These are the rides on every bike’s bucket list. With no crowds and over 2,000 miles of potential rides, Cook County is a bike and biker’s paradise. From the paved Gitchi Gami State Trail winding along the Lake Superior shore to white-knuckle singletrack to endless backcountry roads threading the Superior National Forest, biking in Cook County, Minnesota is a ride you will never forget.
1) Heartbreak Hill Loop | Distance: 18 miles | 2 – 5 hours | Difficulty: Intermediate 1 Heartbreak Hill Loop_LTTA
Description: Over the river and through the woods is the best way to summarize this trail. In the first few miles you gain a good deal of elevation. This scenic loop crosses the Temperance River multiple times, it is recommended to take the opportunity to park the bike and take a short hike along the river.
Terrain: This ride blends gravel road adventure with a taste of the Gitchi Gami paved bike trail. Hybrid or mountain bike are recommended. Be aware that the Sawbill Trail is a well-traveled road and a main route into the inland lakes – be cautious of vehicle traffic.
2) Onion River Road | Distance: 7 miles round trip* | 30 minutes – 1 hour [*out and back trail] | Difficulty: Easy [Onion River Road - Route MAP]
Description: Easy, family-friendly ride with several fun side-trip opportunities. Several hiking, cross-country ski, and snowmobile trails cross through the area. This light traffic gravel road is a gradual climb through a mixed and scenic forest. Please remember riding on the Superior Hiking trail is not allowed.
3) Honeymoon Loop + 3a) Spur Trail | Distance: 20 miles | 3 – 5 hours | Difficulty: Intermediate [Honeymoon Loop_Route Map]
Description: A classic Northwoods ride, the Pancore/Honeymoon Loop will give you a taste of the ruggedness of the area. Rated intermediate due to distance but mild for route.
Terrain: Generally smooth gravel with a few rockier sections on the Pancore Lake Road. Recommended to use a mountain bike but, with caution, a hybrid bike is capable.
4) Pike Lake Loop + 4a) Spur Trail | Distance: 22 miles | Estimated time: 2 – 4 hours | Difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced [Pike Lake Loop_Route Map]
Description: After a rainstorm, sections of this trail can be very muddy. There are many spur trails and roads, pay close attention to remain on main trail. Excellent wildlife viewing.
Terrain: Gravel and primitive minimum maintenance road. Mountain bike recommended.
5) Devil Track Loop | Distance: 18 miles | Estimated Time: 2.5 – 4 hours | Difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced [route-finding skills needed] [Devil Track Loop_Route Map]
Description: Remote trail is perfect for adventurous mountain bikers. Beautiful 150-year-old white pines line the way. Some logging traffic.
Terrain: Mixed – pavement, gravel and snowmobile trails. Mountain bike recommended.
6) Pine Mountain Road | Distance: 16 miles round trip* | 1.5 – 3 hours [*out and back trail] | Difficulty: Intermediate [Pine Mountain Trail_Route Map]
Descriptions: The gravel forest service road is has some traffic but very minimal and travels past spruce bogs, multiple streams, and towering pines. Great moose habitat.
Terrain: Primitive gravel road. Mountain and hybrid bike suitable.
7) Fire Box Loop | Distance: 16.7 miles of trail | 2 – 4 hours | Difficulty: Easy – Intermediate [Fire Box Loop_Route Map]
Description: Scenic hilly terrain that is very remote with little to no vehicle traffic. Bring a map and pay attention to the signs, there are numerous spur trails along this route. Ride can be done in either direction.
Terrain: Gravel and forest service roads as well as portions of multiuse trails. Mountain bike recommended.
8) Lima Grade | Distance: 26.2 miles round trip* | 1.25 – 4 hours [*out and back trail] | Difficulty: Easy [Lima Mountain Trail_Route Map]
Description: A great extended family ride. Elevation climbs very gradually over rivers and through low areas of pine forest. BWCAW borders the trail. Multiple starting points allow for variable distance rides.
Terrain: Gravel road with minimal traffic. Perfect for both mountain and hybrid bikes.
9) Central Gunflint Trails | Distance: 60+ miles of trails | >1 – 4+ hours | Difficulty: Easy – Intermediate
Description: Very remote hilly terrain with little to no road traffic. Map and navigational tools recommended as there are multiple spur trails along the route. Consult either Golden Eagle Lodge or Bearskin Lodge for maps and information.
Terrain: Primarily cross country ski trails and private gravel roads near the BWCAW. Great terrain for adventurous families with some experience. Ideal for either mountain or fat tire biking.
10) Old Gunflint Trail | Distance: 9 miles round trip* | 1 – 2 hours [*out and back trail] | Difficulty: Easy [Old Gunflint Trail_Route Maps]
Description: Old Gunflint Trail is County Road 92, a fairly flat trail that passes through a healthy black spruce forest. Part of the trail runs through the Ham Lake fire recovery zone.
Terrain: Gravel road with minimal traffic. Mountain and hybrid bike suitable.
11) Grand Portage Trails
Several trails are available in the Grand Portage area. Please call 1-800-543-1384 for trail maps and more information.
12) Pincushion Mountain | Distance: 10+ miles of trail | Estimated Time: >1 – 2 hours | Difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced [Pincushion Single Track Trails_ Route Map]
Description: A variety of single track trails loop around the multi use recreation center.
Terrain: Narrow Single-track trails.
13) Britton Peak Trails | Distance: 5.5 miles of trail | >1 – 2 hours | Difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced [Britton Peak Single Track - Route Map]
Description: A series of single-track mountain bike adventures await discovery.
Terrain: Narrow single-track trails. Mountain bike required.
14) Gitchi-Gami State Trail | Schroeder – Lutsen Resort | Distance: 10.41 miles each way | 1 – 5 hours | Difficulty: Easy [Gitchi Gami State Trail]
Description: A paved recreational trail to provide a safe corridor for bicyclists, in-line skaters, joggers and walkers along Highway 61, paralleling the North Shore of Lake Superior. Trail can be broken into segments or done in full.
Terrain: Paved multi-use path offers a safe route along the highway but crosses multiple private driveways. Travel with caution then approaching high traffic zones. Any bike can be used on this trail but ideal for road biking.
Backcountry & Forest Service Roads
Countless backcountry gravel roads and trails wind through the Superior National Forest and into some of the most breathtaking country ever to roll beneath your bike. Pick up an official Cook County Highway Map or the official Superior National Forest Visitor Map for a comprehensive list of all roads and trails.
Where to rent bikes, get the gear, take guided tours and more.
- Lutsen 99er –> This 99-mile course (69, 39 and 19-mile options also offered) takes advantage of the scenery and topography of Minnesota’s North Shore.
The Lutsen 99er is your chance to race through the beauty of Minnesota’s North Shore. With other distances like the 69er, 39er, 19er and Kids Races, this weekend is packed with fun, adventure and killer mountain biking for everyone.
- Le Grand Du Nord –> Le Grand Du Nord represents one of the most amazing gravel courses in the US. There are 100 and 50 mile options offered.
Amazing routes, great beer and food, and time spent outside with your friends and family. Doesn’t get much better than that.