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Whatever your riding style, downhill, cross-country, or a leisurely ride after work, you’ll find plenty of mountain biking trails to choose from. Minnesota offers many off-road trails to shred. No matter your skill level, you will find plenty of glaciated ridges: lush forests, and open prairies to explore. Plan your next outdoor adventures with our list of mountain bike trails in Minnesota. You will find many fun opportunities year-round, as many of these trails are open for fat biking throughout winter. Thanks to the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclist (MORC) and several other community organizations who maintain these trails.
Fat bike fun on Minnesota’s Mountain Bike Trails
From lift-served downhill and legendary red dirt trails of the North to the open-air feel of the prairies further south, you’ll find outstanding mountain bike trails across Minnesota.
Minnesota mountain bike trails in the North
You will find many trail options when visiting Northern Minnesota.
In Northern Minnesota’s vast forests, find an extensive network of rugged singletrack and easy-to-moderate mountain bike trails to enjoy. Explore the following list, with many state, regional, and city parks that maintain off-road trails to provide riders at every skill level with a fun experience. Whether seeking a serene roll or a challenging thrill, Minnesota has no shortage of mountain bike trails to explore. For that next Northern Minnesota adventure you want to plan, click here for over 25 trail systems to shred.
Minnesota’s Central Region
Enjoy the mix of prairie and forested trails regardless of your skill level.
In Minnesota’s heartland, find an extensive network of rugged singletrack and easy-to-moderate mountain bike trails to enjoy. Explore the following list, with many state, regional, and city parks that maintain off-road trails to provide riders at every skill level with a fun experience. Whether seeking a serene roll or a challenging thrill, Minnesota has no shortage of mountain bike trails to explore. For that next Central Minnesota adventure you want to plan, click here for over 15 trail systems to shred.
Minnesota’s Twin Cities Metro Area
The TC Trails here are perfect for the beginner and the serious rider.
In the Twin Cities, mountain bikers will find trails to enjoy year-round. No matter your skill level, you will find the singletracks trails flowing in the summer. Then in the winter months, they are groomed for fat biking. Explore the following list, with many regional and city parks that maintain off-road trails to provide riders at every skill level with a fun experience. Whether seeking a serene roll or a challenging thrill, Minneapolis-St has no shortage of mountain bike trails. Paul Area. For the next mountain bike adventure you want to plan in the Twin Cities Metro, click here for over 15 trail systems to shred.
From the driftless area to the open prairies, Southern Minnesota awaits your arrival.
In Southern Minnesota’s open prairies, meandering rivers, and stunning bluffs, find an extensive network of rugged singletrack and easy-to-moderate mountain bike trails to enjoy. Explore the following list, with many state, regional, and city parks that maintain off-road trails to provide riders at every skill level with a fun experience. Whether seeking a serene roll or a challenging thrill, Minnesota has no shortage of mountain bike trails to explore. For the next mountain bike adventure you want to plan in the Twin Cities Metro, click here for over 15 trail systems to shred.
Living in the upper Midwest with four unique seasons, fat biking can be a fun way to pass the time in the winter while getting a good cardio workout. Many studies state the benefits of staying active in cold weather, and riding a fat bike will do that. As an avid cross-country skier, times are changing. With climate change affecting us all, the fat bike is a great alternative to stay active throughout the winter when the ski trail turns into a bobsled run.
Don’t get me wrong; I have not nailed my skis to the wall as decoration. I still loved the thrill of kick-an-gliding through the rolling forests and open fields. But climate change is a growing concern making the trails icy and sometimes baron of snow for skiing. In the last several years, it seems we are seeing more freeze/thaw temperature swings making skiing hazardous. If you are like me and want to stay active when the trails are icy or sparse of snow, the fat bike is an option.
Options, with studded tires when conditions are not for gliding over the trail. Here are some places to ride the trail.
Fat biking trails are waiting for you in northern Minnesota
Please note: check before you head out. Not all federal, state, county, township, or city trails are open to fat biking, but the list is growing.
Here, north to south, are some Minnesota trails waiting for you as we enter the winter season:
With plenty of layers and a mask, this biker dude is having fun in the True North.
Split Rock State Park Trails, northeast of Two Harbors. Here on the shore of Lake Superior, ride 8.7 miles of groomed trails, perfect for fat biking and skate skiing. Currently, access is only allowed near Beaver Bay.
Giants Ridge Trail, east of Biwabic, is a resort on the edge of the towering Superior National Forest that offers several fat tire biking adventures. Ride their 37-mile -plus Nordic trail system or experience downhill fat biking via their high-speed chairlift!
Redhead Trails, at the Minnesota Discovery Center, in Chisholm. This new park offers all skill levels of fat bikers nearly 25 miles of hand-crafted mountain bike trails. Here you will find an oasis of fun riding through the diverse terrain around the old open mine pits.
Suomi Hills Trail in the Chippewa National Forest is north of Grand Rapids. Here you will find a 19-miles remote and stunning trail system in a semi-primitive non-motorized area. While in the area, you will also find several other primitive trails to explore in this National Forest.
Lester River Trail, in Duluth. Fat bikers will find this 12.5-mile trail one of the most beginner-friendly trails in the area (especially riding back down). Other trails in the Duluth area are rated intermediate to advance for the steady incline/descent and rocks/roots.
Winter fun, as this fat biker takes a break for a photo op.
Jay Cooke State Park Trail in Carlton. Nestled along the St. Louis River, the state park groomed 5.4 miles of fat biking trails allows you to ride through and possibly spot white-tailed deer as they winter in this area. The trail here is intermediate, with uneven terrain and small hills.
Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in Crosby/Ironton. A rugged park of old open mining pits, now lakes, with stockpiles of discarded quarried rocks scattered to create over 50 miles of groomed fat biking trails. Here you will find a few loops for beginners. Most trails here are designated for intermediate to advanced skill sets.
Detroit Mountain, in Detroit Lakes. The bike park here features approximately 4-miles of downhill flow trails that make the most of the natural landscape in the park. The trails mimic a rollercoaster, with a series of fast and flowing sections that take you up and down the mountainside.
Fat biking trails in the Twin Cities
Come November; it’s a perfect time of the year to jump on a fatty.Anoka Nature Preserve, north of Anoka. The nature preserve here is nestled along the bank of the Rum River with over 5-miles of double-wide trails. The perfect trail system for the novice fat-tire biker looking to enjoy nature in the winter and preserves gently rolling terrain.
Elm Creek Trail, west of Chaplin, in the north metro of the Twin Cities, is a 4,900-acre park featuring amenities for many outdoor activities. Including trails for fat biking, built to accommodate all skill levels of riders. So grab your fatty for 10 miles of fast-flowing groomed trails of winter fun.
He was commuting to work on his fatty, along the frozen lake channels in Minneapolis.
Gateway State Trail, in North St. Paul. A favorite for a quick getaway from the city, this section of the popular trail offers almost 12 miles of riding for fat bikers in the winter. From Cayuga Street to Jamaica Avenue, the plowed trail is perfect for beginners taking you out to the open fields of Ramsey and Washington County.
Theodore Wirth Park Trail, in North Minneapolis. Winter fat bike enthusiasts flock to the woods of this north metro park for seven miles of tightly twisting singletrack and a skyline-view pump track.
Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, in Salvage. This peaceful wilderness park in northeast Scott County has its wild side. Another challenging trail intertwined in glacial ridges, hilly terrain, and heavy forests. Riding a fat bike here in the winter is a fantastic off-road experience.
Minnesota River Valley Trail, in Bloomington. Affectionately known as the “River Bottoms,” the trails attract a variety of nature lovers, bird-watchers, hikers, and mountain bikers throughout the year. The River Bottoms here is a fat bike paradise perfect for the beginner, intermediate, and those looking to race in the winter.
As winter temperatures drop, it’s time to dig out the layers and have some fun!
Fort Snelling State Park, in south Minneapolis. Located in the heart of the Twin Cities, where the Minnesota River meets the Mississippi River, this park offers 6-miles of groomed for fat biking. Most of this state park is on the Minnesota River’s floodplain. It is easy to ride the trail along the river’s braided channels and see white-tailed deer, foxes, and wild turkeys.
Lebanon Hills Reginal Park, in Eagan. With nearly 12 miles of a single-use, one-way trail system, winter fat bikers are discovering the park’s popularity as one of the go-to trails in the metro area. The trails feature riding for all skill levels and world-class facilities to enhance your riding experience.
South Minnesota fat bike trails are waiting
Dig out your favorite Christmas sweater and take a fat bike for a spin.
Kaplan’s Woods Singletrack, in Owatonna. For the avid fat biker, you will find 5-miles of fun loops. With a tight singletrack trail system winding through the hardwood forest next to the Straight River, climbs are short and punchy to leave you breathless on each descent.
Bronk Unit Plowline Trail, a part of the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest, is north of Winona. The fat biking trails of varying difficulty consist of a south loop and a north loop for 6.5 miles. Both loops generally follow the woods’ edge, or the plow line, as they go around the ridge, rising and falling, giving them a “more difficult” rating.
Do you have a fun trail for fat biking that we missed?
If you have a fat bike trail that you want to see added to this list and published in the Holiday Edition of the Bike/Hike Guide, send us the location and link to [email protected] – Thanks!
Head west of the Twin Cities, and before you know it, you will be greeted by small-town charm, and a sprawling countryside full of bike/birding opportunities in the Willmar Lakes Area. To the naked eye, it may not seem like much, but the area knows how to show guests a great time.
Now, with fall colors and waterfowl migration soon approaching, it’s a special place to visit. Allowing cyclists plenty of great outdoor memories on the trails and bike-friendly roads that will last a lifetime.
Biking opportunities in the Willmar Lakes Area
The Willmar Lakes Area is the perfect bike getaway to visit any time of the year.
Getting around on your bike in Willmar is more than encouraging. Awarded the Bike Friendly Bronze status by the League of American Cyclists, the community has redesigned its streets and inner city trails to make it easy to pedal around and explore the area’s attractions and points of interest.
While biking, this is also a great area for bird enthusiasts. Key locations in Kandiyohi County, include Sibley State Park, Robbins Island Regional Park, Bergquist Wildlife Area, and the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center.
Sibley State Park is one of the most popular areas, so bring binoculars. While biking the trails around the park, you have a chance to see over 200 different species of birds that nest or migrated here. And with the Glacial Trail, it is easy to get out to the park, by bike, from your hotel room in the Willmar Lakes Area.
Glacial Lakes State Trail
Built on a former Burlington Northern railroad line, the trail is generally level and wheelchair accessible. The trail is paved for 22 miles between Willmar, Spicer, New London, Hawick, and the Kandiyohi/Stearns County line. This multi-use bike corridor offers many opportunities to look at wildflowers and wildlife along the way.
Bring the binoculars along, for some birds sittings along the trail you may see!
Getting to Sibley State Park from the Glacial Lakes State trailhead? From New London, take the county road west out of town on the paved bike lane, for approximately 4-miles, to the park.
Sibley State Park and Mount Tom
Once you get there riding your bike, hike to the top of Mount Tom. It’s one of my favorite high points in a 50-mile radius to view the patchwork of forest, farmland, prairie knolls, and lakes in the area. Through the summer season, visitors can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing on Lake Andrew. With an interpretive program open year-round, birding is another activity I enjoy here.
In the park, you will find nearly two miles of paved trails that link Lakeview Campground and the Interpretive Center. With a slight elevation change, another favorite is the Pond View Trail loop. It offers another view perspective of the area.
Other parks and trails
Enjoy the miles of scenic paved trails in the prairie lands of the Willmar Lakes Area.
If birding isn’t your thing, Green Lake has its own BMX park. Part of USA BMX, the park includes an outdoor track where riders can practice every Tuesday at their own speed. The races are on Fridays.
Road biking opportunities
There is also plenty of bike-friendly roads in Kandiyohi County. See the county map here to help you navigate the area.
More about the bike-friendly Willmar Lakes Area
Willmar also has a Ride Share program where you can find different spots throughout town to rent a bike. Find out here how residents and visitors alike can take advantage of these bikes to access the many recreational destinations throughout the area.
When you are not riding, the trails and roads in Kandiyohi County the area offers plenty of indoor attractions when you want to relax and places to stay. Along with several museums covering different parts of the area’s Minnesota history, After your ride covering the birding haunts, enjoy a refreshing local beer or taste of local wine as you take a break from the outdoor activities in this scenic prairie lakes area.
Before the city’s annual art festival, September 16th, enjoy the trails and bike lanes on the Tour of Lakeville. Thanks to the Lakeville Friends of the Environment, who will lead two different length rides, registration is free. Select between the 6-mile (kid-friendly) ride route or the 18-mile scenic bike trip on Lakeville’s trails and bike lanes. Here, while touring Lakeville, gain a whole new perspective of the town’s beauty and its closeness to nature.
Tour of Lakeville details
This year’s Tour of Lakeville starts and ends at Pioneer Plaza Park, a block north of where the Art Festival takes place. Pre-register at Lakeville Parks & Rec so you are ready to ride; it’s free. Remember to pump up your tires and bring a helmet and water bottle. Check-in starts at 9 a.m., and both rides leave at 9:30 a.m.
Your route choices
The 3-mile (kid and family-friendly) route is all on Lakeville’s paved trails.
The 18-mile route uses many quiet neighborhood streets that connect to trails meandering through new housing developments, parks, and wildlife areas. In several parks along the way, enjoy the special sculptures and benches, a highlight to the Lakeville art scene.
The Tour of Lakeville is a fun ride for all
Along the Tour ride, participants will discover many attractive segments of the community and many outdoor spaces that include:
Great views of Lake Marion as the tour passes the new outdoor performance pavilion in Casperson Park and the West Lake Marion Mountain Bike Trailhead.
The paved Juno Trail hugs the lake’s shoreline.
Views of the popular Antler’s Park, under construction and re-opening in the spring of 2024, with a swimming beach, picnic areas, volleyball, and horseshoes.
Enjoy listening to birds and seeing butterflies along the paved trail through the Steve Michaud Park-Conservation Area.
Don’t worry; no rider will be dropped on this family-friendly ride. However, all participants are expected to ride at a moderate pace so everyone can share their favorite ride stories after returning.
The 18-mile ride is scheduled to last approximately two and a half hours. This time frame depends on the number of registered bikers and the route. Remember, to pre-register so the ride has plenty of staff support – Thanks!
After the ride, make it a day at the Lakeville Art Festival
Many consider this one of the finest art festivals in Minnesota. The Lakeville Art Festival is held annually on the third weekend in September. This year, the event will feature over 90 artists in an intimate and accessible setting. The artist booths are staged in a park-like atmosphere, allowing for a unique circular type arrangement to help showcase their work. Plus, many artists have scheduled demonstrations over the two days of the festival, September 16 & 17.
Another family-friendly highlight at the art festival is a stop at the “Young at Art” tent. This workshop area has plenty of art supplies, ideas, and experts to flow the creative juices.
More on the new mountain bike trail in Lakeville
The Lakeville Cycling Association has constructed a mountain bike trail system on the west side of Lake Marion. Another family-friendly attraction, the new course, is approximately five miles long. The trail segments in the park allow plenty of fun features for beginning, intermediate, and advanced mountain bikers. This single-track, one-way trail system includes multiple switchbacks, berms, rollers, and fun for all to enjoy.
See the map for this new, year-round mountain bike trail system. You can access the trailhead in Casperson Park by parking in the gravel lot north of the soccer fields at 19720 Juno Trail. Watch for trail updates and trail conditions on the clubs’ Facebook page.
For those visiting the area who want to learn more about connecting from the area hotels to the trails and fun things to do when not riding, see the At-A-Glance Lakeville and their map.
Don’t put that bike away just yet! In the upper Midwest, riding in the fall colors is one of the best times of the year to explore the many bike-friendly destinations. Now that fall is officially here, look around at the spattering of color, then look at the following websites to help you plan your #NextBikeAdventure. With warm days, cool nights, low humidity, few insects, and trees offering brilliant autumn colors, fall riding can be picture-perfect.
Riders enjoy the colorful trees along the trail as they reach their peak.
As our summer bike adventures drift into fond memories, we still have a colorful blaze of options ahead. When the tree foliage begins to change, first in Minnesota and then in Iowa, using the HaveFunBiking guides and the state DNR websites, it’s easy to expand your recreational riding through October.
Fall color riding in Minnesota
Using a copy of the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide and the MN DNR fall color pages will allow you to match up to a fall experience you won’t soon forget. If you didn’t have a chance to pick up a printed copy of the MN Bike/Hike Guide, here it is online. Offering you bike maps and fun events for fall exploring.
Trail riding in the fall amongst tree-lined paths is inviting.
As the aspen, oaks, and maples burst with color, consider bookmarking these two websites and plan your fall biking adventure. Find more Minnesota fall riding information here.
Fall Color Riding in Iowa
Fall color riding on a bike-friendly road.
As the brilliant colors fade in Minnesota, Iowa is the place in October that will showcase most of its peak colors. Using a copy of the Iowa Bike/Hike Guide and the IA DNR fall color pages will allow you some more fall experiences you won’t soon forget. If you didn’t have a chance to pick up a printed copy, the online IA bike guide offers even more bike maps and fun events for fall exploring.
Fall color riding Wisconsin
Though we don’t have a Wisconsin Bike Guide, here are links to Wisconsin’s Bicycle routes and fall color report page.
With the popularity of electric-assist bikes (e-bikes), many people are asking us at HaveFunBiking.com what is the best bike to buy. Many questions emerged from visitors stopping in at the Eco Experience building at the Minnesota State Fair this year. Of the top questions asked, the top was, what does an e-bike cost, followed by, when can I get the new MN Rebate if I purchase an e-bike? Plus, what’s the best battery/motor combination for your riding style, and several other questions we have answered below.
Top 10 questions asked when selecting an e-bike.
1. What does an e-bike cost, and what about the MN Tax Credit?
There are many variables when buying an electric assist bike, including the distance you can ride and how you will use it; the number of times you can charge the battery; its weight (bike and battery); the warranty; and will you need to take out a loan to finance the bike? Along with a good warranty, the quality of standard parts or upgraded parts on the electric bike can increase the price from $2,000 to $6,000 or more. Plus, having adequate insurance coverage for possible damage, theft, and liability can increase the price.
See more information on the cost of buying an e-bike here.
And what’s the skinny on the MN Electric-Assisted Bicycle Rebate?
The Minnesota Transportation Finance and Policy bill included a new electric bike rebate program that takes effect July 1, 2024. In the 2023 session, four million dollars was appropriated for the 2024 and 2025 calendar years. This will allow the Rebate Program $2 million to be used starting July 1, 2024. Then again, consecutively, 2 million dollars for 2025, that will be available until June 30, 2026.
Depending on your income, the credit maximum is $1,500. To qualify, an Individual must assign the credit at the time of purchase after July 1st to an eligible retailer, that they have selected. This will reduce the cost of the e-bike purchased. For more information on the rebate, contact your local bike shop or see Minnesota Tax Changes.
2. What are my payment options?
To get an electric bike that will fit your needs over the next two to five years, find out if the bike shop or bike manufacturer (if buying online) offers a no- or low-interest loan, often for six to 36 months. Some lending institutions, like Affinity Plus, offer low-interest bicycle-specific loans and let you borrow 120% of the cost of the bike to allow you to buy accessories like helmets, locks, baskets/panniers, lights, etc.
3. Does an e-bike come with a warranty, and how can I insure the bike?
Many bikes come with limited or full warranties. Typically, e-bikes may come with a 2-year warranty on parts, motors, and batteries. Some e-bike brands have a 5-year, “no questions asked” comprehensive warranty. So, learn what sort of warranty is being offered before you buy. A reputable e-bike company will have its warranty information on its website.
It is recommended that you Insure your new bike. Check if your car, renter’s, or homeowners insurance can bundle an e-bike into your policy. If not, look at an insurance company that often covers theft and collision protection, similar to automobile insurance, for your e-bike. Many companies, like AAA and Velosurance, even offer roadside assistance for bicycles and e-bikes.
See more information on warranties and insuring an e-bike Here.
4. What are the different types and speeds of an e-bike?
There are so many types of e-bikes available! First, ask yourself, what is your primary use for buying an e-bike? Is it for commuting, hauling cargo, off-road riding, touring, or riding in winter conditions? Once you know how you will use the bike, check out the nationally defined classifications below and your state DOT statutes for e-bikes:
Class 1: e-bikes are pedal-assist only, no throttle, with a maximum speed of 20 mph
Class 2: e-bikes with pedal-assist and throttle, with a maximum speed of 20 mph
Class 3: e-bikes are pedal-assist, with or without a throttle, with a maximum speed of 28 mph. Most states consider e-bikes with a maximum speed of 20 mph “OK to use all non-motorized bike routes.”
5. What’s the battery’s range and life before recycling?
The general rule with a 36 volt, 10.5Ah (ampere-hours) battery should get 20 to 40 miles per charge with the average weight of rider + gear & cargo less than 200 pounds in ideal weather conditions. You’ll get fewer miles the higher the assist level you use. On low assist, you may enjoy 50 miles or more on a single charge. To maximize the life of your e-bike battery, try to charge it before it is close to empty.
Recycling your battery: Call2Recycle is helping e-bike owners recycle their batteries. On the right side of their website, please type in your zip code to get a list of places that will recycle your e-bike battery when it’s time to replace it.
For a more in-depth look at how volts x amps = watts can give you an approximate range, click here.
6. What is the weight limit of an e-bike, and heavy are they?
Most manufacturers recommend a maximum combined weight of around 275 pounds for a rider and gear & cargo on an e-bike. Cargo bikes are meant to carry small people or big loads and can accommodate riders + gear up to 400 pounds or more. Typically, e-bikes can handle total weights more than described by manufacturers’ specs. However, it may reduce the range or increase maintenance, including wheel spokes repairs.
Most e-bikes weigh between 30-65 pounds, with the battery weighing anywhere from five to 15 pounds. The weight of the battery goes up as the voltage goes up, but the capacity (range of the battery) will go up, too.
For more on weight limits and restrictions, click here.
7. How do I maintain an e-bike, and what if it needs to be repaired?
Like a regular bicycle, always start with an ABC’s (Air, Brake & Chain) check before you ride to maximize your e-bike investment. On average, you should schedule a tune-up every six months or every 1,000 miles you have ridden. This will protect your warranty. Check the manufacturer’s service recommendations to what they specify.
If you’re buying an e-bike online, see what sort of repair service or online support the company provides, or make sure your local or favorite bike shop can fix the electrical components of the e-bike you select. Bikes with Bosch drivetrain systems are well respected and offer the following information for care and longevity.
For more information on maintaining our preparing an e-bike, click here.
8. Can I ride an e-bike in the rain or snow?
Like most standard bicycles, E-bikes are water-resistant and can be used in most weather conditions. You may need accessories (like rain gear or studded tires) to ride safely. Most e-bike models also provide a high-quality, water-resistant casing to protect your battery when wet and cold. You can ride an e-bike at any temperature, but the colder it is, the more it may impact the battery’s range. Bring your battery (or the entire bike + battery) inside if you’re not riding it. Do not leave the battery on the bike if parking the e-bike outside in the winter at any time.
Click here for more information on riding an e-bike in rain or snow.
9. How do I keep an e-bike safe and secure?
To protect your e-bike investment, consider using a U-lock with a cable lock when locking your bike outside (also recommended for indoor public storage areas). Another anti-theft device to consider is a GPS track tag. Ask your local bike shop for their recommendations. Again, having adequate insurance coverage for possible damage, theft, and liability is wise.
For more information on securing your e-bike, click here.
10. What else should I do before purchasing?
Have fun and test-ride the e-bike(s) you want to focus on. One of the essential parts of buying an e-bike is taking the model(s) you are most interested in for a test ride. Like buying a car, test-ride the e-bike will help you finalize your decision once you have narrowed the selection down. Visit several bicycle shops that carry the e-bike brands you are most interested in. So grab your helmet and go for a test ride. Consider these questions while test-riding that new e-bike:
Does the e-bike fit the way I like it to
Do I feel comfortable on the e-bike climbing hills
And finally, is the quality and functionality over everything I expected while riding?
Now that you are back from your test ride, does the e-bike you like fit into your budget, and does it have a warranty? An e-bike is a significant investment, whether $1,500 or $10,000. So, with a warranty, you can rest assured that your investment is well covered. For more information on scheduling a test ride, click here.
Have fun on your new e-bike. We would enjoy hearing about your experiences here at HaveFunBiking!
Traveling closer to home is the new norm for many of us, and a fun bicycling staycation may open your eyes to new horizons. Using sustainable travel, like a bike, allows an adventurer to see points of interest and landscapes not commonly noticed when using other modes of transportation. Also, planning an overnight on your next staycation will make your bicycle ride there and back even more enjoyable. So, you may want to ask yourself two questions: How many miles can you comfortably ride in a given day? And, what town is 10 to 50 miles away that fits into your range, so your next adventure is memorable?
Sara’s bicycling staycation to Bloomington
Recently we helped Sara Lynch with an overnight staycation starting in Lakeville, MN. She and her husband rode to Bloomington and then back, using the HaveFunBiking maps we publish in the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.
So precisely what is a bicycling staycation?
According to Wikipedia, a staycation is a day trip with a distance from a person’s home to another location they would like to visit. Then, add a bicycle or other mode of transportation. Maybe a combination of both (multimodal transport) can expand the range of the adventure.
Sara’s staycation in the south Twin Cities Area may give you ideas.
Most of Sara and her husband’s bike adventures had been day trips until recently. Over the 4th of July weekend, they enjoyed their first bicycling staycation this year. According to Sara’s blog, Planet with Sara, “that all changed for this adventure. We started in Lakeville and biked to Bloomington with many fun stops along the way.”
Sara, stopping on the historic Cedar Bridge.
After spending the night in Bloomington, we biked back via a different route with even more fun stops.” Read on here for their course, recommended stops, and helpful tips for creating your fun bicycling staycation.
Lakeville to Bloomington
On the southern edge of the Twin Cities attractions, Lakeville is a family-friendly mecca for bicycling. Offering miles of paved trails, Lakeville has three fun mountain bike areas in the area and several great road routes to enjoy. Both visitors and residents alike will find plenty of safe bike riding opportunities in this bike-friendly community. And when not riding, check out the many attractions here. See Destination Lakeville for more ideas and places to stay.
Riding to Bloomington uses paved bike/ped trails and quiet neighborhood streets; using the route, pedaling through the Minnesota River Valley is approximately 25 miles to the north.
Bloomington back to Lakeville
After a restful night, you will find many cycling opportunities in Bloomington. Located along the north bank of the Minnesota River, near the airport, you will find many bike-friendly attributes here to make it easy to get around. Thanks to the city’s paved trails and designated bike lanes. And mountain biking along the Minnesota River is a fun place to shred some trails for those looking for an off-road adventure. When not riding around this riverfront community, check out the world-renowned Mall of America and other points of interest while visiting. See Destination Bloomington for more ideas and places to stay.
Returning to Lakeville, Sara used a 26-mile western route on quiet neighborhood streets and paved bike/ped trails back.
Join the fun ride with new and old friends on Sunday, October 8th, for the thirteenth annual Mankato River Ramble. Benefiting the great work the Greater Mankato Bike and Walk Advocates (GMBWA) and the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) are accomplishing. This year’s ride offers a 16, 30, or 42-mile scenic route option with tasty rest stop options along the way. Find delicious pies and other foods, beverages, live music, and more at each stop. Routes can be easily combined for those who want to add additional mileage and colorful scenery.
The whole family will like the scenery along the Minnesota River Valley.
River Ramble Registration
Save now, pre-registration closes on October 5! If you have not pre-registered, you can come between 8 and 10 a.m. to Land of Memories Park (100 Amos Owen Lane, Mankato, MN 56001) to sign up and begin the ride. See more info here.
Tasty treats, like the pie stop, can make the ride extra delicious.
The Ramble wouldn’t be possible without the help of 140 volunteers, and several spots are still open. Find volunteer sign-up options for the 2023 River Ramble at Bikeriverramble.org/volunteer. Volunteers help with putting up signs, helping with registration, passing out treats at rest stops, and encouraging riders. Volunteers get a free Ramble T-shirt.
The Ramble is a fun place to gather and ride with old and new friends!
The Mankato River Ramble is a fundraiser for the Greater Mankato Bike & Walk Advocates and the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. Proceeds after expenses from the event benefit these two organizations. The ride is made possible thanks to the generous support of the River’s Edge Hospital and the Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic, as well as the support of more than 50 other sponsoring organizations.
More delicious food upon your return, and its included in your ride fee.
Nestled along the Minnesota River in Southern Minnesota, Mankato is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore over 50 miles of paved trails by bike, scooter, or by foot, and even more trails to satisfy the need to get off the paved path. If you choose to spend some extra time exploring all that Mankato offers, here is a list of lodging options to consider.
About Greater Mankato Bike and Walk Advocates (GMBWA)
GMBWA encourages individuals and families to walk and bike as part of a healthy lifestyle. Greater Mankato Bike and Walk Advocates work with city, county, and state governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations to improve the community’s infrastructure and opportunities for walking and biking. The ride began in 2011; thousands of dollars of profits from the Ramble have gone into signs, outdoor kiosks, mountain bike trail construction, and other improvements in the Mankato area.
About the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN)
BikeMN is working to make Minnesota a state where bicycling is safe, easy, fun, and cool for everyone. The mission of BikeMN is to provide leadership and a unified voice for bicycle education, advocacy, and efforts to make Minnesota more bicycle-friendly so that more people will ride bicycles more often—more at www.bikemn.org.
As Minneapolis continues its Open Streets series of bike/walk events for 2023, enjoy the last event scheduled for 2023 events on Lynday Avenue. This last event will again demonstrate how congested city streets can become vibrant, pedestrian-friendly boulevards. Where people can dream, play, and explore.
More about Open Streets Minneapolis
So far, with sunny skies, the first Open Streets was held in June on East Lake Street, then on Glenwood Avenue in July, Cedar-Riverside in August, and West Broadway in September. This last street event for car-free fun will be on Sunday, October 8th, along Lyndale Avenue. Offering residents and visitors of all ages a chance to walk, bike, or skateboard while participating in many spontaneous play activities, clinics, food, and music offered along the Boulevard. See the schedule below for more events this year.
Except for some intersections, the Open Streets celebration was car-free on Glenwood Ave last month..
Open Streets Minneapolis is part of a global movement and helps people experience streets as public spaces where communities thrive. Congested city streets become vibrant, pedestrian-friendly boulevards where people can dream, play, and explore. These events aim to change how people think about their city streets fundamentally.
At each Minneapolis event, local businesses, artists, and community groups transform their streets, showcasing Minneapolis’s diversity, creativity, and culture.
Towards the southern edge of Bloomington, you will find the Minnesota River Bottoms Trail System, which is fun to ride throughout the year. For my most recent visit, I used the trailhead near the Bloomington Ferry Bridge. Here, you’ll see a rocky slope that travels down into the woods. A start of a great adventure. It’s known as the Minnesota River Bottoms Trail. The single-track trails here are perfect for a mountain bike, but you are safe on a Hybrid-trail/path bike, also. But you will 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 heavy soil with a mix the dried river debris. For the most part, when dry it may be smooth riding. However, Mother Nature’s unpredictability can change the conditions of the trail fast. Pedaling along, you may come across places that are soft and muddy from recent rainfall. Because the trails here are so popular, you will 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.
The Minnesota River Bottoms is not only a great place to ride a fat bike.
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 eventually connect back to the main trail. 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 crossing Bloomington’s river bottoms.
You’ll find a few opportunities to cross the tributary streams that feed the river. One is a wood bridge partly on a fallen tree branch. You can 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 to continue your ride.
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. You can have fun with twists, turns, climbs, and descends on the unpaved trail. 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. 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.
And winter biking is always fun on the Bloomington River Bottoms Trail.
Find out more about Bloomington’s biking opportunities here.
Or, when you need a break from the outdoors and biking the river bottoms, there are plenty of fun options to keep your visit exciting in Bloomington. Check out more here.