Mountain bike fever in Northern Minnesota

Last week I traveled down to the Cuyuna Range to work on a story about outdoor recreation and economic sustainability. While I was down there, phones were buzzing as organizers there learned the International Mountain Biking Association had elevated the region from a Bronze-level ride center to Silver, an elite level for a place that had just gotten into the game a few years ago.

Meantime, in Duluth, bicyclists celebrated their own news. Duluth had earned Gold-level mountain biking status, one of only eight places in the world to receive such a designation. Like the Cuyuna Range, many of Duluth’s one-way dedicated mountain bike trails are only a few years old, though the city has had some mountain bike trails for decades.

In the process of working on my story, which you’ll hear about in due time, it became clear that no one really thinks mountain biking will replace the middle class jobs lost over the past half century in Northern Minnesota. What people do believe is that these trails — and the throngs of people who travel to use them — reflect a lifestyle change, an attitude, that has value in a redeveloping economy.

It’s also striking to me that we have several top level mountain biking centers throughout the upper midwest — from Cuyuna, to Duluth, to Cable, Wisconsin, to Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Folks here on the Mesabi Iron Range are exploring mountain bike trails as well. On one hand, the marketplace is filling quickly. On the other, the vast infrastructure of potential trails along the mine lands of the Mesabi stagger the imagination.

The persistence of the people involved and the attitude of the communities determine so much. Just like athletics, what starts as a physical challenge always ends up a mental challenge in the end.


  1. Robin Raplinger says

    Another new site of single track is the Larentian Divide recreation area, just north of Virginia. Over 6 miles of single track developed by volunteers in coordination with the Superior Nat. Forest. Join the no-drop group ride Mondays at 5:30 to discover the new and improved trails!

  2. Northern Minnesota One of the best beautiful place in the world.
    this is such a very beautiful place for adventure & riding mountain bike
    NEW AND IMPROVED TRAILS.All the track is incredible.
    You can also see my site: (Best Mountain Bikes Under 1000$).

  3. Northern Minnesota is my One of the favorite place in America. It has largest green forest, amazing beautiful river. About 30 miles up the road, on the east edge of Two Harbors, a faux-log cabin beckons from the side of the road, as it has for the past four decades. One of a handful of smoked fish purveyors along the shore. This place is perfect for mountain biking.

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