Category Archives: Destinations

With record attendance the first few days of the 2018 Minnesota State Fair, using a bicycle to get there can reduce the hassle factor out of visiting the fair. Plus, it is also a great way to burn-off those extra calories from all of the fun things to eat on a stick.

Remove the hassle factor going to the Minnesota State Fair and see more!

With record attendance, the norm at the Minnesota State Fair, using your bicycle is a comfortable mode for getting there. If you are planning on attending this year’s ‘Great Minnesota Get-together’ bicycle parking is still free. Ride your bike from home, park your car a few miles away with your bike along or incorporate the Metro Transit Bus for a multi-modal commute. Commuting by bicycle can take the hassle factor out of the annual get-together. Besides, it is a great way to burn-off some those calories from all of the fun things you can eat on a stick.

RIDING YOUR BIKE TO THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR CYCLIST CAN CHOOSE BETWEEN THREE SECURE BIKE CORRALS TO PARK THEIR BIKE WHILE VISITING THE GREAT MINNESOTA GET TOGETHER.

RIDING YOUR BIKE TO THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR CYCLIST CAN CHOOSE BETWEEN THREE SECURE BIKE CORRALS TO PARK THEIR BIKE WHILE VISITING THE GREAT MINNESOTA GET TOGETHER.

This year the fair started on August 22nd and runs through Labor Day, September 2nd. So there is plenty of time to go, plan your mode of transportation to get there and what you will see.

A hassle-free way to get to the Minnesota State Fair

Riding your bike to the Fair cyclist can choose between three secure bike corrals to park their bicycle while visiting. As in the past, riding your bike to the fair can be fun and reduce the hassle of traffic congestion getting there. This year ride your bike, take a shuttle bus or both by multi-modal commuting. Each day, those who commute by bicycle to the fairgrounds, from 6 a.m. to midnight, will find three (3) secure bike locations. They are located at:

North Bike Lot: Hoyt-Snelling Gate (#2)

West Bike Lot: Randall Ave-Buford Gate (#16)

South Bike Lot: Como-Snelling Gate (#6) is a popular location. This bike corral fills fast so if it is not too inconvenient, plan your route to one of the two above locations.

AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR , CHECK THE LATEST IN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY EXHIBITS IN THE ECO PROGRESS CENTER.

AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR, CHECK THE LATEST IN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY EXHIBITS IN THE ECO PROGRESS CENTER.

Here is a map, from St Paul Smart Trips, showing the best bicycle routes to ride your bike comfortably to the fair.

Bike related things to do and see at the Minnesota State Fair

The Shoe Clip Light is an ideal item bike commuter safety

The Shoe Clip Light is an ideal item bike commuter safety

Now that you are at the fair walking around you can think about what you might want to purchase. Maybe a shoe clip light at the both under the Grandstand so you are more visible when out riding at night? You will find out more on where to purchase this item and other fun things on the free Minnesota State Fair App, (Apple App Store or Google Play store).

At the Minnesota State Fair, check the latest in environmentally friendly exhibits, like the e-bikes, in the Eco Progress Center.

IN THE ECO PROGRESS CENTER SEE THE LATEST ON ELECTRIC ASSIST BIKES.

IN THE ECO PROGRESS CENTER SEE THE LATEST ON ELECTRIC ASSIST BIKES (e-bikes).

Need a new Minnesota Bike Map? In the Education Building, look for the Minnesota Department of Transportation booth where you will find the latest maps free of charge.

Like parades?

AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR PARADE, ITS FUN TO SEE THE UNI-CYCLISTS RIDING AMONG THE FLOATS AND MARCHING BANDS.

AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR PARADE, ITS FUN TO SEE THE UNI-CYCLISTS RIDING AMONG THE FLOATS AND MARCHING BANDS.

At the Minnesota State Fair parade, its fun to see the uni-cyclists riding among the floats and marching bands. Each day at 2 p.m. on Cosgrove Street you can watch the Minnesota State Fair Parade. If you are lucky you might see the Twin Cities Unicyclists Club performing.  These single wheeled bicyclists always do some fun tricks as they pedal along the parade route. As the parade ends near the Eco Progress Center you can check out the latest exhibits in environmentally friendly living.

Fun foods at the Minnesota State Fair to try

YOU WILL FIND PLENTY OF FUN FOODS TO TRY AT THIS YEARS MINNESOTA STATE FAIR.

YOU WILL FIND PLENTY OF FUN FOODS TO TRY AT THIS YEARS MINNESOTA STATE FAIR.

You will find plenty of fun foods to try at this years Minnesota State Fair. Every year there are many fun and wacky foods entrees to try at the fair. This year is no exception looking at the latest published list of new foods to try. Items that have caught my attention to try include:
Bada Bing Sandwich, A Carnitas Taco Cone, and the No Bologna Coney, to name a few.

Hope this helps you plan for your next visit to the Minnesota State Fair. If we missed something you may have discovered? Please let us know, please leave a comment below.

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Border Bike Ride makes it easy to explore towns in Iowa and Minnesota

The Border Bike Ride allows all levels of cyclists the opportunity to ride on two trails, with several communities along the way. The fun begins in Riceville, in northeast Iowa, at the trailhead and welcome center of the Waspi-Great Western Line (WGWL) Trail on Saturday, August 24th. With many route options, recreational riders of all levels have several opportunities. The 56-mile route option crosses the border into Minnesota and to visit communities along the Shooting Star Trail.

The Border Bike Ride options

A multiple bike route event with a choice of:

  • Two family routes (22 miles round trip, entirely on the WGWL Trail)
  • Intermediate Routes (40 miles or 50 miles, on WGWL Trail and county hard-surface roadways)
  • Advanced Route (56 miles, on WGWL Trail, Shooting Star Trail, and paved county roadways)

Ride highlights

Border Bike Ride crosses the Wapsipinicon River twice.

Experience a biking environment that includes the following scenic views:

  • With miles of winding trail, the former WGWL railroad bed travels through the towns of Riceville and McIntire and twice crosses the Wapsipinicon River. Along the way also experience an 800-foot boardwalk that hovers over the flood plain that borders the river.
  • Also along the trail, take a peek at two ghost towns of the former villages of Acme and Bailey.
  • An added opportunity may include exploring the side trail that runs through the park next to Lake Hendricks.
  • As you pedal, travel next to Mennonite and Amish farms with a views dairy cows and draft horses grazing in the pasture. You will also pass by several Mennonite greenhouses that supply the area resident and visitors with flowers, fruit and vegetable products.
  • Seasoned cyclists on the 56-mile route will cross the border from Iowa into Minnesota with pleasant views of lady slipper flowers, Lake Louise State Park and the Upper Iowa River while riding along the Shooting Star Trail.

Some of the sweet treats along your ride

The delicious Heavenly Apples will be included with registration and served at Bailey station. Further along, enjoy homemade bars and ice cream at Lylah’s Marsh from 2-5 p.m. Then upon your return, ice cream sundaes/floats will be available for purchase at WGWL Trailhead/Welcome Center, from 2-6 p.m.  With maps provided you will find further refreshments and treats available at bike sponsor stations along the routes.

Registration

Border Bike Ride fun

Register online at https://borderbike.wgwltrail.com/. The cost is $12 to ride and $22 to ride with an event shirt.  Please note, event shirt is only available if pre-ordered by August 9th for Summer Farewell Border Bike.

Bike on your own or in a group.  Group departures from the WGWL Trailhead (110 East Main Street Riceville IA 50466) are at the quarter past the hour from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Shuttle available upon request.

Ride Benefits

Proceeds support the existence of the Wapsi-Great Western Line – a linear park preserving the past for the future, giving active people a safe place to run, hike and bike.

Riders on the18th Annual Gitchi-Gami Trail Association North Shore Bike Ride, August 18, will enjoy shoreline views of Lake Superior as they pass through a state park or riding over a serenading waterfall as it cascades into the lake.

Get close on the Gitchi-Gami Trail Association North Shore Bike Ride

Get up close and personal on the 19th Annual Gitchi-Gami Trail Association North Shore Bike Ride. On Saturday, August 17th, enjoy shoreline views of Lake Superior as you pedal the Gitchi-Gami Trail (GGST). Occasionally along the way passing through a state park or riding over a serenading waterfall as it cascades into the lake. This year with the usual: Snacks, T-shirts and sag support on four ride lengths, that includes a family-friendly 8-mile option.

Gitchi-Gami ride lengths

The full map of the Gitchi-Gami Trail

Starting at Gooseberry Falls State Park, the start time is 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday morning with recreational ride lengths offered at 8-miles, 28-miles, 34-miles, and 55-miles. The 55-mile ride is the only course that will use connecting roads. on the ride. All other options stay on the trail.  Click HERE for a mail-in registration form!

The 8-mile family ride option

A scenic view of the trail along Lake Superior

A scenic view of the trail along Lake Superior

Follows the GGST for 4 miles from Gooseberry to a rest stop at Twin Points wayside, where there will be treats and special events for families. The ride returns on the GGST to Gooseberry.

The 28-mile ride option

Entirely on the GGST, from Gooseberry through historic Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, continuing to the rest stop at the Beaver Bay Wayside, and returning on the trail. Because it is an “out-and-back” ride, bikers can turn around at any time to return to the starting point.

The 34-mile ride option

Rider on Gitchi-Gami Trail as it winds through Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Rider on Gitchi-Gami Trail as it winds through Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

 

55-mile ride option

Another new route this year! Follows the GGST to Beaver Bay Wayside, continues on the trail over the Beaver River Bridge and left onto the NEWEST segment of trail alongside West Road. Continues to Silver Bay where you will make a loop north beginning by turning left on Penn Avenue. Turning right on to Lax Lake Road you’ll bike to Hwy 1 and the Eckbeck rest stop, continue to Hwy 61, where you’ll head uphill at Outer Drive/Penn Avenue and pick up the Gitchi-Gami trail again near Rukavina Arena back to Beaver Bay, and then back to Gooseberry on the trail.

Registration can be completed online (through secure PayPal payment) at the link above or by mail, using the form on this page. Cost of the ride is $45. They offer a $10 discount to members if you would like to join.

Questions? Contact  annualride@ggta.org

Lodging opportunities and more scenic experiences to explore

Consider staying in Silver Bay, the Heart of the Northshore, on the top end of the GGST ride route, for plenty of things to do pre- and post your bike ride.

In its 32nd year the pedal Van Buren ride will be hosting their annual bike ride visiting several Civil War historical villages along the way.

Pedal Van Buren tours through 10 Civil War historic villages in SE. Iowa

Again in its 33rd year, the villages of Van Buren County, in Iowa will be hosting their annual Bike Van Buren ride August 17-18, and there is still room. Join over 200 bicyclists as they tour the countryside visiting several Civil War historical villages along the way. Ride participants can select the 42 or 66-mile route on Saturday and a 42-mile’r on Sunday. Along with SAG support and refreshments, a fun poker-run will be a part of the ride both days.

Bike Van Buren is a ride the whole family with enjoy.

Bike Van Buren is a ride the whole family with enjoy.

If you want to experience pedal Van Buren

The host villages will welcome the bikers with free refreshments and outstanding hospitality! All of the routes will lead you through some of the most beautiful countrysides in Iowa! Fill out the registration form/waiver for Bike Van Buren online at www.villagesofvanburen.com to save time. Walk-up registration will be held at the Keosauqua City Park, Saturday 7 to 8:30 a.m. and Sunday only rider registration is 7:30 to 8 a.m.

Meet old and new friend while touring the villages of Van Buren County

Meet old and new friend while touring the villages of Van Buren County

Bike Van Buren route options

Two routes will be offered on Saturday (66 miles & 42 miles) and 1 route on Sunday (42 miles). Riders can create their own route as well. All routes will begin and end at the Keosauqua City Park and all are clearly marked with large colored arrows. Bickel’s Cycling & Fitness, of Burlington, will provide technical support and several SAG (Service and Gear) wagons will be in-route with the riders at all times. Phone numbers for staff support crews are provided on the maps riders will receive upon registration (Riders are encouraged to carry a cell phone). All support crews will be equipped with free cold bottled water, courtesy of Dutchman’s Store, in Cantril and limited first aid.

Route options cover some quite county roads that meander from on village to another.

Route options cover some quiet county roads that meander from one village to another.

Lunch and sights to see on the ride

Riders will have the option to purchase a lunch band at registration ($8 adults, $5 youth).  Registered riders will take advantage of 100% complimentary refreshments at each of the nine hospitality stops. Hospitality stops average 8-10 miles apart and will include some fascinating historic sites such as the Bonaparte Pottery, Stockport Depot and Pearson House Museum Complex.

A little gaming fun is included on the ride

A Fun Poker Run will be part of the event on both days. Riders will try to build their best hand of poker by drawing cards at designated hospitality stops. The best hand on each day will win $100 cash. Bickel’s Cycling & Fitness in Burlington will provide prizes for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place winners.

Tour the Underground Railroad after the 1st day’s ride

Saturday’s ride will conclude at the Pearson House Museum Complex. Here ride participants can tour the Underground Railroad safe house. The tour shows places where escaping slaves hid under the floorboards, during the Civil War, on their journey to freedom. The Pearson House will also be open on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. On Saturday evening, in the Keosauqua City Park from 4 to 7 p.m. Goehring Brothers BBQ will be serving mouth-watering pulled pork & brisket plate dinners. From 5 to 6 p.m. the Tarnished Brass Band will perform and everyone is invited to bring a lawn chair and enjoy the evening!

Hope to see you on the Bike Van Buren Ride!

Hope to see you on the Bike Van Buren Ride!

For more information contact: Villages of Van Buren 800-868-7822 / 319-293-7111 www.villagesofvanburen.com

A Twin Cities Gateway bicycle adventure, pre or post your soccer game

by Russ Lowthian

Before or after that next soccer game, at the National Sports Center, grab the handlebars of a bicycle for a true north Twin Cities Gateway bicycle adventure. Surrounding the soccer fields,  in Blaine, MN, the nine communities of the Gateway offer hundreds of miles of paved trail for you and family members to explore.

A Gateway bicycle adventure

Here are the maps of the bike-friendly Twin Cities Gateway communities: Anoka; Blaine; Coon Rapids; Fridley; Ham Lake; Lino Lakes; Mounds View; New Brighton; and Shoreview. All unique in their own way, each offers relaxed small town-type atmospheres with plenty to do.

So take a deep breath as you grip your handlebars

Enjoying a Twin Cities Getaway bicycle adventure you will feel as if you’re deep in the country as several communities here border the Mississippi River Trail. Along with several nature parks, it can expand your personal playground while visiting. Options, traveling by bike include stopping along a lake to go swimming or fishing; play a round of disc golf; go birding; explore one of the many parks; or travel the trail through the chain of lakes by bike or rent a canoe. You can even satisfy your inner sports desire by visiting the velodrome track on the grounds at the National Sports Center.

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. 

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 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 is 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.

The velodrome at the 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. Especially their ‘Thursday nights under the lights’, the wooden track is open to the public for single speed fun. The season begins in late spring and through the summer. Check out their schedule for more details.

Twin Cities Gateway area bike shops and rental services

Car’s Bike Shop | 2661 County Road I, Mounds View, MN 55112 | 763-784-6966
Jerry’s Schwinn | 4136 Coon Rapids Blvd. N.W., Minneapolis, MN 55433, USA| 763- 421-4270
Pioneer Cycle    | 12741 Central Ave. N.E., Blaine 55434 |  763-755-8871

For more info on the Twin Cities Gateway 

Here you will find more details on where to stay, play, and explore this nine-city area.

More places to bike and explore in Minnesota

Check out the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.

‘Ride the Ridges’ out of Winona, are up for the challenge?

How far, how high? how tough you ask? With ‘Ride the Ridges’ (RTR) bike ride, out of Winona, MN, you choose the level of challenge you want with four routes options. Ranging from 18 miles to a Century, Ride the Ridges features something for everyone.

If you up for the challenge and believe you will exceed your planned level of endurance this summer here is a memorable way to test those glutes, thighs and calf muscles. In its seventh year, on Saturday, September 21, 2019, the Winona Rotary Club is expanding its annual road tour event. This ‘Ride the Ridges‘ event will take riders through some of the most scenic areas in Southeastern Minnesota.  Participants of RTR will pedal into lush valleys riding alongside cascading streams then up into the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Will you be up for the challenge?

Bike Routes on Riding the Ridges

The beautiful scenery and the challenging hills make this ride one to remember.

The beautiful scenery and the challenging hills make this ride one to remember.

Choose one of four RTR routes, each having hills, valleys, and spectacular views. All routes have rest stops and SAG support!

Registration, with a stunning jersey available

Early registration is through September 1 and includes a pair of RTR socks, rest stops, SAG support, post picnic and party. If you like the jersey, orders close Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

The RTR benefits the Winona Rotary Clubs – Feed My Starving Children program. Can’t ride, donations are always welcome!

Visiting Winona

Check here for places to stay, eating establishments and attractions when visiting.

What past riders say about RTR

You have to do this ride if you enjoy biking. Great roads, great event!

  • The beautiful scenery and the challenging hills make this event one to remember.
  • Ride The Ridges is as good as it gets when it comes to bike tours. It offers great scenery, safe roads, superb organization, wonderful volunteers, excellent rest stops, mechanical support and a choice of distances…….everything a cyclist could ask for.
  • Ride the Ridges had the best rest stops and volunteers. The food selection was excellent. The volunteers were extremely friendly. I also loved the HAM operators supporting the ride.
  • See more comments here.

For more places to ride this Fall

See the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide and the Iowa Bike/Hike Guide.

Here in this bike pic, digging through our summer archives, we captured this fun photo of riders on the Rock-n-Roll the Lakes last summer in Albert Lea. See more fun photos on their Facebook page.

Benefiting the Bike Alliance, two rides creates a Minnesota doubleheader

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

If you haven’t finalized plans for your #NextBikeAdventure consider a Minnesota doubleheader with the Rock n’ Roll the Lakes this Saturday and Tour of Saints, on Sunday. Both day-of bike bicycle touring events benefit the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota and offer several route options to fit your style of riding.

A Minnesota doubleheader of rides

This Bike Pic Thursday, digging through the archives, we caught these riders enjoying the Rock around the Lakes, in Albert Lea, MN, coming July 13th. 

Fun riding Rock N’ Roll the Lakes, in Albert Lea, MN, coming July 13th.

This Saturday, July 13th, Rock N’ Roll the Lakes in southern Minnesota takes place

A strong hours drive south on Interstate 35W from the Twin Cities, after passing the I-90 crossroad pull into Albert Lea and prepare for a day or weekend of outdoor fun. Known as ‘The Land Between the Lakes’ the city is also the hometown of the rock-n-roll icon, Eddie Cochran and Marian Ross (Remember Mrs. C from Happy Days?).

Today's bike pic, we look at the fun everyone is having now that summer is here. In this photo we captured the these two biker chicks riding 'Rock N' Roll the Lakes' in Albert Lea this last Saturday.

Two biker chicks enjoying ‘Rock N’ Roll the Lakes’ in Albert Lea last year.

With a fitting name for this annual ride, Albert Lea knows how to rock! Riders can choose from the 10, 30 or 50-miles SAG-supported routes. All three courses hug picturesque lake shores and offer a variety of beautiful southern Minnesota scenery.  Click here for more information and to register. Make it a weekend, check out these lodging opportunities in the area.

On Sunday, July 14th is the Tour of Saints in Central Minnesota

Rest stops with sinfully delicious food makes riders smile throughout the tour.

It’s not a race, it’s a heavenly little ride touring the saintly communities on the west side of St. Cloud, MN. At this time each summer more than 1,000 touring cyclists meander along quiet roads with rolling green landscape, from one saintly city to the next. A celebration of bicycling that will benefit BikeMN, the Tour of Saints bicycle ride starts and ends in St. Joseph.

Enjoy 18, 35, or 50-mile options. All three routes begin at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph and are designed to offer the most scenic and pleasant routes. Riders enjoy food and drink at rest stops on each course. Read more about the Tour and routes here. Make it a weekend reserve a room in St Cloud here.

The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN)

See how these two rides this weekend, the Saint Paul Bicycle Classic in September and the Mankato River Ramble in October benefit BikeMN.

If you have three days or more free and looking for a true north biking experience in Minnesota, consider Roseau.

A true north biking experience with family and friends in Roseau

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

If you have three days or more open and looking for a true north biking experience in Minnesota, consider Roseau. A few miles from the Canadian border on a recent visit I found this area full of fun offering many off-road bicycling opportunities.

An outdoor bicycle paradise

Perfect for the whole family, the city of Roseau offers a paved bike trail, along with a number of quite street routes. Making it easily get around, to and from your hotel, by bike.

The quite city streets makes it easy and safe to connect to the trail to go downtown.

The quiet city streets make it easy and safe to connect to the trail, to go downtown.

On the eastern edge of the city, I found Mount Roseau. With no forest vegetation, it made it easy to see the countryside as I rode up, down and around the trails of this mountain bike park. At the top, the view was worth a few moments. But, what was really exciting was learning about the areas remote logging roads and trails in Beltrami Island State Forest. For the fat, gravel, and mountain bike fans this is a haven if you are craving a true north experience.

Roseau a true north biking experience

Minnesota’s North Star City, the community is located in an environmental transition area of the state where the forest gives way to the prairies of the Red River Valley. Only 13-miles south of the Canadian Border and 27-mile to Lake of the Woods, by auto, Roseau is a six-hour drive from the Twin Cities.  In this friendly Scandinavian community, visitors will find many recreational opportunities in the towns parks and nearby state forests parks.

As a result of this unique location, wildlife enthusiasts traveling by auto, bike or on foot can appreciate the outdoor paradise the area offers. Nearly forty percent of Roseau County is accessible through state and county parks, and wildlife areas. Surrounding Roseau there are tamarack bogs to the north, prairie grasslands to the west and sandy pine forests to the east. All areas provide ample opportunity for a gravel road ride or wilderness fat and mountain biking adventure. Along the way take in several wildlife viewing stations, pick blueberries or just go for a hike and explore. Plus, the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail, near Roseau, is on Minnesota’s premier bird-watching list.

Parks to explore in the area

Four of the most visited Roseau outdoor recreation areas are the Roseau City Park, Sprague Creek Natural Area, Hayes Lake State Park, and Beltrami State Forest.

Roseau City Park

The mountain Bike trail on Mount Roseau.

The mountain bike trail on Mount Roseau.

The  City Park here is located on 40 wooded acres, along the Roseau River. The park provides a variety of activities including paved trail and mountain biking on Mount Roseau.  The single track trail system offering over 6.5 miles of fun twists and turns for all skill levels. The park also offers various playground equipment, sand volleyball, a fishing pier, and Frisbee golf activities.

Click here to see our bike map of Roseau.

Sprague Creek Natural Area

Easy to ride to, the Peatland Scientific and Natural Area, is just north of Roseau. Once you arrive this area offers hiking trails that feature many bird viewing opportunities.

Hayes Lake State Park

Accessible by bike, Hayes Lake State Park is located 18 miles southeast of Roseau, on County Road 4. Located on the edge of Beltrami Island State Forest, this quiet true north park consists of 3,000 acres of pines, the lake, and wildlife to observe. The park also features a day use area with fishing pier, swimming beach, and campsites. The lake is a non-motorized recreational area where canoeing and kayaking are popular. While here, also enjoy the opportunity to view rare birds such as bald eagles, great grey owls, Sandhill cranes and a variety of warblers. Wildlife sightings found in the area include elk, moose, bear, and wolves.

Beltrami State Forest

From this forest road many logging roads and trails intersect and are ready yo explore.

From this forest road, many primitive logging roads and trails intersect and are ready to explore by bike.

Further east from the State Park and as I mentioned earlier, what really excites me about this area for a true north biking experience in Beltrami Island State Forest. The second largest of Minnesota’s 59 state forests, there are five rivers that have their headwaters here. Also containing scientific and natural areas riding the forest here is unique.

A family enjoying a true north bike experience in the forest.

A family enjoying a true north bike experience in the forest.

In this huge forest, there are more than 138 miles of logging roads and trail to explore on your bike.  Make sure you have a compass or GPS device along when exploring the trails. Pedaling around low flatland’s, peat bogs and ridges covered in pines, it’s easy to get lost. Along the forest roads, you might find evidence of a former homestead foundation or village. As s you explore, you will for sure want to stop and enjoy some blueberries when you hit a patch.

When not biking

From wheels to snow track the the Thrill Team helped to promote snowmobiling with this stunt track.

From wheels to snow track the Thrill Team helped to promote snowmobiling with this stunt track.

Being the birthplace of snowmobiling and Polaris Industries, in between daily outings take in a plant tour and the museum. At the Experience Center see artifacts from the earliest snowmobiles to Polaris’s movement into All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s). History buffs will enjoy the Roseau Pioneer Farm and Village, as well as the Roseau County Museum.

Another Roseau summer tradition is the 100-year old Roseau County Fair. Held in the middle of July, this annual event can add to your biking adventure if you visit at that time. Other activities around town include the community pool, paddling the Roseau River, the local theatre, a bowling alley, and arcade. In the downtown area, you will find many antique shops to browse and reminisce about the past.

Places to stay for a true north biking experience

On my last visit, while exploring this true north destination I headquartered at the AmericInn.  Roseau also offers a couple more hotels to fit your needs. Camping (RV and tent sites with water and electric) in the city park is also an option.

Roseau has something for every interest. Check your calendar and plan your next true north biking experience to Roseau, today.

Fond summer memories were enjoyed by this biker couple on the 4th of July Tour D'Amico Bicycle Tour last year summer. This year's 19th annual tour offers several new scenic routes through the Twin Cities western suburbs.

A family-fun 4th of July bike tour opportunity with delicious food

If you are looking for some biking fun, and food on 4th of July join Hiawatha Bicycle Club (HBC), on the Tour D’Amico (TDA) this next week. It will be the 20th anniversary of Tour D’ Amico, with some new scenic routes, rest stop locations and a buffet lunch provided by D’Amicos and Son at the end. The TDA 4th of July ride begins and ends in Golden Valley, MN.

The family-fun 4th of July Tour D’ Amico bike tour

The routes are scenic and fun

All four routes are scenic and fun for the whole family

Select your TDA route with options of riding 20, 29, 40, or 60-miles through the scenic western suburbs of the Twin Cities. All four courses mapped are well marked with SAG support, rest stops, and maps provide for you and your friends. See route maps here.

TDA and the 4th of July food

Hydration rest stops along the way offer tasty snacks

Hydration rest stops along the way offer tasty snacks

The annual ride is a partnership with D’Amico and Sons Restaurant, who provides some delicious samples at the Wayzata rest stop and a mouth-watering picnic buffet at the end. Other stops locations include the HyVee stop in Plymouth and the Hopkins hydration stop.

Celebrate the 4th of July with a D'Amico & Sons picnic after the ride, you deserve it!

Celebrate the 4th of July with a D’Amico & Sons picnic after the ride –  you deserve it!

Have fun, still time to register and save!

Find old and new friends on the Tour D'Amico Bike Ride

Find old and new friends on the Tour D’Amico Bike Ride

Capped at 450 riders, TDA day of registration cost is $45 (free for kids under 18 accompanied by an adult). However, the fee is only $25 for Hiawatha Bicycle Club members. So, if you are not a member, please consider joining HBC today ($25 single or $35 annual household membership) and your participating TDA price as a member $25. You will be saving $20 or more for TDA while enjoying a calendar full of HBC club benefits throughout the year. Find more info on our website at www.hiawathabike.org.

If you register for TDA online and want to save by becoming an HBC member, if you are not already a member, please use the invitation code ‘HBC Members’ to unlock the $25 (rather than $45) price. Alternatively, show up on the morning of the 4th and take care of everything then. See more details of the TDA event on Meet-up or the HBC club website.

Hope to see you on the 4th of July!

With spring here, we wanted to share another bike/birding hotspot we have enjoyed over the years that you may want to add to your list of places to explore.

Bike/Birding hot spots in the Twin Cities Gateway area to enjoy

With spring here, we wanted to share another bike/birding hotspot we have enjoyed over the years that you may want to add to your True Noth list of places to explore. Check out several bike trails in the north suburbs of the Twin Cities Gateway this spring and summer. Ground truthing the maps in the MN Bike/Hike Guide our interests were piqued by the many birding haunts that we noticed in the community of Shoreview.

An area once inhabited by Dakota and Ojibwe tribes, today the Shoreview community has many parks along its lakes. These parks provide both residents and visitors places to enjoy bird watching. While here, from these areas alone you can spot an impressive list of songbirds, hawks, and waterfowl.

Looking for some new birding spots to explore?  The Twin Cities Gateway has you covered starting with a local apple orchard. From there, we have identified several additional birding hotspots worth checking out.

A Birding Hotspot – Victoria Valley Orchard

Another birding hotspot to see hawks is the victoia Valley Orchard, in Shoreview.

A birding hotspot to see hawks is at the Victoria Valley Orchard in Shoreview.

As Summer will soon be upon us, many of the nesting sites in the apple trees at the Victoria Valley Orchard have fulfilled their use. One task finished, they are now a good place to spot many seasonal birds and hawks. Like many of the groves around the country, the orchard here is a rich habitat for nesting birds as they forage nearby. Here are a few of the birds that have been observed here: the Baltimore Oriole, Blue-Winged Warbler, Chimney Swift, Osprey, Red-Shouldered Hawk, several species of sparrows, and the Scarlet Tanager.

Location: The Victoria Valley Orchard is located at 4304 North Victoria Street, in Shoreview, MN. You are welcome to wander the orchard throughout the year to spot the different birds that live or pass through here. Commercially they are only open from early September through mid-November if you would like to buy some of the 19 varieties of apples that they grow. For more information please visit their website at http://www.victoriavalleyorchard.com/.

A Birding Hotspot – Snail Lake

A birding hotspot can be found along most of the paved bike trails that meander through the parks in Shoreview.

A birding hotspot can be found along most of the paved bike trails that meander through the parks in Shoreview.

Another birding hotspot on our tour in Shoreview is the trail along Highway 96. This trail borders the north side of Snail Lake. One of two areas to observe the birding activity here is at the grassy area just off the trail. With a few potholes and a line of trees partially blocking the view of the lake, you may spot several varieties of warblers, if they haven’t left. Plus, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Red-Shouldered Hawks. A variety of other marsh birds that use this area can also be seen here.

Location: The trail location is on Highway 96 and across from the Shoreview Public Library. There is a public park at the south end of the lake for another viewing location.

Birding Hotspot – Sucker and Vadnais Lakes

Now heading further east along Highway 96, our tour of birding hotspots takes us first to Sucker Lake. Then, across County Road F, the trail takes you into Vadnais Lake’s park area. Both these lakes and the park areas are a part of the Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park and are reservoirs for the St. Paul Regional Water Authority. These lakes are fairly deep and the wetlands are composed of extensive tamarack and shrub swamps with large marshy areas. The forest area here is mainly mature pine plantations with some oak woods for nesting Pine Warblers and Red-Shouldered Hawks. A variety of marsh birds use the shoreline here. Along with the fall migratory waterfowl activity of both lakes, this area is also good for migratory warblers and Red-Breasted Nuthatches.

Location: Just south of Highway 96, take the Rice St. exit from I-694 and go north. The north access and parking is east of Rice St. on Sucker Lake Road. The south entrance is east from Rice St. on County Road F, then north on Sucker Lake Road.

Another birding hotspot is in some of the open meadows that paved bike paths pass through the par

Another birding hotspot is in Grass Lake where paved bike paths pass through some of the open meadows.

Birding Hotspot – Grass Lake

Another birding hotspot in Shoreview is Grass Lake, which is also a part of the Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park system. The main vegetation here is the deep water cattail marsh with floating mats. On both the east and west sides of the lake, Oak woodlands can be found. On the north side of the park, there is a mixture of swamp shrubs and grasslands that are prevalent. Here at Grass Lake is where Marsh Wrens, Osprey, and Red-Shouldered Hawks commonly nest. Common Loons are often seen in the spring and summer along with many sparrow species that stopover during their migration.

Location: Grass Lake is reached by turf and paved trails from the parking area off of Gramsie Road. The parking lot can be reached by taking the Victoria St. exit from I-694 and going north to Gramsie Rd., then east to the MacKubin Rd. intersection. Entrance is on your right.

For more information on these birding hotspots and others, contact Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Department at (651) 748-2500 or www.co.ramsey.mn.us/parks for more information.

A 12.5-mile Bike Loop to Shoreview’s Birding Hotspots

For those interested in riding their bicycle to the above parks described, we have identified an easy path to take to have optimal bird watching capabilities. Please download the 12.5-mile Turn-by-Turn Route to begin your bird watching journey by bike to see some of Shoreview’s birding hotspots.

More map options can be found at the Ramsey County Maps.