The Mesabi Trail


Winding through the heart of the Mesabi Iron Range in Northeast Minnesota, the Mesabi Trail provides close encounters with nature for joggers, cyclists, and walkers like me. When completed, the trail will have 145 miles of paved paths from Grand Rapids to Ely, with several spurs through the picturesque woodlands and around the old, historic iron-ore pits.


A three-mile loop encircles the St. James pit just north of our little mining town, Aurora.

A casual stroll around the pit is the perfect way to spend a beautiful summer afternoon, and I thought I’d share a few pics I’ve taken on my walks.


A spiderweb along the path is heavy with dew in the fresh morning air.

A walk into the woods of Northern Minnesota can be breath-taking, but sometimes we’re reminded that nature can be brutal as well. With no hunting on the ubiquitous mining property, deer populations soar, and the wolves are well-fed.


I found this about 50 yards from my door.

There are a great variety of trees, plants, shrubs, and flowers all along the path.


These are wild hops growing on a barb-wire fence on the back side of the pit.

For a longer walk, a path splits off up ahead through the forest where it reconnects with a different part of the Mesabi Trail. It winds around massive mine dumps and skirts the Giant’s Ridge Ski Resort area.


The trail crosses the Embarrass River on an old wooden bridge.

It truly is “God’s Country” up on the Ridge, as one may encounter bald eagles soaring over the hills, moose, deer, or even a black bear.


The bridge crossing “The Narrows” between Sabin and Wynne Lakes.

Circling back to the St.James pit, one may stumble upon old cement foundations left behind when the mining companies pulled out.


Old concrete structures are hidden in the undergrowth around the pit.

The pits are great places to hunt for rocks; I’ve found quartz crystals, amethyst, and iron pyrite, to name a few.


The iron-ore may be gone, but rock hounds would love this place.

The trail is perfect for bicycling too, as motor-vehicles are not allowed.


My trusty ol’ Huffy on a dump overlooking the pit.

When winter comes, the pits are the last to freeze, and all the steam coming off the water makes for nature’s frosty latticework.


I took this photo mere hours before the whole pit froze over.

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