Winter can go on forever…..

…here in Northeastern Minnesota. There are years winter can last 6 months. This is one of those years.

Trailhead parking situation on May 4th.

Now that I have a car I’ve been really enjoying starting my rides from different locations. My plan is to start getting familiar enough with the 100’s of miles of natural surface and gravel roads in the local State and National Forests that I can start formulating different routes for day rides and multiple day bikepacking adventures. There are more 6 million acres of managed forests within a two hour drive of my home in Duluth.

Snow and the sounds of water running everywhere.

This weekend my destination was about 85 miles up the north shore of Lake Superior.  I had been keeping an eye on the weather with the hopes of doing an overnight trip. I had heard they had gotten 12-15 inches of snow in some places earlier in the week. I wasn’t sure if the National Forest campgrounds would be snow free and open yet.


Turns out I was right. The above campground is the one I was planning to overnight at. It wasn’t even plowed out. So I planned a day trip. I mapped out three different potential loop rides in the area between Finland, Minnesota and Temperance River State Park. I chose a 19 mile loop that would take me through Finland State Forest and Superior National Forest lands. All 100% gravel.

Crossing the top of a small ridge.

My ride started on a ridge above Lake Superior. Since it is Spring time next to Lake Superior, the weather can change drastically as you get closer or further from the big lake. This ride had temps ranging from 60F degrees to 41F degrees and everything from sunshine and blue skies to clouds and rain. I stopped to change layers at least 4 times as I crossed two small ridges as I moved farther away from Lake Superior.


In many places there was a foot of snow or more and water running everywhere.


Two thirds of the way in on my loop I had mapped out I came to a junction. The direction I planned to go was on a Forest Service Road. It wasn’t plowed from the recent foot of snowfall.

Forest Road not plowed.

I thought about riding the vehicle tracks. But if they stopped in a couple of miles I’d have a long hike-a-bike to get back to my car. I chose to turn around and double back the way I had come. It would mean a 25.6 mile day instead of a 19 mile day.

As I came around a corner to Echo Lake the temperature literally dropped 6-8 degrees.

Ice still remaining on Echo Lake on May 4th.

The skies had clouded up and it was raining lightly. It certainly didn’t feel or look like May.


I absolutely loved this ride. It felt remote with very few vehicles passing me. No cell service. And I realized the potential for many more rides in this area. I’m looking forward to exploring these Minnesota forests much more.

The Jones Plus SWB complete was spectacular.

The Jones is meeting all my expectations for a mixed terrain bike so far. I like having the 27.5 x 3.0 tires. The ride is ultra comfortable. I think most people would be riding a drop bar gravel bike for these types of roads. But I really like the upright position of the short cockpit and Jones Loop bar. There was 1500 ft of climbing on this 25 mile ride. The Jones climbs effortlessly considering it’s a heavier steel bike. Last weekend I bought the saddle bag. It’s made by Cedaero, the same local company that made my custom framebag you see in the picture. It had the perfect carrying capacity for the layers I was carrying for the ride. It’s called the Drummond Draw Seat Bag. I bought it last week when I went to ride the Drummond Grade. I’m guessing the bag is named after that road. It’s only a few miles from shop where the Cedaero bags are made.

More adventures with the Jones to come.