Special Sponsored Section
Gitchi-Gami State Trail
Along the North Shore of Lake Superior
Distance: For the 2007 season, 20 paved miles in five segments. The longest sections are 13 miles from Gooseberry Falls State Park to Beaver Bay, and 3 miles between Schroeder and Tofte.
Description: Biking this trail is an excellent way to enjoy Minnesota’s North Shore, with dramatic views of the big lake. Some of the trail runs parallel to Highway 61, and other parts of the trail travel through state parks on hilly terrain. One spur leads to the tourist attraction of Split Rock Lighthouse. The stretch from Schroeder to Tofte crosses the scenic Temperance River State Park, offering views of Carlton Peak. Stop and hike to the gorgeous Temperance River gorge.
Between Grand Rapids and Ely
Distance: At present, the three longest paved sections: Grand Rapids to Taconite, 13 miles; Nashwauk to McKinley, 50 miles, plus a 4 mile spur to Eveleth. Sections slated for construction in 2007 include Pengilly to Nashwauk and McKinley to Biwabik, making the longest section from Marble to Biwabik approximately 57 miles. The trail will eventually run 132 miles between Grand Rapids and Ely.
Description: When complete, this trail will connect 28 communities across Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, a Northwoods area rich in mining history and ethnic heritage. The Mesabi has a good combination of flat and hilly terrain, with views of woods, creeks, ponds, and rock walls hewn for the railroad track. It passes several old mining pits that have filled with emerald green water to become lakes. The overlooks at the Hull Rust Mine in Hibbing and the Rouchleau Mine in Virginia offer dramatic views of these mini-canyons. The Mesabi Trail provides access to several Iron Range attractions: the International Wolf Center, the Soudan Underground Mine tours, Giants Ridge Recreation Area, and the Ironworld Discovery Center. There is a shuttle service available (so you don’t have to bike both ways), and you can arrange for lodge-to-lodge trips, staying overnight at hotels, motels, campgrounds, or B&Bs near the trail.
Trail fee: For those 18 and over, $3 for a two-day special; $12 for a season pass.
For more information: Call the Trail Central at 877-MESABI-1 or visit www.mesabitrail.com. Map online.
Willard Munger State Trail
Between Hinckley and West Duluth
Distance: 63 paved miles, connects to 6-mile Alex Laveau Trail
Description: The northeast part of this trail runs through rugged rock-cuts and rock outcrops, with panoramic views of the St. Louis River. The southern part of the trail meanders through pine and aspen-covered rural countryside with picturesque small towns located along the route.
In 1894, a raging fire swept through the Hinckley area, and a train carried the townspeople to safety, following the route that now features this bike trail.
The Hinckley Fire Museum, near the trailhead, tells the compelling story of this tragic forest fire and its heroes. The trail passes fields, stands of woods, and links several small towns.
The northern segment of the trail makes a gradual, 15-mile descent from Carlton to Duluth. This very scenic stretch crosses a bridge high over the tumbling St. Louis River, passes through Jay Cooke State Park, and follows a ridgeline with expansive views of forest, and eventually, fantastic views of both Lake Superior and Duluth.
At Carlton, the six-mile Alex Laveau Memorial Trail runs near Jay Cooke State Park to Wrenshall and Highway 23.
For more information: Call the DNR at 651-296-6157 or 1-888-646-6367, or visit www.dnr.state.mn.us. Map online.