This article is supported by the Minnesota Arrowhead Association.
Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) riding has become increasingly popular through the state. Northeast Minnesota has some of the finest trail systems anywhere in the United States. From ATVs to side-by-sides, to Jeeps and dirt bikes, Northeast Minnesota welcomes you.
In northeast Minnesota, we love off-highway vehicles so much, we gave them their own park to play in! The Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area in Gilbert offers 36 miles of trails and play areas for every type of OHV. You’ll explore 1,200 acres of former mine lands with rugged hills, muddy basins and regrown forested trails. Climb, ride, get muddy or tear it up: It’s your choice on these well-marked trails offering a wide variety of experiences for all levels of rider.
All that’s required is a licensed machine (non-residents must purchase a state trail pass), and a safety certificate for ATV riders born after July 1, 1987, and OHM riders under the age of 16.
In Itasca County, thousands of acres of land are open to off-highway riders. With loads of lakes, the Chippewa National Forest, and George Washington State Forest, ATV and OTM riders will find plenty of places to play, like the 18-mile Little Moose Trail. In northern Itasca County, Thistledew is a 25-mile closed loop system with varied terrain, scenery and challenges for ATVs.
The largest city in this neck of the woods, Grand Rapids offers plenty of lodging options, and is just a short trailer ride away from the 21-mile UPM Blandin Trail. Download all the maps you’ll need for your Itasca County adventure.
One of the largest trails is the UPM Blandin and Northwoods Trail system that connects to the Soo Line Trail. Once on the Soo Line you can ride east to Wisconsin. Also, all of Itasca County roads are open to ATV/OHV in Itasca County. Right now there are over 300 miles of forest roads and wooded trails to ride ATV/OHV.
Minnesota’s border country may be best known for fishing and resorts on Rainy Lake, and the majestic waterways of Voyageurs National Park, but the area around International Falls welcomes ATVs, too. Be sure to explore the 74-mile Blue Ox State Trail, with scenic forestry roads following an abandoned railroad grade through the deep north woods, serviced by plenty of resorts and other lodging.
Crane Lake Area
With Voyageurs National Park to the north and west, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the south and east, Crane Lake is a fishing mecca whose residents also have a passion for “four-wheeling.” Reach out to their strong and ever-growing club for tips and details on where to access forest roads, open for multiple types of machines. You can also count on friendly resort owners to help you plan your ride.
On the North Shore
Start your North Shore ATV adventure in Two Harbors with Lake Superior overlooks, bogs, and river views along the 30-mile Wild County Trail to Silver Bay. From Silver Bay, the 30-mile Red Dot Trail winds through the Palisade Valley area of Tettegouche State Park and connects to the 20-mile Moose Walk Trail and the 12-mile Moose Run Trail, both running through the Sawtooth Mountains of Lake Superior’s North Shore. ATV’s may operate on nearly all Lake County roads and are welcomed in these ATV friendly communities, with various lodging and dining options available!
Cook County is home to the Lake Superior North Shore communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, Grand Portage and the Gunflint Trail with hundreds of miles of wilderness backroads to explore. A new mobile based regionally specific GPS map is available on Avanza to help guide your adventure. However, the best source for ATV trail advice is the Visit Cook County Information Center.
The Iron Range
On the Iron Range in the central part of the region, Jeeps will find the toughest four miles of riding in the state--maybe even the Midwest--at Mesabi Mountain. With 12 ATV-friendly communities and plenty of hotels and campgrounds, the area is also home to the 21-mile Chisholm ATV Trail, the 39-mile flat but scenic Alborn-Pengilly Trail (this trail crosses into Itasca County), and the 21-mile closed system, Big Aspen, just north of Virginia in the Superior National Forest. The Ranger Trails connect the communities of Aurora, Biwabik, Hoyt Lakes and more, and the new Virginia trail crosses the state's tallest bridge and connects to the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area expansion. Request or download a guide with Iron Range maps, including the OHV Park here.
With trails ranging from easy to “most difficult,” safety is a top concern. Please read the OHV Regulations and be safe!