by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com
The newly expanded trailhead of Lebanon Hills acts as a gateway to some of the most enjoyable trails in the Twin Cities Area. With nearly 12 miles of one way singletrack trails, Lebanon Hills has become one of the go-to trails in Minnesota. The trails feature riding for all skill levels combined with world-class facilities to enhance your riding experience. All the bike trails are built and maintained by the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC).
Where Lebanon Hills is
The Lebanon Hills Mountain Bike trails (Leb to the locals) are located in Eagan Minnesota off Johnny Cake Ridge Road. The newly expanded trailhead boasts ample parking, clean bathrooms, public grills and picnic areas as well as a skills course appropriate for all ability levels. Leb is a part of the larger Lebanon Hills Regional Park system that includes two swimming lakes, nearly a dozen hiking areas, three camping areas and close proximity to the Minnesota Zoo.
What to expect in Lebanon Hills
The first thing you will notice about riding in Leb is the amazing condition of the trails. Thank the Minnesota Off Road Cyclist organization (MORC) for the smooth berms, clear trails and exciting features. Ride into the first trail and enjoy the sweet smell of pine trees while you wind through a healthy forest. First, you are given the choice of staying on the beginner trails or hanging a hard right onto the intermediate loop. Staying on the beginner trails will lead you to five 8’ tall berms that are a total blast to ride. From those berms you can branch off into another intermediate loop or head into a skills section that including a berm, roller, and jump line.
If you choose that first right onto the intermediate loop, you are rewarded with twisty sections, a rock drop, and high speed downhill sections. That intermediate section brings you out to the far end of the park. Once out there, you can enter into the truly advance loops built on rock gardens, step climbs and steep descents. The trails on the far side of the park meet at one point, perfect for a quick break between loops.
Best part of the trails
Leb gives its riders amazing trails as well as awesome views. The best part of Leb is how well it integrates into nature. Even though the trails of Leb are well trafficked, Places like the “lake loop” give the impression of sanctuary for hundreds of riders a weekend. Because all the trails are directional, there is a great feeling of isolation even though other riders may be just a few hundred feet away. Overall, Lebanon hills is a great way to enjoy the beauties of nature in the Twin Cities area.
How to help
If you ride and enjoy the trails at Leb, consider volunteering for trail maintenance. The Minnesota Off Road Cycling organization (MORC) schedule trail work sessions on Tuesdays through the summer. The group meets in the parking lot at 6 O’clock and welcomes anyone interested in helping. Wear long pants, boots, and work gloves because you will be doing hard labor. You will find that the hard labor is enjoyable because you are giving back to fellow riders.
Best seasons to ride
If you love the trails at Leb during the summer, rejoice, they are open through the winter as well. Not only are the trails open when the snow falls, but well traveled. Because of that traffic, the trails stay clear and ride-able right up until the spring thaw. With that said, once the thaw begins, the trails are usually closed for about six weeks while things dry out. A quick check on MORC’s trail conditions website will let you know when the trails are open.