Between Grand Rapids and Ely in the Superior National Forest, the Mesabi Trail is a 132 mile cross country ski route connecting 25 towns. At present, 81 miles of the trail have been completed. This paved route mainly follows old railroad grades.
The westernmost completed segment connects the communities of Grand Rapids, Coleraine, Bovey, and Taconite. The terrain varies from hilly in the west to a bit flatter in the east. A few hills will test your stamina going up and your brakes on the way down. This area is predominately forested and is dotted with overlooks and lakes. The Prairie River bridge is always a nice rest stop on this end of the trail.
To reach the Grad Rapids trailhead from combined Highways 169 & 2, turn north onto 3rd Ave to Itasca County Fairgrounds. Trail access and parking are located at the north side of the fairgrounds.
Overall, Mesabi Trail is the 15th most popular cross country ski area of all 39 Nordic ski destinations in Minnesota.