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Bear Island State Forest


St. Louis, Lake


Acres: 157,814

State Forest Map

Motor Vehicle/OHV Classification: Limited

Approved Firewood Vendors

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•Bear Island State Forest is adjacent to the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters Canoe Area and surrounded by the towns of Ely, Babbitt, Tower, and Soudan.

• Bear Island State Forest is home to Bear Island Lake, a large, sprawling lake sandwiched between the Vermilion and Mesabi ranges. The lake is full of arms, points, and islands, not to mention a healthy supply of walleyes. The 2,351-acre lake has three accesses, two at the northeastern corner and one on the southwestern shore.

•The forest is largely white and red pine, balsam fir, white spruce, and aspen-birch with rolling topography. Several small lakes dot the landscape along scenic trails.

More about this forest

Visitor Alert:

Due to wet and warm conditions, forest roads and trails are deteriorating rapidly this spring. Many roads and trails are not firm enough to support vehicle traffic without being damaged. The temporary closures could remain in effect until sometime in May, depending on weather conditions. Note: not all roads and trails in a particular forest may be closed. Check the forest roads closures and OHV trail closures web pages before venturing out. Signs may be posted before web pages are updated. Obey all signs.

Bear Island State Forest at a glance...



Canoe / Kayak



Picnic Area

Picnic Shelters


Cross-Country Skiing


10 Miles Mountain Biking

15 Miles Snowmobiling

Attention Trail Users:

Most roads and trails are open to mountain bikes unless posted.

Temp Forest Road / OHV Closures

Special features

• Taconite State Trail
• Bear Head Lake State Park
• Soudan Underground Mine State Park