Last summer, I biked some of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail from Gooseberry Falls through Split Rock Lighthouse State Park to Beaver Bay. Just east of Gooseberry Falls State Park, I found the 42-mile marker on Highway 61 and parked at the Twin Points public water access there. I climbed on my old road bike and headed east. After a pleasant tunnel through evergreens, in a half-mile, you cross a scenic bridge near some classic Lake Superior cliffs. Less than a mile later, you cross a bridge over the Split Rock River where there’s another great view of the big lake. Next there are rolling hills that lead you into the west end of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.
As you near the park road, there is a swooping, descending section of trail with signs that order bikers and rollerbladers to dismount. You cross several roads within the park and do some hairy climbs and descents out to the east. Then the trail flattens out all the way to Beaver Bay. There are a few spots along this eastern section that overlook Lake Superior, including a nice one on the bridge in Beaver Bay about a quarter mile past the end of the Gitchi-Gami Trail. From Mile 42 to Beaver Bay was 10 miles. It was a fantastic ride.
When I finally arrived back at the Twin Points Access lot at the end of the day, I took a short walk to a place called Iona’s Beach. There is a striking beach of pink rhyolite stones that stretches off to the east, perfect for dipping your sweaty dogs in the big lake. It’s a Minnesota Scientific and Natural Area and a perfect ending to a day on the trail. For more on this unique spot visit: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snas/detail.html?id=sna01000
I’d also recommend visiting http://www.ggta.org for more information as newer sections are added to the Gitchi-Gami State Trail as it grows between Highway 61 from Two Harbors all the way to Grand Marais. The lake views on this section of the trail, especially between Twin Points and Split Rock Lighthouse, are worth the trip.