While the gravel options in our neck-o-da-woods are endless – you can find amazing gravel rides throughout the entire Arrowhead region and Northwestern Wisconsin – this route gives you an idea on how to begin. For a slightly shorter route utilize the Fox Farm Road rather then going all the way to the Rossini. For a no-car adventure consider the Matthew Loury State Trail.
An invaluable source for gravel routes is the DeLorme Gazetteer (there are a lot of places your phone will NOT work!) Example – the Wisconsin link above shows good options for for Douglas and Bayfield counties…but there are TONS of other great gravel ride options up there! Here in Minnesota too. Gravel rides are about exploring the region and finding your own experience!
Rossini Road (St Louis County Road 266), from Jean Duluth Road
This 65-mile ride (give or take) and its elements are some of the best gravel and mixed-terrain riding in Duluth. (That’s why they figure prominently in the Heck of the North.) Most riders use cyclocross bikes; some people ride mountain bikes; a few don’t mind punishing their road bikes.
From Woodland Avenue, hop on Snively Road, which becomes Jean Duluth Road at the intersection with Glenwood Road.
Follow Jean Duluth north until it meets Normanna Road/St. Louis County 44, then turn right.
Within a mile, County 44 will swoop into a big left turn; halfway through that bend, Normanna will head off on its own, and County 44 will combine with Pequaywan Lakes Road.
For long-distance and gravel-road riders, Pequaywan Lakes Road is a gateway to north-of-Duluth Nirvana. It hooks up with all sorts of loops, forest roads, and other routes that wind up in exotic locals like Brimson, Two Harbors, Skibo, Hoyt Lakes, and beyond. Consult Google Maps or a gazzetteer for creative options, and let us know what does and doesn’t suck.
But for the purposes of this route, turn right off of Pequaywan Lakes/County 44 onto Rossini/County 266.
Follow Rossini/county 2656 till it meets Lane Road (it stays County 266). Turn right.
Take Lane to Two Harbors Road/St. Louis County Highway 11. Turn right.
At the junction with App Road (which is also County 266), turn left.
Follow App till West Knife River Road/St. Louis County Road 231. Turn left.
Hang a right on Homestead Road/St. Louis County Highway 42.
Turn right onto Hegberg Road/St. Louis County Road 302.
Then go left onto McQuade Road, and right onto East Pioneer Road/St. Louis County Road 40.
At North Tischer Road/County Road 40, turn left. Follow the little curvy spot right onto Tischer Road/St. Louis County Road 11, and right again onto Lismore Road/County Road 11.
Lismore will meet Jean Duluth, which goes back to town.
For more of a challenge—lots of climbing—follow that same route in the opposite direction.
Directions to parking
Quite a few parking possibilities are available on residential streets and store lots in town, along Jean Duluth road on the way to Lismore, and along Pequaywan Lakes before it reaches Rossini.
About 68 miles round-trip (with many more or less possible) to and from the Jean Duluth Road-Glenwood Street intersection.
Terrain range and difficulty
A lot of gravel and some pavement. Moderately hilly, but no serious climbing. Some relatively deep-forest roads. Some farm pastures and fields. Horses. Cows. Some wild animals.