Tag Archives: Grand Rapids MN

From Giants Ridge, the Mesabi Trail Towns offers history and great biking adventures.

Many bicycle adventures await your visit to the Mesabi Trail Towns

by Andrew Ellis

The Mesabi Trail Towns, on Northeast Minnesota’s Iron Range, hosts several gems of the state’s history and great biking adventures. It’s not a mountain range, but a group of small mining communities along with this well-known trail system. The Mesabi Trail serves as an easy way to travel from town to town by bike. From Grand Rapids on the western end to Embarrass, 120 miles to the east, there is a lot to see along the way. For the mountain biker’s this mining-range has left a lot of deposits to perfect your skills. The area even boasts some of Minnesota’s best scenic road touring routes, with loop options that tie back to the Mesabi Trail.

Mesabi bike trail near Hibbing

Mesabi bike trail near Hibbing.

More About the Bike-Friendly Mesabi Trail Towns

The area is vast and the Mesabi Trail Towns string through the Iron Range covering 11 different mining towns. Starting in Grand Rapids the trail includes Meadowlands, Hibbing, Chisholm, Mt. Iron, Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, and Embarrass. Along the way, there is no shortage of walking tours. You can visit Bob Dylan’s childhood home, the Hull Rust Mine overlook and Greyhound Museum in Hibbing. You can look into the history of the Range’s “Queen City” at the Virginia Heritage Museum. Take a walk around the US Hockey Hall of Fame, in Eveleth. To enjoy the scenic thrills of mountain biking, there is Giant Ridge, near Biwabik. There are also plenty of lakes to drop a line, swim or enhance your tan.

The area may cover a lot of miles, but it’s all very accessible – especially if you’re using your bike. The Mesabi Trail makes for a convenient connecting point for all the communities. So it’s easy to travel around to all the unique stores, eateries, and more pedaling on two wheels.

Mesabi bike trail near Virginia.

Mesabi bike trail near Virginia.

Biking Opportunities in the Iron Range

There are several opportunities for biking in the Iron Range. If you’re into mountain biking it’s just a matter of where you want to go first with four different systems to choose from. You can also extend your adventure using the Mesabi Trail to connect to various forest and mining roads.

The Mesabi Trail

Besides mining, bicycle tourism is the other attraction that connects the communities. An amazing adventure in its own right, the trail takes you through the beautiful northern Minnesota trees, hills, wildlife, and more. With so many scenic views there’s no doubt you’ll be stopping to take a picture to add to your memories.

And don’t forget the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour ’19. Ride for the fun or ride for the challenge. Either way mark your calendar for Saturday, August 3, 2019, for the most fun you can have on two wheels!

With several mountain bike parks there is something for every skill level.

With several mountain bike parks, there is something for every skill level.

Mountain Biking

The Iron Range may not have mountains, but there are plenty of trails and loops for mountain bikers to battle down. Giants Ridge offers over 24 miles of trails and loops that will challenge you and offer up great scenery. Big Aspen offers a whopping 21 miles of trails on old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades. The sections vary in difficulty with many loop opportunities that offer many scenic vistas.

You can also check out Britton Peak which offers a 3-trail system that takes you through Superior National Forest and includes one for the three main skills levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. There’s also Lookout Mountain, thanks to the hard work of the Iron Range Off-Road Cyclists, that has over five miles of single-track and over six miles of the multi-use rideable ski trail.

Road Biking Options

While the Mesabi Trail connects helps connect the towns of the Iron Range, each town has its own road system that allows for easy bike travel and loop options. These roads allow you to navigate from place to place and let you explore each town as in-depth as you wish. The Superior National Forest, on the east end, also has plenty of roads you can use to explore the area.

See more at At-A-Glance Mesabi Trail.

Is your calendar is still open for riding this weekend? There is still time to experience riding your bike across the tallest bridge in Minnesota. This Saturday, August 4th, consider the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour.

Still time, ride across MN’s tallest bridge on the Mesabi Trail this weekend

Is your calendar open for a bike adventure this weekend? There is still time to experience riding your bike across the tallest bridge in Minnesota. This Saturday, August 4th, consider the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour. They offer four memorable route options to choose from, all crossing this new bridge with breath taking scenery.

Still time to ride across Minnesota’s tallest bridge

The 2018 Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour has a route for riders of any level and every year the tour routes change to highlight over 20 wonderful communities along the trail. This year all four routes will lead to a slam bang finish at Mesabi Station in Eveleth.

Trail Route Options:

  • Just eight miles from Grand Rapids, take the 71 mile route from Bovey and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the picture Grace.
  • 52 miles from the finish join the tour in Nashwauk, and enjoy the first of 5 rest stops with snacks and entertainment.
  • Buhl is the 3rd start location, with 25 miles to go to finish line outdoor concert and BBQ lunch. Don’t miss out on some of the Finest Water in America, in Buhl.
  • The shortest route, great for all the kids in the family, is just 11 miles from Virginia.  And just a couple of miles away from the tallest bridge in Minnesota!

Spectacular views await you on the states tallest bridge

The Mesabi Trail now crosses over Minnesota's tallest bridge.

The Mesabi Bike Trail now crosses over Minnesota’s tallest bridge.

The new Highway 53 bridge and bike trail on the Mesabi Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota is worth checking out. After two years of construction you can now ride your bicycle, walk or even snowmobile across the tallest multi modal bridge in Minnesota. Now complete, this year the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour will include this section of the 135 mile trail system on their route.

The scenery is stunning crossing the bridge and exploring the trail towns along the way!

The views are stunning as you cross over the Rouchleau Mine Pit on the new bridge. The contrast between the aqua blue water and the red cliffs below are breathtaking. Something you will want to see along with the unique points of interest each trail town offers along the way.

Still time to register, sign up today!

The Mesabi Trail now crosses over Minnesota's tallest bridge.

Ride across the highest bridge in Minnesota this summer on the Mesabi Trail

by Ardy Nurmi-Wilberg

Did you know you can ride your bike across the tallest bridge in Minnesota on the Mesabi Trail?  Did you also know that on August 4th, all four routes for the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour will be going across that bridge?

More on the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour

Whether you are an avid cyclist, a casual rider or you’ve got the kids in tow – don’t miss this fun. The ride is filled with many opportunities to experience the Best Rural Bike Trail in Minnesota (according the 2013 Star Tribune).

With kid's in tow the Mesabi trail is always fun!

With kid’s in tow the Mesabi trail is always fun!

The 2018 Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour has a route for riders of any level and every year the tour route is changed to highlight the wonderful communities along the trail. This year all four routes will lead to a slam bang finish at Mesabi Station in Eveleth.

Trail Route Options

Just eight miles from Grand Rapids, take the 71 mile route from Bovey and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the picture Grace.

52 miles from the finish join the tour in Nashwauk, and enjoy the first of 5 rest stops with snacks and entertainment.

Buhl is the 3rd start location, with 25 miles to go to finish line outdoor concert and BBQ lunch. Don’t miss out on some of the Finest Water in America, in Buhl.

The shortest route, great for all the kids in the family, is just 11 miles from Virginia.  And just a couple of miles away from the tallest bridge in Minnesota!

After riding across the tallest bridge have your photo taken at the finish line!

After riding across the tallest bridge have your photo taken at the finish line!

The new Minnesota Bridge

Crossing the bridge, 200 feet above the water’s surface, the $220 million bridge is part of the relocation of Hwy 53. This allowed United Taconite to mine under the old highway. In order to connect Virginia with the reminder of the Mesabi Trail heading towards Ely, a 14 ft wide addition was added to the bridge to accommodate the paved bike trail. In the winter, this also serves as a snowmobile crossing.

The trail stretches over 155 miles

The Mesabi Trail is one of the premier bike trails in Minnesota. Currently over 135 miles of this paved trail is complete, when finished it will stretch over 155 miles and pass through 28 communities in northeast MN.

Stretching from the Mississippi (Grand Rapids) to the Boundary Waters (Ely) you will experience a trail like no other. The trail allows you to pedal past pristine lakes, through woods, over rolling hills, wind through bogs and hey, there’s a taconite mine. It’s a ride you won’t forget, filled with historic sites, not to mention a string of small towns with a TON of charm.

One of the best ways to experience the Mesabi Trail is on the fully supported Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour. At $45 for individuals and $90 for a family (kids 18 & under ride FREE), it’s one of the best deals around. Entry includes transportation for you and your bike, food & entertainment at rest stops, a concert & BBQ at the finish and a commemorative t-shirt.

Register online today https://www.mesabitrail.com/trail-activities/tour/registration, and have the ride of your life!

The view is stunning as you cross over the Rouchleau Pit, between Virginia and Gilbert, MN.

A new experience and spectacular views await you on the Mesabi Trail

by Ardy Nurmi-Wilberg

The new Highway 53 bridge and bike trail on the Mesabi Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota is worth checking out. After two years of construction you can now ride your bicycle, walk or even snowmobile across the tallest multi modal bridge in Minnesota. Now complete, this year the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour will include this section of the 135 mile trail system on their route.

Another view of the Rouchleau Pit and new bridge that connects the Mesabi Trail between Virginia and Gilbert.

Another view of the Rouchleau Pit and new bridge that connects the Mesabi Trail between Virginia and Gilbert.

So why did they reroute Hwy 53 and build a bridge southeast of Virginia, you ask? Cliffs Natural Resources holds the mineral rights under portions the old roadway and by relocating the highway it allows United Taconite to mine that ore. When construction started, the Mesabi Trail was closed and literally torn up. At the time of its closure there was no other way to reconnect the bike trail between Virginia and Gilbert. It was then decided to add an extra 14 feet to the bridges width to accommodate a new trail. At an estimated cost of $235 million to build the new bridge, with a new recreational path, it is 1,100 feet long, 92 feet wide and 200 feet above the Rouchleau Pit.

The scenery is stunning along the Mesabi Trail

Spring, summer or Fall your riding experience on the Mesabi Trail is what great memories are made from.

Spring, summer or Fall your riding experience on the Mesabi Trail is what great memories are made from.

The view is stunning as you cross over the Rouchleau Mine Pit. Open to both walkers and bikers in the summer, snowmobiles can enjoy crossing here in the winter. The contrast between the aqua blue water and the red cliffs below are breathtaking. The bridge spans across an abandoned mine pit that was named after Louis Rouchleau. It is now filled with water that is 450 feet at its deepest point.  With many natural springs feeding this three miles long, by five miles wide open pit, it is the main water supply for the City of Virginia.

Accessing the new Mesabi Trail Bridge

An evening view of the Hwy 53 Bridge over the Rouchleau Pit is also stunning. (photo by Paul Pluswik).

An evening view of the Hwy 53 Bridge over the Rouchleau Pit is also stunning. (photo by Paul Pluswik).

The easiest way to access the Mesabi Trail for a scenic view while riding over the bridge is from the end of Chestnut Street, in Virginia. For more information and a map on how to access the bridge, visit the Iron Range Tourism Bureau: https://ironrange.org/attractions/Virginia-bridge/.

Be sure to add to your summer biking itinerary a visit to the Mesabi Trail. This paved trail system currently offers over a hundred miles to explore. When complete it will reach 155 miles, connecting Grand Rapids, at the Mississippi River Trail to Ely, next to the Boundary Waters. To learn more go to: http://www.mesabitrail.com/

The Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour

One of the most fun ways to experience the Mesabi Trail and this year the bridge is by riding in the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour. This year the tout takes place on Saturday, August 4th. Riders of all abilities and ages find the tour a blast, with four different routes to choose from. The route changes every year. For 2018, riders can pedal from Bovey, a 71 mile trek; from Nashwauk, a 52 mile excursion; from Buhl, a 25 mile path; or from Virginia, an easy 11 mile distance. All routes will cross the new bridge and end in Eveleth at Mesabi Station. For more information and to register online go to: http://www.mesabitrail.com/trail-activities/tour/

Bike Pic July 17, miles of smiles Sunday along the MRT

A ‘Miles of smiles Sunday’ stop without a bit while biking along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) in between Bemidji and Grand Rapids, MN. This is one of the many selfie opportunities you will find while pedaling along Old Man River.

Above photo was taken on the HaveFunBiking Mississippi River Ride in 2012.

Find many more bike friendly places to explore in the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.

Thanks for viewing the Bike Pic of the Day here at HaveFunBiking (HFB). 

Now rolling into our 10th year as a bicycle tourism media source, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike, while showcasing unforgettable places to ride. As HFB searches and presents more fun cycling related photos, worth a grin, scroll through the information and stories we have posted that may help you Find Your Next Adventure. Then, while out there if you see us along a paved or mountain bike trail, next to the route you regularly commute on, or at an event you plan to attend, be prepared to smile. You never know where our cameras will be and what we will post next!

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you know that you would like to see us post? If so, please send it our way and we may use it. Send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com with a brief caption (of each), including who is in the photo (if you know?) and where it was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 800 pixels wide or larger for us to consider using them. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and an acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As HaveFunBiking continues to encourage more people to ride, please reference our blog and the annual print and quarterly digital Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide to Find Your Next Adventure. We are proud of the updated  At-a-Glance information and maps we are known for at the HFB Destination section on our website and in the guide. Now, as the Guide goes into its seventh year of production, we are adding a whole new dimension of information, now available for mobile devices.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure – we may capture you in one of the next photos we post.

Have a great day!