Category Archives: Landing Pages

The Cedar Falls area has something for both the seasoned cyclist and novice rider.

Cedar Falls, a gateway to some of Iowa’s best bike trails

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

On my first visit to Central Iowa, I was amazed at the intricate network of hard surface bicycle trails the Cedar Falls Area offers. On this trip, I had the opportunity to
ride with several Cedar Valley Cyclists and enjoy some of the roads and trail loops in the area they often frequent. The Cedar Falls area has something for both the seasoned cyclist and novice rider. This is also a bike-friendly community perfect for the off-road cyclist (cyclocross, fat bike, mountain biking, and BMX), with several opportunities awaiting your arrival. Not to mention the wide array of historical, educational, and entertaining attractions to take in when not riding.

About Cedar Falls and the Valley Lake Trail options

The Ceder Valley Trail System offers several loops between Cedar Falls and Waterloo.

The Ceder Valley Trail System offers several loops between Cedar Falls and Waterloo.

The Cedar Valley Lakes Trail through Cedar Falls and Waterloo intertwine throughout the area – Offering over 100 miles of trails. As I discovered, some of these trails connect and meander through neighboring Waterloo for additional cycling opportunities. A Bronze Bike Friendly Community designation by the League of American Cyclists, see the Cedar Falls bike map for an overview of the vast trail systems and designated bike routes you can enjoy, as I did.

My first ride while visiting

On my first day there, before the rest of my group arrived from Minnesota, I had the opportunity to ride with Brian Will. A local realtor, Brian, is a member of the Cedar Valley Cycling Club. He volunteered to show me some of the trail loops and bike-friendly street routes used for connectivity. The first thing I noticed as we explored the trails, the majority of the trails are paved in concrete, with only a few patches of asphalt to remind me of home.  Our first adventure was on the Big Woods Lake Trail. This is a perfect trail loop for biking while viewing birds and wildlife.

Stopping at the Hearst Center For The Arts & Sculpture Garden along the trail.

Brian Will stopping at the Hearst Center for a view of the Arts & Sculpture Garden along the trail.

In the afternoon, after stopping for lunch on Cedar Falls ‘promenade’ (Main Street), we went out and rode sections of the Prairie Lakes Trail. A part of the American Discovery Trail System, we found several loops that took us into some charming and historic neighborhoods in Cedar Falls. Further along, from the trail, we viewed the agricultural test field at the University of Northern Iowa. We then stopped at the Hearst Center’s Arts & Sculpture Garden before returning to the promenade to check out the new brewery downtown.

Road Bike and Trail Touring Options

Gathering for a ride on the Promenade in Cedar Falls.

Gathering for a ride on the Promenade in Cedar Falls.

The next couple of days, with a group of my friends now in town from the Twin Cities, we joined the Cedar Valley Cycling Club on several rides. With several of their members showing up, we explored the trails and roads in the area. First, we visited Waterloo and a couple of other outlying communities. Periodically stopping to visit, they shared information on the communities Bike to Work, Bike to Play program.

Mountain Bike, Cyclo-Cross, and BMX Fun Opportunities

If you prefer the off-road side of cycling, you may be surprised at the number of mountain bike trails in the Cedar Falls and Waterloo area. They include George Wyth State Park, Katoski Green Belt, Riverview Park, Tondro Pray Bike Park, and Ulrich Park.

Tondro Pray Bike Park is your headquarters for off-road fun.

Tondro Pray Bike Park is your headquarters for off-road fun.

At the Tondro Pray Bike Park, you have several additional options along with the mountain bike trails there. The park amenities here include a: BMX/pump track, a mountain bike skills area, and a cycle cross course.

Things to do in Cedar Falls Area after your ride

For this trip, to accommodate 18 of my cycling friends from the Twin Cities, we used one of the hotels on the west side of Cedar Falls, not far from the University of Northern Iowa. Being a bike-friendly community, the AmericInn we stayed at was convenient. The hotel was only a couple of blocks, on quiet streets, to the trailhead and less than 20 minutes, by bike, to the promenade.

Cedar Falls is a great place for cyclists to gather.

Cedar Falls is a great place for cyclists to gather.

Coming off the trail, I noticed the Ice House Museum as I approached downtown, Cedar Falls. This building along the Cedar River was built in 1921. The museum houses an extensive collection of ice harvesting archives that visitors can view while learning what life was like before refrigerators.

On the promenade, you will find a wide assortment of local shops and unique restaurants that will entertain you for hours. Shops include everything: repurposed antiques; two bike shops; contemporary clothing; a cupcake shop; breweries; fair-trade artisan products from around the world; and more.

Things to do in Waterloo

The John Deere Museum offers many example of agricultural history, from household appliances to early farm equipment.

The John Deere Museum offers many examples of agricultural history, from household appliances to early farm equipment.

A 10-minute commute by car or a 30-minute train ride, Waterloo offers several more opportunities when not in the saddle. One of the must-sees when in the area is the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum. The newest exhibit here highlights the history and contribution John Deere has made to agriculture and their farm families through their nearly 100-year operation in Waterloo.

Here at the museum is a John Deere bicycle, from the 70's, displayed.

Here at the museum is a John Deere bicycle, from the ’70s, displayed.

Another option if you are into plants and flowers is the Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. This 40-acre beauty center features an award-winning Children’s Garden, 4-acre Butterfly Meadow; a Rose Garden; a stunning day lily and Hosta collections; unique Mosaiicultures; and a 1-acre Master Gardener’s Orchard.

Check here for more attractions and museums in the area, and plan your #NextBikeAdventure to Cedar Falls, Iowa.

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. The Coon Creek Trail and the Mississippi River Trail are two greenway systems here that allow you to pedal safely 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 trail that runs 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 between two residences, and the real fun begins. Then, as the trail drops into the forested vegetation along the bank of the Mississippi River, it’s 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 its history. The dam is another popular fishing location and a crossing point for 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. You can ride the designated bike lane or use the pedestrian path paralleling the street on a bike-friendly road. 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, the 10-mile loop takes a right at the trail T. If you want to add a few 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 smells, sounds, and views of nature along the trail.

The trail runs parallel along Coon Rapids Extension and Boulevard for the last few miles of the route. 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

Through the seasons nature calls riding along the trails in Coon Rapids

Named after the creek that meanders through the area and flows into the Mississippi River, just below the dam, Coon Rapids offers a great mix of wildlife viewing spots here. Two of my favorite trail systems, especially in the spring and fall, are the Coon Creek Reginal Trail and the Mississippi River Trail below the dam. Both trail systems, when the foliage is minimal, offer some spectacular birding and wildlife viewing. In the winter months, the trails are great for fat bike riding, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing to view birds of prey and other wildlife along the waterways. Look for signs of the abundant wildlife that live in or visit the areas described below (mink, beaver, hawks, osprey, deer, turtles, and river otters, to name a few). 

Riding the trails and roads of Coon Rapids

Fun on the MRT, viewing nature, east of the Coon Rapids Dam

Herewith a great mix of paved trails and bike corridors with wide shoulders, You can navigate the city on your bike pretty easily. Just use this handy Coon Rapids bike map and take a tour of the area. It’s easy to connect from your hotel to Bunker Hills Regional Park or the Coon Rapids Dam through the Coon Creek Trail.

The Sand and Coon Creek Trails

A north/south paved nature corridor and waterway offer many viewing spots along the way. The Sand Creek/Coon Creek Trail System stretches over 15-miles from Bunker Hills Regional Park down to the Coon Rapids Dam. In Bunker Hills, you’ll find another trail system winding through beautiful prairie areas with patches of Oak Savanna forests.

You will find miles of paved trails running through parks and along major roads here.

You will find miles of paved trails running through the Bunker Hills Regional Park.

 

The lower portion of the Coon Creek Trail takes you through Erlandson Nature Center and Robinson Park before reaching the Coon Rapids Dam and the Mississippi River Trail.

The Mississippi River Trail (MRT southern loop)

The Coon Rapids Dam Visitors Center is a picturesque place to stop and wonder around.

The Coon Rapids Dam Visitors Center is a picturesque place to stop and gather more information.

 

Below the Coon Rapids Dam and Park Area is another favorite of mine. Using the paved trail (MRT), you are surrounded by a mix of nature. Forests running into both prairie and wetland environments, only minutes away from the main road. The trail here is very well marked with MRT signage, so getting lost won’t be an issue. At the south end of the park, along the trail between the Dam and the riverfront neighborhoods, is a favorite haunt.

Where to eat, stay and play when visiting Coon Rapids

After exploring the trails, the next adventure is finding the perfect dining option in the Twin Cities Gateway.

The options are endless when spending time visiting Coon Rapids and the other eight neighboring Twin Cities Gateway communities in the north suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Similar to the early 1800s, when Coon Rapids was a stopping point on the Oxen Trail from the Red River Valley to St. Paul, hospitality is still key, along with its wildlife corridors, though the trails have changed. Check out their website here, and enjoy!

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 bike-friendly Fridley, with its 10-mile bike loop, lets visitors discover art, nature, and beautiful flower gardens along the way. Here, with many cycling paths connecting to both the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) and the Rice Creek Trail, it’s easy to get around. 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, (southeast corner od I-694 and Central Avenue) the Fridley route heads out in a clockwise direction. After crossing the intersection at Central Ave. drive your bike using the bike lane on 53rd Avenue for the next two miles. Now turning to the north on Main Street, once over Interstate I-694, you will pass Woodsprings Hotel. 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 along Locke Lake on the trail. If you are riding with others, allow extra space between each, as a few sharp turns are 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 a 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 a 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, 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 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 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

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 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

The New Brighton 10-mile bike loop ties history with nature

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

From its early years discover the historical connection to railroads and livestock this bike-friendly community. Today the New Brighton 10-mile bike loop offers cyclists a mixture of history, nature and many attractions as you ride here. Plus it is easy to add additional adventure with trail connections that will take you throughout the Twin Cities Gateway. With all the opportunities here you will find a picture-perfect destination for your next bike vacation here.

The New Brighton bike loop is fun for the whole family.

The New Brighton 10-mile bike loop

This bike loop travels clockwise and begins at the Homewood Suites by Hilton. Taking a left out of the parking lot onto Old Highway 8, you will find a trail on the west side as you pedal south. Soon after passing Lions Park the route enters a new development on Ring Road and catches the trail. Soon you are making a big sweep through the prairie grass as the trail crosses under the RR bridge near the freeway and takes you out on Beach Road. Lake. After crossing the south shore of Long Lake experience a mix of busy and calm. Now pedaling Manning Trail, along the freeway border wall, to your right enjoy nature along the south shore of Pike Lake. If you want to explore nature along the shoreline there is an optional short loop off the path.

A fun bike loop to explore with friends.

A stop for ice cream while biking to the Rice Creek Trail

Now pedaling to the northwest through the residential neighborhoods on the west side of Pike Lake the route ventures up to the Rice Creek North Regional Trail. On your way over to Central Avenue, if it is a hot day, consider stopping by Grandpa’s Ice Cream, at Moore Lake Road. Now riding north on a trail running parallel to Central, just before at 69th Avenue you are at the Rice Creek Trailhead. Here the 10-mile loop travels back east towards the headwaters of Rice Creeks. An option for future consideration is the Rice Creek Trail West. From Central Avenue, the trail follows the winding flowage to the Mississippi River and its well-known trail, the MRT.

The flavors here are worth stopping for.

The smells, sounds, and wilderness sightings along the trail

Back on the 10-mile route, pedaling east, this section is one of my favorite parts of the Rice Creek Trail. As the route winds back and forth along the waterway under a forested canopy I am amazed. Riding this section of the trail the forest air, noises, and wildlife sightings will encompass you. At the next trail Y, the bike loop pulls away from the creek and continues along a rail line that helped establish New Brighton. After crossing Rice Creek one more time on this bike loop you will be entering Long Lake Regional Park.

Biking along the rail line brings hits from the community’s past.

Stop by the New Brighton History Center, in the park

Here in the park, you will find numerous trails circling around between the east shore of Long Lake and the south shore of Rush Lake. Follow the turn-by-turn cue sheet of the route if you don’t want to miss a turn. There are a lot of intersections in the park. After crossing a final set of RR tracks you will pass the New Brighton History Center. Here you can stop and learn more about the areas past before returning back to the start.

A great place to stay on a bike vacation.

Returning back along Highway 8, it’s just a short distance back at the parking lot at Homewood Suites. After parking your bike check out a nearby eating establishment. Then plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and  Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of New Brighton, click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of New Brighton, click here

New Brighton’s annual Stockyards Days

If your vacation plans are centered around the second week in August, consider joining the fun at the community’s annual Stockyards Day’s.

The Shoreview 10-mile bike loop easily connects to a wildlife oasis

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

A community with an abundance of lakes, hence the name Shoreview, you will find an oasis for wildlife viewing opportunities along its trails. While visiting and riding the Shoreview 10-mile bike loop you will find many trail connections here for several adventures. Regardless of when you arrive, you will find bike trails around the eleven lakes here with many natural settings. One of nine communities of the Twin Cities Gateway, Shoreview is a perfect destination for a bike vacation.

Riding alone, or with friends, many wildlife viewing opportunities are waiting.

The Shoreview 10-mile bike loop

For this bike tour travel clockwise and beginning in the parking lots of the Best Western Plus and Hilton Garden Inn. Taking a right onto the bike lane along Gamsie Road, then Chatsworth as the route first travels north. At Snail Lake Road, you will find a trail running parallel on the south side as you pedal to the east. After crossing Victoria Street watch for Snail Lake Park Facilities on the north side of the road.

A broad of ducks sunning themselves along the trail.

The tunnel into Snail Lake Park

At the park entrance, the Shoreview 10-mile bike loop continues on the trail to the north. In Snail Lake Park, there are some nature trails near the lake shoreline and perfect for wildlife viewing. Back on the route the trail now heads to the northeast. So watch the turn-by-turn cue sheet link below to stay on course as you make your way up to the Highway 96 and the bike-ped trail. At the Hodgson Road crossing, for something cool, check out the Big Dipper Creamery on the northeast corner of this intersection.  A mile further, after crossing Rice Street, watch for the trail T, along the highway into Sucker Lake Park.

Enjoying the trail to Sucker Lake.

More wildlife viewing along the trail in Sucker Lake Park

Both the park and trail here are on the west shoreline of the lake and offers many activities and a hiking trail if a closer encounter with nature is of interest. If so, check out the 1.9-mile trail around the lake for a closer look as low land songbirds watch your every move. Leaving the park, the route continues south from the parking lot on Sucker Lake Road. At County Road F, turn east and use the trail on the north side. At Rice Street and then at the intersection of Hodgson/Rice/Gamsie crossing use the trail on the east side to the Grass Lake Nature Preserve a part of the Snail Lake Regional Park system.

Enjoying the trail to Grass Lake Nature Preserve.

Songbirds and wildflowers filled the Grass Lake Nature Preserve

This preserve allows cyclists and pedestrians alike a chance to view songbirds from the paved trail circling around the eastside of Grass Lake. An optional hiking trail takes you out in the wildflower-filled meadow on the west side of the lake. Back on the route the paved trail leaves the preserve and crosses the bike-ped bridge over I-694, onto County Road E. Now pedaling to the east again the 10-mile bike loop makes a sweep through one more park before returning to the starting point. After crossing Victoria Street, the trail enters Island Lake, County Park.

Songbirds and wildflowers fill the nature preserve with opportunities.

Surrounded by busy, the calm is the park in the heart of Shoreview

The park, on the east shoreline of Island Lake, is in the heart of Shoreview.  Along with the general park amenities, the walking trails here will make you feel like you are in a different area, not in the cities. The 10-mile bike loop uses the paved trails up through the park to the north end, then the park road around the upper end of the lake to the parking lot at the boat landing. Here pick up the trail again for one last look at nature in Shoreview.

Now it is over to the trail along Lexington Avenue and north for your return. Back at the parking lot, check out a nearby eating establishment and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Bike Route options from Country Inn & Suites in Shoreview

Using the trail parallel to Rice Creek Parkway and then Park View Drive it is easy to get to the miles of paved trails in the Rice Creek North Regional trails system. The trail here to the east follows the Rice Creek up to its headwaters in the Rice Creek Park Preserves. From the chain of lakes here, south of Lino Lakes, both the Rice Creek and the trail corridor meanders to the west into the Mississippi River and the Mississippi River Trail (MRT). Along this trail corridor, you can connect to several other trail systems and parks through the Twin Cities Gateway.

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