Five miles of dedicated off-road bicycling trails on National Forest land north of the Iron Range town of Virginia will officially open this week. The Lookout Mountain project, built by the Iron Range Off-Road Cyclists (IROC) and the Superior National Forest, is located at the Laurentian Divide area along Highway 53.
The trails range in difficulty from easy to difficult, with the bulk of the miles falling in the moderate category. Several unique features have been constructed to test cyclists’ technical skills, while other parts were designed for a smooth run down narrow dirt trails, the corners banked a little like a bobsled run. In addition to the tight and twisting singletrack, the system also includes more than six miles of ski trails where bikes are allowed.
Volunteers from IROC dedicated hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteer hours to trail-building, according to the Forest Service.
“This project is a wonderful example of what can happen when volunteers work together with the Forest Service to provide and maintain recreational opportunities on their National Forest. If not for these volunteers this system of mountain bike trails would not be possible.” said Tim Engrav with the Superior National Forest.
There were previously only two dedicated opportunities for off-road cycling on the Superior National Forest (although all Forest Service roads are open to bicycles). The agency says they are “a great way to explore the large expanses of the Superior National Forest. You can cover a lot of ground and still be close to nature.” The Pincushion Mountain and Britton Peak Trails have been built in recent years on the Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts near Grand Marais and Tofte.
On the other end of the Range, the state of Minnesota’s 27 miles of mountain bike trails at the Cuyuna Recreation Area has been a big attraction during the past several years.
The Lookout Mountain trails will officially open at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and trail ride this Thursday, Sept. 22 from 4 to 6 p.m. To get to the trailhead, take Highway 53 north four miles from Virginia. The trailhead is located at the Laurentian Divide Recreation Area on the northbound lane.