Road riding on the North Shore. Bikers looking for longer distances and more challenging terrain have found many other opportunities along the North Shore. Beyond the southwest and northeast ends of the GGST corridor are road biking destinations that have attracted bicyclists for many years. The 19-mile Scenic Highway between Duluth and Two Harbors is a remnant of the old Highway 61, which has become a prime destination for recreational bikers as well as those training for triathalons. It features wide shoulders and minimal traffic (those in a hurry are traveling inland on the four-lane expressway), as well as many points of interest, including the town of Knife River and opportunities for eating, shopping and exploring Lake Superior's rocky shoreline.
Beyond the northeast terminus of the trail in Grand Marais, the 40-mile stretch of Highway 61 to the Canadian border is an established bicycling destination. This portion of Highway 61 has wide shoulders and is much more lightly traveled than the highway southwest of Grand Marais. It is generally relatively flat, except for the challenging climb of Mt. Josephine on the far end. Side trips along lakeside paved roads at Croftville, Hovland, Judge C.R. Magney State Park and the town of Grand Portage provide enjoyable biking. The many attractions of Grand Portage include the National Park Visitors Center and heritage site. Just before the border, Grand Portage State Park features a new visitors center and a handicapped accessible trail along the Pigeon River, with decks providing views of the state's highest waterfall.
Road riding is also possible on some of the paved county roads that intersect the GGST trail corridor. Roads that adjoin completed portions of the GGST provide an opportunity for longer and more challenging rides combining the trail and roads. County roads intersecting Highway 61 invariably slope uphill away from the lake -- some with steep grades. A combined trail/road ride is featured in the GGTA's Annual Ride -- incorporating the Gooseberry Falls to Beaver Bay segment of the trail with a loop ride on County Road 4 and Highways 1 and 61 north of Beaver Bay.
A cyclist looking for some "hill work" can combine a ride on the GGST to Tofte with a ride on the Sawbill Trail, County Road 2, to the end of the pavement. What goes up must come down on the return to the trail, and the downhill rides can be exhilerating. When the new stretch of trail from County Road 34 to County Road 3 (Lutsen Ski Hill Road) is complete this year or next, it will be possible to link two "hill rides" -- the Sawbill Trail and the Ski Hill Road -- on either end of completed trail on the GGST.
Many bicyclists -- especially touring riders -- ride on other portions of Highway 61. Stretches of Highway 61 that have wide shoulders, many recently added as part of the Minnesota Department of Transportation's realignment and reconstruction of the highway, are relatively safe for bicycle travel. (Watch this website for a map of the wide-shouldered sections of Highway 61, coming soon.) Other portions, however, have very narrow shoulders and limited visibility, and riding on those stretches is not recommended.
Biking resources. There are a limited number of bicycle retailers and rental outlets on the North Shore. It is advisable to contact the retailers in advance to reserve rental bikes.
Two Harbors: The Canoeist, 701 7th Avenue (Highway 61), rents mountain bikes only. Kids’ bikes and trailers are also available. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org; 218-834-3523.
Beaver Bay: Cove Point Lodge, 4614 Hwy 61, located on the GGST just outside the town of Beaver Bay, rents Trek men's, women's and children's bikes. Contact 218-226-3221 or 800-598-3221.
Tofte: Sawtooth Outfitters, 7213 W. Highway 61, rents Trek brand bikes, including comfort bikes, hybrids, tandems, kids’ bikes and trailers, mountain bikes, and car bike racks. Sawtooth Outfitters is also a full-service bicycle repair shop and retailer of bikes and biking clothing and equipment. Contact email@example.com; 218-663-7643.
Grand Marais: Superior North Outdoor Center (aka Velomarais), 13 S. Broadway, rents Specialized brand bikes, off-road, comfort or tandem, as well as trailers and car bike racks. Superior North Outdoor Center also offers guided trail tours and shuttles. It is a full-service bicycle repair shop and retailer of bikes, biking gear and clothing. Contact 218-387-2186.