Southeast of Ely in the Superior National Forest, the McDougal Lake Campground serves as a base to explore a wonderful network of old forest roads that lie north of SR 1. Starting from the intersection of SR 1 and the Bandana Lake Road (SR 383), a 13 mile loop circles Pike Lake and rejoins the highway 1.4 miles west of the Bandana intersection. This loop can be combined with FS386 and FS173 for a loop of about 31 miles round-trip from the campground. The road surfaces vary from grovel (mostly) to natural surface to blacktop. You can access 8 lovely lakes along the way and, if time permits, take a short side trip from the Tomahawk Rood (FS173) to an overlook atop Jackpine Mountain (too overgrown to see much in summertime!). Ambitious mountain bikers could also combine all or part of these loops with the trails described in the Nickel Lake Area.
Overall, McDougal Lake is the 12th most popular mountain bike trail of all 31 mountain biking rides in Minnesota.