Big Aspen Trail

The Big Aspen Trail is 21 miles with many loop opportunities and beautiful scenic vistas. The trail is a part of old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades from the Virginia and Rainy Lake Lumber Company. It is a multi-use trail, allowing mountain bikes, ATV's, horses, and in the winter, cross-country skiers.

Downloadable information and map

At a Glance

Current Conditions: In the winter, visit for current ski trail conditions. 
Restrictions: ATVs allowed May 1st through November 20th only. Off limits to all other motorized vehicles year-round.
Closest Towns: Virginia, MN
Water: None available
Restroom: Outhouse (Vault style) at trailhead
Operated By: USDA Forest Service
Information Center: Laurentian Ranger District Email | Call | Address | Webpage

General Information


The Big Aspen Trail system is 11 miles north of Virginia, Minnesota.

  • From Virginia take Highway 53 north for 8 miles to County Road 131.

  • Turn right on County Road 131 for 1 mile.

  • Turn left on County Road 68 for 0.3 mile.

  • Go straight on Pelton Road/County Road 405 for 2 miles. (405 becomes UT 8116 )


There are 2 parking areas located:

  • 2 miles on County Road 405
  • 1.3 miles north on Forest Road 257. This lot and Forest Road #257 are not plowed in the winter.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Mountain Biking

Day Hiking

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

For cross-country skiing in winter, the Big Aspen Trail has 33 km of looped trails.  This trail is groomed for classic skiing only, so dogs, skijoring and snowshoeing are not allowed. The wide treadway is excellent for skiers of all abilities. Two Adirondack-type shelters are located along the trail. A restroom is available near the parking lot.

Access in the winter is only from the parking lot located at the junctions of County Road 405, Forest Road 257 and Forest Road 256.  Forest Roads 257 and 256 are not plowed.

Fees: None required.
Permit: No permits are necessary to ski Big Aspen Trail.
Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
21 miles (33 km of ski trails)

  Latitude : 

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