The Gitchi-Gami State Trail: Follow the North Shore

May 11 , 2012
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Gitchi-Gami State Trail will be an 88-mile non-motorized, paved recreational trail between Two Harbors and Grand Marais, Minnesota when it reaches completion.

One of the most popular and scenic destinations in Minnesota is the North Shore of Lake Superior. Highway 61, which follows along this beautiful,  stony shore, has been designated an “All-American Road.” You don’t need to ride on the road, however, paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail gives cyclists a safe corridor to explore this beautiful route.

Though it will eventually run for 88 miles, this trail is being constructed in segments as funding becomes available. The longest trail segment, 13.1 miles between Gooseberry Falls State Park and the Beaver River in Beaver Bay, 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, 21 miles of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail have been completed and paved.

Another 3.5 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. 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 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.

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  1. My girlfriend and I rode the trail from Two Harbors to Grand Marias last fall, Sept 2011, it is a nice trail were it is completed, but had to ride along Hwy 61, narrow shoulders and high speed traffic, was a little scary on the narrow shoulders, but we had fun and seen the sights along the way, will be glad when the trail is completed, beautiful area to have a vacationRichard C.