The Crow Wing County (Minn.) Board has approved development of a Portage Lake Trail, a modern version of the portage and water-based trail American Indians used as a route from the Mississippi River to Lake Mille Lacs.
The planned trail is designed to give present-day canoeists and kayakers an understanding of area’s history, provide outdoor recreation and protect the natural environment, the Brainerd Dispatch reported.
‘‘The long-range goal is to connect up to five miles of water travel and portages from the Mississippi River to Mahnomen and Turner lakes,’’ the county reported. ‘‘This water trail and portage route is a locally historic travel route used by Native Americans and trappers over 300 years ago to travel by water from the Mississippi River to Mille Lacs Lake.’’
Jack McAllister, 86, of Riverton, Minn., ran across references to the trail from a survey document when he bought his Riverton property in 1999 and researched the trail, ultimately compiling information for a booklet. He said the trail was probably important for the local American Indian villages, including one on June Lake as they traveled to Long Prairie in the fall to hunt buffalo and elk and return to the woods in the spring.
‘‘It is the only portage that links the Mississippi to the (Cuyuna Range State) Recreation Area and it’s just about forgotten to history,’’ McAllister said, noting it would have been lost to development. While all-terrain vehicles and bike trails get a lot of support, the portage trail has been more of an effort by one.
‘‘If you don’t keep on it, it gets forgotten again,’’ McAllister said.