Category Archives: Destinations

Many Cyclists riding around Albert Lea Lake enjoyable

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

by Andrew Ellis

Summer is here and with things opening up from COVID-19, I have a big decision to make. Where should I go for my first out-of-town weekend bike getaway?

For me, one favorite is Albert Lea, Minnesota with its beautiful bike routes around Fountain Lake and the Blazing Star State Trail. Another option is to follow one of the routes from the annual bike ride called Rock n’ Roll the Lakes. Normally scheduled in June, the events bike routes can offer cyclists a whole lot of fun scenic Southern Minnesota touring options for that #NextBikeAdventure.

Bike-friendly Albert Lea

Less than a 2-hour drive down Interstate 35 from Minneapolis, after passing the I-90 crossroad pull into Albert Lea and prepare for a weekend of outdoor fun. Known as the Land Between the Lakes, the city sits between Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake, Both prime destinations for soaking in the rays while biking or paddling. Getting around on your bike from your choice of lodging options is easy with the city’s low traffic bike lanes and trails. After checking in at one of the hotels its exciting to ride around this southern Minnesota community.

Touring around Albert Lea Lake

The homes along the lake route are very picturesque.

The homes along the Fountain Lake route are very picturesque.

In town, touring around Fountain Lake traveling clockwise is recommended. The experience of this route is reminiscent of riding around Lake of the Isles, in Minneapolis. With beautifully landscaped lawns along the fingering shoreline, a ride around the lake is very picturesque. This popular route is about eight and a half miles around using a combination of trails and quiet residential streets.

After returning to the downtown area of Albert Lea, you will find many options for lunch. Then its time to ride on the paved Blazing Star State Trail out to Myre-Big Island State Park.

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

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

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

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

Throughout the park, both trail systems meander through the open prairie meadows with some young woodland near Lake Albert Lea. Nice rolling hills make for a surprisingly good workout and the park is also known as an excellent birding spot.

Road Biking Opportunities

Exploring the area on a bike is easy, too. You can use the roads to navigate both around town and rural routes throughout southern Minnesota. There’s even a dedicated bike lane to safely get you in and out of town. From past Rock n’ Roll the Lakes events, here are the printable maps for both the 10-mile loop option and the 30/50 mile loop option for your enjoyment.

More about Albert Lea 

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

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

 

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

The best part about spending time here in Albert Lea, it’s easy to get around by bike, while keeping your social distance from others, for a memorable adventure.

The Anoka 10-mile bike loop offers fun while exploring its history

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

At the confluence of the Rum and Mississippi Rivers, discover Anoka, Minnesota with fun at every turn along its bike routes. With its river city charm and designated the ‘Halloween Capital of the World’ this bicycle-friendly community is a place to explore. Riding your bike on the scenic 10-mile bike loop here you will discover several river-front parks and historic neighborhoods along the route. A part of the nine Twin Cities Gateway communities, in the north suburbs of the Twin Cities, you will find over 250-miles of connecting trails to enjoy. It’s the perfect destination to visit with your bike.

The Anoka 10-mile bike loop is an adventure for all skill levels of riders.

The Anoka 10-mile bike loop

For this bike ride, we will start at the Gathering Place Bandshell along the river. It’s located on the east bank of the Rum River, a block west of Ticknor Hill Bed & Breakfast in Akin Riverside Park, in Anoka.

It’s fun riding parts of the Mississippi River Trail while in Anoka.

 

Traveling clockwise, the route begins by crossing over the river on the pedestrian bridge, then across Ferry Street. Now pedaling along Benton Street, you will find a picturesque lane in the Historic Whiskey Flats neighborhood, The street here is a part of the Mississippi River Trail (MRT). Soon you are on the actual trail pedaling into Mississippi River Community Park, at Kings Island.

Kings Island and park amenities

Signage along the trail as you enter Kings Island.

Arriving in the park you will find restroom facilities, a playground, and some extra trails and observation decks along the river to view nature’s settings here. On the east bank of Mighty Mississippi, the Kings Island section of the park incorporates the natural beauty of a wooded flood plain. Add to your fun by exploring nature. Along the walking trail that circles the island, view an occasional mix of wildflowers amongst riverside flora and fauna.

Up to River Bend Park on the Rum

Leaving the MRT, the Anoka 10-mile loop utilizes the trail along its northern route up through Anoka’s industrial area. After crossing Highway 10, notice the Regency Inn Hotel to your left. And those who prefer to shorten the loop to 6-mile should turn right and head east on Vista Way (see the printable Anoka Map for more details).

Back on the 10-mile loop pedaling north up to Bunker Lake Boulevard, and turn east. At the intersection of Saint Francis Boulevard (Hwy 47), you will find several rest stop options. Then, before crossing the Rum River check out River Bend Park. If you picked up a sandwich at the rest stop, this is a perfect place to stop and view the river while enjoying your lunch.

After crossing the bridge over the Rum River, another option is to stop at the Rum River Library or the Anoka Nature Preserve. Looking east, notice the trail that crosses Bunker Lake Boulevard? That trail will safely get you up in the area of the library and nature preserve.

The Anoka Nature Preserve is a 200-acre passive recreational area with low maintenance, hard-packed roads, perfect for 2-lane off-road cycling, and hiking. At the trailhead here, north of the library, you will find a playground and a restroom option. The trails in the Preserve are perfect for off-road family riding. At the riverbank to the Rum, several paths lead to wildlife observation decks.

Following the flow of the Rum River back to Anoka

Now heading south along the east bank of the Rum River, the trail offers wildlife viewing opportunities at every turn. As you get closer to the inner city of Anoka the trail merges onto a bike lane on 4th Avenue and through the historic Cutterville and Wet Flats neighborhoods. Here the 6-mile loop joins from the west and the trail route resumes along the river.

The Anoka 10-mile bike loop is fun for all ages!

The historic downtown district of Anoka

As you approach four metal grain bins along the trail you are entering the north side of the historic downtown area of Anoka. Here you will find several delicious dining establishments and many historic points of interest. Also known as the Halloween Capital of the World, the city of Anoka becomes alive with festivities each fall. Now, before taking the river trail, under Main Street and back to the band Shell, check out the observation deck at the Rum River Dam.

Downtown, don’t forget to stop at Two Scoops for ice cream.

Back at the Gathering Place Band Shell or your hotel checkout a nearby eating establishment and Two Scoops Ice Cream while planning another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For individual bike maps of the nine Twin Cities Gateway Communities click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Anoka click here

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

Many bicycle adventures await your visit to the Mesabi Trail Towns

by Andrew Ellis

The Mesabi Trail Towns, in Minnesota’s far north mining region, hosts several gems of the state’s history and a perfect destination for bicycle adventures. It’s not a mountain range, but a group of small mining communities along a well-known paved trail system. The Mesabi Trail serves as an easy way to travel from town to town by bike. From Grand Rapids on the western end to Ely, 135 miles to the east, there is a lot to see as you ride. For the mountain biker’s this mining-range has left a lot of deposits to perfect your skills. The area even boasts some of Minnesota’s best scenic road touring routes, with loop options that tie back to the Mesabi Trail.

Mesabi bike trail near Hibbing

Mesabi bike trail near Hibbing.

More About the Bike-Friendly Mesabi Trail Towns

The area is vast and the Mesabi Trail Towns string through the Iron Range covering many mining towns you can start and stop at. They include Grand Rapids to the west; and further east Hibbing, Chisholm, Mt. Iron, Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, Embarrass and now to Ely. Along the way, there is no shortage of walking tours.

You can visit Bob Dylan’s childhood home, the Hull Rust Mine overlook, and Greyhound Museum in Hibbing. You can look into the history of the Range’s “Queen City” at the Virginia Heritage Museum. Take a walk around the US Hockey Hall of Fame, in Eveleth. To enjoy the scenic thrills of mountain biking, there is Giant Ridge, near Biwabik. There are also plenty of lakes to drop a line, swim, or enhance your tan.

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

Mesabi bike trail near Virginia.

Mesabi bike trail near Virginia.

Biking Opportunities in the Iron Range

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

The Mesabi Trail

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

And don’t forget the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour in 2021. Ride for the fun or ride for the challenge. Either way mark your calendar for Saturday, August 7, 2021, for the most fun you can have on two wheels!

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

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

Mountain biking here includes an edgy new park

The Iron Range may not have mountains, but there are plenty of trails and loops for mountain bikers to battle down. Especially the new Redhead Mountain Trails, near Chisolm, they say it will rock you. This huge park with over 30 loops, covering over 25-miles offers giant views of reclaimed mine lands, bright blue pit lakes, and more. See the map of this edgy designed park with remarkable terrain makes it one of the most anticipated new parks in the country.

Further east is Giants Ridge offering over 24 miles of trails and loops that will challenge you and offer up great scenery. Big Aspen offers a whopping 21 miles of trails on old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades. The sections vary in difficulty with many loop opportunities that offer many scenic vistas.

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

Road Biking Options

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

See more at At-A-Glance Mesabi Trail.

The Fridley 10-mile bike loop lets visitors discover the MRT

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

Named for an early settler along the east bank of the Mississippi River. Today the bike-friendly Fridley 10-mile bike loop lets visitors discover art, nature and beautiful flower gardens along the way. With many cycling paths connecting to both the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) and the Rice Creek Trail, bike touring is easy. One of the nine communities of the Twin Cities Gateway, the city of Fridley is located just north of Minneapolis, and a fun place to explore. So, if you enjoy biking along the trails that Red River oxen carts once used we have some options to explore while enjoying the Fridley 10-mile bike loop.

Fun on the Fridley 10-mile bike loop.

The Fridley 10-mile bike loop

Starting from the outer parking lot of the LivINN Hotel, the Fridley route heads out in a clockwise direction. After crossing the Central Avenue intersection, drive your bike by using the bike lane on 53rd Avenue for the next two miles. Now turning to the north on Main Street, once over Interstate 694 you will pass Woodsprings Hotel. For those who would like to begin the 10-mile bike loop from this point, continue north up to 61st Avenue. Here on your left, you are at the Fridley train station.

Passing through Edgewater Garden Park on the MRT.

Taking the tunnel under the RR tracks

On the east side of the Northstar-Line Fridley Station use the elevator. Taking your bike with you down to the lower level and walk through the tunnel to the west side of the train tracks. On the main level, on the west side, the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is right outside the door and ready for you to venture north again. An option for another day, consider boarding the Northstar Train with your bike and ride it up the Anoka, Elk River or Big Lake, then pedal back to Fridley, on the MRT. See the multi-modal train-to-trail cue-sheet here.

Many roads in Fridley offer trails that parallel for added comfort.

More adventure awaits at the Locke Lake trail T

Flower gardens invite you into the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts.

Back on the 10-mile bike loop, continue pedaling north on the MRT as the trail passes through Edgewater Garden Park. A little further on, before turning into Locke Lake Park at the trail T, you have a couple more options. If you don’t mind adding some additional miles out and back, continue on the MRT to the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts. With rotating art exhibits, the art center is next to Manomin County Park. Another mile further you will find the Springbrook Nature Center. These three community highlights can add more memorable moments to any bike ride.

Manomin County Park is on the same grounds as the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts.

Back on the 10-mile bike loop, the trail connects to the Rice Creek Trail in Locke Lake Park. Use caution as you ride your bike through this area. You will need to apply both your front and rear brakes (or walk your bike) as you descend down along Locke Lake on the trail. If you are riding with others allow extra space between each, as there are a few sharp turns passing under the RR tracks next to Rice Creek, as it flows into the lake. Finally, at the next T, the Rice Creek Trail runs through Fridley Community Park.

Now riding east along the Rice Creek Trail

After crossing University Avenue, at the stoplight, resume riding east on the Rice Creek Trail. In this section between University and Highway 65, the Rice Lake Trail offers an upper and lower trail segment. The 10-mile loop uses the upper trail, as it’s a bit shorter and takes you past restroom facilities in the park before reaching the tunnel under Highway 65. After the tunnel resume the route by taking left at the trail T to Central Ave. If you are staying at Budget Host Hotel, or desire to start the 10-mile loop from here, at this trail T take a right and head south a block to the hotel.

Turning south ice cream may soon be an option

The trail route now, heading south, runs parallel to Central Avenue. If you have a sweet tooth and desire delicious Ice cream treat, turn right on Moore Lake Road into Grandpa’s Ice Cream.

The flavors here are worth stopping for.

Continuing along Central Ave, as you reach Hillcrest Drive you have one more option to cool off. If it’s a hot day, half-mile further south is Moore Lake Park where you will find a beach for a refreshing swim. Otherwise, take a left on Hillcrest and the route jogs through several neighborhood streets down to Matterhorn Drive. After crossing over Interstate 694, once more, turn right on Skywood Lane and follow the freeway border wall around to the start.

Back at the parking lot or your Fridley hotel, check out the nearby eating establishments and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Fridley click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Fridley click here

The Coon Rapids 10-mile bike loop makes it easy to connect and discover

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

Named for the turbulent Mississippi River waters at the confluence of Coon Creek, the city of Coon Rapids is a fun place to explore on a bicycle. One of the nine communities in the Twin Cities Gateway it’s a perfect destination for a bike vacation using the Coon Rapids 10-mile bike loop. Here you will find many connections to hundreds of miles of trails. Both the Coon Creek Trail and the Mississippi River Trail are two greenway systems here that allow you to safely pedal throughout the area. So, if you enjoy biking along rivers and creeks we have some ideas for you starting with the Coon Rapids 10-mile loop.

The 10-mile bike loop is fun for all levels of riders.

The Coon Rapids 10-mile bike loop

Leaving from the outer parking lot of the Muddy Cow Restaurant, or a nearby hotel the route travels in a clockwise direction. Pulling out onto Springbrook Drive this tour safely crosses Coon Rapids Boulevard. Once across, we suggest using the paved trails that run parallel to the street due to heavy traffic. After crossing 85th Avenue, about two miles into the loop consider stopping at the Springbrook Nature Center.

Many roads here offer trails that parallel for added comfort and fun.

Now pedaling along the south side of 85th Avenue, at East River Road cross the street at the stoplight and use the sidewalk on the west side, up to 85th Lane. Here enjoy the quiet neighborhood streets that connect you to the Mississippi River Trail (MRT).  At 86th Avenue continue straight ahead on the MRT up between two residences and the real fun begins. As the trail drops into the forested vegetation along the bank of the Mississippi River its a whole new experience.

The visitors center here makes a great rest stop.

Following the trail along the river to the Coon Rapids Dam, you will pass several trail T’s in the park offering more loop options. One loop in the park circles Cenaiko Lake where you will find many people fishing for trout.

The Coon Rapids Dam and Visitors Center

At the visitor’s center at the Coon Rapids Dam, you will find more information on the area and the history of the dam. The dam is another popular fishing location and a crossing point for many cyclists riding the Three Rivers Trails throughout the Twin Cities Metro.

Riding across the Coon Rapids dam always offers a refreshing mist of cool air.

Turning north to Coon Creek

Riding up Egret Boulevard you can ride in the bike lane or use the parallel pedestrian path.

Now at the Dam, the 10-mile Loop leaves the MRT and heads north out of the park on Egret Boulevard. A bike-friendly road, you can ride the designated bike lane or use the pedestrian path paralleling the street. Continuing north after crossing Coon Rapids Boulevard, at Robinson Drive you will find the Coon Creek Trailhead. On the trail and after crossing the creek, at the trail T, the 10-mile loop takes a right. If you want to add a few for miles to your ride here is another option. To your left, the trail will take you up through the Erlandson Nature Center and further along connects to Bunker Hills Regional Park.

The smells, sounds, and views of nature as you pedal

Now pedaling south alongside Coon Creek, enjoy the smells, sounds, and views of nature. This stretch of the trail is a tranquil wilderness setting as you pedal along the stream through the forested canopy.  After crossing over a creek bridge one more time, pass under the railroad tracks for another option. Stop for a round of bumper boats, go-karts or miniature golf at Lilli Putt before heading east and completing the 10-mile Loop.

Enjoying the enjoy the smells, sounds, and views of nature along the trail.

For the last few miles of the route, the trail runs parallel along Coon Rapids Extension and Boulevard. Back at the parking lot, or your hotel, check out nearby eating establishments and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Anoka click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Anoka click here

The Blaine 10-mile bike loop can add more memories to a sporting event

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

With miles of connecting bike trails around the city of Blaine, sports fans and visitors alike will find many phenomenal sights while bicycling here. One of the nine communities of the Twin Cities Gateway this city is a perfect destination for a bike vacation tied to a sporting event. The city offers many trail opportunities surrounding the sports facilities here. So, whether you are an athlete looking for a fun way to get a pre-game workout. Or, a visiting sports fan looking for some added memories we have some ideas starting with the Blaine 10-mile bike loop.

The Blaine 10-mile bike loop can add more fun to your game visit.

The Blaine 10-mile bike loop

A perfect bicycle tour before or after a game this bike loop begins in the parking lot of the National Sports Center(NSC). The route heads south using the service road between NSC and Schwan Super Rink and passes through several parking lots south to 101st  Avenue. Traveling in a clockwise direction drive your bike south on Davenport to the stoplight at 99th Avenue and cross Highway 65. If you are staying at the Asteria Inn & Suites, on 93rd Ave, this is a great place to meet up with the 10-mile loop. it is a short 1/4-mile ride, north on Baltimore Street, from the hotel to 99th Avenue.

The Blaine 10-mile bike loo is fun for all ages.

Crossing the highway and enjoying the trails in Blaine

If you prefer staying off the streets after crossing the highway the trail that runs parallel on 99th Avenue, on the south side, for your added comfort.  On Clover Leaf Parkway, take a right and you are soon on a sequence of city trails up through several neighborhoods. For the next couple miles the route meanderers to the north. As you pedal along the trail you will pass several small neighborhood ponds where it is common to view wildlife.

Many roads here offer trails that parallel for added comfort.

At 113th Ave. the route relies on a combination of roads (with parallel trails). These quiet, low traffic city streets connect you to more neighborhood trails on the route up to Paul Parkway. The last stretch on this section takes riders through the Blaine Baseball Complex with several trail options circling the ball fields. One option, if you don’t mind adding more mileage to your ride is taking a left at the trail T to Bunker Hills Regional Park. On the 10-mile loop turn to the east on Paul Parkway where you will find a trail running parallel with the street.

A sweet tooth option at the 6-mile mark

It’s always fun when riding in the Twin Cities Gateway to stop for ice cream.

If you don’t mind adding a couple of extra miles, take a left on Ulysses Street for ice cream. It is approximately a mile, each way, that you will have to add to your total mileage, But the Big Dipper Creamery is worth the extra miles with 52 flavors to choose. For any bike service needs, while touring here, Pioneer Cycle is across Highway 65, north of Main Street.

Enjoying nature along the trail.

Continuing east on Paul Parkway the route crosses over Highway 65 and turns south on Aberdeen St, again with a trail running parallel on the west side. If you have worked up an appetite for breakfast, lunch or some pie,  Carol’s Restaurant is an option. Her homemade cooking is always a treat when I stop there!. Further south, the 10-mile loop jogs to the east and meanders past some more picturesque trail setting that takes you over a wooden bridge.

Returning back to the NSC or your hotel

After the round-a-bout at 113th, the route continues south on Club W. Parkway. For those staying at the Best Western Plus or  Fairfield Inn & Suites in Blaine, take a right on 108th Ave. The Hotel is south of Target, on the east side to Baltimore Street. If you missed the Big Dipper Creamery option, above you will find ice cream next door to the hotel. For bike touring visitors staying at Asteria Inn & Suites, on 93rd Avenue, continue south using the cue sheet link below.

The 10-mile Blaine loop continues south on Davenport, below 105th Avenue and into the National Sports Center parking lot. Back at the NSC or your hotel checkout a nearby eating establishment and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Blaine click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Blaine click here

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

The Border Bike Ride allows all levels of cyclists the opportunity to ride on two trails, with several communities along the way. The fun begins in Riceville, in northeast Iowa, at the trailhead and welcome center of the Waspi-Great Western Line (WGWL) Trail on Saturday, August 22nd. With many Border Bike Ride route options, recreational riders of all levels have several opportunities. The 56-mile route option crosses the border into Minnesota and to visit communities along the Shooting Star Trail.

The Border Bike Ride options

A multiple bike route event with a choice of:

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

Ride highlights

The Border Bike Ride crosses the Wapsipinicon River twice.

Experience a biking environment that includes the following scenic views:

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

Some of the sweet treats along your ride

The Border Bike Ride allows all levels of cyclists the opportunity to ride, visiting several towns along the way.

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

Registration

Border Bike Ride fun

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

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

Ride Benefits

Border Bike Ride fun

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

The Ham Lake 10-mile bike loop makes it easy to connect and discover

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

A favorite place for bicyclists to visit, getting around on the Ham Lake 10-mile bike loop makes it easy to connect and discover the area. For summer fun and winter fat biking, Ham Lake is one of the nine communities of the Twin Cities Gateway you should consider exploring. With easy trail connections, it’s a comfortable place to ride. It’s almost like there is a bike-friendly road or trail wherever you go. Along with the 10-mile bike loop, with so many options you will find several days of attractions and parks ready to discover.

Riding through the neighborhood makes it easy to connect to the trail.

The Ham Lake 10-mile bike loop

For this 10-mile bike loop, the route travels counter-clockwise and begins in the parking lot of the AmericInn on the west side of Highway 65. Riding a short distance from the hotel on the Service Road the route quickly jogs through a neighborhood, up to Bunker Lake Boulevard. The first two miles are on the paved shoulder, so for safety, drive your bike like you would a car. Then, once you see the ball field it is easy to merge onto the bike trail that parallels the boulevard. At Prairie Road, the trail crosses for an adventure in the county park.

Riding the Ham Lake bike loop.

Explore the miles of trails in Bunker Hills Park

Now in Bunker Hills Regional Park, you will find a series of trails and parkways that crisscross at several locations. The natural setting of the park offers visitors several distinctive flora covings as you ride the trail loops here. At one point you are pedaling through native prairie grassland with patches Bur Oak. Next, you are pedaling through stands of pines that will lead you to shoreline views near Bunker Lake.

The natural setting here offers visitors several distinctive flora covings in the park.

For the 10-mile Ham Lake Loop, we will follow the trail close to County Parkway C, past a series of parking lots, a playground, restroom, and the Veteran’s Memorial site. Soon our selected trail route passes Bunker Beach Water Park and then follows County Parkway A to the south gate. Here at the trail T, our selected route takes a left and heads east.

Leaving the park it may be time for ice cream?

Leaving Bunker Hills Regional Park the trail comes out at the local high school. Here the route continues in an easterly direction on Bengal Drive, out of the school parking lot. At Jefferson Street, the route jogs to the right. Here watch for the trail on your left.  In a short distance, the neighborhood trail here comes out on 127th Ave and zig-zag down to Buchanan Street. If you have a sweet tooth or looking for a cool treat, stop at Big Dipper Creamery, with 52 flavors.  If bike service is need on your ride Pioneer Cycle is across Highway 65, north of Main Street.

It’s always fun when riding in the Twin Cities Gateway to stop for ice cream.

Now heading north, the 10-mile bike loop takes you back up the Service Road along Highway 65 back to the AmericInn. Back at the hotel parking lot checkout the nearby eating establishments and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Ham Lake click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Ham Lake click here

For winter fun check out the Ham Lake Snow Bowl

If you’re around in February, with your fat bike, consider the annual Ham Lake Snow Bowl. The event includes a fat bike race, scavenger hunt, ice fishing, local crafts and food, and more.

The Lino Lakes 10-mile bike loop is a true Minnesota experience

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

Here it can feel like you are smack dab in the middle of northern Minnesota, especially while enjoying bike loops along the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes. A perfect place for your next bike vacation the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop and the many trail connections here are worth considering. One of nine Twin Cities Gateway communities, the Lino Lakes area supports a large Blue Heron rookery and hosts the annual Blue Heron Days Festival held in the middle of August. Regardless of when you visit, you are sure to see several species of wildlife to enhance your Minnesota experience while pedaling while biking here.

A true north experience!

The Lino Lakes bike loop is a true north experience

For the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop, the route travels clockwise and begins at the parking lot of the Hampton Inn. After pulling out from the hotel you will find a bike trail running parallel on the east side of Lake Drive. From there It’s a short distance before you are riding in the stunning Rice Creek Park Preserves. One of the largest preserves in the Twin Cities Area the Rice Creek Chain offers both paved and water trails. On the bike route, you are sure to see some of the most significant native wildlife habitat and water resources in the metro area.

The Lino Lakes Area is a family fun location.

Entering the trail system next to the Lino Lakes YMCA the trail circles the shoreline around Marshan Lake, before crossing over the Rice Creek, as it flows out of George Watch Lake. At the next trail T, the route takes a sharp left and runs parallel to the golf course road. After a sharp right curve and before the clubhouse a service road helps trail riders get over to the north shoreline of Reshanan Lake.

From a cottage community to the park it is an enjoyable ride

Passing the Reshanan Lake cottage community, soon Shadow Lake Drive disappears and trail riders are meandering past marshy areas with occasional patches of a forest while making their way to Centerville Lake. Now on E Street, at the boat landing, it’s a short distance along the service road here up to the beach area where you will find restrooms and a visitor center. Leaving the park take the trial to the entrance on Main Street. The Lino Lakes 10-bike loop heads north, but there is an option if you don’t mind adding a couple more miles. Consider taking the trails south along Main Street and visiting the charming little community of Centerville.

A few more options as the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop heads north

Wildlife viewing along the roads and trails here offers many opportunities.

Pedaling north on the trail parallel to Main Street you will cross Rice Creek again as it flows from Peltier Lake across the road to George Watch Lake. Here from the road look up to the northeast end of Lake Peltier and you can make out the Blue Heron Rookery. Soon you are passing the entrance to Wargo Nature Center. A place devoted to increasing the awareness and appreciation of natural and cultural resources. The center is located on a peninsula surrounded by George Watch Lake and offers activities, labs and equipment rental. For another outing, check out the available rental canoes and kayaks to experience the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes water trail.

Back in Lino Lakes for a cool beverage and fun

After a ride, many enjoy stopping in Lino Lakes for a cool beverage.

After crossing over 35W, on the wide shoulder, you are rolling back into Lino Lakes. As you turn onto Lake Drive consider stopping in at the Hammerhead Brewery before returning to the Hampton Inn. Back at the parking lot, check out the nearby eating establishments and plan another fun adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Lino Lakes click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Lino Lakes click here

The Mounds View 10-mile bike loop connect to parks and nature

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

With a great mix of busy and calm the Mounds View 10-mile bike loop lets you ride your bike along creekside trails from park to park. One of nine Twin Cities Gateway communities, it’s a perfect destination for a bike vacation with all the trail opportunities and connections here. Plus, their annual Festival in the Park event is something to plan for if you want to watch bike racers testing their cycling skills with blood, sweat, and gears. Maybe you want to give it a try yourself at the events beginner race?

Enjoy watching the Festival in the Park bike races or try it yourself.

Regardless when you visit here it’s fun to pedal through many quiet neighborhoods that connect you to trails that comfortably take you from park to parks. Along the way, especially on this 10-mile route, you may catch a true Minnesota wildlife experience along the Rice Creek Trail.

The Mounds View 10-mile bike loop

This bike loop travels clockwise and begins in the parking lot of the Mermaid Entertainment Center or your nearby hotel. Leaving to the west on the paved trail, on County Road H, once you see the soccer field, turn south into Long Lake Park. Now, on  Rice Creek North Regional Trail, enjoy the scenery as you pedal along the east bank of the creek. Now heading west, over the next few miles, you will pedal along the railroad tracks. At Stinson Boulevard the trail turns to the south.

Riding the Rice Creek Trail system is an adventure in itself.

A TrueNorth touch of nature along the Rice Creek

Leaving the RR tracks you will soon be in sight of Rice Creek, as it flows towards the Mississippi River. Here you will take the trail Y to the right and resume riding along the creek to the west. This section of the trail will put you in touch with nature, the forest air, sounds, and wilderness sightings. It will open your TrueNorth senses!

Connecting to trails from bike-friendly streets is easy in Mounds View.

A sweet option, before the next section of the trail

As the trail nears Central Avenue, you have an option. If you have a sweet tooth or the weather is hot, ride 1/2-mile south on the trail parallelling Central Avenue, to Grandpa’s Ice Cream. Otherwise, the Mounds View 10-mile bike loop continues west under the Highway 65 trail tunnel.

It’s always fun when riding in the Twin Cities Gateway to stop for ice cream.

After crossing under the highway take the upper trail where you will enter into Locke County Park, with restroom facilities. A little further, just past the dog park, the route turns north over the RR tracks and comes out at 73rd Avenue. Here on the south side of the street, you will find a trail that runs parallel as the route now turns back to the east.

Another park and wildlife hatchery

With a slight jog to the northeast first, up through another peaceful neighborhood, the route turns east again to Silver View Park. On the north side of the park, you will find several rest stop options and Cars Bike Shop. The 10-mile loop utilizes the trail around the north side of the little lake here in the park. In the spring of the year, through mid-summer, it is common to waterfowl with their broods of ducklings and goslings sunning themselves along the trail.

Ducks are easily spotted throughout the summer along the trail.

Now on the trail alongside Long Lake Road, the route jogs through a few more neighborhoods on the way back to County Road H and the trail on the south side. Back at the parking lot at the Mermaid checkout a nearby eating establishment and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area. Consider the Rice Creek North Regional Trail up to a chain of lakes?

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Mounds View click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Mounds View click here