Superior National Forest Scenic Byway

Built between Aurora, on Minnesota's historic Iron Range, and Silver Bay, overlooking beautiful Lake Superior, the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway links communities steeped in the tradition of iron mining and graced by their natural surroundings. Home to marshlands, forests, rivers and lakes, the Superior National Forest includes wild and distinctly undeveloped areas.

The Byway that shares its name offers travelers an intimate look at this majestic wilderness and numerous opportunities to watch for wildlife and birds. Several roadside stops provide picnic areas and peaceful walking or skiing trails. The Toimi School and the Timber Arch Bridge that crosses the Partridge River are two historic highlights along the way.

As serene as it is scenic, this Byway is the shortest and most memorable route between the Big Lake and the Iron Range communities.

Distance: 85 miles
Travel Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Things to do


Iron Range Tourism Bureau

The Iron Range of northern Minnesota is surrounded by hundreds of square miles of wilderness. It’s made up of several great towns, each with unique history, culture, food and lodging. Up here, fishing, scenic drives, and all sorts of exciting and inspiring experiences means every traveler has the perfect reason to head up. Wherever your road trip takes you, you’ll always remember the Range.

Heart of the North Shore

We call this region the "Heart of the North Shore" for good reason – it is a vibrant, beautiful area with so much to explore and discover – it is an experience you will never forget. We have everything you need to plan your vacation to northern Minnesota and the North Shore of Lake Superior.



The Iron Range region of Minnesota is rich in mining and immigration history. Explore 30 museums and exhibits about our heritage and cultural history.


History and Heritage

The Iron Range includes exhibits and museums about mining, logging and railroad history. Thirty-five sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Birding / Wildlife / Wildflowers


The wilderness around the Byway is home to gray owls, snowy owls and eagles. A Birding & Wildlife brochure complete with map is available.


The wilderness around the Byway is home to gray owls, snowy owls and eagles. A Birding & Wildlife brochure complete with map is available.


Surrounded by 320,000 acres of the Superior National Forest and 10 Wildlife Management Areas, the Iron Range area is abundant with birds and wildlife. Watch for waterfowl, eagles, gray owls, moose, deer and other flora and fauna all along Forest Highway 11. Brochure is available.

National Forest

Superior National Forest

Established in a 1909 decree by Teddy Roosevelt, this forest spans 150 miles along the US-Canadian border-a total of 3 million acres and offers a variety of activities from hiking to camping to wildlife watching. It is bounded on two sides by water: Lake Superior running along its southeastern side; and, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) along the northern edge.

USDA Forest Service

Visit the "Recreation" section of the Superior National Forest web site for a complete list of Forest Service campsites, from rustic to RV.



Bike across historic paved trails, through rocky gorges or tread across the Iron Range on more than 75 miles of wilderness trails.


Hiking Trails

Trails abound in Minnesota, with warm welcoming "trail towns" offering history hand in hand with dining, lodging and entertainment.

Hiking Trails

More than 175 miles of trails winding through the heart of the Superior National Forest and glacial ridges of the Laurentian Divide.



Most state trails are multi-use, including mushing. Visit the Department of Natural Resources to find specific trails and their uses.



Trails abound in Minnesota, with warm welcoming "trail towns" offering history hand in hand with dining, lodging, and entertainment.


ATV and OHV Trails

Gilbert is home to Minnesota's first designated state recreation area for off-highway vehicles.


USDA Forest Service

The Superior National Forest web site's "lake finder" may help you locate specific lakes in the forest.


Lake access

Experience great scenery on more than 500 lakes, rivers and Grand Canyon-like mine pit lakes, some featuring easy boat access and crystal clear depths of up to 500 feet.


Recreational / Outdoors

This region has more than 2,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, 275 km of cross-country ski trails, seven public golf courses, 175 miles of hiking trails and more than 144 paved miles of biking.


Campgrounds / RV Parks / State Parks

Visit Community Pages for specific information on privately owned and operated campsites. There are many to choose from!

Lake Access

Lake Access

The public water access program offered by the Minnesota DNR provides over 1500 trailer and carry-in sites, as well as shoreline and pier fishing. Most are open 24 hours a day.



If you have a specific lake in mind, check out the Minnesota DNR's web site - you'll find numerous outfitters listed by the lake they service.

Canoeing and Kayaking

The Iron Range area is located near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and offers lakes, rivers and streams for canoeing.



The Department of Natural resources manages thousands of acres of public hunting land for the state and the USDA Forest Service.



Scenic views are everywhere along Forest Highway 11! Enjoy the pines, evergreens and hardwoods that line this route, along with lake views, marshlands and prairie.

Iron Range