We consider ourselves pretty lucky – the Gitchi-Gami State Trail is right out our front door. The paved bike path, or recreation trail, takes riders by incredibly beautiful features of the Minnesota’s North Shore: Lake Superior, state parks, rock cliffs, waterfalls, and river gorges. It travels through both temperate and boreal forest and gives those who travel it an up-close experience of what the area has to offer.
When the trail is complete it will travel nearly ninety miles from Two Harbors to Grand Marais, Minnesota along the shore of Lake Superior. Currently, 30 miles of trail exists in various sections, including a section of trail that parallels Lake Superior from Schroeder to Tofte and Tofte to Ski Hill Road near Lutsen.
This section of trail is held dear to our heart – partially because its right outside our shop and we know it intimately, but also because it passes through Temperance State Park, over the Temperance River Gorge and by Carleton Peak. In the spring, riders/walkers will see many seasonal waterfalls and streams as they travel down the path. It offers a delightful experience to anyone willing to get on their bike and pedal, or of course, lace on some shoes and walk.
Although the trail doesn’t run through the city of Tofte, bikers/walkers can take Tofte Park Road on the southwest end of town to Highway 61 and meet up with the next section of trail which runs along the highway on the northeast end of town. Alternatively, you can avoid the most dangerous areas of Highway 61 that have a narrow shoulder and busy traffic by traveling down Tofte Park Road, turning right onto Highway 61 until reaching Bluefin Grille where you’ll bike into the parking lot of the Grille and take the wooden lake path (please walk your bikes across the path) to the northeast side of Tofte. There you’ll meet up with the next section of the Gitchi-Gami trail near the Commercial Fishing Museum. A map of the route to get through Tofte can be found below:
Many wonderful restaurants and businesses are located along this section of the trail including:
- Schroeder Baking Company (19 Lambs Way, Schroeder): This little gem serves up baked goods, soft serve ice cream and hot coffee – an excellent place to begin or end your ride.
- North 61 (7902 West Highway 61, Schroeder): This retail shop carries locally-inspired lifestyle goods and recently opened. It is located right on Highway 61 and also touts its shaved ice.
- Sawtooth Outfitters (7213 MN-61, Tofte): Stop in and say hi when passing by, and let us know if you have any gear or North Shore adventure related questions – we’re always happy to help. You’ll find us across the highway from Bluefin Bay in Tofte.
- Bluefin Grille (7192 MN-61, Tofte): This grille has regionally inspired cuisine. Plus, the dining areas offer outstanding views of Lake Superior.
- Coho Café (7192 MN-61, Tofte): This little bistro serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have wonderful pizza, sandwiches, drinks (wine, beer, coffee, etc.) and baked goods.
- North Shore Winery and Sawtooth Mountain Cider House (202 Ski Hill Road, Lutsen): You’ll have to go a little out of your way for a stop at this winery and cider house, but we think it is worth it. They make a variety and wines, cider and root beer that are all named after local attractions and activities. To get there from the end of the trail section near Lutsen, you’ll need to ride up Ski Hill Road about 1.5 miles and you’ll find it on the right side of the road.
The remaining 60 miles of trail will be constructed as time and funding allows. Later this year construction is expected to begin on a five mile section of trail between Cutface Creek (southwest of Grand Marais) and Grand Marais. Planning has also begun for the trail to extend from Ski Hill Road near Lutsen into the city of Lutsen, and a section of trail that runs through Tofte will be completed in the next two years. We anticipate the construction of all of these sections.
Other trail section highlights outside of our immediate area include:
- Silver Creek Tunnel: this short (.5 mile) wraps around the Silver Creek Tunnel east of Two Harbors. It offers incredible views of Lake Superior and the perfect spot for many people to stretch their legs when they’re traveling up or down the shore along Highway 61.
- Gooseberry Falls to Silver Bay: It is the longest section of the trail that has been built, and arguably one of the most scenic as it connects iconic North Shore attractions like Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse and the Beaver River Falls.
- Grand Marais Trail: The 1.5 mile trail runs through the small town, taking riders/walkers past the harbor and many small shops and restaurants.
No fee or pass is required to use any section of the trail, so the next time you’re nearby any section of the trail we encourage you to get out and use it. Whether you’re in Two Harbors, Tofte or Grand Marais are, we think you’ll find something wonderfully surprising when you’re out there.
A map and details about current trail segments are available from the Gitchi-Gami Trail Association here: http://www.ggta.org/map.php