A ride along the Taconite State Trail will take you on a ride through the history of iron-mining in northeastern Minnesota. Its name comes from the taconite that is mined from the Mesabi Iron Range, near Hibbing. When high-grade natural iron ore was plentiful in this region of Minnesota, taconite was considered waste rock. But as supply of high-grade ore decreased, industry began to view taconite as a resource. It is known for saving Minnesota’s iron ore mining industry and has since been mined, crushed, concentrated into pellets and shipped via Lake Superior around the world to be made into steel.
Winding through the birch, aspen and pine forests of northern Minnesota, this natural-surface trail stretches 165 miles from Grand Rapids to Ely, Minnesota. It passes through the communities of Grand Rapids, Tower, Ely and Side Lake. Camping is available along this section of trail at McCarthy Beach State Park, Pfeifer Lake National Forest, Bear Head Lake State Park and several rustic campsites along the way. Portions of the trail surpass places that accumulate standing water in the warmer months, so those new to the trail are encouraged to seek more information online or call the local Trails Area office.
The Taconite State Trail intersects with the Arrowhead State Trail 10 miles south of Tower. The Arrowhead State Trail then connects the town of Tower with Ericsburg near International Falls and the Canada border. The trail passes through the communities of Tower, Cook, Orr and International falls – all of which offer parking, gas, food and lodging. Because much of the Arrowhead State Trail navigates through wetlands, approximately 69 miles of the trail are suitable for use during non-frozen months.
For more information, maps and a list of amenities along the trail, visit our website at www.mndnr.gov/statetrails.