Redhead Trail’s winter season underway

Fat Tire winter bike riders Mellisa Crowe and Briana Sterle crest a hill while riding on a groomed trail at the Redhead Mountain Bike Park at the Minnesota Discovery Center.

CHISHOLM — Mountain bike trails on the Iron Range built on former minelands are garnering some national attention.

AFAR Magazine recently listed the Iron Range as one of 39 destinations to visit in 2022. The article notes the Redhead Mountain Bike Park near Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm, the Tioga Trails in Cohasset and the Mesabi Trail with 135 miles of paved bicycle trails.

A $1.77 million grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) was used to cover the cost of constructing the Redhead Mountain Bike Park that is now owned and operated by the city of Chisholm. IRRRB, Minnesota Discovery Center and the Iron Range Off-Road Cyclists group remain partners with the city on.

MDC serves as the trailhead for the facility.

The Redhead is being promoted along with Tioga and a trail at Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik to encourage people to “Ride the Range.”

MDC Marketing Coordinator Jordan Metsa commented on the publicity Redhead is experiencing.

“It is a bit surreal to pick up an international travel magazine and see an article talking about Redhead Mountain Bike Park in the small town of Chisholm, Metsa, said via email.” The article is a testament to the unique experience Redhead offers and the decade of hard work it took to bring to fruition. It also shows that these types of investments in northern Minnesota are worth it and have the ability to attract new visitors to our region from around the world. The team here at Redhead is humbled by the fact that we are listed alongside prominent national and international tourist destinations like Abu Dhabi, Chile, Washington D.C., and California.”

The winter season at the Redhead Trail comes on the heels of a successful summer season experienced in 2021.

After a soft opening in 2020, Redhead celebrated a grand opening in June 2021 and in September the inaugural Renegade Trail Run — a 5K and 25K fundraiser for the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota United for Veterans program marked the first running race to be held there.

A highlight of the summer season was the Minnesota Cycling Association (MCA) race held in October at the Redhead.

The Redhead Mountain Bike Park, built on former mine land, dating back to 1898, opened for its second winter season on Dec. 3 — two months ahead of the 2020 winter season, exclusively for fat tire biking and snowshoeing.

In an effort to keep the winter trails rideable this season, IROC, MDC and the City of Chisholm have been educating the public about winter trail rules that prohibit activities other than fat tire biking and snowshoeing.

“We have seen a good number of fat tire mountain bikers, but snowshoeing has been the go to activity due to the significant snow accumulations over the past month,” Metsa said. “We encourage people to get out and snowshoe or bike — it’s not only fun and free, but it helps pack the trails so we can machine groom them and create a solid surface for fat tire biking.”

Pat Cassingham, a year-round bike enthusiast and volunteer with IROC and the “Trail Boss” for the Redhead, said IROC acquired a Snow Dog grooming machine at the end of the 2020-2021 season, and has since purchased a second grooming machine this year using grants, donations and money from the club to cover the cost.

Cassingham estimated it takes about three hours to groom the trail in the wintertime. IROC, MDC and the city have been doing their part to get out the word that only snowshoes and fat tire bikes are allowed at Redhead during the winter season.

“It’s been really good so far this year,” said the 32 year-old Cassingham. “People have been very respectful so far.”

Metsa said the recent recognition from AFAR

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