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About Magnum E-bikes
The Magnum Navigator X is a beautifully designed electric bike perfect for urban riding or commuting. Step-thru frame for easy mounting and dismounting. Powerful 500W 48V power system with a fully integrated battery.
Everyone’s favorite bike media company is giving away a set of wheels
Managed by Constant Contact, the HaveFunBiking (HFB) e-database is a news media source sharing outdoor activities, mainly centered around Minnesota destinations. Since the beginning of 2003, HFB promises that our email list will never be sold or shared, and you can always opt out at any time. Plus all individuals signing up for this prize drawing for the e-bike can expect no sales appointments or calls.
The fine print
Deadline to enter: 11:59:59 PM PT, September 17, 2023 Sweepstakes drawing date: September 18, 2023 Selection Process: Grand Prize winner is selected using a computer-generated selection method to ensure that each drawing is conducted entirely at random. We will notify the winner via email and phone. The selected winner will have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is randomly selected. Number of winners: 1 Eligibility: You must be 18 years old or older to win. Approximate Retail Value: $2,199 USD
The Driftless 100 Ride Gravel Race (previously the Volga City 105) is a hilly road race through Clayton County; yes, this race is in Iowa. A short distance from the Minnesota border, you will find beautiful landscapes in one of Iowa’s best-kept secret places. If your bike knows-no-borders, and ready to get some training miles in. this gravel race is on Saturday, April 29th. Here, you will find over 10,000 feet of climbing on the 100-mile race course.
A scenic course through history.
The race is designed to showcase the Driftless region of the state and push even the savviest gravel rider to new heights. Over 90% of the race is on limestone gravel, with about 5% on pavement and 5% on level b/c roads.
Gorgeous views as you climb the hills.
It is not designed to be a mud fest, but it is April in Iowa, and it could be sloppy. With a 100, 50, and 25-mile course, the race will test your skills, a perfect event to train for this spring.
The Driftless Branding Iron awaits your completion.
An added carrot for those who finish the 100-mile course in under 8 hours, you will be awarded a Driftless branding Iron for finishing. You do have to follow the official course and receive aid only at the aid stations to earn this award.
With all the new maps in the 2023 Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide, we are constantly scouting for good eating haunts, and think you will agree. A tasty meal can add to an adventure. But locating an outstanding cafe, restaurant, or sweet shop in an unfamiliar place can be tricky, especially when hunger has already set in. So please look at the helpful Good Eating tip sheet we created for finding a memorable food experience on your next adventure. Then scroll through our list of communities with unique places to eat below from the current maps we have posted.
Patio dining is the perfect option in Minnesota’s summer months.
If you have a recommendation for a place we should check out, or you would like us to post your review at HaveFunBiking, please send them our way at HaveFunBiking.
Here are our ever-evolving good eating haunts to enjoy
With scenic bike routes around the fingers of Fountain Lakes and the Blazing Star State Trail, out to Myre Big-Island State Park. An evening downtown at Crescendo is a great dining experience, especially with their piano music setting the ambiance.
With many bike-friendly roads, the 8-mile Scenic Circuit Loop, and the Central Lakes Trail running through the community, plus the off-road fun in the County Parks of Lake Brophy and Kensington Runestone, upon your return, you will be ready for a wide variety of dining options.
With many bike-friendly roads, the 12-mile Scenic Circuit Loop, and the paved Paul Bunyan Trail running through the community, plus the off-road fun French Rapids Park, upon your return, you will be ready for a wide variety of dining options.
With many bike-friendly road routes and the pave Cuyuna Trail now connecting Ironton, Crosby, Deerwood, and several Cuyuna Moutain Bike trailheads, you will find plenty after your ride of places to challenge your taste buds when visiting.
Enjoy miles of scenic riding with the 14-mile Scenic Circuit Loop that connects to the Nine-mile Creek and Minneapolis trail system for more riding options. Then stop at one of the many eating establishments to satisfy your appetite.
Enjoy miles of scenic riding with the 10-mile Scenic Circuit Loop here that connects to the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) for more riding options. Then stop at one of the many eating establishments to refuel.
With many paved trails around the lakes and parallel to many Dakota County roads throughout the community and off-road fun at West Lake Marion Mountain Bike Park, you will work up an appetite to add to your experience visiting here.
With many trails throughout the community, scenic bike loops, and off-road fun in Elm Creek Park Reserve, you will find plenty of riding opportunities and places to expand your taste buds when visiting.
With many towns along the Mesabi Trail. When not riding the paved trail or one of the popular bike parks at Giants Ridge or Red Head mountain, be prepared for various tastes. Expect to be surprised…and pleased!
Enjoy miles of scenic riding with the 9-mile Scenic Circuit Loop that connects to the Nine-mile Creek and Minneapolis trail system for more riding options. Then stop at one of the many eating establishments here to refuel. New this year and worth checking out is Kataki Sushi & Ramen.
With many trails throughout the community that connect to the 10-mile Scenic Circuit Loop and the Xcel Energy Mountain Bike Park at Quarry Lake Park. You are sure to work up an appetite while visiting.
Good eating along the trail might be a box lunch from the local deli.
With a bike-friendly route around Lake Waconia, many paved trails running parallel along county roads, and the off-road fun at Carver Park Reserve, you will work up an appetite to add to your experience visiting here.
Enjoy miles of scenic riding with the 8-mile Scenic Circuit Loop that connects to the Glacial Lakes State Trail for more riding options. Then stop at one of the many eating establishments to satisfy your appetite.
Now in our 14th year of publishing the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide, tied to all the information at HaveFunBiking.com, we hope you find all the bike-friendly maps helpful in planning your next adventure. To help you select your next fun outing with family and friends, we have added some suggested route options to most of the maps, along with helpful tips and interesting places to get some refreshments. So bookmark the 2023 Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide so it’s ready and at your fingertips for that next bike adventure.
The handy 2023 MN Bike/Hike Guide
Where to find a printed copy of the MN Bike/Hike Guide?
As in the past, the Minnesota guides will continue to be available at the Minnesota Tourism Welcome Centers and many local libraries if you would like a print copy. These handy pocket-size guides are perfect for paging -through, copying a map, or jotting down a few notes when planning your #NextBikeAdventure.
Please help us by sharing your comments on this year’s Bike/Hike Guides
As we continue to update the guide, we would like to hear from you. What do you like about the MN Guide, and how can it be better, so we can continue to add more helpful information in future editions? Please review this digital edition of the guides and give us your comments at [email protected] – Thanks!
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As the e-transportation industry continues to develop, we occasionally list bicycle inventory closeouts that you will find here next to our product review items. So please bookmark this page and check back often as we refresh this page with new items and deals to enjoy that next adventure.
New product reviews on items for that next outdoor adventure
As tree buds appear along the forested trails, finally shedding their winter coat, here is a list of new products we thought you might find interesting for that next outdoor adventure. New products for lovers of bikes.
The Thermacell E55 offers a 20 ft. radius of protection from mosquitos.
With the closing of PowerBikes.com here in the Twin Cities, here is your chance to get a new e-bike at a near-wholesale price. The inventory listed below is being auctioned off with a huge selection of bike accessories, e-bike certified helmets, locks, bags, cell phone mounts, bags, and every imaginable bike part & tool.
This 2022 Gocycle G4 is one of many e-bikes on the action.
You can get the best deal on a new electric assist bike before the spring riding season begins. Select from new in-the-box, new pre-prepped, demo, and used e-bikes. Check the full list of e-bikes here.
Biking along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is just one of the many fun opportunities cyclists can enjoy when visiting Hastings, MN. As this historic river town expands its bicycle infrastructure, I had to return to Hastings last fall to check out the completed 10-mile trail loop.
Dubbed the “Scenic Circuit,” cyclists of all ages and abilities find this scenic trail loop along the Vermilion and Mississippi rivers breathtaking. Cyclists will discover many unique points of interest in the city parks and trails along this dual river trail system. For those who would like to add a few extra miles to this Scenic Circuit Loop, it’s easy following the MRT to Schaar’s Bluff and beyond. See the Hastings HaveFunBiking map for more options.
Starting in Historic Hastings
At the old mill ruins, high-quality flour was produced from 1857 to 1894 under the name “Belle of Hastings.”
Starting our ride in the historic Hastings Downtown Area, we found plenty of parking options when arriving. We used the city parking lot, under the Highway 61 bridge, as a gathering place to start our ride. It’s a short walk, after you get back, to walk along 2nd Street (the city’s downtown main street) for a snack or meal. We choose to ride the Scenic Circuit counter-clockwise for this review, leaving from Levee Park on the MRT.
Following the Mississippi River Trail out of Hastings
This metal sculpture was made from materials collected from a river clean-up just west of downtown Hastings.
In the first few miles of riding the trail through Jaycee Park, we enjoyed an aerial show of several Bald Eagles. Then the art along the river was also interesting. Several markers explain the river’s history, and one marker explains the river clean-up project several years prior. The giant dragonfly (above) was made from different metals dredged from the river under the Clean Water Act. Further along the Scenic Circuit, the trail passes by U.S. Lock and Dam 2. Here it’s always fun to stop and watch boats of all sizes move through the locks from the viewing platform.
The trail along the backwater is a perfect place to view wildlife and other bird species that frequents the area.
Before leaving the river bottom, another highlight was pedaling along the picturesque causeway before climbing out from the river’s bank. At the top, for those who would like to add a few more miles, Schaar’s Bluff and the new trail out to Dakota County’s Spring Lake Park is an option (See below for more miles to Schaar’s Bluff and Spring Lake Park). To continue along on the 10-mile Scenic Circuit, riders should take a left, crossing Nininger Road, and then follow the city trail south, down Pleasant Drive.
From the Mississippi to the Vermilion River
Now on the western side of Hastings, the Scenic Circuit jogs a little further west along 4th Street, from Pleasant Drive – then heads south on the wide paved shoulder of General Sieben Drive. After crossing Highway 55, those who need a sweet treat will find Culvers on the corner. Continuing south, the route turns east onto River Shore Drive. Then, in about an eighth-mile, watch for the trail to cross the road and head north to Northridge Drive. There you should take a right and continue east on the Circuit Loop.
These cyclists enjoyed a perfect day to ride Hastings ‘Scenic Circuit’.
At Pleasant Drive, take a right; the trail follows the road south to the Vermilion River. On the east side, pick up the trail that flows with the river back into Hastings after crossing the bridge. You will soon discover why this section of the trail is such a popular part of the MRT.
Along the Vermilion River
Biking and rollerblading, the “Scenic Circuit is perfect for all ages and skill levels.
As the Vermilion River flows swiftly to the east, the trail along this scenic stretch of river offers nature lovers a peaceful ride through serenity. From here, cyclists and walkers alike will enjoy the two underpasses, one on County Road 46/47 and the second one at U.S. 61, to stay away from traffic. After passing under Highway 61, the Scenic Circuit is now entering Vermilion Falls Park.
As you cross over the Vermilion River here, you will notice all the padlocks attached to the railing.
Riding into the park, at the first trail intersection, you can park your bike and walk about 100 feet to view Vermilion Falls. Continuing east and taking a left at the trail’s “T,” you are now on the bridge where it’s easy to view the falls overhead as it cascades towards the Mississippi River. You will also notice all the padlocks on the bridge’s railing.
No one knows exactly when, why, or who started this European trend in Hastings. But this romantic ritual has become very popular, with hundreds of locks attached to the fence on the old railroad bridge that is now a part of the Scenic Circuit trail. The practice invites lovers to hang a padlock on the bridge and toss the key into the water below. For now, the city parks department finds the trend touching and plans to leave the public love notes (locks) alone as a wall of art.
Another historic option to check out is Old Mill Park, about an eighth mile ahead. Here is another opportunity to park your bike and walk down to the old mill ruins and maybe hike one of the many trails along the Vermilion River.
The trail crosses the railroad tracks from Mill Park and continues north towards Downtown Hastings. At the next split in the trail, riders should take a right and then follow the MRT signs back to the downtown area for some fun.
Enjoy Historic Downtown after your ride.
Over the last few years, downtown Hastings has been going through what many call a “Riverfront Renaissance.” With events scheduled throughout the spring, summer, and fall, the historic main street atmosphere is the perfect place to end your ride. Stop to shop, dine or stroll along the Mississippi River Trail next to the Scenic Circuit Loo. After our ride, we found several options for cool refreshments and dinner downtown. You can find more options in our At-A-Glance article.
If you didn’t bring your bike along, Hastings has a bike-share program. The Zagster bike station is located under the bridge on 2nd Street, and you will need a credit card to activate the locking system to the cycle you wish to ride,
More miles to Schaar’s Bluff and Spring Lake Park.
Returning to Hastings from Schaar’s Bluff, it’s approximately 6 miles.
The trail loop also connects to several neighborhood parks and the Mississippi River Regional Trail. Known by many as the “hidden jewel” of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, view some spectacular scenery along the way as you pedal along. Riding out to Schaar’s Bluff adds around 12 miles.
This newly completed trail offers cyclists an occasional view of the river, two new bridges that cross deep ravines, and prairie flowers that border limestone bluffs.
Here are some good eating tips when riding along Minnesota’s trails. Maybe it’s to a new area you haven’t had the chance to explore yet. When visiting a new town, or one that you may not have been to in a while, where is the best place to eat, find that afternoon snack or a refreshing beverage?
A meal can add to the experience of the trail.
A tasty meal can add to an outing, but locating a good restaurant in an unfamiliar place can be tricky — especially when hunger has already set in. To find the best tastes in a new town, follow these tips to know whom to ask and where to look. Bon appetit!
1. Plan, tap your network, then look at local news/blog posts
Traveling to a new place can be nerve-racking, but don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from the barista at that coffee shop near your hotel or the locals there. My first move is to check my contacts for locals to hit up for advice or contacts who might be able to introduce me to someone in the area. Often, locals won’t send you to the restaurants on every best-of list but to their beloved haunts.
Add some fun research to your trip planning by reading up on local history that may influence a signature dish or sandwich served along the trail. A treasure trove of posts from local food bloggers or reporters is a quick Google search away to find the hot spots to add to the memorable trip. It’s easy to save all the addresses to a Google Map or print one out and highlight the places worth visiting along the trail. Also, before you go, you can post on Facebook and Twitter to see if anyone in your circle also has must-visit spots to share.
Another option is putting the word out to your social media network that you plan to visit an area and are looking for recommendations to favorite haunts. Put the word out on your Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn page.
Another option is to look at local newspapers and websites, though, increasingly, vigorous local food scene coverage can be hard to find. “Local news is much more helpful in larger cities.
A deli might be the perfect option when a picnic along the trail is in the plan.
2. Ask the locals where to eat
Getting recommendations from the hotel staff or local chamber can be a reputable source. But, some of the best restaurant picks we’ve gotten are people we’ve met along the trail enjoying the many highlights the area offers. The local police can be a wealth of knowledge of good eats, and employees at the local bike shop could have a scoop on what’s good nearby for lunch. And asking people you meet can be a good icebreaker for even more tips and suggestions to discover that gastronomic delight.
3. Avoid eating on the main tourist drag
Restaurants near prominent tourist attractions usually don’t have to be excellent or exciting to get a decent crowd. Most travel experts say, “Usually, neighborhood places are a better bet than the main tourist drags.” Don’t be afraid to walk down a famous restaurant stretch and pop into a place where the menu draws you in. If you are like me, “I am moved by menus that make me hungry.” Follow your hunger, and you (probably) can’t go wrong. Do some research beforehand through Yelp, message boards, and friends who have been there.
When the food is spectacular, you may have to make reservations.
4. Look for lines, and then book reservations
That says a lot if people are willing to wait to dine at a particular eatery. We’re not advocating wasting precious vacation time waiting long times to be seated for every meal, but once you find a spot that looks hot, research to find a better time to come back, or even better, see if they take a reservation.
Enjoy our list of fun places to eat when riding Minnesot’s trails.
5. Our list of good eating places along Minnesota’s trails
At HaveFunBiking.com, with all the new maps in the 2023 Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide, we are constantly scouting for good places to eat. See our evolving list of places for a delightful gastronomic meal as you explore Minnesota’s trails and touring roads.
Visiting a bike skills park (also known as a pump track) in Minnesota is a fun and easy way to improve the technical skills needed to make riding more enjoyable. But how many of us have learned to ride a bike instead of merely staying upright and confidently moving forward without falling?
By engaging in some essential cycling tips at a bike skills park or pump track, you’ll not only have a greater appreciation for your bike. You will also improve your skill level to enhance your riding ability, especially on a mountain bike trail. These parks consist of a circuit course of rollers, banked turns (berms), and other features designed to improve a rider’s skill level. The term “pumping,” by up and down body movements, generates momentum instead of pedaling or pushing. It was initially designed for the mountain bike and BMX scene, and now, due to concrete constructions, it is also used by skateboarders, roller skaters, and other similar activities. Pump tracks are relatively simple and cater to various rider skill levels. Here in Minnesota, you will find many options listed below for bike skills parks.
A pump track at a bike skills park adds to the fun.
Fun bike skills parks and pump tracks to improve your skills
The Little Giants Skills Park is designed for learning by exposing new riders to the varied terrain of mountain biking in an approachable setting. The four distinct trails offer berms, rollers, rock gardens, wooden features, small tabletop jumps, and gentle drops, allowing cyclists to grow their confidence riding various obstacles. Many park features here offer ‘ride-arounds’ that enable riders to mix and match to suit their ability level while providing opportunities to try and test new skills individually.
Cyclists of all ages, beginners, and advanced levels are welcome to conquer Cuyuna’s 2,000-foot-long Lee McCormack (nationally renowned bike pump track designer) designed pump track. The facility includes three tracks (tailored for beginners, intermediate and expert riders.
A perfect park for a first-time riding any “downhill” trail system is to go for a lap or two in their Skills / Jump Park located above the bottom terminal of our Express Chairlift. There are trails with all levels of difficulty in this skills park. Start easy on their pump track to learn how to ride berms and rollers. Then, when you feel ready, practice on some of the park’s berms, jumps, drops, and more. The Skills Park is a great way to get a feel for the downhill trails before moving on to the lift.
Located next to the trailhead parking lot, Lebanon’s skills/terrain park is great for kids. The practice area features varying levels of skinnies, rollers & jumps, berms, and rock sections to practice improving your technical ability. Each segment of the Skills Park and all mountain bike trails are marked using the IMBA Trail Difficulty Ratings System to inform riders of technical difficulties.
The newest addition to the park is a bike skills playground. The bike skills course is available seasonally in a hockey rink and provides a fun rider of all ages and levels. There are nine features to explore, including ramps, beams, and rumble strips.
Tartan Park is located within the town limits and is a skills park that caters to beginners and advanced. With many features crammed into a half-acre footprint, this is a fun place for riders to improve their skill level.
This small skills area in Theodore Wirth Park is slightly more advanced than the other skills parks in the Twin City metro. The park area offers three skill-level loops making this an excellent spot for any rider to develop their skills. This is one of four bike skills systems in Minneapolis. Trail Map
Located at 1615 Pierce St NE, Minneapolis, MN, this skills park is also on an old tennis court. With wood track features low to the ground, this is an excellent place for kids to build confidence. This is one of four bike skills systems in Minneapolis.
This pump track is the first of its kind in Minnesota. The skills area consists of 210 feet of looped track with waves and berms for bicyclists or skateboarders to use their body weight and gravity to propel themselves. The pump track accommodates bicycles of all sizes, skateboards, rollerblades, and scooters.
The bike park playground is located at Carver Lake Park in the open field area just off the main park entrance road. The bike park playground has four designated areas to provide a complete progression of riding and learning, including a tot track, pump track, and an advanced skills loop with technical trail features. The advanced trail loop includes dirt rollers, wooden berms, wooden technical trail features, and rock gardens.
No matter your age, these bike skills parks will help make that next adventure more enjoyable.
Visiting Waconia with your bike, you will find a charming lakeside community with uptown pizzazz. The area around Waconia offers many fun bike-friendly adventures on the trails and roads there. 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, 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 make 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, exploring the area much easier. You can visit one of its several lakes, or immerse yourself in the town’s history. There are 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 devices. As this story and the At-A-Glance Article are mobile-friendly for your convenience, have fun!
by Russ Lowthian
Picture yourself riding the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) through the wilds of Minnesota.
Pedal with family and friends at your own pace on this Bold North adventure.
The first leg of America’s famous 3,000-mile bicycle trail system uses bike-friendly roads and multi-use pathways. You may find some of my observations of interest by leading several MRT bike tours over the years and referencing my book Road Biking Minnesota.
From the Mississippi’s headwaters near Park Rapids to the Iowa border, the complete Minnesota section of the journey is roughly 620 miles. The following route descriptions are spread over nine days to keep the daily mileage comfortable for plenty of time visiting the river towns along the way. Depending on how much time you can spend on any bike vacation, this overview makes it easy to break it apart for multiple bike getaways.
Please visit the embedded links offering short video clips and maps of the Mississippi trail system as you read the following. See the first video clip to get a better feel for what you will see and experience leaving Itasca State Park on the MRT. The information in this video and subsequent videos are made possible by the MN DNR, the MN Historical Society, Explore Minnesota Tourism, and the National Park Service.
MRT – Day 1 from the Mississippi Headwaters to Bemidji
After enjoying a hearty breakfast at the historic Douglas Lodge, in Itasca State Park, it’s time to roll out. First, you will need to pedal a few miles through the towering pines to where the Mississippi River begins. At the Headwaters parking lot, walk your bike down the trail. There, dip your rear wheel in the stream to celebrate the beginning of your journey. You may hear one of Minnesota’s loons calling out. Following the internationally recognized Mississippi River Trail, depart from the park’s north entrance. Now pedaling a scenic county road in a northeasterly direction, this 30-plus mile stretch offers a beautiful rolling terrain. As you pass by patches of pine forests and an occasional old farm setting, smell the air. Soon you are pedaling into the first city on the Mississippi River.
Rolling into Bemidji
Arriving in Bemidji, the MRT enters on a city trail that connects to the Paul Bunyan Trail. As the river’s current flows into Lake Bemidji, consider spending your first evening here. While visiting, discover all this community has to offer.
A-League of American Bicyclists (LAB) Bike-Friendly Community. It’s easy to get around and explore the city by bike.
In the downtown area, metal sculptures, murals, and historic architecture are found on just about every corner. Don’t forget to stop by the visitor’s center to have your picture taken with
Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox. See our Bike Bemidji article for lodging and more things to do when not riding. You will find camping options in Lake Bemidji State Park.
MRT – Day 2 from Bemidji to Grand Rapids
Back in the saddle, the MRT takes the Paul Bunyan Trail north to where the Mississippi River pours out of Lake Bemidji. As the current flows east, enjoy the sites along the Great River Road as it rolls into Chippewa National Forest. This next stretch of the MRT to Grand Rapids is roughly 80 miles. To get a better feel for what’s ahead after leaving Bemidji, watch the 2nd video clip here.
With an abundance of wildflowers along the road, pedal through the enchanted treasures this forested area offers. Along the way, notice a huge population of bald eagles and hawks as the
river meanders from one huge lake body to the next. Soon the river flows into Lake Winnibigoshish (Lake Winnie), and the MRT takes a course around the lake’s south shoreline.
The first Federal Dam on the Mississippi
Passing several resorts, you may want to stop for a selfie by the significant fish monument. Riding up the east shoreline through towering pines, the MRT is soon up to the Federal Dam, where Lake Winnie spills back into the Mighty Mississippi. This dam was created in the late 1800s, making it the most significant river reservoir. Approximately 45 miles from Bemidji,
there is a campground. You will find a restaurant and some lodging options a few miles further east.
The MRT follows the river meanders, now in a southerly direction, passing through a Native American village called Ball Club. Here the river dips and then flows to the east again. Soon the MRT rolls into Schoolcraft State Park, where it meets back up with the Mississippi. This secluded park is the perfect place to take a break. Quiet and peaceful, the park offers a relaxing
environment with a virgin white pine forest over 300 years old. Take a panoramic virtual tour of the area here, and then it’s on to some Wizard of Oz trivia.
Rolling into Grand Rapids
Judy Garland, from The Wizard of Oz, spent time here as a child. Today the community offers visitors many fun options to explore, along with the Judy Garland Museum. Once settled in, visit the Forest History Center and the local art scene. This area is rich in forested beauty and offers many art forms, including many bronze sculptures and historic architectural sites. Grand Rapids is also the western gateway to the Mesabi Iron Trail and Range. Another LAB Bike Friendly Community, it’s easy to get around this river town and explore the city by bike. The mining communities along this Mesabi trail are worth checking out if you have a few extra days. See our Bike Grand Rapids article for lodging and more things to do when not riding.
MRT – Day 3 from Grand Rapids to Aitkin
As the Mississippi River pushes against the western slope of the St. Lawrence Divide, it
flows south, and the MRT hugs the west bank as it rolls out of Grand Rapids. This stretch of
the MRT is approximately a 70-miles ride to Aitkin.
Several yard art figures for a photograph.
Approximately 20 miles south, you will come to a crossroads. Here, by taking a left and crossing the river, you’re in the town of Jacobson. If you turn onto this half-mile side-trip adventure, you will discover many pieces of unusual lawn art and a rest-stop option.
Rolling into Palisade
Back on the route, continue south, and you will soon be in a town named for the high banks on each side of the river, another intriguing place to stop. The community has a restaurant
and a convenience store. Next to the river, the park here is an excellent place for a picnic or an overnight stay in the campground. Back in the saddle, riding out of Palisade, there are two options to reach Aitkin.
You can depart on the Great River Road, now a hard gravel surface, for the next 15 miles,
enjoying a peaceful ride along the river.
Rolling into Aitkin
Here, roll into a community with a riverboat full of history. Once a popular meeting point for Native American Indians and explorers, today, the town makes an excellent overnight choice that offers camping and lodging options. After you settle in, check out the museum converted from the Burlington Rail Depot. Here you can learn about the town’s steamboat history and other interesting facts. For more things to do and lodging options, click here.
MRT – Day 4 from Aitkin to Little Falls
As the Mississippi flows, now in a westerly direction, the MRT roll into Cuyuna Country. As the river passes on the north side of an iron range of the past, the MRT meanders around several abandoned open mine pits, now some of Minnesota’s newest lakes. The MRT rolls towards the Brainerd Lakes Area as the river bends southwest.
Rolling into Brainerd
Just imagine riding in an area called Paul Bunyan’s playground. Legend has it that Paul and his blue ox, Babe (remember that mythical figure you can take a selfie within Bemidji?) were having fun, wrestling around after a long rain spell. Stomping and tromping made many large depressions that eventually filled with water to create the 464 lakes in the area. With the MRT and Paul Bunyan Trail merging back together in Brainerd/Baxter, you will find many fun adventures and good things to eat here. For more, see our Brainerd/Baxter article.
Back in the saddle, the trail and river both head south again. As the Great River Road rolls
along the east bank, passing Crow Wing State Park, agriculture replaces the forested
landscape. Further down the MRT, cross to the west bank and visit Camp Ripley, which
offers a fascinating military museum. Here see hundreds of exhibits showcasing vehicles and field equipment of Minnesota’s military past. It’s still ten miles of pedaling to reach the next river town, “where the river pauses.”
Rolling into Little Falls
For centuries Little Falls has been where native inhabitants, early settlers, and recent visitors have used it as a ‘gathering place.’ Located where the Mississippi River pauses, this
river community is the town of Charles Lindbergh’s childhood. After settling in, check out the historic attractions and museums while experiencing the town’s original murals and frescoes. While here, if interested, you can discover who helped finance the production of the “Wizard of Oz.” See our Bike Little Falls article for lodging and more things to do when not riding.
The river offers several rapids through this stretch as the MRT rolls into St. Cloud. Another LAB Bike Friendly Community, it’s easy to get around this river town and explore the city by bike. While in this river community, check out some attractions, including the Munsinger-Clemens Botanical Gardens. See our Bike St. Cloud article for lodging and more things to do when not riding.
The MRT and river swing back to the southeast on the east side of the river. The route takes you to Clearwater through county roads that parallel several irrigated potato fields. Then, crossing the Mississippi again, cyclists will notice the river is a bit wider here as they pedal to Monticello.
Rolling into Monticello
Here you will find a river town, full of charm, tucked up against the Mississippi River and conveniently located between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities. This vibrant community with many scenic parks is also home to thousands of geese and swans each winter. After settling in, check out the attractions in Monticello. For the lodging option in the area, visit the local chamber here.
MRT – Day 6 from Monticello to St Paul
Leaving Monticello, the MRT crosses the river and meanders through the farm fields of specialty crops to Elk River. To get a better feel for what you will see as you ride into the Twin Cities, watch the 5th video clip here. Stopping in Elk River, cyclists passing through the downtown area will notice the fresco mural on Main Street. You will also find plenty of options for a rest stop here.
In the next twenty-five miles, MRT enthusiasts will enjoy stopping at several Twin Cities Gateway community attractions.
From here, enjoy paved bicycle paths through Minneapolis before reaching the St. Paul suburb of Inver Grove Heights.
MRT Day-7 from St Paul to Frontenac
As the Mississippi River Trail leaves the St Paul area, the route tentatively detours to the south to Hastings. To get a better feel for what’s ahead after leaving St. Paul, watch the 6th video clip here. The paved trail out of South St. Paul will connect to the Mississippi River Regional Trail, allowing cyclists a direct route to our next river town.
This new trail near Schaar’s Bluff is completed on the far end and will take cyclists into downtown Hastings’s historic district. You can find more about Hastings in our At-A-Glance article and a place to stop for cool refreshments or a meal.
Rolling into Hastings
Leaving Hastings, the MRT follows the Mississippi, winding along the backwaters of the river and past the Prairie Island Indian Community. About ten miles further, the route enters Red Wing, the next river community on the Minnesota section of the Mississippi River Trail.
Rolling into Red Wing
As the MRT runs alongside the river bank on the Great River Road, you will find the atmosphere in Red Wing both unique and charming. From the beautiful bluffs, historic sites, and world-famous boots and pottery, this river town also offers several dining opportunities for a stop here. If you decide to spend the night, see Visit Red Wing for more options.
Back on the Mississippi River Trail, it’s approximately another 10 miles to Frontenac State Park for the night. The city is on the National Register of Historic Places and contains many homes dating back to the Civil War era. Here you will find the Whistle Stop Café and a convenience store if you choose to camp in the state park for the evening.
MRT Day-8 from Frontenac to Winona
Back on the MRT, the route uses the wide paved shoulder of the Great River Road to Minnesota City. With a wide shoulder and rumble strip dividing you from the traffic, the Mississippi River is in sight, to your left most of the time. When you notice the river widening, the Mississippi flows into Lake Pepin, and you are close to the ‘Birthplace of Water Skiing.’
Rolling into the Lake City
Here discover the quaint shops and restaurants next to the harbor in the downtown area of Lake City. This river town is also a popular place for touring cyclists. In addition to the Annual Tour de Pepin bike tour, the site offers several other mapped rides. See the Lake Pepin Area Bike Map and checkout. Visit Lake City for more options.
As the river flows out of Lake Pepin, the next river community on the MRT is a town known for eagles and ‘Gumpy Old Men.’
Rolling into Wabasha
The oldest city on the entire upper Mississippi River, this community has been thriving since 1826. As touring cyclists roll into town, they will find 50 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places if time permits, enjoy their historic walking tour, and discover the stories that have made this town so unique. With Bald Eagles in abundance along the river, this is also home to the National Eagle Center, located downtown. Also, with the famous movie “Grumpy Old Men” its sequel shot here, dine at Slippery’s Bar & Grill for a nostalgic look at this river town. You can find more options at Visit Wabasha.
Rolling into Winona
Taking the MRT out on the back road through the village of Kellogg, it’s about 30 miles of pedaling to Winona along the bluffs. Arriving in this pristine river town, enjoy several views of the city nestled into a valley bordered by bluffs along the Mighty Mississippi. Here in Winona, there is plenty to discover, with so many attractions and museums. Be sure to visit the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. You will also notice many of the downtown buildings are on the National Register of Historical Places and self-guided history tours are an option. Being a LAB Bike Friendly Community, it’s easy to get around this river town and explore the city by bike. See our At-A-Glance Winona article for more tour, dinner, and overnight options.
A stop a the Pickwick Mill, 2-miles off the MRT
MRT Day-9 from Winona to the Iowa Boarder
Leaving Winona, the Mississippi River Trail creatively takes you up into the bluffs, past the historic Pickwick Mill, and then onto the Apple Blossom Drive Scenic Byway. A cyclist in the area enjoys a remarkable view of the Mississippi River Valley at the top of the byway. Then it’s a cruise down the Byway into La Crescent.
From La Crescent, the last leg of Minnesota’s section of the Mississippi River Trail is approximately 24 miles to Albin, IA.
Enjoy the fun of riding all or parts of the MRT for that unforgettable adventure.