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Next Bike Adventure – Mesabi Trail

At a Glance: Exploring Mesabi – Fun and Food

In the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota is the Mesabi Trail towns that offer a variety of biking and other fun recreational opportunities for visitors.

A picturesque Mesabi Trail section between Gilbert and Virginia, MN

A picturesque Mesabi Trail section between Gilbert and Virginia, MN.

Made up of several mining towns along the trail, each with unique history, culture, food, and lodging, they are all surrounded by miles of wilderness. Along the way, see the World’s Largest Hockey Stick, Bob Dillon’s home town, and the Minnesota Museum of Mining just to name a few attractions. Whatever your riding choice is for the first trip, you will always remember the Mesabi Iron Range and will want to come back.

Where to Bike

Explore and enjoy the beauty of the mine pit lakes surrounded by forests, in and around the Mesabi Iron Range.  This northern trail system starts near the Mississippi River, in Grand Rapids, and meanders east through 25 communities across the Mesabi Iron Range. Riding the trail uses a combination of old rail beds, abandon roads between mine pits, and allows you to go over grassy meadows and wooded areas.

For the history buff, the trail and towns here offer a open window of the area’s mining past. Trail riders will pass many man-made lakes from old mines and some iron ore pits that are still-working.

For road riding, select many scenic routes that connect with the trail system.

For the mountain biker, there are miles of varying terrain through state forests and through old log/mining roads, plus several challenging terrain parks near Hibbing and Virginia.

Available Maps for the Area

HaveFunBiking Mesabi Trail Towns Map

Grand Rapids Trail Map
Meabi Trail Map | Interactive Map
Bike Aspen Mtn. Bike Trail, Virgina Map
Maple Hill Mtn Bike Trail, Hibbing Map

Area Walk/Hike Opportunities

McCarthy Beach State Park

Area Bike Shops and Clubs

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Bikes on Howard, 407 E Howard St, Hibbing  218-262-0899 link
Itasca Trail Sports, 316 NE 4th St, Grand Rapids  218-326-1716 link
Mesabi Recreational Sports,  720 9th St N, Virginia, 218-749-6719 link
Northern Lights Rental Shop, 6331 Wynne Creek Dr, Biwabik  218-865-3002 link

 

Where to Play When Not Biking or Hiking

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Along with the bike opportunities on the Mesabi Trail, you will also find the Minnesota Discovery Center, Giants Ridge Golf & Ski Resort,  several mine overlooks and tours, great restaurants, and lodging. For more info look below to see what each area of trail has to offer.

 

Where to Eat

Numerous restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores are easily accessible.  Along each portion of the trail you will find unique and delicious dining options to suit your taste. Check below for more information on each community’s options.

 

Where to Sleep When Visiting

 

mesabi trail

   

Aurora

Christened by local civic leaders who were inspired by a particularly brilliant display of northern lights high above the new village, Aurora is located on the eastern edge of the Mesabi Iron range.  Aurora is a town with a schedule full of festivals. While visiting here, view the former LTV Steel Mining Company from the designated lookout point at the city’s edge. Here you will also find lodging, restaurants, parks, shopping, and a library for Wi-Fi access.

Here are a couple of Aurora’s attractions.
Pine Grove Park
Northern Lights Music Festival | opera, symphony, and chamber music | 218-780-2292
Megan’s Restaurant
 | 114 Main St N, Aurora, MN 55705 | 218-229-3418
Riding your bicycle Northeast from Giants Ridge to Ely is approximately 43 miles. The Mesabi Trail has not been totally constructed yet at this end. There is a three-mile section in Soudan and another three-mile section of the trail in Ely. From Giants Ridge you will need to use the paved scenic county roads at the far eastern point of the Mesabi Trail.    

 

Biwabik

The name “Biwabik” in Ojibwa means “valuable” and the mines and taconite plant here have certainly made it valuable. With a unique Bavarian look to the downtown area, the Mesabi Trail runs east along the south side of town and along Embarrass Lake. Then, it continues on to the Giants Ridge Golf & Ski Resort. There are  restaurants, parks, a swimming beach, and campground nearby.

Here are a couple of Biwabik’s attractions.
Giants Ridge | Skiing, golfing, bike, and etc | 6329 Wynne Creek Dr., Biwabik, MN 55708 | 800-688-7669
R Bar & Vi’s Pizza | Menu | 107 North Main, Biwabik, MN 55708 | 218-865-4164

When riding your bicycling on the Mesabi Trail east, it is four miles to get to Aurora.

 

Bovey/Coleraine/Taconite

Located on the shores of Trout Lake, Coleraine has one of the original Andrew Carnegie Libraries. Additionally, there is a public beach that is there to sit on to enjoy the warm days to cool off. There are also restaurants, gas stations, and an ice cream shop here. Two miles further east is Bovey where you will find more to discover and enjoy. Three miles further east is Taconite where you will find a public beach at Holman Lake and a grocery store in town.

Here are a couple of the area’s attractions.
Annabella’s Antique Mall | 407 2nd Street, Bovey, MN 55709 | 218-245-2055
Nana Chelle’s CafeMenu | 312 2nd St., Bovey, MN 55709 | 218-245-2233

Cotton Park & Beach

Riding your bicycling on the Mesabi Trail from here, it is six miles to get to Calumet.

 

Buhl

Boasting the “Finest Water in America,” the Buhl Public Library is listed in the National Historic Book of Register. Here you find a park for camping, a picnic, or a swim. There is a restaurant and gas station in town as well.

Be sure to check out this great place.
Billy’s Pit Stop Pub & Grub | Menu | 124 State St., Buhl, MN 55713 | 218-258-3689

Riding your bicycling on the Mesabi Trail from here, it is nine miles further east to Mountain Iron.

 

Calumet

Home of the Hill Annex State Park which provides a view of a mine. It also has a museum/gift shop in town. Also, you will also find a public library for Wi-Fi access.

Riding your bicycling on the Mesabi Trail from here, it is five miles to Nashwauk.

 

Chisholm

Home to one of the region’s major tourist attractions, “Ironworld,” Longyear Lake is located here within the city limits with a public swimming beach. Other attractions include the Museum of Mining, a WPA Project called the Rock Wall and Museum, Classic Car Museum, Bruce Mine Headframe, and the Iron Ore Miner Memorial. The town has a restaurant, grocery stores, gas station, library, and an option for camping.

Check out some of Chisholm attractions.
Iron Man Statue in dedication of the Iron Ore area.
Minnesota Museum of Mining | 218-254-5543
Valentini’s Supper Club | 31 W Lake St. Chisholm, MN 55719 | 218-254-2607

Riding your bicycling on the Mesabi Trail from here, it is six miles further east to Buhl.

 

Eveleth/Gilbert

A  community resting not only on a large body of iron ore, but it also on the Laurentian Divide, Gilbert has parks, a library, excellent camping grounds, and several great places for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The Iron Range Historical Society, located in the historic former city hall, houses an extensive collection of  photographs, family history/biographies, and much more. On a spur of the paved trail, heading south for miles, is Eveleth.  A picturesque community and home to the  Mesabi Trail Headquarters and Iron Range Tourism Center is just off of Hwy 53 at the trailhead. While here, notice all the natural and man-made wonders. Check out the “Big Stick”, the largest hockey stick in the United States, located in downtown area and the Hockey Hall of Fame along the highway. Here, close to the trail you will find dining, a library, and lodging options also.

Here are some of the area’s attractions.
United States Hockey Hall of Fame Museum | 801 Hat Trick Avenue, P.O. Box 679, Eveleth, MN 55734 |218-744-5167
World’s Largest Hockey Stick (freestanding)
Poor Gary’s Pizza & Subs | Menu | 420 Fayal Rd., Eveleth, MN 55734 | 218-744-5508

Riding your bicycling on the Mesabi Trail east from Gilbert, it is seven miles to Biwabik.

 

Grand Rapids  

Check out the At-A-Glance Article for Grand Rapids.

From Grand Rapids, riding your bicycling to Coleraine on the Mesabi Trail is eight miles of gently rolling wooded terrain.

 

Hibbing

Located 40 miles east of Grand Rapids and 25 miles west of Virginia, if you take the trail, you’ll find a great lookout point. At Mesabi Trail access point is the Hull Rust Mine viewpoint lookout point and the Greyhound Bus Museum. Known as the “Town That Moved”, “The Grand Canyon Of The North”, and the “Iron Capital of the World”, this is the largest city on the Mesabi Iron Range. Along with most hotels, coffee shops and restaurants having Wi-Fi availability, the public library is another good option.  The Hibbing Public Library is located at 2020 E. 5th Ave. in Hibbing and reachable by phone: 218-362-5959.

Here are a few of the attractions Hibbing has to offer:
Greyhound Bus Museum | 1201 Greyhound Blvd., Hibbing, MN 55746 | 218-263-5814
Historical Society Museum | 400 E. 23rd Street, Hibbing, MN 55746 | 218-263-8522

Sunrise Bakery | 1818 3rd Ave. E., Hibbing, MN 55746 | 218-263-4985

Riding your bicycling on the Mesabi Trail from here, it is seven miles east to Chisholm.

 

Keewatin/Nashwauk

The town of Nashwauk is 28 miles east of Grand Rapids and 13 miles west of Hibbing. The town has a restaurant, grocery stores, gas station, and library. Two and a half miles to the east is O’Brien Lake with a swimming beach. A couple miles further is Keewatin where you will find more places and things to explore.

Here a couple of the area’s places to eat:
Wizards Bar & Grill | 102 Central Ave., Nashwauk, MN 55769 | 218-885-3080

Mucho Si | 231 Central Ave., Nashwauk, MN 55769 | 218-885-4062


Riding your bicycling on the Mesabi Trail from here, it is eight miles east to Hibbing.

 

Mountain Iron

West of Virginia, the city of Mountain Iron is where the “Iron Range” began. It was here that Leonidas Merritt discovered ore in 1890. The town still reflects the mining emphasis. Located just south of town is the Minntac Mine Overlook. Here, visitors have a unique chance to view the operation. In the downtown area you can climb aboard the 1910 Baldwin locomotive on display.

Here are a couple of Mountain Iron’s Attractions.
Historic Downtown | Complete with a locomotive from 1910
Mountain Iron Library | Historic location with a statue to honor the founder of the Iron Ore Range, Leonidas Merritt | 5742 Mountain Ave., Mountain Iron, MN 55768 | 218-735-8625

Riding your bicycling on the Mesabi Trail from here, it is three miles east to Virginia.    

 

Virginia

With two lakes right in the center of town as you pass through or connect with the Mesabi Trail, Virginia offers numerous buildings listed on the National Historic Register showing its pristine past. Located 60 miles north of Duluth and a 100 miles south of the Canadian border, Virginia has natural scenic beauty and many mining attractions and festivals. The Mineview in the Sky gives visitors a 20-story view of the Rouchleau Mine group, the area’s deepest mine. Along with most hotels, coffee shops and restaurants have Wi-Fi availability. Additionally, the public library is another good option.  The Virgina Public Library is located at 215 5th Ave. South in Virginia. They can be contacted by phone at 218-748-7525.

Here are a few of Virginia’s attractions.
Cane Lakes Candies | 414 Chestnut St., Virginia, MN 55792 | 218-741-1557
Giant Loon Seasonally displayed, check out the 20 foot Loon to honor Minnesota’s State Bird
Sawmill Saloon & Restaurant | 5478 Mountain Iron Drive, Virginia, MN 55792 | 218-741-8681

Riding your bicycling on the Mesabi Trail from here, it is seven miles east, up the beautiful rock edged rail-trail, to Gilbert.

Next Bike Adventure – Grand Rapids

At- A-Glance: Exploring Grand Rapids – Fun and Food

In the land of a 1,000 lakes and lush northern forests, nothing can surpass this area’s natural beauty for a memorable riding destination. Visitors to the Grand Rapids area have come for generations to enjoy the many recreational activities. This includes golf, boating, fishing, and a multitude of other opportunities including biking.  In exploring Grand Rapids, you’ll find the southern gateway to the Mesabi Trail and the Chippewa National Forest roads and trails that will create memories that will last a lifetime.

Where to Bike

Explore and enjoy the beauty of the lakes and forests in and around the Grand Rapids area.  A part of Northeast Minnesota, Grand Rapids is rapidly developing into some of the finest bike trails in the state. Both the Itasca County Bike Trail and the Mesabi Trail begins at the fairgrounds in Grand Rapids, with the county trail heading north for five miles to Prairie Lake. The Mesabi Trail ventures east, through 25 communities, currently covering 115 miles of well-mapped and maintained paved trails.

For road riding folk, choose from the many scenic loops. Many follow sections of the Mississippi River Trail and meander through parts of the Chippewa National Forest.

For the mountain bikers, there are miles of varying terrain through state forests and on old logging roads. If you’re looking for a challenge, then there are several challenging terrain parks in the area such as the Tioga Bike Park.

Available Maps

HaveFunBiking’s Area Map
GetFitItasca Trails Map
GRIMBA Mtn Bike Trails System Map

Walk/Hike Opportunities

Schoolcraft State Park

Area Bike Shops and Clubs

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Itasca Trail Sports | 316 N.E. 4th St., Grand Rapids, MN 55744 | 844-373-7815

Bike Events

Timber Man Triathlon – in July
Lumberjack & Loons – a ride from Bemidji to Grand Rapids in July

Where to Play

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From the Macrostic Art Center, the Forest History Center, and Children’s  Museum, families will be delighted when not exploring the trails. For the “Wizard of Oz” fans out there, find out more about her childhood in the Judy Garland Museum.

Some of Grand Rapids’ attractions:

Pla-Mor Roller Rink – classic roller rink | 1422 US-168, Grand Rapids, MN 55744 | 218-326-2909
Reif Performing Arts Center – theatre, dance, and more entertainment | 720 N.W. Conifer Drive, Grand Rapids, MN 55744 | 218-327-5780
Judy Garland Museum – Judy Garland’s history and “The Wizard of Oz” items are here – even the carriage from the movie to take a picture with | 2727 Pokegama Ave. South, Grand Rapids, MN 55744 | 218-327-9276
Old Central School – built in the late 1800’s and is now on the list of National Historical places | 10 N.W. 5th St., Grand Rapids, MN 55744

For more information and activities click here

Where to Eat

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From the Brewed Awakenings Coffeehouse to dining at the Forest Lake Restaurant, the Grand Rapids  Area also offers several interesting and charming cafes and ice cream shops.

Here are a few of Grand Rapids’ dining options:

Toivos – delicious food, happy hour, and bingo nights | Breakfast Menu | Lunch and Dinner Menu | 1212 N.W. 4th St., Grand Rapids, MN 55744 | 218-999-5550
The Cedars Dining Room – housed in the Sawmill Inn, a family owned restaurant that reflects the culture and cuisine of the area | Menu | Highway 169 South, 2301 South Pokegama Ave., Grand Rapids, MN 55744 | 800-235-6455
Dottie’s Hometown Cafe & Benos – great home-cooked tasting food, especially for breakfast | 324 N.E. 4th St., Grand Rapids, MN 55744 | 218-327-1400

For a full list of options click here

Where to Sleep

Exploring grand rapids

With such a gorgeous place, you cannot help but stay a while. These places are there for you to rest up and head back out for another adventure.

Public Wi-Fi

Along with most hotels, many coffee shops and restaurants have Wi-Fi available. Additionally, the public library is another good option.  The Grand Rapids Library is located at 111 Library Street N.E., Grand Rapids, MN 49503 and can be contacted by phone by calling 616-988-5400.

See the Grand Rapids Tourism Bureau for more detailed information.