Fifteen years ago, the idea for creating the area’s finest mountain bike trails at Britton Peak (Tofte, Minnesota) and the Pincushion Trail System (Grand Marais, Minnesota) began coming to life. Getting permission to flag, design and build the trails (the first to be allowed on national forest land in Minnesota) was the biggest hurdle. A planned visit from the Eagle Scouts of America looking for projects to be involved with on the Superior National Forest helped to push officials to allow it. Initially, two non-profit organizations: the Superior Cycling Association and Sugarbush Trail Association were able to scrape together enough funding and volunteers from multiple sources to make it all happen. Even in those early days of trail building, a much grander plan was in the back of their minds: adding a high quality trail system connecting the communities of Tofte, Lutsen and Grand Marais. The goal was to make the North Shore a destination riding area for mountain bikers all over the country.
Today, that dream is starting to come to fruition: a 1.2 million dollar wilderness flow trail, called Jackpot, is beginning to be built between Britton Peak in Tofte and Lutsen Mountains near Lutsen. Well over half of the trail to Lutsen is complete as of the time of this writing (mid-July 2019) and the remaining section of the intermediate trail is expected to be complete by the end of the summer. It will be an amazing, one-of-a-kind riding experience for bikers as it flows over and around ancient rock formations, past old growth cedar, under a dense maple canopy and through beautiful boreal forest.
The trail is being constructed by Rock Solid Trail Contracting, a company based out of Copper Harbor, Michigan, who incorporates the latest trail building technology. Watching their teams build a trail is an incredible experience (imagine two very capable excavators working in tandem contouring the trail while being followed by a rock armoring crew that places smaller rock like a jigsaw puzzle and a finishing crew that tamps down the trail and makes it smooth). They’re averaging roughly 300 feet of finished trail each work day.