Biking the Mesabi Trail from Grand Rapids to Ely over a distance of approximately 120 miles is possible for keen cyclists.
The trail takes you through 28 mining communities with names like Taconite and Mountain Iron. The rolling landscape of hills the trail traverses is known as the Mesabi Iron Range and is home to some of the largest deposits of iron ore in the United States.
The Star Tribune has called the Mesabi Trail the Best Rural Bike Trailin Minnesota.
Biking the Mesabi Trail from Chisholm to Virginia
I had the pleasure of biking the Mesabi Trail between Chisholm and Virginia in mid-October. Unfortunately I felt like I was just getting into the groove when night fell and it was time to call it a day.
This is one bike trail because of the countryside it traverses – that I’d like to return to and ride in its entirety once it’s completed. It will ultimately be 145 miles long and one of the longest paved trails in the US.
As it was I spent the night just off the Mesabi Trail near Biwabik at The Lodge at Giant’s Ridge(a ski hill) and would highly recommend it. It’s got a great little restaurant onsite called the Neighbor’s BBQ Co.
Why you should bike the trail
What you’ll find along the Mesabi Trail are gently rolling hills, lots of beautiful iron-rich red dirt, forests, and old mine pits full of turquoise-blue coloured waters – because of dissolved minerals that reflect the colours we see.
Parts of the trail feel very much as though you’re in the wilderness whereas there are sections that run parallel to the highway and so like many bike trails, it’s not all peace and quiet.
But there is plenty of bird and animal life if you pay attention. Every community you ride through has a welcoming arch, signage and great maps. You will never get lost on the Mesabi Trail!
Can you rent bikes along the Mesabi Trail?
There are four places to rent bikes along the Mesabi route. Look to these stores for repairs as well.
Ardent Bikes in Grand Rapids, Ely Bike & Kicksled and Bikes on Howard in Hibbing, MN are three of the options.
Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik rents mountain bikes.
Is there a shuttle service along the Mesabi Trail?
You’re in luck! The Mesabi Trail is well serviced when it comes to shuttles.
From early May until mid-October a shuttle service is available between 9 AM and 6 PM in summer, and with shorter hours in spring and fall. You and your gear will be portaged to the next part of the trail and/or hotel.
To make a reservation email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 218-780-4541. Up to 4 bikes and passengers can be transported on a trip. The more people there are, the less expensive the shuttle. The shuttle price is a factor of distance and driving time. Reserve the shuttle at least 24 hours in advance.
The shuttle service is available anywhere between Grand Rapids and Aurora. (Much of the trail between Aurora and Ely is still in the planning stage.
Is there a cost to biking the Mesabi Trail?
If you are over 18 and you’re on wheels – be it a bike or inline skates, you need a trail pass. If you’re a hiker, runner, walker or someone with disabilities you are not required to purchase a pass.
The cost is $10 for a three day pass (2023 price) with funds going to support the trail. Either use the self-pay boxes along the trail or buy from vendors located in towns along the route. You can also buy wheel passes online.