The Mesabi Trail is located in northeastern Minnesota in the "arrowhead" region. Winding through some of the state's most beautiful forests, mini-mountains made from the iconic red clay of the Iron Range, peppered with deep green pines, rise up in stark contrast to the blue-green lakes. It's hard to believe, but the lakes are the remains of the mining pits of years past, abandoned taconite reservoirs, the hills are ore piles, and the lovely blue-green hue of the water comes from taconite tailings. Just outside of Hibbing, down a hill and around a turn, suddenly spread out for miles below the trail is a breathtaking view of the Hull Rust Mine, the biggest open pit iron ore mine in operation in the world.
There is an uneasy existence between industry and the natural environment in northern Minnesota, with nature often losing. People need to feed their families and the region offers rich resources for the iron, copper and logging industries, with the promise of jobs. The Mesabi Trail is beautiful. The winding paths tell a story of the struggle between preservation and development. They reveal the destruction that unfettered industry can wreak on the tender and vulnerable natural lands that still remain, and offer hope, that restoration and restraint might lead to rebirth.