While fishing, boating and other water activities are often the main attraction on Rainy Lake, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the area by bike. A 12-mile paved trail runs adjacent to Highway 11 from International Falls to the Voyageurs National Park Visitors Center and offers diversions such as ice cream stops, wildlife viewing and even a dip in the lake!
The trail is located just east of the Convention and Visitors Bureau office (301 2nd Avenue), roughly where highway 53 meets highway 11/71 in downtown International Falls. You can park there to begin your eastward journey. This area of the trail features river views on your left, which overlook the community of Fort Frances, Ontario. Note the paper mill at the falls, as well as the wood chips and logs that are piled along the highway before being sent to the mill. Make a stop at the Voyageurs National Park Headquarters (360 Highway 11), where you can enjoy the river views.
Approximately 3 miles west of International Falls is the community of Ranier, marked by a 25-foot statue affectionately known as “Big Vic.” Plan to take time for a detour here. Ranier is a charming village with restaurants, a bar and brewery, as well as an ice cream shop. Chances are good you will see a train, as the Canadian National Railway border crossing in Ranier sees the most railroad cars of any crossing between the U.S. and Canada. This is also where the Rainy Lake flows into the Rainy River, which you can see from the Spruce Street dock. From here, you can either head back to the highway, or bike along County Road 20, which wends through a residential area and past City Beach, where you can cool off with a swim or enjoy a picnic.
Here the bike trail merges with highway 11 for a few miles, while the landscape begins to change. You’ll see some of the only farmland – watch for cranes, geese and deer – as well as an unobstructed view of Rainy Lake at the Jackfish Bay Wayside Park. The trail then turns left at County Road 103 to become enveloped in the wooded landscape.
This part of the trail crosses Tilson Bay, where you can see wild rice growing in the wetlands on the right and Rainy Lake to the left. Stop here to rest on the dock or get in some cross training with a trek on the hiking trail.
Here the trail is on the shoulder of Highway 11, which challenges bikers with a long, gradual uphill climb before again turning to the left and into the woods. Gradual hills make for a fun, not-too-hard ride, while grouse are known to peak out from the underbrush. At the end of the trail, cross Highway 11 to the Rainy Lake Recreation Trail, a wide, paved path that welcomes runners, walkers and bicyclists. Leading to the entrance of Rainy Lake Visitor Center the 1.75-miles include benches for taking a breather while taking in the views of Rainy Lake.
Rainy Lake’s northern neighbor celebrates Canada Day July 1, which means visitors to the area are
treated to not one, but two thrilling fireworks displays every year. Here are the best places to watch the
What to Bring
In addition to lawn or camp chairs, or a blanket for seating, be sure to pack bug spray and an extra
jacket, as Rainy Lake weather can vary in July.
By Joey Bunch | email@example.com | The Denver Post
Fall for the far north
International Falls has two famous residents: Smokey Bear, who has a namesake park and 26-foot statue here, and Bronko Nagurski, the Hall of Fame football player and native son whose museum is in Big Smokey Bear Park, across the street from a massive Boise paper mill on the Canadian border.
South of this fading blue-collar milltown is Voyageurs National Park, a hub for all the best outdoor splendor that northern Minnesota offers, including opportunities to drive down a creaking ice-covered river.
Minnesota is a winter bird-watching wonderland with more than 300 species that can be found here, including the rare-to-the-lower-48 snowy owls, a large raptor with catlike yellow eyes that can turn up as far south as the Twin Cities. Winter also brings Minnesota a parliament of great gray, boreal and hawk owls.
Nearly 160 species nest in the vast forests and largest peat bogs near Voyageurs National Park, including 23 types of wood warblers. Winter visitors also include red or white-winged crossbills, pine and evening grosbeaks and bohemian waxwings.
For fans of mind-blowing questions about human existence, schedule a tour at the NOvA Neutrino Lab along Ash River, 30 miles southeast of International Falls.
There, government physicists have a constructed a 14,000-ton detector to study subatomic particles called neutrinos. Produced by the sun, nuclear decay, cosmic rays and supernovae, neutrinos pass otherwise undetected through the planet and people. Researchers hope the detector will help explain the origins of the universe and why matter, including humans, exists...
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