by Andrew Ellis
The Mesabi Trail Towns, in Minnesota’s far north mining region, hosts several gems of the state’s history and a perfect destination for bicycle adventures. It’s not a mountain range, but a group of small mining communities along a well-known paved 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 Ely, 135 miles to the east, there is a lot to see as you ride. 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.
More About the Bike-Friendly Mesabi Trail Towns
The area is vast and the Mesabi Trail Towns string through the Iron Range covering many mining towns you can start and stop at. They include Grand Rapids to the west; and further east Hibbing, Chisholm, Mt. Iron, Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, Embarrass and now to Ely. 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.
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 in 2021. Ride for the fun or ride for the challenge. Either way mark your calendar for Saturday, August 7, 2021, for the most fun you can have on two wheels!
With several mountain bike parks, there is something for every skill level.
Mountain biking here includes an edgy new park
The Iron Range may not have mountains, but there are plenty of trails and loops for mountain bikers to battle down. Especially the new Redhead Mountain Trails, near Chisolm, they say it will rock you. This huge park with over 30 loops, covering over 25-miles offers giant views of reclaimed mine lands, bright blue pit lakes, and more. See the map of this edgy designed park with remarkable terrain makes it one of the most anticipated new parks in the country.
Further east is Giants Ridge offering 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 skill 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.