Where: Silver Bay to Duluth via Ely
Length: 177 miles
Time Needed: Allow 5 hours, including time for lunch.
by Gus Breiland
With rumors of curve-removal and fall colors on the horizon, MMM will be taking you up to the North Shore, the south edge of the Boundary Waters and Minnesota’s mining communities.
Up Nort! Some of MMM’s favorite long day or short weekend trips seem to orbit near Duluth. This month’s ride takes you up a wonderful road just up Highway 61from Duluth. 60 miles from Duluth and 4miles up the road from Silver Bay is Highway 1. Highway 1 takes you from Lake Superior to Ely, a little big town that plays host to the International Wolf Center and many camping and canoeing outfitters.
Take a good, long weekend to enjoy what this route has the potential to share. We all know Highway 61 as the home of Betty’s Pies, the Split Rock Light House and Gooseberry Falls State Park. Highway 1 is a twisty 2lane highway that travels though the Finland State Forest, Bear Head Lake State Park and the Superior National Forest.
Instead of a closed circle this month, we are taking you on aloof that you should consider, if you have the time. The basic loop is Silver Bay to Ely, Tower, and back down to Duluth. The Silver Bay to Ely stretch, as mentioned before, is a run through some beautiful parks and is twisty and undulating. The road is not overly technical, but it will keep your attention.
The trip back follows 135 and4 south and is the direct 2-lanemethod of travel from Tower back to Duluth. Outside of the loop are towns like Eveleth, with the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Chisholm, home of Minnesota’s Museum of Mines. The Mesabi Iron Range is just west of 135 where winding roads interlink the small mining communities of the North Country.
A great stop is the Soudan Underground Mine State Park. The hour-and-a-half tour of the mine includes a descent in an original elevator used by the miners to 27th level of the mine, over 2,300 feet below the surface. Your guide then takes you to mine chambers aboard an under-ground train. Truly fascinating for all but the claustrophobic.
While wandering, you will find roadside monuments to the local culture, like the Finnish Totem pole in Finland, the mine car in Soudan and the large steam loco-motive at the intersection of Highway 1and 135 in Tower. This is tourist land now so accommodations, lunch, dinner and pie are only a short trip down the road.
With lunch in Ely and time for a few photos this trip took about 5 hours, not including the 1.5 hours from Duluth to Silver Bay. We’ll see you on the road.
Ride along with our driving directions—it’s easy! The approximate odometer reading is printed before the written direction. Have fun! Start at the intersection of Hwy 61 and Hwy 1 north of Silver Bay, MN.
• 0.0 North on Hwy 1 from Hwy 61
• 6.1 Finland, MN
• 23.3 Isabella, MN
• 38.1 Intersection with Hwy 2
• 63.9 Ely sign
• 64.1 Turn left – follow Hwy 1
• 86.2 Soudan – Soudan Mines
• 88.6 Left – Hwy 135 South
• 111.7 Right – 135 towards Biwabik
• 115.0 Left on Hwy 4
• 130.9 Continue ahead crossing 16
• 174.1 Continue on 4
• 177.0 Left on Arrowhead Dr.