Category Archives: Destinations

Minnesota mountain bike trails to shred

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.

Minnesota’s South

Southern Minnesota awaits your arrival from the driftless area to the open prairies.

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.

Fun memories and spectacular views on the Mesabi Trail Tour

Join old and new friends on the Mesabi Trail Tour for the most fun you can have on two wheels. The 2024 Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour returns on August 10th with five fun distances for your next bike adventure. Choose from 5 different routes – 12, 26, 46, 58, or 70 miles. All routes travel out and back on Mesabi Trail from one start/finish location in Buhl Park, Buhl, MN. 

All routes travel out and back on the Mesabi Trail from Buhl Park in Buhl, which is located on Highway 169 between Hibbing and Virginia.

Mesabi Trail rolling over an ore train crossing.

While you pedal (fully supported) along one of Minnesota’s premiere paved bicycle trails, you will encounter historic & scenic points of interest, food & music at rest stops, and a finish line celebration complete with a picnic lunch and more music!

Cost of riding the Mesabi Trail Tour in 2022

The cost of riding this year’s event (cost per weekend ride) is $45 for riders 17 years and older.  The ride is still free for kids 16 and under, with a parent or guardian riding along.

The scenery is stunning along the Mesabi Trail.

Stretching from the Mississippi to the Boundary Waters, with over 150 miles of paved trail, the Mesabi Trail is like no other in the country. Cutting through the forests of northeast Minnesota, your adventure will take you past lakes, creeks, and ponds, by vast red pits of old iron ore mines now filled with emerald green water. You are sure to be greeted by native wildlife during your travels. Passing through 28 communities, visit local attractions, learn about the local mining and logging legacies, and enjoy the local cuisine, like sarma, a pasty, or some potica.

Mesabi Trail Tour riders enjoy the scenery at O’Brian Reservoir.

Spring, summer or Fall your riding experience on the Mesabi Trail is what great memories are made from.

Your riding experience on the Mesabi Trail in spring, summer, or fall will create great memories.

 

 

 

Camping and lodging along the Mesabi Trail

Camping will be available at Buhl Park, with a $10 charge for a tent/camper site. There are no water or electrical hookups at this park. There will be portable toilets and a hand wash station. Please keep your trash and dispose of it correctly. Please leave your site as you found it. The money collected will go towards the Buhl Youth Recreation Program.

Lodging: 

Visit Grand Rapids: https://visitgrandrapids.com/places-to-stay/

The Iron Range Tourism Bureau: https://ironrange.org/motel

To learn more about the trail: http://www.mesabitrail.com/.

One of the newest bike rides in Minnesota may add to your summer fun

‘Rock-N-Roll the Lakes’ bike ride in Southern Minnesota is back

As the hometown of rock-n-roll icon Eddie Cochran, as well as Marion Ross (also known as Mrs. C from Happy Days), Albert Lea, MN, knows how to rock! You’re also likely to spot one of the many eagles, pelicans, and countless other birds and wildlife that live in the area when riding around the local lakes. If you like a beat to your pedal stroke, this year, on August 10th, Albert Lea, MN, will again host the Rock n’ Roll the Lakes. Families and friends of all ages will enjoy this fun bike tour around the scenic lakes with food and music along the way!

ON THIS BIKE RIDE THE HOMES ALONG THE LAKE ROUTE ARE VERY PICTURESQUE.

ON THIS BIKE RIDE, THE SETTINGS  ALONG THE LAKE ROUTE ARE VERY PICTURESQUE.

The hometown of rock-n-roll, Albert Lea knows how to rock! Riders can choose from the 10, 25, or 50-mile SAG-supported routes. All three courses hug picturesque lake shores and offer a variety of beautiful southern Minnesota scenery. Along the routes, there is a great chance you will spot some of nature’s magnificent creatures. See eagles, pelicans, and countless other birds and wildlife that live in the area and love the local lakes.

The ride starts on the north side of Albert Lea, Edgewater Park

The tour starts and ends in the parking lot next to Fountain Lake Park, on N. Broadway Ave,  Downtown Albert Lea. Check-in and day of registration will open at eight and close at 10 a.m. If you plan to ride the 50-mile route, please start no later than 9 a.m. The three courses designed offer the most scenic and pleasant routes around Albert Lea. Along the way on each loop, you will find food and refreshment stops offering a great lineup of music for all ages to enjoy. Protect your melon; helmets are required!

Bike-friendly Albert Lea

THE BLAZING STAR STATE TRAIL OFFERS OVER SIX MILES RIDING FROM ALBERT LEA OUT THROUGH THE STATE PARK.

THE BLAZING STAR STATE TRAIL OFFERS OVER SIX MILES OF RIDING FROM ALBERT LEA OUT THROUGH THE STATE PARK.

Less than two hours down Interstate 35W from the Twin Cities, 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 the city’s low-traffic bike lanes and trails, especially with the Blazing Star State Trail that takes you to Myre-Big Island State Park.
After checking in at one of the hotels, it’s exciting to ride around this southern Minnesota community.

The ‘Rock-n-Roll the Lakes’ is a fundraiser brought to you by the good folks at Albert Lea Area Cyclists (ALAC), a chapter of Bike MN (Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota). ALAC is a bicycle and pedestrian education and advocacy group for Albert Lea, Minnesota, instrumental in helping Albert Lea become an official Bicycle-Friendly Community and continuing to refine the Rock-n-Roll the Lakes ride. Stay up to date with ALAC by following them on Facebook.

When you need a break from biking around the lakes, there are plenty of fun options to keep your visit to Albert Lea memorable. With locally owned shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants, and area history to add to your bike adventure, there is something for everybody. Check out more here.

Explore Minnesota’s bike skills parks and pump tracks

Visiting a bike skills park (also known as a pump track) in Minnesota is a fun and easy way to improve the technical skills needed to make riding more enjoyable. But how many of us have learned to ride a bike instead of merely staying upright and confidently moving forward without falling?

By engaging in some essential cycling tips at a bike skills park or pump track, you’ll not only have a greater appreciation for your bike. You will also improve your skill level to enhance your riding ability, especially on a mountain bike trail. These parks consist of a circuit course of rollers, banked turns (berms), and other features designed to improve a rider’s skill level. The term “pumping,” by up and down body movements, generates momentum instead of pedaling or pushing. It was initially designed for the mountain bike and BMX scene, and now, due to concrete constructions, it is also used by skateboarders, roller skaters, and other similar activities. Pump tracks are relatively simple and cater to various rider skill levels. Here in Minnesota, you will find many options listed below for bike skills parks.

A pump track at a bike skills park adds to the fun.

Fun bike skills parks and pump tracks to improve your skills

Biwabik Little Giants Skills Park

The Little Giants Skills Park is designed for learning by exposing new riders to the varied terrain of mountain biking in an approachable setting. The four distinct trails offer berms, rollers, rock gardens, wooden features, small tabletop jumps, and gentle drops, allowing cyclists to grow their confidence riding various obstacles. Many park features here offer a ‘ride-arounds’ that enables riders to mix and match to suit their ability level while providing opportunities to try and test new skills individually.

Buffalo Trapper’s Pond Bike Skills Park

This family-friendly skills park winds through a wooded lot on trial with several ramps to test skills, with bypass options.

Chaska Lions Park Pump Track

The Lions Park Pump Track is s a circuit of dirt rollers, berms, and jumps that loops back on itself. The track here is a fun and easy way to learn the skills needed for better mountain bike handling.

CohassetTioga Recreation Bike Skills Park

Tioga Rec Area has over 20 miles of professional, machine-built cross-country and downhill flow trails. There are trails for every level of rider, including kid-friendly skill-building loops.

Bike skills and pump tracks are fun for all ages.

Cottage GroveCottage Grove Bike Park

The park is a 3-acre urban-style bike skills park open from dusk till dawn that includes a 4x track, pump tracks, two mountain bike skills areas, dirt jumps, and a tot track!

CrosbyCuyuna Pump Track

Cyclists of all ages, beginners, and advanced levels are welcome to conquer Cuyuna’s 2,000-foot-long Lee McCormack (nationally renowned bike pump track designer) designed pump track. The facility includes three tracks (tailored for beginners, intermediate and expert riders.

Detroit LakesDetroit Mountain Skills Park 

A kid-friendly pump track park for those looking to improve their mountain or BMX bike skills when in the Detroit Lakes area.

DuluthSpirit Mountain Skills Park

A perfect park for a first-time riding any “downhill” trail system is to go for a lap or two in their Skills / Jump Park located above the bottom terminal of our Express Chairlift. There are trails with all levels of difficulty in this skills park. Start easy on their pump track to learn how to ride berms and rollers. Then, when you feel ready, practice on some of the park’s berms, jumps, drops, and more. The Skills Park is a great way to get a feel for the downhill trails before moving on to the lift.

The Lebanon bike Skills Park

EaganLebanon Hills Skills Park

Located next to the trailhead parking lot, Lebanon’s skills/terrain park is great for kids. The practice area features varying levels of skinnies, rollers & jumps, berms, and rock sections to practice improving your technical ability. Each segment of the Skills Park and all mountain bike trails are marked using the IMBA Trail Difficulty Ratings System to inform riders of technical difficulties.

Eden PrairieRound Lake Bike Skills Park

The newest addition to the park is a bike skills playground. The bike skills course is available seasonally in a hockey rink and provides a fun rider of all ages and levels. There are nine features to explore, including ramps, beams, and rumble strips.

Bike skills are fun!

HutchinsonTartan Terrain Skills Park

Tartan Park is located within the town limits and is a skills park that caters to beginners and advanced. With many features crammed into a half-acre footprint, this is a fun place for riders to improve their skill level.

Inver Grove HeightsVista Pines Park

New in 2022, the new family-friendly skills and mountain bike park offers many fun challenges to build on a person’s skill set.

The perfect place to develop those lifelong bike skills.

LakevilleWest Lake Marion/Casperson Park Pump Track

Info: A single-track trail system with a new skills area was completed in the Fall of 2020. There are some bigger jumps on one side, but overall the park is kid-friendly and perfect for beginners.

MankatoKiwanis Mountain and Skills Park

At the Kiwanis Recreation Area trailhead, you will find a skills/terrain park with many wooden features and teeters, and a beginner/kids loop around these features.

Bike skills parks are fun for all ages.

MinneapolisBryn Mawr Park Skills Park 

This small skills area in Theodore Wirth Park is slightly more advanced than the other skills parks in the Twin City metro. The park area offers three skill-level loops making this an excellent spot for any rider to develop their skills. This is one of four bike skills systems in Minneapolis. Trail Map

MinneapolisNokomis Bike Skills Park

Located at 2401 E Minnehaha Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN, This small bike park offers kids eight wooden features on an old tennis court. This is one of four bike skills systems in Minneapolis.

North MinneapolisPerkins Hills Park Pumptrack

It is located at 300 34th Ave. N, Minneapolis, MN, you will find an asphalt pump track. This is one of four bike skills systems in Minneapolis.

Perfect for the first time out on a balance bike.

Northeast MinneapolisNortheast Skills Park

Located at 1615 Pierce St NE, Minneapolis, MN, this skills park is also on an old tennis court. With wood track features low to the ground, this is an excellent place for kids to build confidence. This is one of four bike skills systems in Minneapolis.

Northeast MinneapolisThe Factory

It is temporarily closed and looking for a new location.

PlymouthPlymouth Pump Track

This pump track is the first of its kind in Minnesota. The skills area consists of 210 feet of looped track with waves and berms for bicyclists or skateboarders to use their body weight and gravity to propel themselves. The pump track accommodates bicycles of all sizes, skateboards, rollerblades, and scooters.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is HFB_0160-1024x1024.jpg

Richfield – Taft Park Skills Track

This new bike skills park offers several off-road bike features, including berms, rollers, and jumps in the pump track setting. The center of the track features sloped wood decking obstacles perfect for tots to learn. The track is located on the west side of Taft Park at 62nd Street and Bloomington Avenue,

Roseville – Autumn Grove Youth Pump Track

This track is small (roughly the size of a tennis court). It only has small hills and turns and is perfect for children aged two to nine.

New UlmSkate and BMX Park

Both parks are free and open to the public, with BMX Park use limited to May through September. Inline skaters or skateboarders may use the skate park.

This rider tests her skills riding the berms.

WoodburyCarver Lake Skills Park

The bike park playground is located at Carver Lake Park in the open field area just off the main park entrance road. The bike park playground has four designated areas to provide a complete progression of riding and learning, including a tot track, pump track, and an advanced skills loop with technical trail features. The advanced trail loop includes dirt rollers, wooden berms, wooden technical trail features, and rock gardens.

No matter your age, these bike skills parks will help make that next adventure more enjoyable.

Ride into the Brainerd Lakes Area and you'll see what people love about northern Minnesota. Ride the open roads or the Paul Bunyan Trail and more.

Discover the pleasure of biking around Brainerd

by Andrew Ellis

The farther you drive north, the more you’ll be surrounded by lakes and never-ending trails. And the Brainerd Lakes Area is no exception. Here, you are in luck when you want to escape the city to taste the come-stay-for-a-while vibe of relaxing by the lakeside in northern Minnesota.

The Paul Bunyan trail in the Brainard Lakes Area is a fun trail for the family

It’s a slowed-down pace, and no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than visiting Brainerd, MN. Plus, if you’re looking for a one-tank getaway, it is easy to park your car and get around on your bike. Also, the number of lakes in the area makes finding a place to drop a line in the water easy.

More about the bike-friendly Brainerd Lakes Area

With many bike-friendly street routes to get you to and from the area hotels in the Brainerd-Baxter. You will also find the famous Paul Bunyan Trail, which takes you all the way to Bemidji, and easy access to the Mississippi River Trail is also here.

When not touring the lakes area, there are plenty more ways to make everlasting memories. You can walk around Paul Bunyan Land, head to Pirate’s Cove for some mini-golf, or take a tour of the area on a zip line at Mount Ski Gull.

The area also caters to those wanting to cool down with an indoor activity or have a more relaxing evening. You can enjoy a great meal and a view of North Long Lake or Gull Lake simultaneously with one of their lakeside restaurants. If you want more local culture plenty of art exhibits, plays, and more are shown in the area. And don’t forget the shops, either. There are plenty of unique shops where you can find the perfect souvenir.Win this e-bike at HFB

Biking opportunities in the bike-friendly Brainerd Lakes Area

Get your bike and get ready to pedal. Brainerd has plenty for you to do. You can take on some mountain bike trails, start the journey up Paul Bunyan Trail, and use road loops to explore the area on your own.

Paul Bunyan Trail

The Paul Bunyan trail in the Brainard Lakes Area is a fun trail for the family

The Paul Bunyan trail in the Brainard Lakes Area is fun for the family.

Starting in Brainerd and winding around some of its lakes is the Paul Bunyan Trail. You’ll get a grand tour of the northern country life of Minnesota. There are three sections to the trail, or you can take the entire 120 miles to Bemidji, where you can see the famous statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Ox.

Cuyuna Lakes State Trail and Mountain Bike Park

Just east of town, you’ll come upon the natural beauty of the Cuyuna Lakes area. There, you have a couple of options. There’s a 20-mile trail that takes you northeast to the Croft Mine Trailhead. This trail will take you through Minnesota’s north countryside, full of lakes prime for fishing and swimming and beautiful forests full of trees. It’s a freeing experience you won’t soon forget. You can also take on the mountain bike trail system. Each trail varies in difficulty depending on how much of a challenge you want. Obstacles include rocks, wooden paths, and more. You’ll want to come back.

Road biking opportunities galore!

There are plenty of trails and loops to help you make your way around Brainerd and the surrounding area. You can take West Baxter or Sylvan, which take you both deeper into the heart of Brainerd and to its perimeter, which also takes you by a couple of lakes. Then there’s Merrifield and Gull Dam Trail that take you north of town and around several of the area’s lakes. The South Long Lake Trail takes you southeast and gives you a little view of South Long Lake. Starting just southeast of the town, you can take Camp Jim Trail, which travels north and loops around the town. Plus, there is plenty of fun for those who won’t ride an MRT section (Mississippi River Trail).

Hiking and nature opportunities

For those who want to hit the dirt trail and enjoy nature on foot, consider Crow Wing State Park. And nature lovers will find Pillsbury State Forest very inviting.

See more about the Brainerd Lakes Area here for your next bike/hike adventure.

Central Minnesota mountain bike trails can add fun throughout the year

In Central Minnesota, you will find an extensive network of single-track and easy-to-moderate mountain bike trails to enjoy in spring, summer, Fall, or Winter. 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, there’s no shortage of mountain bike trails to explore in Minnesota. When planning that next adventure in the Heartland, here are several trail systems to choose from.

Spring, summer, fall, or winter, have fun on the trails in the Heartland.

Central Minnesota mountain bike trails to shred

Alexandria

Lake Brophy County Park: 6.5 miles

Perfect for beginners and experts to expert, this Central Minnesota gravity flow mountain bike trail system offers 200 feet of elevation change. The top overlooks the entire park and the city of Alexandria and has a prairie landscape. Here find dock jumps, drops, and a rock garden on the more technical, expert sections on the west side of the trail system. The eastern part is a cross-country ride with long straightaways and sweeping turns. There are bathrooms, beach access, and a playground. The paved Central Lakes Trail skirts the park and provides access by bike.                                                                                                                                                            Map

Kensington Rune Stone Park: 7.5 miles

Beginner to intermediate, dedicated singletrack. The park has a visitor center with bathrooms. Gromed for fat bikes in the winter.
More Info

Fun on the trail

Cuyuna – Crosby, Deerwood, Ironton

Cuyuna Lakes State Recreation Area: about 70 miles

An IMBA Silver Level Ride Center, the Cuyuna one-way singletrack trails are marked from easy/beginner to hardcore/expert. Along the trails, enjoy stunning views from the top of overburdened piles left from the area’s mining days. Deep mine lakes offer refreshing dip after a hard ride. At the trailhead, dive in or take the kayak out for a paddle. The town of Cuyuna also has a pump track.  Lots of trails are groomed for fat biking in the winter, including the paved Cuyuna Lakes State Trail, which runs through the heart of the system and connects many of the mountain bike trail clusters. Look for the new 7.5-mile adaptive trail that accommodates hand cycles.                                                                                                                                               Map

Fergus Falls

Ferber Park: 2.2 miles

A mix of rolling hills and flat terrain in wooded and grassy areas with less difficult to more challenging trails. Trails were developed by volunteers with help from the City of Fergus Falls and continue to be improved. Look for additional trails in the future.
Map

Glenwood

Barsness Park: 7 miles

The park offers beginners and those with intermediate skills a single track system. Two challenging climbs take you to panoramic views of Lake Minnewaska near downtown Glenwood. This system packs in many rollers, berms, and fun, flowy sections, including some rock obstacles.
Map

Hutchinson

Stahl’s Lake Park: 3 miles

Moderate terrain with some small hills, a balance beam, and seesaw.
Map

McGregor

Savanna Portage State Park: 10 miles

Here find a  mixture of grass and dirt double-track trails. The park offers varied topography in its several loops, with a challenging climb up the Continental Divide with an awesome view as a reward.
Map

Milaca

Milaca City Trails: 14 miles

Located near the Rum River, this system offers a variety of

Trail options for riders of all skill levels.

Most of the parks trails are singletrack and go through a mix of woods, hills, and fields. Trails are groomed for fat biking in the winter.
Map

Pillager – Brainerd Lakes Area

Pillsbury State Forest: 27 miles

The State Forest trails are a mixture of gravel, grass, and dirt logging roads, The trails wind and twist through the forest and past lakes with rolling terrain. All trails are multi-use. You may encounter some horseback riding activity.
Map

Pine River

Cut Lake Trail: 10 miles

Find grassy trails through the forest around Deer and Cut Lakes, perfect for beginner to intermediate skill levels. Great backcountry riding when you are looking for solitude.                            Map

Saint Cloud

North Loop – Jail Trail: 7.5 miles

Beginner to intermediate with advanced options. Singletrack trail runs through dense woods with sections along the fence of the Minnesota Correctional Facility. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter.
Info

Plum Creek – River Bluffs Regional Park: 3 miles

Beginner singletrack loop near the Mississippi River. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter.
Info

Quarry Park: 2 miles

The new Quarry Park trail system has been cut by hand by Mid Minnesota Cycling Club (MMCC) members over the last few years. Trails are a mix of gravel, dirt, and grass around some granite outcroppings. Passing through a heavily wooded area with a few fairly technical sections where you bike over billion-year-old bedrock. There are many other trails at the park to create an enjoyable MTB trail experience for all rider skill levels. The entrance to the new trail is near the gated entrance. Just follow the fence line to the trailhead.                                                                      Map

Spicer – Willmar

Prairie Woods ELC: 4 miles

Easy singletrack trails at the Environmental Learning Center start at the parking lot and wind through a mix of open prairie and deciduous woods. The Oak Savannah Trail has a seesaw; other trails have short boardwalk sections and bridges. The Kandi Trail Riders maintain these trails and groom for fat biking in the winter.                                                                                        Info

Wadena

Black’s Grove: 8 miles

Beginner to advanced scenic trails that wind through a wooded setting and along Oak Creek. Groomed for fat biking and skiing in the winter.                                                                                Map

See more trails in Minnesota to shred here

Biking around Hastings new 10-mile Scenic Circuit loop describes the route that follows along both the Mississippi and Vermilion rivers for all ages and skill levels

Hastings’s 10-mile trail loop allows bicyclists scenery along two rivers

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking

Biking along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is just one of the many fun opportunities cyclists can enjoy when visiting Hastings, MN. As this historic river town expands its bicycle infrastructure, I had to return to Hastings last fall to check out the completed 10-mile trail loop.

Dubbed the “Scenic Circuit,” cyclists of all ages and abilities find this scenic trail loop along the Vermilion and Mississippi rivers breathtaking. Cyclists will discover many unique points of interest in the city parks and trails along this dual river trail system. For those who would like to add a few extra miles to this Scenic Circuit Loop, it’s easy following the MRT to Schaar’s Bluff and beyond. See the Hastings HaveFunBiking map for more options.

Starting in Historic Hastings

The old mill ruins from 1857 to 1894 produced high quality flour under the name "Belle of Hastings."

Here at the old mill ruins, flour was produced under the name “Belle of Hastings.”

Starting our ride in the historic Hastings Downtown Area, we found plenty of parking options when arriving. We used the city parking lot under the Highway 61 bridge as a gathering place to start our ride. After you get back, it’s a short walk along 2nd Street (the city’s downtown main street) for a snack or meal. We choose to ride the Scenic Circuit counter-clockwise for this review, leaving from Levee Park on the MRT.

Following the Mississippi River Trail out of Hastings

Just west of downtown Hastings, this metal sculpture was made from materials collected from the river clean up.

This metal sculpture was made from materials collected from a river clean-up just west of downtown Hastings.

In the first few miles of riding the trail through Jaycee Park, we enjoyed an aerial show of several Bald Eagles. Then the art along the river was also interesting. Several markers explain the river’s history, and one marker explains the river clean-up project several years prior. The giant dragonfly (above) was made from different metals dredged from the river under the Clean Water Act. Further along the Scenic Circuit, the trail passes by U.S. Lock and Dam 2. Here it’s always fun to stop and watch boats of all sizes move through the locks from the viewing platform.

The trail running along the back water here is a perfect place to view wildlife and and other bird species that frequents this area.

The trail along the backwater is perfect for viewing wildlife and other bird species that frequents the area.

Another highlight before leaving the river bottom is pedaling along the picturesque causeway before climbing out from the river’s bank. At the top, for those who would like to add a few more miles, Schaar’s Bluff and the new trail out to Dakota County’s Spring Lake Park, where buffalo roam, is an option (See below the milage to Schaar’s Bluff and Spring Lake Park). To continue along on the 10-mile Scenic Circuit, riders should take a left, crossing Nininger Road, and then follow the city trail south, down Pleasant Drive.

From the Mississippi to the Vermilion River

Now, on the western side of Hastings, the Scenic Circuit jogs a little further west along 4th Street, from Pleasant Drive – then heads south on the wide paved shoulder of General Sieben Drive. After crossing Highway 55, those who need a sweet treat will find Culvers on the corner. Continuing south, the route turns east onto River Shore Drive. Then, in about an eighth mile, watch for the trail to cross the road and head north to Northridge Drive. You should take a right and continue east on the Circuit Loop.

These cyclists enjoyed a perfect day to ride Hastings 'Scenic Circuit'.

These cyclists enjoyed a perfect day to ride Hastings ‘Scenic Circuit’.

At Pleasant Drive, take a right; the trail follows the road south to the Vermilion River. On the east side, after crossing the bridge, pick up the trail that flows with the river back into Hastings. You will soon discover why this section of the trail is such a popular part of the MRT.

Along the Vermilion River

Biking and rollerblading Hastings "Scenic Circuit is perfect for all ages and skill levels.

Biking and rollerblading, the “Scenic Circuit is perfect for all ages and skill levels.

As the Vermilion River flows swiftly to the east, the trail along this scenic stretch of river offers nature lovers a peaceful ride through serenity. From here, cyclists and walkers alike will enjoy the two underpasses, one on County Road 46/47 and the second at U.S. 61, to avoid traffic. After passing under Highway 61, the Scenic Circuit is now entering Vermilion Falls Park.

Vermilion Park

As you cross over the Vermilion River you will notice all the padlocks attached to the railing.

As you cross over the Vermilion River here, you will notice all the padlocks attached to the railing.

Riding into the park, at the first trail intersection, you can park your bike and walk about 100 feet to view Vermilion Falls. Continuing east and taking a left at the trail’s “T,” you are now on the bridge, where it’s easy to view the falls overhead as they cascade towards the Mississippi River. You will also notice all the padlocks on the bridge’s railing.

No one knows exactly when, why, or who started this European trend in Hastings. But this romantic ritual has become very popular, with hundreds of locks attached to the fence on the old railroad bridge that is now a part of the Scenic Circuit trail. The practice invites lovers to hang a padlock on the bridge and toss the key into the water below. The city parks department finds the trend touching for now and plans to leave the public love notes (locks) alone as a wall of art.

Another historic option to check out is Old Mill Park, about an eighth mile ahead. Here is another opportunity to park your bike, walk down to the old mill ruins, and maybe hike one of the many trails along the Vermilion River.

The trail crosses the railroad tracks from Mill Park and continues north towards Downtown Hastings. At the next split in the trail, riders should take a right and then follow the MRT signs back to the downtown area for some fun.

Enjoy Historic Downtown after your ride.

Over the last few years, downtown Hastings has been going through what many call a “Riverfront Renaissance.” With events scheduled throughout the spring, summer, and fall, the historic Main Street atmosphere is the perfect place to end your ride. Stop to shop, dine, or stroll along the Mississippi River Trail next to the Scenic Circuit  Loo. After our ride, we found several options for cool refreshments and dinner downtown. You can find more options in our At-A-Glance article.

If you didn’t bring your bike along, Hastings has a bike-share program. The Zagster bike station is located under the bridge on 2nd Street, and you will need a credit card to activate the locking system to the cycle you wish to ride,

More miles to Schaar’s Bluff and Spring Lake Park.

Returning back to Hastings from Schaar's Bluff its approximately 6-miles.

Returning to Hastings from Schaar’s Bluff, it’s approximately 6 miles.

The trail loop also connects to several neighborhood parks and the Mississippi River Regional Trail. Known by many as the “hidden jewel” of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, view some spectacular scenery along the way as you pedal along. Riding out to Schaar’s Bluff takes around 12 miles.

This newly completed section of the Mississippi River Regional Trail offers cyclist an occasional view of the river, bridges that cross deep ravines, prairie flowers that border along limestone bluffs.

This newly completed trail offers cyclists an occasional view of the river, two new bridges that cross deep ravines, and prairie flowers that border limestone bluffs.

If you choose to ride out to Dakota County’s Lower Spring Lake Park Reserve and cross the two new bridges on this trail, it will add an extra 8 miles and is well worth the extra effort, with the Bison now there!

The maps in the new MN Bike/Hike Guide offer many fun places to explore

Now in our 15th year of publishing the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide, tied to all the information at HaveFunBiking.com, we hope you find all the bike-friendly maps helpful in planning your next adventure. To help you select your next fun outing with family and friends, we have added some suggested route options to most of the maps, along with helpful tips and interesting places to get some refreshments. So bookmark the 2024 Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide so it’s ready and at your fingertips for that next bike adventure.

The MN Bike/Hike Guide is full of maps and tips for your next outdoor adventure.

Where can you find a printed copy of the MN Bike/Hike Guide?

As in the past, the Minnesota guides will continue to be available at the Minnesota Tourism Welcome Centers and many local libraries if you would like a printed copy. These handy pocket-size guides are perfect for paging -through, copying a map, or jotting down a few notes when planning your #NextBikeAdventure.

Please help us by sharing your comments on this year’s Bike/Hike Guides

We would like to hear from you as we update the guide. What do you like about the MN Guide, and how can it be improved so we can continue to add more helpful information in future editions? Please review this digital edition of the guides and share your comments with [email protected] – Thanks!

Get the latest bike/hike news and a chance to win an e-bike.

Join our monthly newsletter and have a chance to win an E-bike while getting regular HaveFunBiking updates and promotions.

Good luck, have fun, and share your next adventure at HaveFunBiking!

Win this E-bike at HaveFunBiking.com

When you sign up for our email updates at HaveFunBiking.com (HFB), you are also entered for a chance to win this E-bike. The all-new Avenue Electric Bike by Pedego. Please fill out the form below to enter. Good luck!

Your entry will give you a chance to win this E-bike and a complimentary e-subscription to the HFB Blog. The blog features bike-friendly maps and tips on new bike destinations posted at HaveFunBiking.com. When planning your next adventure, we will also inform you about what’s new in bicycle-related products and gadgets.

Good luck, and share this contest for the Avenue E-bike, with your friends!

About Avenue E-bikes

The Avenue E-Bike is a beautifully designed electric bike perfect for urban riding or commuting. It has a step-thru frame for easy mounting and dismounting. The bike also has a powerful 500W 48V power system with a fully integrated battery.

Everyone’s favorite bike media company is giving away a set of wheels

Managed by Constant Contact, the HaveFunBiking (HFB) e-database is a news media source sharing outdoor activities, mainly centered around Minnesota destinations. Since the beginning of 2003, HFB has promised that our email list will never be sold or shared, and you can always opt-out at any time. Plus all individuals signing up for this prize drawing for the e-bike can expect no sales appointments or calls.

The fine print

Deadline to enter: 11:59:59 PM PT, October 14, 2023
Sweepstakes drawing date: October 13, 2024
Selection Process: The Grand Prize winner is selected using a computer-generated selection method to ensure that each drawing is conducted entirely at random. We will notify the winner via email and phone. Once contacted, the selected winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is randomly selected. 
Number of winners: 1
Eligibility: You must be 18 years old or older to win.
Approximate Retail Value: $2,299.00 USD

Helpful tips to consider before purchasing an e-bike

With the popularity of e-bikes (electric-assist bicycles), here are some helpful tips and questions to ask when buying a bike. The top question we have been asked here at HaveFunBiking.com, along with the price of an e-bike, is how the new government rebate program works. What are the e-bike types and styles and battery/motor options available?

This is followed by the range or distance you can expect to travel on a charge, riding in rain and snow and maintenance tips. In conclusion, after reviewing the following tips, we suggest visiting several bicycle shops that carry electric-assist bicycles to narrow down the right bike for you. Ask them specific questions we have touched on here. Then, like buying a car, test-ride the e-bike you want.

Different types  of e-bike displays in the Eco-Building at the MN State Fair

Top 10 questions asked when selecting an e-bike.

1. An e-bikes cost, and what about the Minnesota Tax Credit

Has the idea of touring by e-bike piqued your interest?

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 whether you will 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.

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 were appropriated for the 2024 and 2025 calendar years. This Rebate Program will allow $2 million to be used starting July 1, 2024. Then again, consecutively, 2 million dollars for 2025 will be available until June 30, 2026.

The credit maximum is $1,500, depending on your income. To qualify, an Individual must assign the credit at the time of purchase after July 1st with an eligible retailer that is in the rebate program. If you qualify, this will reduce the cost of purchasing an e-bike. For more information on the rebate, contact your local bike shop or see Minnesota Tax Changes.

2. Consider payment options to get the right e-bike

Enjoy the Micro-Mobility experience for hauling cargo or kids.

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. Some lending institutions, like Affinity Plus, offer low-interest bicycle-specific loans and let you borrow 120% of the cost of the bike, allowing you to buy accessories like helmets, locks, baskets/panniers, lights, etc.

See more information on financing here.

3. Check the bike warranty, and then insure it

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.

A warranty should be a part of the purchase price.

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 for your e-bike, similar to automobile insurance. 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. E-bike types and gear options

There are two types of motors: the wheel hub type and a center crank model pictured here.

There are so many types of e-bikes available! First, 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.”

See more on the types and speeds of e-bikes here.

5. What’s the battery’s range and life before recycling?

A centerpost battery for an electric bike
A center post battery mount is standard for many electric bike models.

The general rule is that a 36-volt, 10.5Ah (ampere-hours) battery should get 20 to 40 miles per charge, with the average weight of rider + gear & cargo being less than 200 pounds in ideal weather conditions. You’ll get fewer miles the higher the assist level you use. You may enjoy 50 miles or more on a single charge on low assist. 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. Weight limits, and a size that fits you

There are many sizes and types of e-bikes and trikes to test ride.

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 and 65 pounds, with the battery weighing anywhere from five to 15 pounds. The battery’s weight increases with voltage, but its capacity (range) also increases.

For more on weight limits and restrictions, click here.

7. Maintainance and your options to have your bike repaired

Like a regular bicycle, always start with an ABC’s (Air, Brake & Chain) check before you ride to maximize your e-bike investment. 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. Riding an e-bike in the rain or snow

E-bikes work well year-round.

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 at any time in the winter.

Click here for more information on riding an e-bike in rain or snow.

9. Keeping your new 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?

A test ride should be part of the plan indoors or out 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!

With an e-bike, it’s easy to bring along your faithful friend or haul cargo.