World-class mountain biking at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

Abandoned by mining companies
more than 30 years ago

this area of former mining pits and rock deposit stockpiles now boasts regenerated vegetation and clear lakes that draw a wide range of recreation enthusiasts. Twenty-five miles of natural shoreline can be explored by boat or canoe and anglers can cast a line for trout, northern, bass, crappie, or sunfish.

As one of Minnesota's newest State Recreation Areas, Cuyuna's 5,000 acres are mostly undeveloped. Off-highway vehicles are not permitted within the boundaries of Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.

American Bald Eagles frequent the area and visitors occasionally observe white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare, raccoon, red fox, coyote, mink, muskrat and beaver. Other birds sighted in the recreation area include great blue heron, kingfishers, loons, turkey vultures, ruffed grouse, and red-tailed hawks. This is also great country for waterfowl and Cuyuna Country marshes and lakes are host to many species of ducks including redhead, northern shoveler, mallard, ring-necked, blue and green-winged teal, wood duck, several types of mergansers, snow geese, Canada geese, and white-fronted geese.

The Cuyuna area was a border area between the Dakota and the Ojibwe Indians and served as a long portage route from Mille Lacs Lake to the upper Mississippi River. It wasn't until the early 1900s that major changes took place in the area. Cuyler Adams, who homesteaded here in the late 19th century, noticed great compass deflections while surveying his land in 1903. He noted that this was probably due to the presence of iron ore beneath the surface. He was right. In 1904, Adams did discover ore and the range he discovered was subsequently named for him using the first three letters from Cuyler, and the three letter name of his St. Bernard dog, Una, his constant companion and prospecting partner. Cuyuna was the last of Minnesota's three major iron ranges to be discovered and mined. It extends almost 70 miles from Randall in Morrison County, northeast through Crow Wing County, and ends in central Aitkin County.

Drilling began in 1904 with the discovery by Adams of "good ore" in the area. By 1909, approximately 2,000 drill holes had been completed and new townsites of Cuyuna, Crosby, Ironton, Manganese, Riverton, and Trommald were established. Twenty to 30 mines operated in the area during the mining boom of World Wars I and II. Nearly 20 mines continued to operate in the early 1950s. Foreign competition and taconite mining on the Mesabi Range caused a virtual shutdown of the Cuyuna ten years later. Abandoned mining operations left behind a landscape dotted with mining pits 100 to 525-feet deep and rock stockpiles 200-feet high. Through the efforts of the Iron Range Resources Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), Crow Wing County, local governments, two joint powers boards, volunteer groups, and the Department of Natural Resources, the area has become an outdoor recreation attraction and officially became a Minnesota State Recreation Area in 1993.

Get your heart pumping with the tight turns and scenic vistas of this highly anticipated trail system! Cuyuna is ranked at the Silver level by the International Mountain Biking Association.Enjoy over 25 miles of riding spread across 800 acres of paved and singletrack trails. The trail system is a part of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area which is adjacent to Crosby and Ironton, MN.

Source, credits & more information: MNDNR