by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com
If you have three days or more free and are looking for a true north biking experience in Minnesota, consider Roseau. A few miles from the Canadian border on a recent visit I found this area full of fun offering many off road bicycling opportunities.
An outdoor bicycle paradise
Perfect for the whole family, the city of Roseau offers a paved bike trail, along with a number of quite street routes. Making it easily get around, to and from your hotel, by bike.
On the eastern edge of the city I found Mount Roseau. With no forest vegetation, it made it easy to see the countryside as I rode up and down the trails of this mountain bike park. At the top the view was worth stopping for. But, what was really exciting was learning about the areas remote logging roads and trails in Beltrami Island State Forest. For the gravel, fat and mountain bike riders, this is a haven if you are craving a true north experience.
Roseau a true north biking experience
Minnesota’s North Star City, the community is located in an environmental transition area of the state where the forest gives way to the prairies of the Red River Valley. Roseau is only 13-mile south of the Canadian Border and 27-mile to Lake of the Woods, by auto it is a six hour drive from the Twin Cities. In this friendly Scandinavian community, visitors will find many recreational opportunities in the towns parks and nearby state forests parks.
As a result of this unique location, wildlife enthusiasts traveling by auto, bike or foot can appreciate the outdoor paradise this area offers. Nearly forty percent of Roseau County is open, accessible through state and county parks, forests and wildlife areas. Surrounding Roseau there are tamarack bogs to the north, prairie grasslands to the west and sandy pine forests to the east. All areas provide ample opportunity for a gravel road ride or wilderness fat and mountain biking adventure. Along the way take in several wildlife viewing stations, pick berries or go for a hike and explore. Plus, Roseau is a prime stop on Minnesota’s premier bird watching list, on the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail.
Parks to explore in the area
Four of the most visited Roseau outdoor recreation areas are the Roseau City Park, Sprague Creek Natural Area, Hayes Lake State Park and Beltrami State Forest.
Roseau City Park
The City Park here is located on 40 wooded acres in southeast section of the city, along the Roseau River. The park provides a variety of activities including mountain biking and a paved trail. Here you will find Mount Roseau mountain bike trail system offering over 6.5 miles of fun twists and turns for all skill levels. The park also offers: various playground equipment, sand volleyball, a fishing pier and Frisbee golf activities.
Click here to see our bike map of Roseau.
Sprague Creek Natural Area
Easy to ride to, the Peatland Scientific and Natural Area, is just north of Roseau. Once you arrive this area offers hiking trails that features many bird viewing opportunities.
Hayes Lake State Park
Accessible by bike, Hayes Lake State Park is located 18 miles southeast of Roseau, on County Road 4. Located on the edge of Beltrami Island State Forest, this quiet true north park consists of 3,000 acres of pines, Hayes Lake and wildlife. The park also features a day use area with fishing pier, swimming beach and campsites. The lake is a non-motorized recreational area where canoeing is a popular activity. Hayes Lake also offers the opportunity to view rare birds such as bald eagles, great grey owls, Sandhill cranes and a variety of warblers. Wildlife found in the area includes elk, moose, bear and wolves.
Beltrami State Forest
Further east from the State Park and as I mentioned earlier, what really excites me about this area for a true north biking experience in Beltrami Island State Forest. The second largest of Minnesota’s 59 state forests, there are five rivers that have their headwaters here. Also containing scientific and natural areas riding the forest here is unique.
In this huge forest there are more than 138 miles of logging roads and trail to explore on your bike. Make sure you have a compass or GPS device along when exploring the trails. Pedaling around low flatland’s, peat bogs and ridges covered in pines it’s easy to get lost. Pedaling along the forest roads you will pass through the heart of blueberry country. You might find evidence of a former homestead foundation or village also.
When not biking
Being the birthplace of snowmobiling and Polaris Industries, in between daily outings take in a assembly plant tour and visit the museum in Roseau. At the Experience Center see artifacts from the earliest snowmobiles to Polaris’s movement into All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s). History buffs will enjoy the Roseau Pioneer Farm and Village, as well as the Roseau County Museum.
Another Roseau summer tradition is the 100-year old Roseau County Fair. Held in the middle of July, this annual event can add to your biking adventure if you visit at that time. Other activities around town include the community pool, paddling the Roseau River, the local theatre, a bowling alley and arcade. Plus, downtown you will find many antique shops to browse through and reminisce about the past.
Places to stay for a true north biking experience
On my last visit, while exploring this true north play land I headquartered at the AmericInn. Roseau also offers a couple more hotels to fit your needs. Camping (RV and tent sites-with water and electric) in the city park is also an option.
Roseau has something for every interest. Check your calendar and plan your next true north biking experience today.