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Trail Clearing

Trail clearing photos

The “Big Blow” on July 4, 1999 wreaked havoc on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness by toppling trees along entire ridgelines and consequently had a big impact on hiking trails in the area. The Border Route Trail has been cleared of the deadfalls related to that storm, but as a consequence of the lack of a tree canopy, brush such as Alder, Poplar, Thimble, and Raspberry thrives around and in the trail bed. And of course, trees continue to fall on the trail.

Every year in the Spring and Fall, we welcome members and non-members alike, to join us to help maintain this gem of a trail. Non-mechanized trips using two-person cross-cut saws and nippers take place on the trail where it is inside the BWCAW. Mechanized trips utilizing chain saws and brush cutters take place on the other areas of the trail. Beginners and experienced people are welcome. If you don’t like the idea of running equipment, there is always a need for people to throw the cut brush and deadfalls off of the trail.

Mechanized Trips

Mechanized trips use chain saws, power brush cutters and other tools on sections of the trail outside of the BWCAW.

Wilderness Trips

Wilderness trips use hand tools to work on the portions of the trail that are subject to the BWCA Wilderness Regulations.
The wilderness sections of the Border Route Trail run above and along several border lakes and provide spectacular overlooks to those lakes. Trail clearing consists of removing brush and downed trees and in the wilderness is done with hand tools: crosscut saws, loppers, and scythes. All paddling equipment and tools are provided. A suggested personal gear list will be provided and carpool arrangements developed after registration. Registration consists of selecting your trip, answering some basic experience questions, and reading and signing the liability waiver.


Those wanting to use two-person saws or chainsaws are required to attend a full day of Forest Service Saw Training held on a weekend in mid April every year. The Forest Service Saw Training is not a requirement for trip participation, as most trail work is done with bow saws and brush cutting tools that can be used by all volunteers.

Suggested packing list

To be posted...