can be followed back to the campground.
To stay on the dirt, skip this turn and resume to the left. The trail descends steeply to the northern side and flattens out again, before climbing back to the starting point. Once oriented, it becomes easier to take advantage of the multitude of spurs and connectors - but be warned, they're steep!
Flora & Fauna
Two and four-stroke engines, mostly!
Shared By: Kenny Slocum