Route so far
114 mi Ė about 4 hours 57 mins
That's what I've got roughed out so far. This is assuming that what Google has in their databases accurately represents what exists on the ground... some of the names are incorrect, but look mostly accurate.
Grand Portage is about 45 minutes north of Grand Marais, or just under 3 hours north of Duluth. It's about an hour south of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The route I have planned out ends at Highway 1- turn right, and you're an hour or two south of Ely. Turn left and you're headed back towards Duluth, or Thunder Bay.
I've driven this entire route- in bits and pieces- a number of times over the past 6 months, at work. The route is entirely drivable in a 2WD car when the roads are dry. Of the 114 miles, less than 20 are on asphalt. I have not (yet) ridden any on my DL650 but eagerly anticipate doing so.
Right now some of the roads are plowed asphalt (Devil Track, Gunflint Trail). Some are snowmobile trails (Pine Mountain, Shoe Lake Rd). Some are cleared gravel (The Grade, aka The Grounds). Some are logging roads (Ringo Rd), and also used by snowmobiles.
Paved roads up here are generally in poor condition. This is a poor county and there isn't a lot of discretionary income to maintain asphalt. The roads are bumpy, as the frost heaves wreck havoc on them. That's okay; the scenery is some of the best I've ever seen, and you'll want to ride slowly to take it all in. You don't want to whiz past a moose without noticing it.
You also don't want to whiz *into* a moose without noticing it- or, more likely, a deer. There are dozens of deer strikes every week. I hit one in my truck and thankfully didn't damage my vehicle, even if I did have to put down the deer. These deer are suicidal and like to play in traffic. I had one cut across the road and trip over my trailer hitch- while I was driving at 55 mph. Don't plan on carving up the twisties in high-speed, low-altitude strafing runs- deer love to hide behind blind corners. So do moose, bear, timberwolves, and hippies.
On this note, any deer hunters out there... this is an intensive management zone, and this past season you could buy tags to take up to 5 deer. Please, please... take some of these ambulatory road hazards out of the woods, and put them in your freezer!
I'll pop into the Canadian forum and mention this to them.
Let me know when you have a date in mind, I'll scout the route for you and then ride it with you. As I think of it, I'll collect GPS waypoints for a bunch of these intersections.
There are also logging roads and forestry roads, and lots (and lots!) of places to catch fish. Some of my favorite restaurants of all time are on the Gunflint Trail. There is a casino in Grand Portage, but no tables- just machines.
Keep two down!