Northeastern Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails
Northeastern Minnesota has the Sawtooth Mountains along the North Shore of Lake Superior, ski hills at Spirit Mountain and Giant’s Ridge, the deep forests of the Superior and Chippewa National Forests, the 135-mile Arrowhead State Trail, and the pristine beauty of some of the state’s most beautiful state parks.
Giants Ridge offers lift-served mountain biking on five downhill runs ranging from easy to expert. Riders can also explore a variety of mountainside trails consisting of cross-country ski trails, snowmobile trails, and abandoned logging roads. A major expansion in 2020 added four more downhills and about 20 miles of dedicated singletrack. 60km of the groomed ski trails are available for fatbiking. The resort also offers lift-served downhill fat biking.
Chippewa National Forest Trails
State and national forests offer a variety of areas to explore by bike. Some trails are exclusively non-motorized, while others are shared with a variety of users, including OHVs and equestrians.
Simpson Creek Trail: 13 miles
Deer River, MN
Enjoy rolling topography through pines and along glacial eskers, with overlooks onto Cut Foot Sioux Lake and journeys into the cedar swamp. Cyclists travel on both old tote roads and dirt trail. Access at the Cut Foot Sioux Visitor Center or Eagle Nest Road (FR2198).
Cut Foot Sioux Trail: 18 miles
Deer River, MN
An extension of the Simpson Creek Trail, this is an 18- mile loop along old Forest Roads with gravel and sand. Access from the Cut Foot Sioux Visitor Center or the Hwy 46 Wayside Rest 5 miles north of the Center.
Suomi Hills Trail: 19 miles
The remote and stunning Suomi Hills has 19 miles of hiking, biking and ski trails and is part of a semi-primitive non-motorized area. The rolling topography offers mountain bike trails for intermediate and advanced cyclists. Access the Suomi Hills area from the Highway 38 National Scenic Byway.
Trout Lake Trail: 11 miles
This is a nice short scenic trail into the woods and out onto the Trout Lake Estate, a national historic site featuring a 1920 lumber baron estate. Access from the north end of Trout Lake off Co 326 or from the south end near FR 2065 and near FR 2065.
Redhead Mountain Bike Park: 15 miles
A new, developing trail system on the grounds of the Minnesota Discovery Center as of June 2020. Built around a series of former mine pits, this challenging trail system has some beginner trails, but is mostly for intermediate to advanced riders. Punchy climbs and descents, plenty of rock gardens and jumps make for a great ride while the scenery is nothing short of spectacular with its ravines, red cliffs and views of deep, blue lakes. There’s even a waterfall crossing on Fractured Falls Trail.
The ultimate goal is to have over 30 miles of trail on the ground by 2021 and offer trolley rides to some of the far out trail loops near the Glen location, a restored, historic mining village. The Discovery Center has restrooms and a restaurant.
Pine Valley Park: 2 miles
Stacked loops rated beginner to intermediate with switchbacks and flow sections through pine trees and open areas.
Tioga Trails: 25 miles
This new mountain bike trail system in the location of a former mine pit offers trails for all skill levels as well as jump lines, flow trails and a beginner skills section. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter.
Cook County Mountain Bike Routes
Cook County has fantastic single track and gravel routes ranging from family-friendly to expert backcountry trails. For more information and current conditions call the Cook County Visitors Bureau.
Heartbreak Hill Loop: 18 miles
Over the river and through the woods is the best way to summarize this trail. In the first few miles you gain a good deal of elevation. This scenic loop crosses the Temperance River multiple times. Park the bike and take a short hike along the river. This ride blends gravel road adventure with a taste of the Gitchi Gami paved bike trail. Be aware that Sawbill Trail is a well-traveled road.
Onion River Road: 7 miles out and back
Easy, family-friendly ride with several fun side-trip opportunities. Several hiking, cross-country ski, and snowmobile trails cross through the area. This light traffic gravel road is a gradual climb through a mixed and scenic forest.
Pancore/Honeymoon Loop: 20 miles
A classic Northwoods ride, the Pancore/Honeymoon Loop near Tofte, MN will give you a taste of the ruggedness of the area. Generally smooth gravel with a few rockier sections on the Pancore Lake Road.
Pike Lake Loop: 22 miles
There are many spur trails and roads, pay close attention to remain on the main trail. Excellent wildlife viewing. Gravel and primitive minimum maintenance road.
Devil Track Loop: 18 miles
This remote trail near Grand Marais is perfect for adventurous mountain bikers. Beautiful 150-year-old white pines line the way. Some logging traffic.
Pine Mountain Loop: 16 miles out and back
The gravel forest service road has little traffic and travels past spruce bogs, multiple streams, and towering pines. Great moose habitat.
Fire Box Loop: 16.7 miles
Scenic hilly terrain that is very remote with little to no vehicle traffic on gravel and forest service roads as well as portions of multiuse trails. Bring a map and pay attention to the signs, there are numerous spur trails along this route. Ride can be done in either direction.
Lima Mountain Trail: 26.2 miles out and back
A great family ride on gravel road with minimal traffic. Elevation climbs very gradually over rivers and through low areas of pine forest. BWCAW borders the trail. Multiple starting points allow for variable distance rides.
Central Gunflint Trails: 60+ miles
Very remote hilly terrain with little to no road traffic. Primarily cross country ski trails and private gravel roads near the BWCAW. Map and navigational tools recommended as there are multiple spur trails along the route. Consult either Golden Eagle Lodge or Bearskin Lodge for maps and information.
Old Gunflint Trail: 9 miles out and back
Gravel road with minimal traffic. Old Gunflint Trail is County Road 92, a fairly flat trail that passes through a healthy black spruce forest. Part of the trail runs through the Ham Lake fire recovery zone.
Duluth Area Mountain Bike Trails
Duluth has been named Gold Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), one of six such destinations in the world. The Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) maintain and develop Duluth’s extensive trail system.
Hartley Park: 9 miles
Intermediate trails through the hardwood forests and open marsh areas of Hartley Nature Center.
Lester Park: 5.5 miles
Intermediate. Beautiful views of the river valley and smooth, flowing single track. There are some rocky or rooty sections, but overall the trail is non-technical and the best option in the Duluth area if you are newer to mountain biking. Groomed for fat tire biking in the winter.
Mission Creek: 23 miles
Beginner to intermediate. Fast and flowing singletrack with many bridges, berms, and rollers. This trail network traverses a dramatic, heavily forested landscape with spectacular views of the St. Louis River Valley and Jay Cooke State Park. Groomed for fat biking in the winter.
Mont du Lac: 4 miles
Intermediate single track and advanced level downhill trails.
Piedmont & Brewer Trails: 9 miles
Intermediate to advanced challenging trails with bridges and features. Significant elevation changes with large rocky bluffs. Groomed for fat biking in the winter.
Pokegama Trail: 4 miles
Challenging, tight and twisting single-track trail with with drops, boardwalks and short, steep climbs through beautiful stands of white pine, cedars and paper birch. Groomed for fat biking in the winter.
Spirit Mountain Bike Park
Beginner to advanced. Outstanding views of Lake Superior are the norm at Spirit Mountain. The terrain is demanding, but is sure to reward with amazing vistas. Lift-assisted downhill mountain biking and fat biking.
Duluth Traverse: 40 miles
As beginner level singletrack, the Duluth Traverse (DT) connects the city’s trail networks at Lester Park, Hartley Park, Piedmont-Brewer Park, Spirit Mountain and Mission Creek. Currently, 75% of the DT is on singletrack trail, the balance is on gravel roads and some paved road sections. It’s a work in progress and will eventually be all standalone singletrack.
Duluth to Grand Marais
C.J. Ramstad/North Shore State Trail: 146 miles
This remote and rugged backcountry trail travels through wilderness areas on Minnesota’s North Shore. It’s primarily used for snowmobiling, but is open to hiking and biking and, in parts, ATV riding.
Ely Area Mountain Bike Routes
Ely Skills Course
The city of Ely built a one-half mile skills course at the Hidden Valley Chalet in 2019. Look for an additional nine miles of singletrack to come in 2021.
Hidden Valley Trails: 13 miles
This area offers hilly, wooded loop trails on the outskirts of Ely. The system consists of several smaller loops with a connection to the Pine Park loop on the northern end.
Fernberg Tower Area
This area is located along the Fernberg Road east of Ely. Several county and forest roads intersect giving an opportunity to explore the Superior National Forest, visit the hill that once held the Fernberg Lookout Tower and visit several lakes. The route includes both gravel and natural surface trails.
Nickel Lake Area: 12 miles
This area provides rolling wooded hills, grassy bogs and beaver dams. There is access to several isolated lakes and an abandoned granite quarry that last operated in the 30′s.
Fenske Lake Area
This area has many opportunities to explore forest and logging roads. Trails cross over rolling hills and pass through spruce forests.
Pincushion Mountain: 10 miles
Challenging trails with awesome Lake Superior views. Switchbacks, bridges, rock gardens and lots of elevation changes. Groomed for fat tire biking in the winter.
Grand Rapids to Ely
Taconite State Trail: 165 miles
Popular multipurpose trail that moves through out-of-the-way forests and lakes and stretches 165 miles from Grand Rapids to Ely. It intersects with the Arrowhead State Trail just west of Lake Vermillion. Passes through Bear Head Lake State Park. Some areas may be impassable in the summer.
Maple Hill Park: 5 miles
Intermediate, two-way singletrack with a dirt surface in a 133-acre city park.
Saint Croix State Park: 21 miles
Wide, grassy trail in the woods with some dirt sections on the Matthew Lourey State Trail.
McCarthy Beach State Park: 17 miles
A choice of nice rides is available on the park trails and the low maintenance St. Louis County roads inside the park boundary. Bikers can venture out of the park on the Taconite State Trail.
Britton Peak: 5.5 miles
Trails are intermediate to advanced with a short beginner loop. Enjoy views of the Temperance River Valley and some advanced features like a rock garden and boardwalk. Connects with High Climber and Jackpot Trails.
Jackpot and High Climber Trails: 16 miles
This unique ride follows the rolling ridges overlooking Lake Superior and features machine-built flow trail with big berms, rock gardens, drops, jumps and rock-armored creek crossings in a Wilderness setting. It’s laid out to be beginner-rated, but technical B-line options are up to expert level. Parking is available on either end at Britton Peak Trailhead (Tofte) and Ski Hill Road Trailhead (Lutsen Mountains) as well as on Onion River Road.
While the trail is point-to-point, there are options for a loop ride. From Lutsen Mountains: Ride north on Ski Hill Road to Barker Lake Road, take Barker Lake Road to Honeymoon Trail (USFS 164), head west on Honeymoon Trail to Sawbill Trail. From there, ride pavement south to Britton Peak. Follow Jackpot and High Climber back to Lutsen. This option adds approximately 22 miles. Another option is to take the Gitchi Gami Trail. Onion River Road bisects the trail system and serves as the dividing line between High Climber to the east and Jackpot to the west.
Tower to International Falls
Arrowhead State Trail: 135 miles
Approximately 69 miles of the trail are suitable for mountain biking in the summer, but there may be wet areas. Intersects with the Taconite State Trail. Mountain bikers should call the nearest Parks and Trails Area office before leaving for their destination to inquire about local trail conditions and amenities. This is a multi-use trail, including horseback riding.
Donald D. Ferguson Demonstration Forest: 7 miles
Easy beginner trails through boreal woods in the Superior National Forest, shared with hikers. Trail system is set to expand, with the ultimate goal of 15-20 miles. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter, skis and snowshoes are also allowed.
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: 3 miles
Easy trail with a mix of dirt and grass shared with hikers. No singletrack. Stunning views of the Split Rock Lighthouse along Lake Superior. Can be combined with a return on the paved Gitchi Gami Trail for a 6 mile loop. The park grooms this loop and an additional 3 miles for fat biking in the winter.
Split Rock Wilds Trail: 12 miles
The newest mountain bike trail system in northeastern Minnesota offers a challenging, point to point backcountry riding experience connecting the new Shipwreck Creek campground at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park with the Cove Point Lodge property. Trail conditions vary from from rugged and rocky to fast and flowy and include multiple advanced and expert level features like jumps, rock rolls and drops. There is, however a beginner-friendly loop near the campground. Additional trail building of approximatley 10 miles is expected in 2021. Temporary access can be found across from Cove Point Lodge, but the trails into to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park will be closed until the official opening date, projected for summer or fall 2021.
Big Aspen Trail: 21 miles
The Big Aspen Trail is 21 miles in the Superior National Forest with many loop opportunities and beautiful scenic vistas. The trail is part of old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades from the Virginia and Rainy Lake Lumber Company. It is a multi-use trail, allowing mountain bikes, ATVs, horses, and in the winter, cross-country skiers.
Lookout Mountain: 11 miles
The trail system has dedicated mountain bike singletrack with berms, bridges and rock gardens in the Superior National Forest. Once you get to the top of a large hill it’s mostly rolling hills through forestland. There are a few large rock features and some challenging intermediate skill level sections. The trails are two-way, look out for oncoming bikes and hikers.