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Safe Social Distancing Outdoor Recreation Up North

Grand Rapids, Minnesota is a great place to get away, safe social distance, and enjoy a wide variety of outdoor recreation up north in Minnesota. When you are ready to travel again, consider heading north to Grand Rapids, MN. The perfect up north drive destination that allows you to leave the crowds, social distance and feel safe. The Grand Rapids, MN lodging properties and businesses are ready to serve you, adhering to new CDC and Department of Health safety standards. Here is a list of safe social distancing outdoor recreation for you to enjoy in northern Minnesota:


The Itasca County area offers thousands of acres of federal, state, county and industrial forest land that are open to off-highway vehicle riding, and several designated trails. Forest or logging roads are an excellent choice for ATV/OHV use as well. In Itasca County, there are over 200 miles of ATV trails to ride. Itasca County has opened up all of their roads (except Cty Rd 75 – Scenic State Park), and the City of Grand Rapids has also opened up their streets to ATV travel (except the Downtown Business District – 1st Ave, Pokegama Ave, and 1st Street). The closest designated ATV/OHV trail to ride is located 9 miles south on Hwy 169. The UPM Blandin ATV Trail gives you direct access to a designated mix forest ATV/OHV trail. You access the parking lot on Smith Drive, and from here you can ride to Hill City. This is a great day ride. Hill City offers several dining establishments and gas stations to take a break, grab food, and enjoy public restrooms. Click HERE to view more ATV/OHV trail maps.


Grand Rapids, Minnesota has a lot of biking opportunities to bike among Minnesota’s nature. If you are looking for paved bike paths seek the Mesabi Trail and City of Grand Rapids sidewalks and designated bike paths, view the maps by Get Fit Itasca. Along the Mesabi Trail expect rolling hills, crossing a rope bridge, biking among tall pine trees, through tamarack bogs, and around old mine reclaimed land. If you are into off-road biking (aka single track trails) then you will want to check out the Legion Trail and the newly opened Tioga Recreation Area. This single-track purposeful built single-track trail offers a diverse riding experience with multi-level terrain and skills courses. There is a trail for every biker in the Grand Rapids, MN area. Click HERE for more about biking in the Grand Rapids, MN area.


The Grand Rapids, MN area has over 1,000 area lakes to fish. There are several fishing piers to fish from land. Forest Lake Pier located behind the Forest Lake Restaurant is great for panfish. The Mississippi Fishing Piers located behind the Grand Rapids Area Library is a great place to fish for several species of fish (walleye, panfish, and an occassional northern). Pokegama Dam located on Hwy 2 W is a great location to fish on the Mississippi River as well; just make sure to abide by their distance from the dam area. Trout Lake in Coleraine has several places to fish from land to catch panfish, walleyes, trout, bass and more. Tioga Beach has a great fishing pier that you can catch a wide variety of fish species (walleye, northern, panfish, and bass) on Pokegama Lake. Check out Visit Grand Rapids Lakes & Fishing Page for more information.


The Chippewa National Forest is the perfect place to hike. There are many designated hiking trails that are well maintained and marked. You will discover hundred year old pine trees, tamarack bogs, and lots of wildlife to enjoy. Here are some locations to check out to hike: Suomi Hills Trail, Simpson Creek, and the Lost Forty. Lost 40 SNA owes its old-growth pine forest to a surveying error that occurred during the Public Land Survey in 1882. As the story goes, the pines were missed by loggers because surveyors mistakenly mapped the area as Coddington Lake. (The lake is actually located a half-mile to the southeast. Oops.). The site was re-surveyed and the error corrected in 1960. Shortly after, it was incorporated into Big Fork State Forest and its old trees have since endured. Click HERE for more information about hiking in the Grand Rapids, MN area.


The Edge of the Wilderness (EOW) Scenic Byway starts in Grand Rapids. This is the first designated Minnesota scenic byway. It runs 47 miles from Grand Rapids to Effie ,Minnesota. This byway is very scenic with nature around every corner. You will view tall pine and mix hardwood forests, many clear blue lakes, charming shops and restaurants, and many places to pull off and take a picture. The rolling hills and tight corners of the EOW is the perfect place to take a motorcycle ride. Click HERE for more up north motorcycle ride ideas.

Paddling Sports

You will find places where you can paddle. The Mississippi River runs right through the middle of downtown in Grand Rapids. This is a great place to paddle. Paddle Hoppers has kayak, canoe, stand up paddle boards and equipment to rent and paddle right from their landing on the Mississippi River. You can also rent their equipment and take to one of over 1,000 lakes around the Grand Rapids, MN area. Some smaller lakes that are perfect for paddling: Prairie Lake located right outside of Grand Rapids to the north has a very scenic southern part called “The Gorge” which is reminiscent of the rocky northern shore.  It also has a park midway up the lake where you can take a break, stretch your legs and eat lunch.  Siseebakwet or Sugar lake is south of town and offers aqua clear waters and a restaurant where you can take a swim and grab lunch.  Another great lake is Spider. The southern part is located in a semi-primitive area (non-motorized for vehicles).  There are multiple designated camp spots and accessible hiking trails, making it a perfect lunch stop or overnight camping destination. Click HERE for more on paddling sports.

So, when you are ready to travel again, consider heading north to Grand Rapids, MN. A couple hour drive north from the Twin Cities, Grand Forks and Fargo, and a little over an hour from Duluth. This hidden gem of a community has an abundance of outdoor recreation for all ages. It is the perfect place to find your ideal balance in Minnesota’s nature. Come relax, regroup, and reconnect up north. Request a Grand Rapids Visitor Guide to be mailed to you by calling 218-326-9607, view our NEW Interactive Visitor Guide, or download the PDF Version of the Grand Rapids Visitor Guide.

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