Since the middle of last winter, we've been dreaming up a new Minnesota bikepacking route. A lot of gravel and bikepacking adventures take people to the popular and beautiful Driftless area and the rugged North Shore and we were hoping to add a brand new bikepacking route that strayed from both of those.
Looking at Ride With GPS heat maps, Google satellite maps, and Gaia GPS land ownership layers, I was intrigued by northeast Itasca county.
Satellite imagery showed a meandering grid of beautiful golden gravel roads. Ride With GPS heat maps had a fair amount of activity but much less than most of other known gravel gems. And land ownership layers showed massive public forests with 1,400+ lakes, perfect for nights around the fire by the lake.
During our trip, we spent one night right on the lake (Arrowhead Lake) at a dispersed site and a second night at a lakeside campground (Bear Lake County Park) where our site was further up in the woods.
All four of us packed ultralight camp chairs and we spent long nights just talking by the lake as the sky darkened.
While riding on our last day, the name of the route came to me: "The Itasca Lakenights".
Spending nights by the fire and waking up to sunrises on the water is so precious. It fills the previous day's ride with satisfaction and gives the new day's ride more purpose.
To thank the Patrons who support the creation of new adventures, this Patron-specific route will be shared in September/October.