Northern Wilds Magazine
Gitchi-Gami State Trail crosses the Split Rock River mouth at Lake Superior. | ERIC CHANDLER
Along the Shore

Annual Ride celebrates Gitchi-Gami Trail growth

Two HarborsThe Gitchi-Gami Trail Association (GGTA) hosts its 18th Annual Bike Ride this month on August 18 at 9 a.m. starting at Gooseberry State Park. Cyclists can choose four distances: 8, 28, 34 or 55 miles. Children are free with a paid adult. There will be a tent at the starting point to send off the riders. Adult riders receive a T-shirt and kids get a water bottle. The 8-mile ride will be great for families with a tent, treats, and special events at the turnaround near the Twin Points Protected Access. The scenic Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural Area is also located there. Visit the GGTA website for details on how to register for the Annual Bike Ride.

According to Michelle Pierson, executive director of the GGTA, there were over 120 riders last year. “More than a third of the people chose the 55-mile ride,” said Pierson. She enthusiastically described the 28, 34, and 55-mile options that will all pass through the Beaver Bay rest area where there will be a snack station. This rest area marks the newest segment of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail and connects two previously built sections, creating the longest completed stretch of the trail (17 miles).

Pierson described the ribbon-cutting ceremony when this new segment was dedicated this year on May 24. Mayors of both Silver Bay and Beaver Bay attended, along with Erika Rivers, the division director of Minnesota State Parks and Trails. This new trail segment provides a safer crossing over the Beaver River bridge for both cyclists and pedestrians. It also includes a newly paved section along the West Road to get to the previously built segment that travels up into Silver Bay. Pierson said this new trail gives “spectacular views of the waterfall of the Beaver River” and connects to the Silver Bay stretch that is “really lovely.”

The Gitchi-Gami State Trail got state trail designation in 1999 and is owned and managed by the Minnesota DNR. The GGTA is a volunteer non-profit association that advocates for the trail. The long-term goal is an 89-mile paved trail that stretches from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. Currently, 30 miles of trail is complete. The future of the trail depends on funding. Pierson described efforts for new trail segments and improvements over the next few years. These include projects near Cutface Creek west of Grand Marais, a connector from the Lutsen Mountains ski hill road to the town of Lutsen, and refinements to the trail as it passes through the town of Tofte. The GGTA helped administer a 2016 Gitchi-Gami State Trail Plan Update and Scoping Project. This large and detailed document helps prioritize trail construction and funding. The trail is taking a long time to complete, but new trail sections signal steady forward progress. The GGTA has a great detailed interactive map that shows completed and planned trail segments at their website:

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