Ultimate Guide to Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area
The Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System is one of our favorite places to ride in Minnesota located northeast of Brainerd. There are over 30 miles and 30+ trails of well built routes that everyone from beginners to pro can enjoy. Not to mention the beautiful scenery and views of the former mine lakes from all over the trail and some great restaurants, bars, and places to stay in town. Below is our ultimate guide to getting the most out of your time up north in Cuyuna. Don't mountain bike? That's ok - There's so much more to do.
The Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is built upon a rehabilitated 30+ year old abandoned open-pit iron ore mine on a portion of the Cuyuna Range. You can always tell when someone has been on the Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System as their tires will be covered by a rusty red dust of iron ore. The mine has also created a beautiful series of turquoise colored lakes from water that has filled in the open pit mines over the years and are surrounded by the trails that interweave through a forest of white Aspen and Birch trees.
"With purpose-built trails for beginners, intermediates and experts, riders from across the region are making the pilgrimage to a new Midwest Mecca." - International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Ride Center
Trails are open daily from 8 AM - 10 PM for both Summer and Winter use. When it rains out the single-track trails are closed until conditions dry out or improve so make sure to plan your trip by checking out the following sources on up-to-date trail conditions:
- The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew updates current trail conditions on Twitter: CLMTBTCondition
- Trail Fork Report
Where to ride?
- The Cuyuna Trails are made up of four main units: Sagamore, Mahnomen, Portsmouth, and Yawkey. Manhomen Unit - Includes a mountain bike skills area park with novice, beginner, intermediate, and expert skill parks.
- Virtual Tour of the Trails
- Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area Map and Guide (PDF)
- GeoPDF maps - free digital maps are available from the DNR for the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Download the AvenzaMaps app and search using the keywords "Cuyuna Country"
Other Helpful Resources
Where to stay?
If you're like us and love to camp there are plenty of places to camp along with many other unique accommodations from cabins, tiny homes, and hotels.
- CCSRA Park - Portsmouth Campground
- The Portsmouth Campground is located on the northwest shore of Portsmouth Mine Lake and has 33 campsites (18 electric), 1 group camp, and 3 Yurts. The Yurts are located on the northwest side of Yawkey Mine on the Yawkey Unit. Both locations offer ride on trail entry.
- Red Rider Resort
- True North Base Camp - Has tent campsites, glamping tents, and cabins
- City of Cuyuna Campground
- Cuyuna Cove - Cabins and safari tents
- Crosby Lofts - Hotel lofts right downtown
- The Bike Vault - Downtown
- Red Raven Bike Cafe - Coffee / Lunch
- Super One Foods (Crosby)
- Mountain biking skills classes are available at the CCSRA - "I Can Mountain Bike!" Program
- Designated trout lakes
- A trout stamp is required to fish for trout
- Scuba Diving Opportunities
- Mountain biking trails
- Groomed fat tire bike trails (In winter)
- Cuyuna Lakes State Trail (6.7 miles paved)
- Portsmouth Mine - Rainbow Trout
- Yawkey Mine - Rainbow Trout
- Manuel Mine - Rainbow Trout
- Alstead Mind - Rainbow Trout
- Huntington Mine - Rainbow, Brown Trout
- Pennington Mine - Rainbow Trout
- Sagamore Mine
- Croft Mine Historical Park
- Areas Plowed - Miner's Mountain Rally Center, Croft Trailhead, Sagamore Trailhead, Yawkey Road and Yurt Parking.
- Permitted winter uses: Fat biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing (no set tracks)
Other Articles to checkout:
- Outside Magazine - “How Mountain Biking Is Saving Small-Town, USA”
- Star Tribune - “Mining the magic: Cuyuna Range reinvented by influx of silent sports”
Photos by Tom Conway