Along the Mesabi Trail

In early August 2005, Gail and I took our tandem bike up north and spent two days riding part of the Mesabi Trail from Hibbing to Hoyt Lakes.  Ok, technically, we rode the Mesabi Trail from Hibbing to point just past Biwabik and then took the highway the last 7 or 8 miles into Hoyt Lakes.  We chose this in part because not much of the Mesabi Trail is complete past Biwabik and we needed some place to stop. 

This link will take you to the map

Our start point was chosen to be Hibbing-home of Bob Dylan, or Bobby Zimmerman as he was known while growing up here, and the Greyhound Bus museum.  The reason we chose Hibbing as our start point was because that was as far west as the Boundary Country Trekking (BCT) company would support us.  The way this worked was that we spent Monday night in a B&B in Hibbing and on Tuesday rode to Virginia, MN.  BCT moved our luggage to our next stop, the Coates Plaza Hotel in Virginia.  On Wednesday, we rode from Virginia to Hoyt Lakes and BCT again moved our luggage.  On Thursday, BCT picked up us, our luggage, and our bike and moved us back to Hibbing and our parked truck.  In addition to moving us, BCT also made all the reservations, got our wheel passes for the trail and had negotiated with our hosts along the way to provide us a lunch to take with us as well as provide us breakfast.  Worked like a charm.  Here is a link to Boundary Country Trekking

With that background out of the way, a little narrative and a few pictures.


  This is the Mitchell-Tappan House, the B&B we stayed in Monday night.  It is a new B&B and our hostess, Pam, is doing a great job at turning this old home into a quality B&B.

  Here we are all set to go.  Since our luggage is being moved for us, we can travel pretty light.  We have two water bottles on the frame.  In the pack on the back are our bathing suits, two towels, a wrench, a tire pump, a small first aide kit, two books, my wallet, sunscreen, and my reading glasses.  On top of that are two insulated lunch bags, provided by the Mitchell-Tappan House.  Under my seat is a small bag containing a spare tube and small tool kit.  Gail is carrying her digital camera.  In the pockets on the back of my shirt are, cell phone, ready cash, map of the trail, gum, and a few mints.

Before getting on the trail in Hibbing we rode through an area where the town used to be located (the entire town was moved for the mine in the 1920's) and up to the mine overlook.  this is one shot of one small section of the Rust Hull Iron mine

Here is a view of a portion of the trail just out of Hibbing.

Just out of Chisholm we had our hardest hill climb of the day which put us up where we had this view looking back towards Chisholm.    The small body of water you can see is one of many former mines that are now lakes.  I say this was our hardest climb of the day, and it was, but I don't want you to think it was an Alps like climb-keep in mind that we are basically flat landers when it comes to bike riding.

Just outside of Buhl, about 14 miles from our start, we stopped for a cooling swim (temperatures were near 90 and the humidity was high) and lunch at this very nice town park.

Our next stop was in Mountain Iron where I posed in this old, small, steam shovel bucket.

    Modern buckets can pick up something roughly the size of Rhode Island and dwarf this.

We completed the days ride in Virginia at the Coates Plaza Hotel.  Total ride for the day was a little over 30 miles.

The next morning we were off after a nice breakfast.  here is Gail in front of the hotel-I'm not sure what the banner means-maybe they are changing the name of the hotel or the restaurant in the hotel.

The climb out of Virginia was the toughest part of our two days but after that we had some fun downhill runs. The trail also had some pretty runs through the forest like this one. 

Here is a new bridge over the railroad which was built for the trail and for the Off Road Vehicles Park.   For the most part, the trail uses existing old railroad bridges and underpasses to cross major highways or main railroad lines.

We ate lunch in the city park in Biwabik, home of Honk the Moose.    Honk was a real Moose who was briefly the town pet.  For those with young readers, there was a Newberry winning book written about him.  Look it up.

Day's end found us in Hoyt Lakes, after a ride of about 27 miles.  We got into our motel just a few minutes before a major thunderstorm came roaring through.

All in all, it was a fun ride and we'd do it again sometime.  We may try to do a one day ride over part of the trail this fall when the colors are changing.  We'll see.