Author Archives: Andrew Ellis

Shoreview offer miles of paved trail to enjoy

Shoreview’s music will have you dancing on your pedals to natures beat

by Andrew Ellis

The trails here, can be your playground for you and your bike in Shoreview  – there’s no where you can’t go. This Twin Cities Gateway community here offers friendly road routes, trails and sidewalks so you can take another bike journey wherever you wish. The city also offers some off road paved trails to get closer with nature and all the beauty the community has to offer. You may even find some smaller paths worth exploring. It’s your adventure and it all starts as soon as you leave your hotel in the Twin Cities Gateway. And don’t forget Slice of Shoreview Days July 27-29.

A perfect vacation headquarters, the Twin Cities Gateway is a cooperative of nine communities including Shoreview and just a few bike friendly miles north of Minneapolis. Here you can enjoy:

Concerts in the Commons

Shoreview's Concerts in the Commons is the perfect way to get a pedal dancing rhythm for your #NextBikeAdventure.

Shoreview’s Concerts in the Commons is the perfect way to get a pedal dancing rhythm for your #NextBikeAdventure.

This summer features free entertainment outdoors at the Shoreview Community Center concerts, starts in June. Each Wednesday the Center features an outside concert with a different band, starting at 7 pm. It’s free, so steer your bike over and get ready to tap your feet.

Rice Creek North Regional Trail

Get close to nature on all the paved trails winding through Shoreview.

Get close to nature on all the paved trails winding through Shoreview.

With more than 50 miles of paved trail (see map) there’s plenty of riding for several visits. Although it is hard to see some trail markings, especially when connecting from a road route to get to the next section, these trails offer many opportunities to take wildlife pictures, discovering the area’s diverse landscape while catching scents of wildflowers. As you ride you will also see and hear plenty of birds of different kinds chirping away. Every once and a while the the trail crosses over the creek and you may want to consider some fishing.

Other Activities

If you want to take a short bike ride over to nearby Spring Lake Park, you can also enjoy the Shorview Sweetroll Skate Park. The SweetRoll is a tier-one skating facility on the north side of the Community Center. The park here includes a wedge, a spine, a fun box, a quarter pipe, grind rails, and a mini ramp..

If you’re looking for a fun way to cool off, you can bike on over to the Shoreview Community Center for their tropical-themed water park in the Twin Cities Gateway. This three-story water slide equipped park features a one-of-a-kind jukebox with over 100 songs ready to played along with a light show that sliders can enjoy as they twist and turn down to the bottom. At the main pool you can also play volleyball and there is even a adults-only whirlpool and patio area.

Disc golf opportunities are always a highlight in the many parks of the Twin Cities Gateway.

Disc golf opportunities are always a highlight in the many parks of the Twin Cities Gateway.

For those wanting a round of disc golf all you have to do is ride over to Hansen Park in New Brighton. With 12 holes, this disc golf course is complimented by stands mature trees amongst open spaces to skillfully connect with the baskets. It’s a great way to take a break from biking while still enjoying the the amenities of Shoreview.

And don’t forget Slice of Shoreview Days

Consider biking to the Slice of Shoreview for a weekend of fun.

Consider biking to the Slice of Shoreview for a weekend of fun.

If you’re exploring the area in July, from the 27th to the 29th, then you will be in time for the communities annual celebration. Slice of Shoreview Days is packed with fun for the whole family. There is live music, local arts, chalk drawing, a petting zoo, pony rides, a carnival, fireworks, and more.

Visiting shoreview with your bike can be a memorable weekend you won’t soon forget.

From Giants Ridge, the Mesabi Trail Towns offers history and great biking adventures.

Many bicycle adventures await your visit to the Mesabi Trail Towns

by Andrew Ellis

The Mesabi Trail Towns, on Northeast Minnesota’s Iron Range hosts several gems of the state’s history and great biking adventures. It’s not a mountain range, but a group of small mining communities along this well-known trail system. The Measbi Trail serves as an easy way to travel from town to town by bike. From Grand Rapids on the western end to Embarass, 120 miles to the east, there is a lot to see along the way. For the mountain biker’s this mining range has left a lot of deposits to perfect your skills. The area even boasts some of Minnesota’s best scenic road touring routes, with loop options that tie back to the Mesabi Trail.

Mesabi bike trail near Hibbing

Mesabi bike trail near Hibbing.

More About the Bike-Friendly Mesabi Trail Towns

The area is vast and the Mesabi Trail Towns string through the Iron Range covering 11 different mining towns including: Meadowlands, Hibbing, Chisholm, Mt. Iron, Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, Embarass. Along the way there is no shortage of walk-through tours. You can visit Bob Dylan’s childhood home, the Hull Rust Mine overlook and Greyhound Museum in Hibbing. You can look into the history of the Range’s “Queen City” at the Virginia Heritage Museum. Take a walk around the US Hockey Hall of Fame, in Eveleth. To enjoying the scenic thrills of mountain biking Giant Ridge, near Biwabik. There are also plenty of lakes to drop a line, beaches to relax on, and more.

The area may cover a lot of ground, but it’s all very accessible – especially if you’re using your bike. The Mesabi Trail makes for a convenient connecting point for all the communities. So it’s easy to travel around to all the unique stores, eateries, and more pedaling on two wheels.

Mesabi bike trail near Virginia.

Mesabi bike trail near Virginia.

Biking Opportunities in the Iron Range

There are several opportunities biking in the Iron Range. If you’re into mountain biking it’s just a matter of where you want to go first with four different systems to choose from. You can also extend your adventure using the Mesabi Trail to connect to various forest and mining roads.

The Mesabi Trail

Besides mining, bicycle tourism is the other attraction that connects the communities. An amazing adventure in its own right, the trail takes you through the beautiful northern Minnesota trees, hills, wildlife, and more. With so many scenic views there’s no doubt you’ll be stopping to take a picture to add to your memories.

And don’t forget the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour ’18. Ride for the fun or ride for the challenge. Either way mark your calendar for Saturday, August 4, 2018 for the most fun you can have on two wheels!

With several mountain bike parks there is something for every skill level.

With several mountain bike parks there is something for every skill level.

Mountain Biking

The Iron Range may not have mountains, but there are plenty of trails and loops for mountain bikers to battle down. Giants Ridge offers over 24 miles of trails and loops that will challenge you and offer up great scenery. Big Aspen offers a whopping 21 miles of trails on old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades. The sections vary in difficulty with many loop opportunities that offer many scenic vistas.

You can also check out Britton Peak which offers a 3-trail system that takes you through Superior National Forest and includes one for the three main skills levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. There’s also Lookout Mountain, thanks to the hard work of the Iron Range off-Road Cyclists, that has over five miles of single-track and over six miles of multi-use rideable ski trail.

Road Biking Options

While the Mesabi Trail connects helps connect the towns of the Iron Range, each town has its own road system that allows for easy bike travel and loop options. These roads allow you to navigate from place to place and let you explore each town as in depth as you wish. The Superior National Forest, on the east end, also has plenty of roads you can use to explore the area.

See more at At-A-Glance Mesabi Trail.

Many Cyclists riding around Albert Lea Lake enjoyable

Biking around Albert Lea may add a little Rock n’ Roll to your summer fun

by Andrew Ellis

It will soon be summer and I have a big decision to make. Where should I go for my first out-of-town summer getaway? For me, a favorite is Albert Lea, with their beautiful bike routes around Fountain Lake and the Blazing Star State Trail. I also learned that that this year on Saturday, July 14th there is a new ride called Rock n’ Roll the Lakes. I hear there will be a 10, 25 & 50 mile fun bike ride around the scenic lakes, along with food and music!

Bike-friendly Albert Lea

Less than two-hours down Interstate 35, after passing passing the I-90 crossroad pull into Albert Lea and prepare for a weekend of outdoor fun. The town is also known by another name: The Land Between the Lakes. That’s because the city sits between Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake and both are prime destinations for soaking in the rays. Getting around on your bike in Albert Lea is easy with city’s low traffic bike lanes and trails. After checking in at one of the hotels its exciting to ride around this southern Minnesota community.

Touring around Albert Lea Lake

The homes along the lake route are very picturesque.

The homes along the lake route are very picturesque.

Touring around the Lake clockwise is recommended and the experience is always reminiscent of riding around Lake of the Isles, in Minneapolis. With beautiful landscaped lawns along the waters edge a ride around Fountain Lake is very picturesque. The popular route is about eight and a half miles around using a combination of trails and quite residential streets.

After returning to the downtown area of Albert Lea, you will find many options for lunch before an afternoon ride out to the state park, just outside of town, on the paved trail.

Myre-Big Island State Park and the Blazing Star State Trail

The Blazing Star State Trail is over six miles from Albert Lea to the State Park.

The Blazing Star State Trail offers over six miles riding from Albert Lea out through the State Park.

Here in the park you will find both a mountain bike and a paved trail system for bicyclists to enjoy. For mountain bikers the park offers about seven miles of wide grass trails in a sequence of three separate loops, strung together alongside the State trail. The Blazing Star State Trail is paved and runs from Albert Lea Lake in Albert Lea out through Myre-Big Island State Park, approximately six miles.

Throughout the park both trail systems wind through generally open prairie with some young wood land, especially nearer Lake Albert Lea. 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 bike is easy, too. You can use the roads to navigate around town and rural southern Minnesota. There’s even a dedicated bike lane to safely get you in and out of town. Be sure to watch for traffic as you will be sharing the road.

More about Albert Lea 

The bike route around Albert Lea Lake id reminiscent of the Lake of the Isles.

The bike route around Albert Lea Lake is reminiscent of the Lake of the Isles.

Want to take a trip on the water, but don’t own a boat? It’s okay, you can take a tour of Albert Lake on the Pelican Breeze. If you go on Fridays you can be part of their pizza cruise.

When you need a break from the outdoors there’s plenty to keep your exciting adventure going. There’s locally owned shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants and the area history will top of your bike adventure. Check out more here.

The best part about spending time here, it is all easy to get around using your bike as your main means of transportation. Maybe we will see you here for the Rock N’ Roll the Lakes Ride, check it out!

AA great destination for a bike adventure riding the trails and bike friendly roads in the Twin Cities Gateway.

An endless bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway of Minnesota

by Andrew Ellis

Take a deep breath as you grip your handlebars and prepare for a bike adventure in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities. You will feel as if you’re deep in the country. As this north metro community area borders the Mississippi River Trail it can be your personal playground while visiting.

When in the area you can: stop and fish; play a round of disc golf; go birding; travel through a chain of lakes by bike or canoe; or explore one of the many parks. You can even satisfy your inner sports fan by visiting the National Sports Center, with a velodrome track.

Stop along the trail in the Twin Cities Gateway for a some fishing.

Stop along the trail in the Twin Cities Gateway if wetting a line and catching some fish are a part of  your agenda.

The Twin Cities Gateway is made up of nine different bike-friendly communities: Anoka; Blaine;, Coon Rapids; Fridley; Ham Lake; Lino Lakes; Mounds View; New Brighton; and Shoreview. All unique in their own way they all offering relaxed small town-type atmospheres with plenty to do, perfect for anyone looking to get away and only minutes from the big city.

A friendly bike adventure get-away

The Twin Cities Gateway is just a short drive, or an easy commute by bike from Minneapolis or St Paul. Another major feature is the Mississippi River Trail  (MRT) following the rivers edge in three of the nine Getaway communities: Anoka; Coon Rapids; and Fridley. Plus the other six Gateway Cities have bike friendly roads and trails that lead to the MRT for a bike adventure.

After riding the trails and bike friendly roads in the Twin Cities Gateway enjoying a cold beverage with friends is a great way to seal the ride.

After riding the trails and bike friendly roads enjoy a cold beverage with friends at the Hammer Heart Brewery, it’s a great way to seal the ride.

 Mississippi River Trail (MRT)

The MRT starts at the headwaters of  Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and passes through the Twin Cities Gateway before flowing into the Gulf, at the mouth of the river in Venice, Louisiana. While riding along the river in the Gateway communities you’ll pass many opportunities for site-seeing, so make sure your camera is fully charged.

Other Off-Road Trails and Parks

You can take the Rum River Regional Trail down to where it meets the MRT, maybe stopping in historic downtown Anoka along the way? There is also the scenic trails in Bunker Hills Regional Park offering heavily wooded and prairie flower landscapes. Or, take the thrilling Coon Creek Regional Trail that connects to the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and the MRT.

Stop along the trail in the Twin Cities Gateway for a round of disc golf.

Stop along the trail, in several of the parks in the Twin Cities Gateway for a round of disc golf.

For a more extensive rides you can also explore the trails along the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve. Or, take the Rice Creek West Regional Trail back to the Mississippi River. This trail passes through Long Lake Park which has several trails that take you by the park’s namesake and Rush Lake. Another option are the trails in the Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park which is filled to the brim and full of beautiful scenery as you switch from one trail to the next.

National Sports Center

If you’re tired of riding trails and want more of a challenge, check out the velodrome at the National Sports Center, in Blaine. The wooden track is open to the public every Thursday for single speed fun. The season begins in late spring and through the summer. Check out their website for more details.

For more info take a look at the At-A-Glance TC Gateway article

Now that you are considering an adventure to the Twin Cities Gateway, also check out our HaveFunBiking  At-A-Glance Twin Cities Gateway Article. Here you will find more details on where to stay, play, and explore this nine city area. Great for planning and to link to your your hand-held devise, for guaranteed fun.

The 2018 Minnesota Bike Guide is here to help you plan your next bike adventure.

The 2018 MN Bike/Hike Guide is ready for planning your next bike adventure

The spring edition of the MN Bike Guide is here, just in time, as the temperatures warm. Page through the 2018 Guide and rediscover the trails and scenic country roads in Minnesota. Now in our ninth year of publishing the guide we have added several more bike friendly destinations in Minnesota. Also, find many bike event listings to help you to make the most of your 2018 bike season.

The 2018 Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide is here to help you plan your next bike adventure.

Sponsored  by AAA, The 2018 Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide is here to help you plan your next bike adventure.

In the latest issue, along with many bike maps, you will find plenty of helpful tip sheets to keep you riding comfortably as you explore the state on your bike. From southern Minnesota (including Albert Lea, Root River Trail and Winona) to several twin city locations and then up to the northern section of the state, you will find over 40 maps in this edition.

Plus, we have added several product pages in the bike guide to make cycling more pleasant.

The MN Bike Guide is perfect when on the go

In addition to our very popular print guide, this mobile-friendly edition is easy to access on your mobile device. We hope you will embed the link to your mobile phone or tablet and take us with you when you are on the go.

Share the guide with your friends

Once you’ve gone through the guide, please share the link with friends and like us on Facebook so others take advantage of the information. You can even plan group trips and make memories together that will last a lifetime.

If you would like to get a printed copy, please go to one of the AAA locations, on the maps and pick one up. You can also order a copy of the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide, for $5 to cover postage and handling, by clicking the link here to get order instructions. Enjoy

The trails are scenic and fun in Minnesota's Hometown feel community, Hutchinson.

Bike around Hutchinson and enjoy Minnesota’s hometown feel

by Andrew Ellis

With spring riding weather soon here, I wanted to recap my visit to Hutchinson, MN. A bike-friendly community with Minnesota’s hometown feel and small town charm it is worth checking out. A short drive west of the Twin Cities, it’s one of those areas where it’s easy to lose track of time as you enjoy all the fresh air. Arriving in town you have several biking options with several lakes and parks nearby for added recreational pleasure. If you enjoy pedaling around, over driving, the whole area is very accessible so you’ll have no trouble creating some new memories.

Riding the Luce Line Trail through Hutchinson

Riding the Luce Line Trail through Hutchinson on the Jaycee’s Water Carnival, June 8th.

Aside from mountain biking, trail riding and the countryside touring opportunities here are plentiful, more than you can take in. You can immerse yourself in the local arts created by those who take inspiration from the natural beauty around them. Spend some time learning about the town’s history and how it all came to be. Or, if you are looking for unique place to eat or a gift to take home, there are plenty of opportunities waiting for you to discover.

Minnesota’s hometown feel is in bike-friendly Hutchinson

Located a little over an hour from the Twin Cities, the community here is also known as ‘Minnesota’s Hometown’.  It’s a great place to escape the often road-rage inducing atmosphere of the big city. Here you can ride the Luce Line State Trail to clear your mind and let the calm country scenery work its magic.

To start your day and plan your ride, nothing is better then McCormick’s Family Restaurant, in Hutchinson. Voted the number one place for Eggs Benedict in Minnesota, their pancakes and waffles are good too.

When it comes time to take a break from pedaling there is no shortage of attractions to keep your adventure moving forward. Hutchinson has its share of one-of-a-kind eateries and if you’re looking for some more action outside you can try your hand at some paintball.

Riding opportunities in and around Hutchinson

Its easy to get out to Stahls Lake Park, from Hutchinson.

Its easy to get out to Stahls Lake Park, from Hutchinson.

Like many small towns in Minnesota, pedaling around isn’t difficult. Here in Hutchinson there is one big trail system that takes you beyond the town limits. In fact you can ride the trail all the way to the Twin Cities. You will find a few mountain biking opportunities if you’re up for the challenges you will see below.

The Luce Line State Trail

The Luce Line State Trail stretches 63 miles (from Plymouth to Cosmos) and is a popular attraction for bikers, hikers, snowmobilers, and equestrian enthusiasts. The paved trail includes about 21 miles, from the west Carver County line, through Hutchinson, to the west McLeod County line, just outside of town. To learn more about the Luce Line, go to www.luceline.com.

To take in the Jaycee’s Water Carnival, plan to visiting the week of June 8th.

Mountain Biking

Tartan Park is located in Hutchinson and is a skills park that is perfect for beginners to advanced mountain bikers.

Tartan Park is located in Hutchinson and is a skills park that is perfect for beginners to advanced mountain bikers.

Those wishing for more than paved, level trails are in luck. Thanks to the Hutchinson Area Mountain Bike Association, there are two tracks within reach: Tartan Terrain Park and Stahls Lake Park. Tartan Park is located in town limits and is a skills park that caters to beginners and advanced (see video). If you want to venture outside the town limits to Stahl’s Lake Park, there’s a nice single-track that caters to all experience levels. Two double track loops range from .5 miles to 1 mile long. One single-track loop is over 2 miles.

Road Biking Opportunities

Like many of Minnesota’s smaller communities, navigating the area on your bike couldn’t be easier. The roads allow you to see all the area’s beautiful scenery, perfect for your next Instagram post. You can use the roads to explore the area’s parks, shops and more. Plus, you will find plenty of city trails that help you around as well. See the MnDOT county bike maps for both road and gravel opportunities.

Come, enjoy the bike-friendly fun in Minnesota's 'hometown feel' of fun.

Come, enjoy the bike-friendly fun in Minnesota’s ‘hometown feel’ of fun.

For more information on playing or staying in a community with Minnesota’s hometown feel. Check out our HaveFunBiking, At-a-Glance Hutchinson article for your next bike adventure. For places to stay and camp grounds see Explore Hutchinson.

Towards the southern edge of the Bloomington river bottoms trail there's a bridge that takes you across the Minnesota River. Right before the Bloomington Ferry Bridge you'll see a rocky slope that travels down into the woods. This slope is the start of a great adventure.

First impressions: Bloomington River Bottoms Trail

By Andrew Ellis

Towards the southern edge of the Bloomington river bottoms trail there’s a bridge that takes you across the Minnesota River. Right before the Bloomington Ferry Bridge you’ll see a rocky slope that travels down into the woods. This slope is the start of a great adventure. It’s known as the Minnesota River Bottoms Trail. Now, you may worry that you can only ride with a mountain bike on the singletrack trail, but you are safe on a regular trail/path bike also. You just have to watch where you’re riding.

The Bloomington River Bottoms Trail

The ride itself is fun and challenging. The trail is made out of dirt. While it may be smooth riding for the most part it’s not immune to the unpredictability of Mother Nature. Pedaling along you may come across places that are soft and muddy from a recent rainfall. Not only that, but this trail is used pretty regularly so you’ll see other tire tracks that have gone through and made the puddles deeper and muddier in the aftermath. Usually you can ride through or ride around it. If you ride through, you may feel your tires slip but as long as you keep going you should be fine. Riding around the puddle will take a little more concentration. You may either be able to find a dry area around its perimeter where your tires can fit or an area that hasn’t been touched.

It’s Friday and time to ride off on another weekend of fun taking in that next bike adventure that maybe includes testing out a fat bike ride.

The Minnesota River Bottoms is not only a great place to ride Fatbikes, but the birthplace of them.

For most of the ride you’ll be along the river with a few trails leading you away. You’ll come upon many obstacles as well, such as logs set up for you to ride over if you wish and different turns that will keep you alert. Small trails will split off the main path and take you to other scenic areas, but usually connect back to the main trail eventually. While the trail is mostly flat, the sandy conditions can make it hard to pedal. Also, the trail often changes shape after the river floods which makes for unique rides!

Here is a fallen branch that acts as a bridge in the MN river bottoms.

Here is a fallen branch that acts as a bridge crossing the Bloomington’s river bottoms.

You’ll find a few opportunities to cross the tributary streams that feed the river. One is a wood bridge that’s also partly on a fallen tree branch. You can certainly try riding across and risk falling in, or you can carry your bike across. There’s also a floating dock that allows room for you and your bike. You’ll use the rope to pull yourself across the river so you can continue your ride.

Enjoy an upper body stretch pulling you and your bike across river.

Why the trail is fun!

It takes a little more concentration than paved trails, but the uncertainty of what you’ll encounter is all part of the fun. On a paved trail you can have plenty of fun with the different twists, turns, climbs, and descends. You’ll even have plenty of views to stop and look at. But this track is different. While it is maintained, the trail gives you the feeling of being unprotected. It’s just you and the elements. There will be plenty of debris on the trail, and more than a few low branches that you’ll either have to dodge or be okay with them hitting you in the face.

Winter fat bike fun is back in the upper Midwest as this biker takes a break for this photo opp.

And winter biking is always fun on the Bloomington River Bottoms Trail.

Find out more about Bloomington’s biking opportunities here.

Bicycles and cars

Bike around Saint Cloud and discover all the parks and trails

by Andrew Ellis

The sun is warming the morning air as you ride along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) through Saint Cloud, MN. Now in Granite Country, you are looking for a change in scenery as you pass a group of buildings, then realize its St. Cloud State University (SCSU). Across the Mississippi River and easy to reach crossing the bridge with your bike is the popular Munsinger/Clemens Gardens. This area, as the river bends to the southeast, is prime and ready to give you and your friends or family many biking opportunities when visiting here.

The Lake Wobegon Trail is a family friendly paved path system offering everyone a fun time.

The Lake Wobegon Trail is a family friendly paved path system offering everyone a fun time.

Saint Cloud is labeled a city, but don’t let that scare you away. The area’s spacious layout provides plenty of room to escape from all the noise of everyday life that can bombard many with stress. The area offers many parks, family friendly trails and other attractions to give you memories that will last a lifetime.

More about bike-friendly Saint Cloud

Now with the Lake Wobegon Trail running through Saint Cloud and stretching 63 miles to Sauk Center, you can visit three colleges along the way. Besides SCSU, the Granite County Area is also home to Rasmussen College, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. Their presence in the area and the communities they create, along the trail system, helps add to the area’s welcoming atmosphere and unique points of interest for cyclists visiting throughout the year.

The Munsinger Gardens is unique botanical experience along the MRT where you can stroll the winding paths and brick pathways as you experience this Saint Cloud treasure.

The Munsinger Gardens is unique botanical experience along the MRT where you can stroll the paths experiencing its treasure.

The Saint Cloud Area is also a bike-friendly community, awarded by the League of American Cyclists. This gives you the assurance there are plenty of places for you to comfortably roam around using designated bike lanes and trails. And while there are plenty of fun things to do on west side of the river. Don’t forget to cross the river and explore the jaw-dropping and joy-spreading Munsinger and Clemens Garden’s.

Biking trail opportunities in and around Saint Cloud

Granite Country has many opportunities for you to put your tires to the pavement, or whichever surface you prefer to ride on. There are many trails tucked into the area’s various parks, several chances to put your mountain biking skills to the test, trails that take you beyond the city limits, and more. No matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for, Granite Country has you covered. For more information see At-A-Glance St. Cloud and our HaveFunBiking map of the area.

Long Rides

Riding the Mississippi River Trail through the neighborhoods as the route rolls into Saint Cloud.

Riding the Mississippi River Trail through the neighborhoods as the route rolls into Saint Cloud.

If you go west out of St. Cloud you can take the Lake Wobegan Trail and stop along at one of the many trailheads along the way. You can also travel along the famous Mississippi River Trail as you explore St. Cloud and everything you meet along the river’s edge. There even points to cross the river and see what the other side has to offer. For more bicycle touring loop options see Central Minnesota Bicycle Club’s many mapped bike routes.

Quarry Park and Nature Reserve

The largest park in the Stearns County Parks System is bound to have a plethora of biking opportunities. The trails will give you a great overview of the reserve has to offer and they all connect in some way so it’s easy to switch when you want to. There is also some section for mountain bikers to pedal over granite bedrock that is a billion years old.

Pineview Park BMX

Freestyle cycling fun at Pineview BMX

Freestyle cycling fun at Pineview BMX

Saint Cloud also has its own BMX park. You can hit the tracks, watch races on the weekends, and work on your skills if you are there during the week.

Mountain Biking

Riding out on the Jail Trail is one of several mountain biking options in Granite Country.

Riding out on the Jail Trail is one of several mountain biking options in Granite Country.

In addition to the Quarry Park and Reserve, the area has a few more mountain biking opportunities for you. The Jail Trail is an intermediate level mountain bike loop system located east of Saint Cloud. The main loop has some easy elevation challenges, but overall stays pretty flat. There are also additional side loops that add some technical difficulty. Then there’s the heavily wooded Plum Creek Trail, which is an exhilarating five mile-plus ride on a very narrow single-track filled with its share of hills.

Other Off-Road Opportunities

If you don’t want to battle mountain bike trails, but still want to go an adventure you’re in luck. You can hop on the Oxcart Trail that starts at Southside Park and travels north through Lions Park, Municipal Park, and Island View Park. Then there’s the Mayhew Creek Park Trail, Sauk Rapids’ newest trail, which consists of two loops and gives you just over one mile of riding. Also, the secluded crush aggregate Rotary Trail takes you through a wooded wetland complex that goes north of Bob Cross Park to the Bob Cross Nature Preserve. There are boardwalks and observation decks along the way.

Other opportunities when not biking in Saint Cloud

There are plenty of other ways to navigate your way around Granite Country on you bike. Some of the routes lead to downtown St. Cloud where you can explore its many shops and restaurants. See more at Visit Granite Country.

 

Riding the Minnesota Trail out of Mankato

Biking Your Way to Adventure in Mankato and the Surrounding Area

by Andrew Ellis, 

It always amazes me how bike-friendly Mankato is and this time was no different. Taking in the Mankato River Ramble Bike Ride, I found several new and safe twist and turns the whole family will enjoy as a bike destination. Tucked along the Minnesota River, in Southwestern Minnesota, its a quick hour and a half drive from the Twin Cities to find your #nextbikeadventure here.

Bike-Friendly Mankato

Trail riding in Mankato

Trail riding in Mankato.

The city is located at the point where the Minnesota River and the Blue Earth River merge. This industrialized farm community is actually divided into two, with North Mankato located just across the Minnesota River and easily accessible by bike trail. With several trail systems that connects you to the north side, across the river and the many farm communities up on the bluffs it’s a great destination for all skill levels of cyclists.

Overall I found my recent visit here fun and easy to get around by bicycle. The bike-friendly roads and trail made it easy to connect from one trail system to the next. Plus, there are countless public bike racks within the area for safe storage. Spending a few days here before the River Ramble, using my bike to get around allowed me an easily way to see the city’s many attractions, such as the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, the rock climbing walls at Minnesota State University and many art exhibits. The presence of the colleges here adds to Mankato’s lively and welcoming atmosphere so you can easily browse of mix of nationally known and locally-owned shops, restaurants, and even venture outside the city limits for a tour of the local winery or brewery.

Biking Opportunities in Mankato

Family fun riding the Red Jacket Trail into Mankato.

Family fun riding the Red Jacket Trail into Mankato.

When you’re in a city that’s been certified as a bike-friendly community by the League of American Cyclists, you know you’ll find endless opportunities for pedaling around. That’s especially true for Mankato, the city and it’s surrounding area are full of walking and biking trail loops and more. So, no matter what kind of terrain you’re looking for, there’s bound to be some road or trail in the Mankato area right for you.

Mankato’s Paved Trails Systems

The Indian Lake Conservation Area, a 120-acre regional park, has a trail that’s just over 1 mile long. It takes you on small scenic tour of what the park has to offer. There is also the South Route Trail, in Minneopa State Park, that’s just over half a mile long. This trail connects to the North Minnesota River Trail which also connects to the Sakatah Trail. The North Minnesota River Trail also highlights Mankato’s prime location in the river valley at Riverfront Park.

Bike routes that lead to outlying farm communities

Family fun riding the southern end of the Red Jacket Trail.

Family fun riding the southern end of the Red Jacket Trail.

Mankato’s biking loops are a great way to explore the area without fear of getting lost. The Lake Crystal Loop is the most popular among bikers. It takes you south on the scenic Red Jacket Trail, and through the Minnesota River Valley for a very adventurous ride. You can even top it off top this adventure off with some award-winning pie.

You can also take the North Mankato Loop that mixes trails with low traffic roads, passing by several parks and opportunities to stop for a snack. If you prefer to tour the city, then the Mankato Loop contains mostly off-road trails. It keeps you in town and passes through the Minnesota River Valley.

If you feel like venturing outside the city, take the St. Clair/Eagle Lake Loop. It’ll give you a nice taste of small town hospitality, and you can even stop for a picnic in the park or eat at one of the local diners. If you want to explore north of the city, then try out the North Gravel Ride. You’ll ride along the Minnesota River’s bluffs on your way to the prairie land of Kasota. If you want to hit the open road, then try the St. Clair, Smiths Mill, Madison Lake Loop which takes you southeast of the city.

Mountain Biking

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, then behold Mankato’s mountain biking trails. The Ft. LeHillier Trail was created by the Mankato Area Mountain Bikers (MAMB) and offers both an easy and a difficult track ready for your wheels to get down and dirty. Also, check out the Kiwanis Recreation Area, which has four different loop options that total five miles of mountain biking thrills.  And lets not forget Mount Kato with over seven miles of wooded single-track trails that caters to all skill levels.

Outside of town you can try the trails at Seven Mile Park between North Mankato and St. Peter. It’s a multi-purpose trail system you can use, but watch out for other users.

Road Biking

Getting around the city and the surrounding area is relatively easy. The city’s streets and attractions are essential to making Mankato a bike-friendly destination. As for the surrounding area, there are plenty of roads that you can take to navigate around the area. Many of the loops mentioned above include using roads to follow the courses. However, each road differs in the amount of traffic and the amount of shoulder it has for riders – so stay alert.

An At-A-Glance Look at Mankato

Be sure to check out our At-A-Glance Mankato Article for more details on where to stay, play, and explore for your hand-held devises. As this story and the At-A-Glance Article are mobile-friendly for your convenience, have fun!

Have Fun riding in the Mankato Area.

Have Fun riding in the Mankato Area.

Now with fat bikes, any time of the year is the perfect time to visit Mankato.

Its time to find that spooktaculr costume for the next Halloween Parade in Anoka

A Halloween Capital, Discovering Anoka’s History, Trails, and More

By Andrew Ellis

Rolling into Anoka, MN for my next bike adventure, I felt a welcoming charm in this relaxing community with hospitality everywhere that I turned. With gear on, I was ready to this pedal this area they call the Halloween Capital of the World. The vast trail and bike friendly road network in the Twin Cities Gateway communities was ready for me. In Anoka, my headquarters for this trip just north of Minneapolis and at the confluence of where the Rum River flows into Ol’ Man River, along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT). To my amazement many of the historic buildings in this river town are gracing the street in and around the downtown area,

A great destination for the whole family riding the trails and bike friendly roads in the Twin Cities Gateway.

A great destination for the whole family riding the trails and bike friendly roads in the Twin Cities Gateway.

Along with the Gateway’s bike friendly attributes, this towns history is another reason why you should visit Anoka. Options include the annual Anoka Heritage Home & Garden Tour that will let you immerse yourself in the town’s past. Or, stop by the local Chamber and ask about the festivities surrounding the week of Halloween. But, first, check out all the dining establishments to fuel your body before and after your ride.

Hans’ Bakery

The bike ride to Hans’ Bakery will be a nice wake up for your body, but your taste-buds and sweet tooth will rewarded when you arrive at this local legend of pastries. This establishment started as a diner by German immigrants, now step through the door and it’s like you’re sent back to simpler time. The menu items are on chalkboard and what they offer is presented brightly lit showcase window in the front. The only modern amenity they have is a I-tablet to ring you up.

They have many specialties. One of the most well known is the Texas Donut. It’s name speaks for itself and comes in a couple different version. No political jokes here, but its larger than most peoples’ hands.

Avant Garden

This little cafe tucked into historic downtown area is great place to stop by if you’re looking for a supreme coffee fix, but want to venture away from the a big chains. It’s got everything you’d want from a popular cafe too. In addition, their own unique daily sandwich options can be enjoyed with a Coke from a glass bottle. With an indie vibe that would make it a perfect fit in a big urban setting, the staff there made it extra special.

Anoka Heritage Home & Garden Tour

Ticknor Hill Bed and Breakfast, in the Twin Cities Gateway

Thankfully you’ve eaten, because it’s time for a historic event. The Anoka Heritage Home & Garden tour will take you on a very memorable journey in Anoka’s history. It’s a self-guided tour with 17 stops that include area such as the historic Slabtown and Christian Hall neighborhoods. You’ll find out the origins on their names and stories from its first residents.

There are actually two stops on the tour that have made their way onto the coveted National Registry of Historic Places. The Ticknor Hill Bed and Breakfast is the firsts and still provides guests with small town hospitality while they visit. The second is the Woodbury House that is home to the Mad Hatter Restaurant and Tea House. These are just a few of the many waiting for you to come and explore.

Mississippi River Trail

Riding the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) into Anoka.

Riding the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) from Elk River, back into Anoka.

Once you finish with the history tour you may want to hit some more trails before the sun starts to set. Your in luck, the Northstar Train isn’t far from where you are and can take you up stream to a station along the MRT to ride back. Just buy a ticket and hop on board with your bike, the train will drop you off close to the Mississippi River Trail so you have plenty of time to ride your bike back. The river itself flows close to downtown Anoka so you can make your way back on the MRT pretty easily.

10K Brewery

There’s nothing like a cold beer to reward yourself after a day of riding. This is the only local brewery on this side of the Twin Cities Gateway and it has a calendar full of events. Your taste buds can enjoy a wide variety of brews such as their Amber. While quenching your thirst enjoy some trivia or live music from local artists.

A night of art in Anoka

Come by bike or car and see one of the shows like ‘Lady Pirates of Captain Bree’ at the Lyric Arts Main Street Stage.

Now that you packed in some touring miles and your palate has been satisfied you may be ready to immerse yourself in the local arts scene. One of the main attractions is the Lyric Arts Main Street Stage. Here you’ll be able to escape as actors and actresses bring you into different worlds with numerous productions throughout the year.

Reward yourself with a ice cream treat

Depending on when you get done with your ride, you can always head on over to Two Scoops for some great ice cream. It’s a very comfortable place with everything from ice cream in a cone to sundaes. It even has a small candy section that brings to mind the big candy stores many small towns used to have.

The main event in Anoka happens each October

Anoka has many more happenings all throughout the year that you’ll definitely want to check out. On July 8th come by for Riverfest, which is one of the largest craft fairs in the Twin Cities. One of the most memorable events is the Anoka Halloween celebration were you will find spooktacular events throughout October.

Known as the the Halloween Capital of the World, the city bring out all the stops with everything from a largest pumpkin contest to a scavenger hunt. There are also two main parades: Light Up the Night and the Grand Parade that takes place before Halloween.

The finale of the Halloween Capitol of the World is the Grand Day Parade - the largest in the state.

The finale of the Halloween Capitol of the World is the Grand Day Parade – the largest in the state.

So come and discovering Anoka’s history, food, and bike friendly attributes for your #nextbikeadventure in the Twin Cities Gateway.