March 15: Ride Up The Arrowhead Trail From Cook, MN

Jamie and I headed up the Arrowhead State Trail from Cook, MN on Saturday, hoping to make it a 300 mile day. It started on a bad foot (and I won't even count the sled problems before we got my sled loaded on his trailer) - we couldn't find the parking lot that we wanted to start at. Turns out that the parking lot near Britt, MN on Hwy 53 that we've used in the past is now gone - in fact, Hwy 53 now goes right through what used to be the parking lot. We figured this out when we were just a couple of miles from Cook, so we ended up parking in Cook (after a little driving around there) and riding from there.

We should have known that the trail would be poor as soon as we started - it was pretty much bare with some ice spots for the first 3 miles. After that things improved, although the trail was very thin with lots of rocks sticking through.

We headed into Orr to top off the tanks. The Orr cutoff, both north and south, was in similar shape to the Arrowhead Trail (other than the short stint on the lake while leaving Orr).

We got about 50 miles north of Cook when the trail turned into a plowed forest road. We rode the road (ha) about a quarter mile, but with no end in sight we decided at that point that riding on gravel wasn't part of our plans, so we turned around and decided to call it a day. Some of the best riding we saw during the morning was on the way back, on the Arrowhead Trail between the Orr cutoffs. Because we went into Orr we missed this part of the trail on the way up (but by going into Orr we had enough gas to get back to Cook - otherwise I would have been on fumes by the time we got back).

All in all, it was an unexciting end to the season, especially since we later learned that the Taconite Trail was in much better shape. The weather experts are predicting 4"+ of snow for Monday night though, so a short jog around home may still be in the future (although I loaded the sleds on the trailer and got everything ready for spring already).

Total trip mileage: 107
Total year mileage: 1746

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