by Andrew Ellis
Summer is just around the corner, and with things opening up from COVID-19, I have a big decision to make. Where should I go for my first out-of-town weekend bike getaway?
For me, one favorite is Albert Lea, Minnesota. Offering a beautiful bike route around Fountain Lake, then connecting to the Blazing Star State Trail. Another option is to follow one of the routes from the annual bike ride called Rock n’ Roll the Lakes. Normally scheduled in June, the events bike routes can offer cyclists many fun, scenic Southern Minnesota tour options for that #NextBikeAdventure.
Bike-friendly Albert Lea
Less than a 2-hour drive down Interstate 35 from Minneapolis, after passing the I-90 crossroad, pull into Albert Lea and prepare for a weekend of outdoor fun. Known as the Land Between the Lakes, the city sits between Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake, prime destinations for soaking in the rays while biking or paddling. Getting around on your bike from your choice of lodging options is easy with the city’s low-traffic bike lanes and trails. After checking in at one of the hotels, it’s exciting to ride around this southern Minnesota community.
Touring around Albert Lea Lake
In town, touring around Fountain Lake traveling clockwise is recommended. The experience of this route is reminiscent of riding around Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. With beautifully landscaped lawns along the fingering shoreline, a ride around the lake is very picturesque. This popular route is about eight and a half miles around, using trails and quiet residential streets.
After returning to the downtown area of Albert Lea, you will find many options for lunch. Then it’s time to ride on the paved Blazing Star State Trail out to Myre-Big Island State Park.
Myre-Big Island State Park and the Blazing Star State Trail
Here in the park, you will find both a mountain bike and a paved trail system for cyclists of all skill levels to enjoy. The park offers about seven miles of wide grass trails in a sequence of three separate loops, strung together alongside the State trail for mountain bikers. The Blazing Star State Trail is paved and runs from Albert Lea Lake in town out through Myre-Big Island State Park, approximately six miles.
Both trail systems meander through the open prairie meadows with some young woodland near Lake Albert Lea throughout the park. Nice rolling hills make for a surprisingly good workout, and the park is also known as an excellent birding spot.
Road Biking Opportunities
Exploring the area on a bike is easy, too. You can use the roads to navigate both around town and rural routes throughout southern Minnesota. There’s even a dedicated bike lane to get you in and out of town safely. From past Rock n’ Roll the Lakes events, here are the printable maps for both the 10-mile loop option and the 30/50 mile loop option for your enjoyment.
More about Albert Lea
When you need a break from the outdoors, there’s plenty to keep your exciting adventure going. There are locally-owned shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants, and the area history will top off your bike adventure. Check out more here.
The best part about spending time here in Albert Lea, it’s easy to get around by bike while keeping your social distance from others for a memorable adventure.