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  • Antler Lodge & Antler Store
    This route starts and ends at this awesome woodsy oasis. There is a great convenience store and gas station on one side of the road (Antler Store) and an even awesomer bar and grill on the other side of the road (Antler Lodge).
  • Talmoon
    Talmoon has the Little Turtle Lake convenience store and Hayslip's Corner bar.
  • Rivers, Lakes, & Campgrounds
    Water is everywhere. Bring a filter to get access during your ride and most campgrounds should have some kind of drinking water to fill up as well.
  • Marcell
    Marcell has a great little cafe called the Pine Cone Soup & Sandwich Cafe and it is big time worth a stop.
  • Headwaters of the Mississippi?
    Nope. This is a common misconception. Lake Itasca is the headwaters of the Mississippi river and it used to be in Itasca County. But county boundaries were redrawn several times in the 1800s and Lake Itasca is no longer in modern day Itasca County.
  • Surfaces
    Most of the route is fast and fun gravel but be prepared for occasional sand, some rocky sections, ATV trails, and minimally maintained roads. Any tires will work but you'll be much more comfortable with 40mm+ tires.
  • Hunting
    This is a popular hunting area with hundreds of acres of public hunting land. Check with the DNR to see what active hunting seasons will be taking place and avoid the area and/or wear blaze orange if you're riding during a hunting season.
  • ATV Trails
    You will be on some ATV trails. Bikes can legally be ridden here but be alert, ride cautiously, and move over when you see ATVs.
  • Scenic Lake State Park
    Located on Sandwick Lake, Scenic State Park is a great option for camping, fishing, or a lunch stop. Learn More.
  • State & County Campgrounds
    This route has a lot of camping options as well as ways to extend or shorten the trip. Take advantage of Itasca Counties great campgrounds with many of them having sites right near the lake.
  • DIY Dispersed Sites
    County and state forests both allow dispersed camping. This makes for pretty adventurous option if you want to just find your own place to camp in the woods (as long as it's state or county land) or if you were aiming for a designated spot but discover that it's full. Apps like Gaia GPS and OnX Hunt are great apps with land ownership layers to verify if you're in a state forest, county forest, or private property. Before doing this, contact Itasca County forestry for exact rules regarding dispersed camping.
  • Designated Dispersed Camping
    Itasca County forestry maintains 10+ designated dispersed camp sites. These are really cool isolated sites but they are also first come first served which makes them risky. Online information isn't terribly clear but you can get more info here and here.
  • Lake Nights
    There are over 1,400 lakes in Itasca County and this route snakes through a ton of county and state campgrounds that are on the water. Enjoy long nights hanging out around the water and get up early to catch the sunrise. At campgrounds, the lakeside sites will likely already be taken. Don't sweat it. Add ultralight camp chairs to your pack list and find a place to sit for a while at the boat landing or beach.
  • Dispersed Camping
    Itasca County has a ton of designated dispersed camp sites all around the forest. They're first come first served so it's a bit of a risk if you're aiming for them on the weekend. But dispersed camping is also allowed anywhere in Minnesota state forests and Itasca county forests. Use Gaia GPS or OnX apps to access land ownership map layers if you want to DIY your campsites in the forest.
  • George Washington State Forest
    Much of this route is on state and national forest. You can rearrange the route in so many different ways because of all of the state (and county) campgrounds as well as designated dispersed camp sites.
  • Sunrise on Arrowhead Lake
    On the southwest side of Arrowhead Lake there is a nice big dispersed campsite right on the water facing the sunrise. It's a beautiful undeveloped lake and you can also go swimming from the boat landing. If you get this site and then see other bikepackers checking to see if it's available after you're already set up, consider inviting them to share the site with you. It's a big site and there are otherwise no other designated camping options nearby.
  • Antler Lodge, Antler Store, & Antler Motel
    This is the exact place you wish was at the beginning and end of every bikepacking route. On one side of the street is the Antler Lodge which is a bar and restaurant. The interior is beautiful with deep golden wood and beautiful Northwoods decorations and animals covering the entire place. On the other side of the street is the Antler Store which is a gas station and convenient store with everything you may have forgotten. Next to that is the Antler Motel if you want to ride up the night before. I recommend making a plan to end your weekend around lunch time with a burger and cold drink at the Antler Lodge.
  • Pine Cone Soup & Sandwich Cafe in Marcell
    Add this as a breakfast stop. A really nice small town cafe with hearty meals. Pro tip: Get a piece of pie to go and have them wrap it in tin foil, shove it in your seat pack, and then celebrate arriving at your campsite by remembering you have a slice of pie that you forgot about.
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