BWCA Disappointment / Old Pines Hiking Trails Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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member (7)member
04/04/2018 10:56AM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
Hi all,
I am planning a hiking trip with some buddies for the last weekend in April, the last weekend you do not need a permit, up to hopefully Disappointment / Old Pines Hiking Trails.
I have never been up there and cant find much for current info on the loop trails around Snowbank lake and Disappointment lake. I am wondering if anyone has any advice about hiking this area.

1) Is the trail head (entry point #74) easy to find, and how far is parking form

2)What kind of shape are the trails in?

3)Any other advice or tips you can give me

Thanks for any input, Have a great day
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distinguished member(8158)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
04/04/2018 02:03PM  
I suck at finding my own posts on this board but had I found it, you would have read of my worst 12 hours in the BWCA - an attempt to hike the Old Pines Loop. It was not a good half day, and it began when we lost the trail at eastern end, crossing over a dam, and not seeing trail. It may be more obvious to you, better marked/maintained, or you will simply be smarter than I and turn back instead of plowing onward into the thickest growth and trying to bushwhack back to Dissapointment Lake - half in the dark of a moonless night.

distinguished member(1710)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/04/2018 04:32PM  
I can't speak to the trailhead, but the trail itself is pretty easy to lose. My experience wasn't quite as harrowing as bc's, but that's probably due more to luck than anything (and a GPS).

I don't know if you've heard of Shug, but he's a hammocker who spends his time hiking the MN northwoods. He has a video on the trail. A quick search on Google or YouTube will bring it up.
member (7)member
04/05/2018 08:27AM  
Thanks for the info!
Shug's video was really helpful, I will have to watch some more of his stuff.

distinguished member (416)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
04/05/2018 10:36AM  
First, I have to say that I really, really like hiking the Kek. It's lightly travelled, so you can generally count on having it to yourself. Having said that, the western part really got hammered by the July 2016 blowdown. I tried hiking it the first week of May last year and the Kek portion was nearly impassable. The Snowbank trail, going the other way from the trail head had been cleared to approximately the first campsite past the Flash Lake portage and then it to became very difficult to get through the blowdown.

The trailhead is easy to find and there is plenty of parking. It is right on Snowbank Road, just before you get To Smitty's on Snowbank Resort. There is a good sized sign marking the parking lot. The beginning of the Kek is right across the road from the parking lot.

I have not been back since then, but have been told by friends that the Kek has been cleared. They did not hike the Snowbank trail, so could not tell me about it's condition. A hike over to the Old Pines trail should be fun. The last time I hiked the Old Pines Trail, it was pretty over grown and had a fair number of deadfalls across it, but was still very hikeable, but not a fast hike since there was not an easy tread to follow.

The campsites on both Medas and Moyaka Lake are nice. The Medas sit is very large and has a great rock outcrop next to the lake.

I also like hiking the Benzie/Becoosin Loop, but the last time I was through it it was also pretty overgrown and has numerous deadfalls across it.

Keep in mind that I have not hiked most of this since early 2016, so things have almost certainly changed. I do plan on getting back for a hike on the western end sometime this spring, once most of the snow is off the trail, but it sounds like you may beat me there. I'm also planning to through hike the Kek again this year, but will wait for fall to come around for that.

If you have not hiked in the BW before, keep in mind that these are what I would term minimally maintained trails that do not always have a defined tread and there is little in the way of trail markers ... generally just a few cairns and the occasional piece of flagging tape. Some of the side trails can go years before getting any trail maintenance. Since the Kek itself got some attention last year it should still be in decent shape. The side trails will probably be more challenging. Anyway if you go have fun and please post a trail report. It's a special trail and the volunteers that maintain it deserve our thanks and gratitude.
member (7)member
04/06/2018 07:47AM  
HappyHuskies: " Anyway if you go have fun and please post a trail report. It's a special trail and the volunteers that maintain it deserve our thanks and gratitude. "

Thanks for the wonderful advice! I am definitely planning on going up so i will take some notes and write up an update when I get back. not sure how far we will get because it will be a quick trip. I am extremely excited and will post after i get back.

Thanks ,
05/06/2019 12:55PM  
Did you ever hike this trail? I hiked it this past weekend, it is wet and there are lots of downed trees to climb under and over and to go around. We even hopped on the wrong trail and went around Disappointment lake which was well...disappointing given that it was 3:00pm and we needed to get to Becoosin Lake before the end of day.

Ice is still on most of the lake :) cold water to drink. 2 mosquitoes and 2 ticks.
distinguished member(5058)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
05/06/2019 02:27PM  
member (7)member
05/08/2019 08:14AM  
I did get to hike some if this beautiful frail last spring! sorry i never updated this post. We only ended up hiking in a few miles we got up there late Friday and my buddy way over packed. the trails were good hard to find in some spots and still a bit of snow that time of year. There was lots of water on the trail and a few downed trees. The grouse were drumming all night last year. I am hopefully gong to get some time to do the entire loop this fall!
10/02/2020 07:11PM  
I recall hiking the Snowbank / Old Pines trails with my dad about 40 years ago. I recall there was a stand of old white pines several hundred years old. I'm getting ready to do the hike again but I'm not sure which loops to go on. Am I recalling correctly that there was an area of very old pines, is it still standing, and which loop is it on? Thanks!
05/28/2021 05:34PM  
I found the answer to my question and I'll post it here in case others are interested. The big old pines still stand and can be found on the southern loop of the Old Pines Trail (south of Medas Lake). It is worth the hike.
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