New trail section connects Silver Bay, Beaver Bay
May 29, 2018 08:14AM
By Jamey Malcomb of The Lake County News Chronicle on May 25, 2018
Despite a little rain Thursday morning, the ribbon-cutting for the newest section of the Gitchi-Gami Trail between Beaver Bay and Silver Bay drew local officials, residents and a group of fifth-graders who biked down from William Kelley Schools in Silver Bay.
Kevin Johnson of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails spoke beneath the Beaver Bay wayside shelter on Highway 61 while students ate their lunches at picnic tables.
The project was the result of cooperation between the the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation, the local governments in Silver Bay and Beaver Bay and the Gitchi-Gami Trail Association.
The improvements to the trail started last summer when MnDOT began resurfacing the bridge on Highway 61 over the Beaver River. Before the project, there was a 3-foot sidewalk over the bridge, but cyclists had to contend with traffic crossing the river. During the project to rehabilitate and resurface the bridge, MnDOT added a 10-foot wide bike path separated from the main road by a retaining wall.
MnDOT engineered and built a connection between Beaver Bay and Silver Bay, creating the largest segment of paved trail. The nearly 18-mile segment between Gooseberry Falls State Park and Silver Bay is the largest continuous segment of paved trail completed in the planned 89-mile trail. When finished, the GGT will be a paved, non-motorized recreational trail between Two Harbors and Grand Marais.
Beaver Bay resident Adelia Kindstrand said the new section of trail has allowed her children to bike to school most days recently. Before the section on West Road was paved, the gravel trail made it more difficult her kids to take alternate transportation to school.
Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson said at the ceremony that he credits the late Rep. Jim Oberstar for his work to secure funding for the initial construction of the GGT. Johnson said the trail is just another example of the variety of activities for local residents and tourists to take advantage of on the North Shore.
Before the ribbon even hit the ground, the William Kelley students and teacher Asa Jacobs were back on their bikes and headed up the trail to finish the school day.
The ribbon-cutting at Beaver Bay wasn't the only trail ceremony Thursday, however. The DNR also organized a ribbon-cutting at the Caribou Falls State Wayside north of Silver Bay on Highway 61.
Officials from the DNR and MnDOT, as well as Lake County Commissioner Pete Walsh, gathered there earlier in the day to officially open the improved stop, which now features a vault toilet and improved parking. The wayside also features a 0.75-mile trail to the base of the 35-foot waterfall, views of Lake Superior and access to the Superior Hiking Trail.