When you zoom out on the map of where the ATW route is just now, it’s easy to understand that there are two choices: north or south. Straight east is not an option because Lake Superior stands in the way. The northern route around the top of the lake might have been preferred had the adventure not journeyed south from Saskatchewan down into North Dakota, and as it stands, further south still into Minnesota. So south looks the more likely option, skipping between the three great lakes of Superior, Michigan and Huron then onwards towards Montreal. All will be revealed in the coming stages.
For now, we are left with a climbing stage, one that runs through the heart of Crookston, crossing the Red Lake River as it does so, then heading out east to Marcoux. The first half is relatively flat, the second half isn’t, so without further ado, let’s get stuck into the detail.
The rollout is flat and east for two miles alongside the Red River Valley Natural History Area before Highway 2 turns left (and south) at the University of Minnesota-Crookston. Two miles later, the road zigzags left and right through the heart of Crookston, descending a little as it does so, before crossing the meandering Red Lake River next to the Central Park Campground. Scooting along the southern side of the riverbank, Highway 2 swings left, then left again, then finally right to start heading directly east from the junction with 220th Avenue SW.
The Gravel Pit Reservoir is on the left at eleven miles, just after the junction with Highway 46, and by then the climb has begun, albeit gently to begin with. The road crosses the Gentilly River at thirteen miles, and as it continues to climb, it passes multiple junctions with minor roads heading north and south off the main highway.
Although the climb is still going at the finish, the gradient does ease off around seventeen miles, and the last three miles, approaching first Delorme then Marcoux, are relatively gentle. Highway 2 hangs a right at Marcoux and the finish is just past the junction with Highway 32 at the start of a run south west that will kickstart stage 627.
Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres
Ascent: 331 feet / 101 metres
RGT Magic Road: kjIo6EilMSjy
Max elevation: 1068 ft
Min elevation: 832 ft
Total climbing: 332 ft
Total descent: -114 ft
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