Get Off the Road with OHVs in Northeast Minnesota

This article is supported by the Minnesota Arrowhead Association.


Arrowhead Association logoOff 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.


OHV Recreation Area

ATV 1In 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.

Itasca County

ATV 4In 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.  

The Borderlands

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

Close to Lake Superior near Beaver Bay, Lake County’s Red Dot Trail, is a 30-mile ATV route connecting to Moose Walk’s 22 miles and the 12 miles of Moose Run.

Cook County is home to the Lake Superior North Shore communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais and Grand Portage, plus the scenic, paved, wilderness route known as the Gunflint Trail. The best source for ATV trail advice is the Cook County ATV Club.

The Iron Range

ATV 5On 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 11-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. 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!