Biking Between Isabella, MN and Ely, MN

The Other Mike and biked around a good chunk of Northern Minnesota last week with stops in Duluth, Little Marais, Ely, Virginia, Hibbing, and back to Duluth. One day that started out difficult and turned very cool over time was from Little Marais to Ely. Little Marais is around 10 miles up the North Short from Silver Bay. There is nothing there but an intersection, and rumor has it that a local real estate magnate is buying up the land for a family compound.

From the Little Marais intersection, climbing away from Lake Superior is tedious.

Climbing from Little Marais

There is no shoulder for much of the route, but little traffic. In areas where there is a shoulder, it tends to have a vibration cut-in to wake up the dozers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the shoulder particularly bike friendly.

The Knotted Pine is a hunting lodge and bar around 5 miles west of Isabella.

Knotted Pine, Isabella, MN

From this point, the road winds through deep woods and many lakes. This section was described to us as treacherous. Here’s a quick video of what this looks like in action:

The road is similar to this for around 30 miles with no gas stations or even bars, so be sure to take down a frozen pizza at the Knotted Pine before pushing off for Ely. I’d recommend this to anyone comfortable with riding single file. Mike and I passed through mid-day on a weekday, so may have avoided congestion issues. Two cars passing while biking may not fit all that well. It may also be worth avoiding during hunting season for a wide variety of reasons.

3 thoughts on “Biking Between Isabella, MN and Ely, MN”

  1. Yo, nice post, it summed up the ride pretty well.

    But you left out the hummingbirds while we waited out the rain in Isabella–
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8867046@N07/3809771510/in/set-72157621841880209/

    –and you shortened the ride by about half, which was really from the Spirit of Gitche Gumee along the scenic Hwy 61 inland to Ely. Here was the actual route–
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=6228+Old+Highway+61,+Silver+Bay,+Lake,+Minnesota+55614&daddr=47.409735,-91.162834+to:1605+East+Sheridan+St.,+Ely,+MN&geocode=&hl=en&mra=dpe&mrcr=0&mrsp=1&sz=12&via=1&sll=47.393236,-91.107216&sspn=0.169664,0.344696&ie=UTF8&z=12

    –which rose rather sharply for the first few miles off the lake, then settled into rolling hills that trended upward in elevation gain until a few miles north of Isabella, where it seemed to change to rolling hills trending downward toward Ely. It was the third longest day riding, lots of ups and downs and curves, luckily every driver was courteous the whole way, which made the ride less stressful.

    It was a great ride, the video summed up the mood pretty well.

  2. Camped at a National Forest Campground just west of the Knotted Pine last Labor Day. Beautiful sites but in WAY too far from Superior to make for good hiking.

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