bike trails north shore

north shore bike trails

Biking is fantastic on the very different types of North Shore bike trails; the paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail [GGST], backwoods dirt roads, Pincushion Trails and a few winter fat bike trails. The paved Gitchi Gami Trail currently has a handful of sections complete, the longest section being Gooseberry Falls State Park to Beaver Bay. I recommend some rides on Forest Roads, but one of the best things you can do is  purchase a Superior National Forest map, plan a route and ride.

New trail in the works: The Split Rock Wild trails will span from Split Rock State Park to Beaver Bay and take riders through some of the most scenic and remote areas of Northern Minnesota. Rocky outcroppings will bring riders to breathtaking views of Lake Superior. Rocky descents and climbs will bring riders in and out of river valleys.

gitchi gami bike trail update

Coming in 2021:

  • 5 miles of new trail from the west side of Grand Marais to Cut Face Creek
  • completing a 1-mile gap in Tofte which will mean one continuous trail from Schroeder to Lutsen
looking for ideal gravel road routes?

Straddle and Paddle has mapped out a 180.2 mile loop, which can be easily modified with a good Superior National Forest map [buy AHEAD of time]. Get inspired with this short video submitted by Josh Rizzo from the summer of 2020.

handy biking checklist
  • Obtain a map & familiarize yourself with the trail
  • Let someone know your route and expected return time
  • Carry water, high-energy snacks, toilet paper and rain gear
  • Be prepared for a breakdown, and bring a tool and patch kit
  • Always pack out what you bring in – dispose of trash responsibly
  • Most trails tour isolated areas that offer no immediate services
  • Trails cross private, county, state and federal lands – please respect this
  • Consider bringing binoculars and a camera
  • Use common sense
  • Although bike riding on Highway 61 is legal, it is NOT recommended as it is quite dangerous due to narrow shoulders, increased seasonal traffic and road work. The same holds true for the Gunflint Trail. Choose one of the safer routes below.

mile 5.2

Watch for traffic on these routes! A one-mile-plus paved road runs through Brighton Beach, the first park northeast of Duluth, just past the Lester River.

A bike ride along Scenic 61 showcases Lake Superior and allows you to explore along the way. Stop for lunch, and pick up some delicious smoked fish.

Length: up to 19.5 miles one-way

Difficulty: easy to moderate

Trailhead: Brighton Beach, MM 5.2

Surface: paved

mile 39.5

bike rider on gitch gami bike trail along shore of Lake Superior between gooseberry falls and split rock lighthouose

Gitchi Gami State Trail

Difficulty: easy to moderate [length]

Surface: paved

Silver Creek
follows the old Highway 61 road bed where it wrapped around Silver Cliff; excellent views
Length: 0.5 mile one-way
Trailhead: Silver Creek Tunnel, NE end

Gooseberry Falls to Beaver Bay
The Visitors Center trailheads offer parking, restroom facilities and drinking water. Restaurants, restroom facilities and other amenities are available in Beaver Bay.
Length: 14.1 miles one-way
Trailheads: Gooseberry Falls State Park, Twin Points Wayside, Split Rock Lighthouse, Beaver River Trailhead

Silver Bay
trail runs parallel to the lakeshore, inland along the side of the hill; does not connect to remainder of GGST
Length: 2.3 miles one-way
Trailhead: 129 Outer Drive, Silver Bay

Schroeder to Lutsen
ride the 3-mile trail through Temperance River State Park, over the river and back to Highway 61, where the trail ends, but you can carefully cross the highway, ride your bike down Tofte Park Road, along the Lakewalk and then pick up the 7.3 mile roadside trail that ends in Lutsen at the bottom of the Ski Hill Road
Length: 10.3 miles + one-way
Trailheads: Schroeder Wayside, Tofte Park & Ski Hill Road

Grand Marais
a slow climb out of Grand Marais followed by a return ride down the hill
Length: 1.5 miles, one-way
Trailhead: downtown Grand Marais

mile 83.4

Single-track bike trails 1.5 mile novice, then add on either a 2 mile intermediate or 2 mile advanced trail through maple forests

Length: 1.5-miles and up

Difficulty: easy to advanced

Trailhead: Britton Peak Trailhead, Sawbill Trail

Surface: hard pack

mile 83.4

Stairstep falls of the onion River in early spring

Britton Peak to Onion River

This trail will eventually lead all the way to Lutsen, but is currently open from Britton Peak to the Onion River Rd.

Length: 6.3 miles +

Difficulty: easy to advanced

Trailhead: Britton Peak Trailhead, Sawbill Trail

Surface: hard pack

mile 83.4

A big loop through the backwoods between Lutsen [Caribou Trail] and Tofte [Sawbill Trail]. Park at the snowmobile trail parking on Caribou Trail [6 mi north of Hwy 61], head west several miles, then 1 mile north on the Sawbill Trail and return east on the Pancore Lake Rd [it’s going to turn into a low maintenance rougher road] stay right on Rice Lake Rd for about a mile, then veer right on Clara Lake Rd to the Caribou Trail and south to your starting point.

Length: 20 mile loop

Difficulty: moderate [length]

Trailhead: snowmobile trail parking, Caribou Trail

Surface: hard pack and gravel roads

picking up a Superior National Forest map would be very helpful

mile 109.2

Danger: do NOT ride on the Gunflint Trail!

The quintessential ride through the forest; great for varying abilities. The Lima Grade is a forest service road through woodlands, open areas, over creeks and river, to lakes highlighted by berries, wildlife and a spur to Lima Mountain.
Park at Twin Lakes then ride north along the Lima Grade, east on South Brule and loop back south and end with a picnic or camping (rustic facilities) at the Twin Lakes camp area.

Length: 10 miles

Difficulty: easy to moderate [length]

Trailhead: Lima Grade to Twin Lakes Loop

Surface: hard pack gravel road

mile 109.2

a hilly road that was part of the original Gunflint Trail; wooded, clearings and the Iron Lake Campground 2 miles from the north end of the road makes this a nice picnic ride

Length: 4.6 miles one-way

Difficulty: moderate

Trailhead: Old Gunflint Trail

Surface: hard pack gravel road

mile 109.3

Danger: do NOT ride on the Gunflint Trail!

Ride on US Forest Service gravel roads, paved and gravel county roads and paved trail through the woods, past sloughs, under pines with a few Lake Superior Vistas. Some rolling hills with a the trail ultimately dropping several hundred feet over the nearly 17 miles.
Park at the Eagle Mountain Trailhead, then ride up over the ridge then all the way down to Grand Marais, picking up the Gitchi Gami State Trail for the last 1.5 miles. Lovely ride on low-traffic road [watch for logging operations].

Length: 17 miles

Difficulty: easy to moderate / difficult if you ride it up hill

Trailhead: Eagle Mountain Parking [The Grade and Bally Creek Rd]

Surface: hard pack gravel road

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