About

Traveling across the Iron Range of northeast Minnesota, the Mesabi Trail stretches from the Mississippi River in Grand Rapids, to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely.

Currently almost 135 miles are finished, when totally completed (in 3-5 years), it will traverse over 155 miles.

Partially built on old railroad beds, abandoned highway, old logging and mining roads, and blazing trail through the forest to get the next community – visitors will find a 10 foot wide bituminous surface (asphalt paving).

The Mesabi Trail is NOT a rail to trail conversion – it is not flat & straight. The terrain varies from more hilly in the west to a bit flatter in the east. A few hills will test your stamina going up, and your brakes going down – none are greater than an 8% grade – but some are fairly long.

Take a virtual tour of the entire trail, section by section, to get a better idea of the terrain. Or, download our paper map and check out the bottom for an elevation chart.

 

Current Trail Status

The Mesabi Trail is still under construction, especially on the far east end; and there are occasional detours and closures beyond our control – check Trail Updates & Conditions for current status.

The trail is always accessible, but bike-able usually from sometime in April, usually into October. Weather in Minnesota is always unpredictable – late or early snow can shorten or lengthen the season. Portions of the trail are in heavily wooded areas, we do not advise riding until all the snow & ice have melted in the spring and our trail staff has had a chance to clear away winter debris. Keep an eye on Trail Updates & Conditions, we’ll let you know when it’s ready for riding.

 

Grand Rapids to McKinley

The longest continuous stretch of 75 miles runs from Grand Rapids to McKinley, with a small gap between McKinley to Biwabik. This section also includes spurs to the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm, to Eveleth and Fayal Township. One of the highlights of this longest section is crossing the Tom Rukavina Memorial Bridge just outside of Virginia. The Mesabi Trail takes up 14 feet of one side of the tallest bridge in Minnesota…the view is spectacular.

Biwabik to Embarrass

Pick the Trail up again outside of Biwabik and bike 12 miles past Giants Ridge just about to Embarrass, with an additional four mile spur to Aurora. Don’t miss this newest section of the Trail, running along the continental divide – it’s another spectacular view – topped off with a ride across a 3/4 mile long floating bridge crossing the Embarrass Wetland Complex and the Darwin Meyers Wildlife Management Area. This floating bridge is truly one of a kind, and built right in Embarrass! Just a little heads up…there are a lot of hills on this section, might be a bit challenging for kids or weaker riders – build up your stamina and take this section on a little later in the season.

2021 Construction

Nine miles of trail will be finished this summer from Embarrass to just about five miles short of Tower. Keep an eye on our website for construction progress at the update page.

 

Tower

The next 10 mile chunk of trail will take you from Tower through the new Lake Vermilion Soudan Underground Mine State Park. If you haven’t been to the park, it’s a great way to visit and they have a very nice State campground. There is a two mile gap before getting to the next stand alone section of trail by Eagles Nest Township.

Eagles Nest

There’s another five miles of standalone trail starting at Eagles Nest Township, off the road to Bearhead State Park. Note, this section dead ends…there is no connecting route to Ely yet…but it’s a gorgeous section of Trail!

 2021 Construction

Two miles of Trail will be constructed this summer running along the Bearhead State Park Road, creating a 17 mile continuous stretch of Trail from Tower to about 5 miles past Eagles Nest Township.  (Remember the Trail dead ends here.)

 

Ely

There are a few miles of Trail around Ely, with more coming in the next few years to finally complete the connection between the Mississippi and the Boundary Waters.

Funding Source

The Mesabi Trail™ has been funded in part by the LCCMR and the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund.