Category Archives: Destinations

Riding the designated bike-friendly streets in Saint Cloud is enjoyable.

Bike around Saint Cloud and discover all the parks and trails

by Andrew Ellis

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

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

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

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

More about bike-friendly Saint Cloud

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

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

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

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

Biking trail opportunities in and around Saint Cloud

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

Long Rides

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

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

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

Quarry Park and Nature Reserve

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

Pineview Park BMX

Freestyle cycling fun at Pineview BMX

Freestyle cycling fun at Pineview BMX

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

Mountain Biking

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

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

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

Other Off-Road Opportunities

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

Other opportunities when not biking in Saint Cloud

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

 

Each September, over three consecutive Saturday's, the nine towns host the Taste of the Trail here in the Root River valley, in Bluff Country.

Bike Pic Sept 8, savor the Taste of the Trail along the Root River

If you have been to Southeast Minnesota you have probably visited or heard of the Root River trail system. It’s in Bluff County and each September, over three consecutive Saturday’s the nine towns there host the “Taste of the Trail.” If you haven’t experienced the Root River take in one or all three of the free weekend events September 9, 16 or the 23rd. Visiting now will allow you plenty of delicious foods samplings giving you a taste of what is available here throughout the year.

In Preston this cyclists enjoys a sample of the Branding Iron's barbecue ribs.

In Preston this cyclists enjoys a sample of the Branding Iron’s barbecue ribs.

Three Root River Taste of the Trail opportunities

Bring your bike and choose a weekend or come back for all three. Working together each town will showcase their favorite foods, beverages and entertainment. This year’s event kicks off in the town’s of Lanesboro, Peterson and Whalan, on Saturday, September 9th.  Here in the center section of the trail system enjoy the complimentary sampling from local growers, producers and restaurants. Plus, live music will be offered throughout the day at each town. (see map).

 

Vegetarian spread samples from a local farm operation in the Root River Valley

Vegetarian spread samples from a local farm operation in the Root River Valley

Lanesboro, presents “Voices of Lanesboro,” a celebration of local music and rich history, theater and more.

The town of Peterson presents “A Celebration of Farm Life. While the Cat in the Fiddle will be playing at the restored Peterson Bandstand. Plus local businesses and service organizations will have plenty of tasty food and goodies available.

In Whalan, the ‘little town that could’ invites visitors to taste test many ethnic foods. With a strong Norwegian influence, it’s only natural to find samples of Lefse, Rommergrot, and Blood Klub. And don’t forget to visit Ernie’s Restored 1917 Gas Station and the museum.

The following Saturday, September 16th,

The towns of Fountain, Harmony and Preston are planning to show you what the west end of the Root River Trail system communities has to offer.

Here cyclist are sampling Rommergrot, a Norwegian delicacy.

Here cyclist are sampling Rommergrot, a Norwegian delicacy.

In Fountain, enjoy Tom Schramm’s Music in the Park while sampling foods and the latest beer from the new brewery in town. Hope you have a couple extra hours to spare and visit the Fillmore County History Center & Museum?

At the far of the “Trail” in Harmony, enjoy the music of the Root River Jam Band. Then savor some of the food and beverage samples provided by the local businesses there.

Enjoy some samples of pie in Harmony

Enjoy some samples of pie in Harmony

“Hooked on Preston” enjoy the area music by Tom Schramm, while munching on some of the tasty samples offered by the local merchants. And don’t forget to visit the National Trout Center. Maybe taking in a fly fishing course?

And there is more fun on September 23rd!

Here the towns of Houston, Rushford and Rushford Village will cap off this year’s “Taste of the Trail.” Working together these communities will show you what the East end of the Root River Trail system has to offer.

These lucky biker chicks found some desert samples at this table on the Root River Trail.

These lucky biker chicks found some desert samples at this table on the Root River Trail.

In Houston, fun continues at the Trailhead Park where you’ll find samples of local food, arts, and activities that you can enjoy and take home. Learn to make your own balloon animals and see the Parade of Owls. Don’t forget to pick up your “passport” with a list of participating businesses offering more samples and a chance to win a major prize!

Arriving in Rushford, make your first stop at the Historic Depot. the community’s trailhead on the Root River State Bike Trail. After sampling some of the garden treats of Rushford Village, pick up a map of the local businesses here offering other samples, like lefse and local cheeses.

All Taste of the Trail activities are sponsored by Root River Trail Towns. Founded in 1988, the organization is a 501(c)3, dedicated to the continued betterment and well-being of the Root River State Trail System and its communities.

With small town charm and sprawling countrysides trails the Willmar Lakes Area is the perfect place to visit with your bike for a weekend getaway.

Fall bike getaway options with birding in the Willmar Lakes Area

by Andew Ellis

Head west of the Twin Cities and before you know it you will be greeted to small town charm, sprawling countrysides 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 water fowl migration soon approaching its 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 place to visit anytime of the year for a weekend bike getaway.

The Willmar Lakes Area is the perfect bike getaway to visit anytime of the year.

Getting around on your bike in Willmar is more then encouraging. Awarded the Bike Friendly Bronze status by the League of American Cyclist, the community has redesigned its streets and inner city trails to make it easy to pedal around and explore the areas attractions and points of interest.

While biking, this is also a great area for bird enthusiasts. Sibley State Park is one of the most popular area, so bring the 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 its 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. Ths multi-use bike corridor offers many opportunities to look at wild flowers and wildlife along the way.

Bring the binoculars along, for some of the birds sittings along the trail you may see!

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 Mount Tom. Its 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 programs open year-around, birding is another activity I enjoy here.

In the park you will find nearly two miles of paved trails that links 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.

Enjoy the miles of scenic paved trails in the prairie lands of the Willmar Lakes Area.

Willmar and the surrounding area makes it easy for everyone to enjoy the outdoors. With several parks offering recreational activities, those who visit with their bike will find many trails to pedal through, including: Bergquist Park, Ramblewood Park, Rau Park (Scott Park), Thompson Park, and Swansson Park. You can also take on the trails at Robbins Island Park and Green Lake County Park.

BMX

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. Races are on Fridays.

Road biking opportunities

There are also plenty of bike friendly Kandiyohi County roads to help you navigate the area.

More about the bike-friendly Willmar Lakes Area

Willmar also has the Yellow Bike program that places bikes at different spots throughout town. Community members and visitors can use these bikes free of charge during the day.

When your are not riding, the area also offers plenty of indoor attractions when you want to relax. Along with several museums covering different parts of the area’s Minnesota history, Then, after your ride 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.

In the western part of the Twin Cities, Nestled between Golden Valley and Minneapolis is Theodore Wirth Park. A natural playground you should explore.

Theodore Wirth Park, a gift five minutes from downtown Minneapolis

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

In the western part of the Twin Cities, nestled between Golden Valley and Minneapolis is Theodore Wirth Park.  A space almost as large as New York City’s Central park. With in Wirth (as it’s known to the locals) you will find several scenic, natural areas around Birch pond and Wirth Lake, plus two golf courses and a fabulous mountain bike trail system.

For Twin Cities cyclists, it’s a natural playground you should be exited too explore.

Theodore Wirth Park History

What would become Theodore Wirth Park started in 1889 when 66 acres were purchased and established as a park. Now Theodore Wirth park (named after the park system’s superintendent from 1906 to 1936) has over 750 acres. The Central to the park is the Wirth Chalet, a stone and timber structure that offers events, and product rentals for snow sports.

Where to go in Theodore Wirth Park

If you are interested in riding the mountain bike trails of Wirth park, I find it easiest to park at the beach  house off Glenwood avenue. From there it’s a quick spin west over to the trailhead. If your interest are in the golf courses or Grand Rounds and Luce Line trails, the Golf Clubhouse on Theodore Wirth Parkway is your best starting point.

What are the trails like in Theodore Wirth Park

The trails at Wirth are predominantly designed for the intermediate rider. As you enter the trails at southern entrance you are greeted with a twisting climb up thorough rolling prairie and into well established woods. The trails themselves are well manicured and smooth with ample bermed turns. Expect to see narrow ribbons of brown winding through ample green surroundings. When you find your way into the northern trails, more rocks get introduced. The majority of the rocks are well embedded into the trails and act as exciting obstacles to manage. The northern trails also exist in denser forests, with far fewer field areas. Overall, the Trails at Wirth are fun and flowie, offer challenges for the most advanced riders while being accessible to casual riders.

Grand Rounds Trail

The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway is one of the countries longest continuous urban parkways. It is a connecting trail to more than 300 miles of regional trail around Twin Cities Metro Area. It also acts as the connecting trail between most of the parks in the Twin Cities area. That said, you can enjoy a day trip on the Grand Rounds Trail all over the Twin Cities via protected and paved bike lanes. The Grand Rounds travels through 7 districts:  Chain of Lakes (13.3 miles), Minnehaha (12.6 miles), The Mississippi River (9.2 miles), Downtown Riverfront (1.2 miles), Northeast (6 miles), Victory Memorial (3.8 miles) and Theodore Wirth Park (4 miles). Additionally, this trail is cleared by 6am every day through the winter if you choose to use it for commuting.

 

Luce Line Trail

The Grand Rounds Bike trail here connects to the binning of the Luce Line trail.

The Grand Rounds Bike trail here connects to the binning of the Luce Line trail.

The Luce Line trail is a 63 mile limestone path stretching from Cosmos in western Minnesota to Wirth park. It is available for Biking, hiking, running, jogging, and snow activities in specified areas. This trail is an exceptional way to explore neighborhoods and destinations west of the city.

How to help

If you ride and enjoy the trails at Wirth, consider volunteering for trail maintenance. The Minnesota Off Road Cycling organization (MORC) schedule trail work sessions on Wednesdays through the summer. Consequently, the group meets at 6 O’clock and welcomes anyone interested in helping. Wear long pants, boots, and work gloves because you will be doing hard labor. Moreover, you will find that the hard labor is enjoyable because you are giving back to fellow riders.

Winter riding in Wirth

The mountain bike trails in Wirth Park are extra fun in the winter on a fatty.

The mountain bike trails in Wirth Park are extra fun in the winter on a fatty.

While the trails are open through the winter, Fatbiking is not the only sport you can enjoy at Wirth. Therefore, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, tubing, sledding, skating, and, ice fishing are all available within the park. When planning a ride in the fall and spring, be sure to check the MORC website for trail conditions.

 

The trails of Lebanon Hills offer some of the most enjoyable mountain biking in the Twin Cities Area.

Enjoy fun and nature on Lebanon Hills fantastic mountain bike trails

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

The newly expanded trailhead of Lebanon Hills acts as a gateway to some of the most enjoyable trails in the Twin Cities Area. With nearly 12 miles of one way singletrack trails, Lebanon Hills has become one of the go-to trails in Minnesota. The trails feature riding for all skill levels combined with world-class facilities to enhance your riding experience. All the bike trails are built and maintained by the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC).

Where Lebanon Hills is

Another happy mountain biker riding through the forests of Lebanon Hills Park.

Another happy mountain biker riding through the forests of Lebanon Hills Park.

The Lebanon Hills Mountain Bike trails (Leb to the locals) are located in Eagan Minnesota off Johnny Cake Ridge Road. The newly expanded trailhead boasts ample parking, clean bathrooms, public grills and picnic areas as well as a skills course appropriate for all ability levels. Leb is a part of the larger Lebanon Hills Regional Park system that includes two swimming lakes, nearly a dozen hiking areas, three camping areas and close proximity to the Minnesota Zoo.

What to expect in Lebanon Hills

The first thing you will notice about riding in Leb is the amazing condition of the trails. Thank the Minnesota Off Road Cyclist organization (MORC) for the smooth berms, clear trails and exciting features. Ride into the first trail and enjoy the sweet smell of pine trees while you wind through a healthy forest. First, you are given the choice of staying on the beginner trails or hanging a hard right onto the intermediate loop. Staying on the beginner trails will lead you to five 8’ tall berms that are a total blast to ride. From those berms you can branch off into another intermediate loop or head into a skills section that including a berm, roller, and jump line.

Another fun run through an open meadow.

Another fun run through an open meadow in Lebanon.

If you choose that first right onto the intermediate loop, you are rewarded with twisty sections, a rock drop, and high speed downhill sections. That intermediate section brings you out to the far end of the park. Once out there, you can enter into the truly advance loops built on rock gardens, step climbs and steep descents. The trails on the far side of the park meet at one point, perfect for a quick break between loops.

Here on the advanced trail in Lebanon Hills you will find some obstacles to challenge you.

Here on the advanced trail in Lebanon Hills you will find some obstacles to challenge you.

 

Best part of the trails

Leb gives its riders amazing trails as well as awesome views. The best part of Leb is how well it integrates into nature. Even though the trails of Leb are well trafficked, Places like the “lake loop” give the impression of sanctuary for hundreds of riders a weekend. Because all the trails are directional, there is a great feeling of isolation even though other riders may be just a few hundred feet away. Overall, Lebanon hills is a great way to enjoy the beauties of nature in the Twin Cities area.

Here is a place for all ages to build on their skill levels.

Here in Lebanon Hills is a place for all ages to build on their skill levels.

How to help

If you ride and enjoy the trails at Leb, consider volunteering for trail maintenance. The Minnesota Off Road Cycling organization (MORC) schedule trail work sessions on Tuesdays through the summer. The group meets in the parking lot at 6 O’clock and welcomes anyone interested in helping. Wear long pants, boots, and work gloves because you will be doing hard labor. You will find that the hard labor is enjoyable because you are giving back to fellow riders.

Best seasons to ride

Those with fatty's are finding Lebanon Hills the perfect trail system year round.

Those with fatty’s are finding Lebanon Hills the perfect trail system year round.

If you love the trails at Leb during the summer, rejoice, they are open through the winter as well. Not only are the trails open when the snow falls, but well traveled. Because of that traffic, the trails stay clear and ride-able right up until the spring thaw. With that said, once the thaw begins, the trails are usually closed for about six weeks while things dry out. A quick check on MORC’s trail conditions website will let you know when the trails are open.

 

Minnesota River bottoms, Bloomington’s natural trail network

John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

In the summer of 1849, The first Bloomington Ferry began operations next to the Minnesota River bottoms. It carried people from the Bloomington shores to Shakopee. Exactly 40 years later, the first Bloomington Ferry Bridge was opened. Following that, versions of that bridge carried people, carriages, and motorists across the river for over 100 years. The current pedestrian bridge is a beautiful arch, spanning the Minnesota River and connecting Bloomigton to the Highway 101 trail to Shakopee. The Bridge is also the starting point for The Minnesota River Bottoms trail. The River Bottoms are some of the metro areas last natural trails, popular for mountain biking, hiking, fishing and bird watching.

Minnesota River Bottoms

Bikes on the Bloomington Ferry Bridge, near the trail head of the Minnesota River Bottoms

What are the Minnesota river bottoms

The Minnesota River bottoms are worn in by the riders, hikers, and runners who frequent them

The “River Bottoms” to locals, is a trail network stretching from the south west corner of Bloomington, all the way to the trails of Fort Snelling State Park. These trails are worn in by the riders and runners who frequent them. While under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, they are not maintained by any government entity. Due to the fact that the “River Bottoms” aren’t maintained by any organization, the trails often take on a “path of least resistance” or direction. It is not uncommon for new trails to spring up after heavy rains and high river flooding. While riding, expect exclusively dirt trails with some log crossings, sand sections, and occasional overgrowth. Warning, pay particular attention for the Urtica Dioica plants, or stinging nettles, growing on infrequently used trails from June through August.

Wildlife of the Minnesota River Bottoms

Bikers, birdwatchers and hikers can enjoy the wildlife sightings along the banks of the Minnesota River.

Bikers, birdwatchers and hikers can enjoy the wildlife sightings along the banks of the Minnesota River.

The River Bottoms are great for all types of recreation. It’s not uncommon to see hikers, bird watchers and people fishing along the banks of the Minnesota river. I have enjoyed sharing with my son the sights of Bald eagles and Beavers who make the watershed their home. Additionally, being a natural area, the River Bottoms are home to countless animals.

What to expect

There are a few popular entrances to the River Bottom trail, Lyndale Ave, Crest Ave, and Old Cedar Ave. These entrances offer ample parking and a clear trailhead. Once you start down the trail you will see that nothing is paved but worn-in enough to be firm under your tires. While a mountain bike is best for these trails, wider tires on Hybrids and adventure bikes navigate well. If you need to cross a stream, there are bridges or a ferry (at 9-mile creek) to get you around. Because the River Bottoms are so smooth, they are an ideal place to take kids mountain biking.

The Minnesota River bottoms are worn in by the riders, hikers, and runners who frequent them

You will find runners who frequent the natural settings of the Minnesota River bottoms

When to ride

Spring, summer, winter or fall the Minnesota River bottoms is a natural haven for cyclists

The best part of the River Bottoms is that it is one of the first places to dry out each spring. It is also one of the first places to freeze when winter rolls through. Avoid this trail in early spring as the trails thaw and after a strong rain. Other than that, these trails are sandy enough to drain quickly. One of the best things about the river bottoms is riding fatbikes. There in the winter, in fact, fat bikes can trace their development directly to the river bottom. When the snow falls, the river bottoms are a the perfect mixture of flat trail, bermed turns, and accessibility to create a near-perfect winter track.

Winters can get exciting in the Minnesota River bottoms with Penn Cycles Get Fat with Phat fat bike races in January.

We in the twin cities are lucky to have a place like the river bottoms to ride. The fact that it is left free to change and natural is unique in a metro area. To that point, there are user groups that are working against the eventual possibility of developing the river bottom area. Whatever your opinion is on development, get into the wilds of the River Bottoms and enjoy this local treasure.

As you look around the Minneapolis Northwest area have no fear take a close look, you can even ride a section of the Mississippi River Trail while visiting.

Bike-Friendly Minneapolis Northwest is Full of Natural Gems Hidden Along the Trails

by Andrew Ellis, HaveFunBiking.com

As you look around the Minneapolis Northwest area you are dazzled with options! Here there are city streets and major highways as far as the eye can see around this northwest suburb of Minneapolis. You will find plenty of fast food eateries and strip malls amongst the trees and greenery in this suburban setting. So, how can this possibly be an attraction for those looking to take in some of Minnesota’s nature’s beauty in the Twin Cities?

Have no fear as there are plenty of options for outdoor recreation in the Minneapolis Northwest area. You just have to look closer below or look at our At A Glance Minneapolis Northwest link.

The Minneapolis Northwest area is made up of three suburban communities: Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, and Maple Grove. Where you will find plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors activities, including hundreds of mile of paved trail. You will also find some exhilarating riding in the Elm Creek Park for some mountain biking.

More About the Bike-Friendly Minneapolis Northwest Area

Tucked into the communities are substantive parks that offer the feeling of remoteness while visiting. If you want take a break from pedaling one of many trails there, you will find many options. You can meander along the trails by foot, channel your inner Robin Hood and learn archery or disc golf while learning more about the natural world around you.

While pedaling this three-city community there comes a point where you may need a break to enjoy some other activities available. Luckily, each community offers plenty to do. Whether it’s a game of bowling or trying your luck at Dave & Buster’s arcade games in Maple Grove. There are even plenty of chain and locally owned eateries throughout the area to satisfy whatever it is you crave. You will even find several movie theaters in the area and easy to get to on your bike from your hotel.

Biking Opportunities in the Minneapolis Northwest Area

Riding the scenic trails here in the Minneapolis Northwest Area you find many trails that safely cross over or under the busy roads.

Riding the scenic trails here in the Minneapolis Northwest Area you find many trails that safely cross over or under the busy roads.

In this area the opportunities for riding your bike are endless. In this three city area you will find quite a few parks that connect to trails for a lengthy ride. If you don’t want to stick to the meandering trails, then there are plenty of bike friendly streets and the Mississippi River Trail that will allow you to share the road with other vehicles. Here are some of the parks to bike too:

Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park

On a warm day crossing the Coon Rapids Dam from Minneapolis Northwest you can feel the cool mist rising in the air as you cross.

On a warm day crossing the Coon Rapids Dam from Minneapolis Northwest you can feel the cool mist rising in the air as you cross.

Find your way to the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park via the Rush Creek Regional Trail. At the park, a part of the National Park System, you can connect to the Mississippi River Trail. If you want to discover what’s on the other side of the dam you can easily connect to the Twin Cities Gateway side of the park, crossing the paved trail across this massive water barrier.

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Here in Elm Creek Park the mountain biking is fun and exciting, with trails for all skill levels.

This park is full of biking opportunities for multiple kinds of riders. There are many miles of paved multi-use trail that take the rider on a very scenic journey of the park. It passes by several of the park’s lakes. The trails here have plenty of slightly rolling hills to give you a little challenge as you ride and enjoy the many picture taking opportunities. You can also take a break for a swim, try your hand at archery, and more. For mountain bikers there’s plenty of singletrack trails depending on your preferred level of skill. While some are bike-only, others are multi-use trials.

Medicine Lake Regional Trail

This is a paved trail of over 13 miles and connects you to many parks such as French Regional Park. You can also catch views of Rice Lake in Maple Grove and Medicine Lake if you take the trail into Plymouth. The trail also has connections to Bassett Creek Trail, Luce Line Regional Trail, and many other community bike trails.

Rush Creek Regional Trail

This trail links Elm Creek Park Reserve to Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. The path is smooth, wide, and mostly flat. Its abundance of signage makes it usable many different cyclists. If you’re looking to encounter wildlife, it’s recommended you get on the trail in the early morning. Pedaling here you will also pass through residential areas, but the trail here is shielded by trees which gives the rider a remote feel. The other side of the roadway slowly turns into farmland after you cross Highway 169. It ends at Elm Creek Park Reserve where it links to other trails such as the Medicine Lake Regional Trail.

Shingle Creek Regional Trail

This branches out of the Rush Creek Trail at Noble Parkway. The trail takes you through mostly residential areas and follows Shingle Creek for a while. It tapers off to wind through the greenery and marshes of Palmer Lake Park. The trail ends at 45th Memorial Parkway in Minneapolis. It’s a paved trail and provides access to various points of interest. Crossings are above and below grade when crossing  some of the major highways.

Road Biking Opportunities

In the Minneapolis Northwest there are many ways to get around on your bike. The three communities here offer a mix multi-use trails that parallel most major roads. So its easy to get around safely and connect to other parts of the metro area. So bring your bike and spend a day, a weekend or a lifetime exploring this north west section of the Twin Cities.

Waconia is a family friendly bike destination a few minutes west of Minneapolis.

Explore Waconia and Discover All its Many Lakeside Attractions

by Andrew Ellis, HaveFunBiking.com

With small town charm and uptown pizzazz the city of Waconia, is a fun lakeside community just west of the Twin Cites, bike friendly and ready for you to explore. Nestled along the southern shores of Lake Waconia, in Carver County, the area boasts many year round activities including; sailing, boating, fishing, water skiing and swimming, just to name a few other recreational opportunities when not touring around on your bicycle, while visiting.

The town’s tourism draw was sparked in 1884 when Coney Island, in the middle of Lake Waconia, was turned into a resort. A future planned park area there in a few years, today the mainland has become very popular as a resort community to take its place. Its friendly parks, streets and nearby trail makes it easy to explore all of Carver County.

More About Bike-Friendly Waconia

The warm, welcoming community of Waconia is located less than 45 minutes west of the Twin Cities. Its lakes and surrounding wildlife help make the town a relaxing locale for tourists from all over.

To describe the town as “bike-friendly” may be an understatement. Most of its streets cater to those who prefer pedaling their way around, which makes exploring the area much easier. You can visit one of its several lakes, or immerse yourself in the town’s history. There’s also many locally-owned shops to browse, and restaurants to satisfy your appetite.

Riding Options When Visiting Waconia

The area has plenty to offer those who prefer to get around by bike. There’s access to trails that take you beyond the town’s border, and bike-friendly county roads that allow you to explore everything the town has to offer. There’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Dakota Regional Trail

The northern part of the town has access to the Dakota Regional Trail. Part of the Three Rivers District, you can actually ride it all the way to Wayzata. The paved trail’s Waconia section will take you through its neighborhoods and wildlife. You’ll also get a nice sneak peek at Lake Waconia.

Carver Park Reserve

The park, managed by the Three Rivers District, provides access to the Lake Minnetonka LRT Trail. It’s another trail that can take you beyond Waconia if you wish for a longer ride.

Road Bike Touring

If you don’t want to stick to the trails, then you’re in luck the  town is full of bike-friendly roads that allow for almost limitless exploration. It also has plenty of shops, restaurants, history, and more to fill an entire weekend.

An At-A-Glance Look at Waconia

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

Only six months until the grass is green once again along the mountain bike trails of Minnesota.

Bike Pic Dec 1, Six Months for Green Grass Along the Mountain Bike Trails

Only six months and counting, until green grass and shorts are the norm along the trails in Minnesota for mountain biking fun.

As you wait patiently weather fun, many upper Midwest bike riders are now changing their gear over to winter fun activities, including fat biking, ice fishing, skiing, snowshoeing and other cold weather sports. See all the places to explore, throughout the year, in the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide

Thanks for viewing the Bike Pic captured along the Mountain Bike Trails

Now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun. While highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more place to have fun we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. As you scroll through the information and stories we have posted, enjoy.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com. Include a brief caption (for each), of who is in the photo (if you know?) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continues to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your next bike adventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing the guide.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. Please share all our picks with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the next corner with one of our camera’s ready to document your next move while you are riding and having fun. We may capture you in one of our next Pic of the Day posts.

Have a great day!

Pedal then Paddle Gateways Rice Creek Chain of Lakes

For a wildlife-rich experience not soon to be forgotten, pedal, then paddle, the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes up in the Twin Cities Gateway Area. With an abundance of bike trails and roads to get there, you will find several options at Wargo Nature Center once arriving. Head out with a paddle, hike, or bike the trails that meander around the chain of lakes shoreline in this mammoth park reserve in the Twin City Area.

Paddling the Twin Cities Gateway's Rice Creek Chain of Lakes is a wildlife-rich experience to remember.

Paddling the Twin Cities Gateway’s Rice Creek Chain of Lakes is a wildlife-rich experience to remember.

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes is located near the community of Lino Lakes, on the southside of Interstate 35W. Once there, Nature Center can fix you up with canoe and kayak rentals to paddle Rice Creek Chain of Lakes.  It is a bit of heaven in the north metro area. Being able to paddle out from the Nature Center on George Watch Lake is a tranquil experience.

What You Will See Paddling the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes

Through the summer and into the fall, you can paddle out from the dock at the Nature Center and connect to one lake after the next. Along the way you are sure to see occasional Leopard frogs hopping off a Lilly pad. Then, perhaps you’ll ever see a Blue Heron and Snowy White Egrets lift off as you pass by.

Hawks are common spectators to the activities as you paddle along the water trail or pedal along the bike trail in the Rice Creek Reserve.

Hawks are common spectator watching as you paddle along the water trail or along the bike trail in the Reserve.

The creek and lakes on this water trail offer excellent bird watching opportunities. And this is the perfect place for the novice paddler. Adventurers will see plenty of raptors such as egrets and herons that perch in nearby trees or forage along the shoreline. Along the way, you may see a sandpiper scampered across a sandbar.

Egrets and blue heron are also a common to see as you paddle along.

Egrets and Blue Heron are common to see as you paddle.

Maybe you’ll see a  soft-shell turtle sliding off the bank. Or maybe an eagle, osprey, or Turkey Vulture swooping down to grab its meal as a fish jumps. It’s scenic and wild at its best, right here in the Twin Cities Gateway!

 

About the Rice Creek Chain

The nearly 5,300-acre Rice Creek Chain is one of two regional parks in the Twin Cities Area that offer multiple-lake paddling. According to many who paddle this north metro chain, the mix of lake and forest vegetation makes it feel like a mini-Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The other reserve in the south metro is Lebanon Hills Park. Lebanon Hills Park is a 2,000-acre multi-lake area with only portage paths between them.

Generally on the Rice Creek Chain portaging is not necessary. The only exception is the occasional downed tree to circumvent, which normally happens in the spring. This rustic North Metro reserve has a water trail wandering through several lakes before it reaches Rice Creek. Rice Creek is a more challenging, less-traveled stretch that flows south to Long Lake. From there, it heads to the Mississippi River.

Paddlers who want a longer trip can follow Rice Creek out the northwest corner of Long Lake, in New Brighton. Here, the creek flows to the Mississippi River at Manomin Park in Fridley. The complete paddle from the Lake Peltier boat ramp in the Rice Creek Reserve to the Mississippi River is about 22 miles.

Rice Creek Reserve Rents

For canoe, kayak, and life jacket rentals, Wargo Nature Center is the place. Located on George Watch Lake, rentals can be used on: Peltier, Marshan, Rice, and Reshanau Lakes. Paddle craft rentals are available May through September, during normal hours. Here is their website for rental prices and times: https://www.anokacounty.us/874/Recreational-Rental-Equipment.  Call 651-429-8007 to check watercraft availability, lake temperatures, and water levels.

For those who want to use their own canoes or kayaks in the reserve, paddling access points include Rice Creek crossings near: Hodgson Road, Lexington Avenue, County Road I, and County Road J.

In the winter the Wargo Nature Center rents snowshoes for those who want to explore the park in a colder season.