Bike tour intersects scenic bluff roads with the Root River Trail

Want to explore the bike friendly bluff roads that crisscross the Root River trail system, while enjoying the local foods & history of Southeast Minnesota’s ‘Driftless’ area?

Starting in Whalan, Friday, July 8th through Sunday, the 10th the eight towns of the Root River Trail will host the Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour, a 3-day bike ride that showcases many of the hidden gems that you won’t see from the trail. With a scenic route that traverses the country side on quite roadways and byways, intertwining with the popular trail system, discover the magic of Bluff Country. Limited to the first 150 cyclist who registered, here is an overview of the three day bike adventure of a life time.

Two riders cruising the Root River bluffs, in Southeast Minnesota, training for RAGBRAI, in Iowa.

Two bike riders cruising the Root River bluffs, in Southeast Minnesota, training for RAGBRAI, in Iowa.

After a hearty Bluff Country breakfast the tour leaves out of Whalan, on the root River Trail visiting Lanesboro, then out into the bluffs. Now up, out of the valley the tour circles through some of the areas contoured farmlands making a stop in Fountain (the Sinkhole Capitol of the World) for some refreshments. Then it’s on to Preston for lunch. After visiting the National Trout Center here the tour heads south to Harmony, your overnight hosts for Friday evening. Arriving before the evening fun begins cool off with an afternoon tour of the Niagara Caves and enjoy the Amish culture in and around town.

Here cyclists are enjoying the many delicious delicacies available near many of the Root River trail towns.

Here on bike, many enjoy the delicious home-town delicacies available near many of the Root River trail towns.

Saturday morning, after breakfast, the tour heads east on the Amish Buggy Byway. On this stretch of the Bluff & Valley Tour riders will pass though farmlands still cultivated by horses and roadside signs, near farmsteads, offering honey and other whole-food Amish delicacies. At the halfway point, for lunch the tour will enter Minnesota’s first Norwegian settlement where many Selfie opportunities exist. Back on the road again the tour rolls through another scenic valley before arriving in Houston your host town for Saturday evening. After checking out the National Owl Center and bike art there, tour riders will take part in a dinner party and evening of fun and music.

A group riding the scenic roads out of Houston, one of the Root River Trail Towns in Minnesota.

A group riding bike on the scenic roads out of Houston, one of the Root River Trail Towns in Minnesota.

Sunday morning, after enjoying a little bit more of Houston’s hospitality the meandering Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour visits a town of the past, named because a settler lost his money in a creek there. The tour now turns west, up Vinegar Hill, making its way back along the Root River’s north-face bluffs. When you see a clearing in the hills with the name Rushford etched in white, you will be coasting into town for lunch and more Selfie opportunities around the historic depot while there. Then, it’s one more (gradual) climb and you are coasting back down to the Root River Trail, in Peterson. Here, explore their Norwegian Museum and taste some of the best desserts on the Root River Trail before returning back to Whalan.

The Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour is best suited for cyclists of intermediate ability and above. Daily mileage will range from 50 – 68 miles (century options are available upon request) on paved roads, with some riding on the famous Root River Trail. The terrain in this area very rolling with a few long, 8+ grade climbs. For more information and registration forms click here.

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