One of the most popular and scenic destinations in Minnesota is the North Shore of Lake Superior. In fact, Highway 61 along the shore has been designated as an "All-American Road." The paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail gives cyclists a safe corridor to explore this scenic route.
Though it will eventually run for 86 miles, the trail is being constructed in segments as funding becomes available. The longest trail segment is 13.1 miles between Gooseberry Falls State Park and the Beaver River in Beaver Bay. It travels through the beautiful birch and aspen forest of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.
A spur from the trail leads to the Split Rock Lighthouse historic site, where you can tour the lighthouse and the keeper's home and take in the exhibits at the interpretive center. Though most of the Gitchi-Gami Trail is fairly level, the section near the lighthouse is more adventurous, with some steep hills and curves.
Currently, over 28 miles of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail have been completed and paved.
Another 3.8 miles of trail is completed further up the shore, between Schroeder and Tofte. A highlight of this segment is the section through Temperance River State Park, where the trail crosses a bridge over a tumbling, wilderness creek. There are three other short (1-2 miles) segments that have been completed: at Silver Creek Cliff north of Two Harbors, another just north of Tofte, and a section in Grand Marais.
All of the trail segments parallel bustling Highway 61 for at least part of the way, but the rewards are the terrific views of Lake Superior, the wooded hills of the Sawtooth Mountains, the colorful wildflowers along the trail, and the more secluded loops through the forest.
For more information, go to the DNR website or call 888-MINNDNR.