Join the fun as the nine Root River Trail Towns in Southeast Minnesota host the 2nd Annual Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour over the weekend of July 7-9, 2017. A repeat from the 2016 inaugural tour, this year’s three-day weekend ride offers a whole new set of routes and scenery. Starting in the Norwegian community of Peterson, participants will pedal on some of the most scenic back county roads and trails, rolling through the picturesque Bluff Country.
The Root River Bike Ride Starts in Peterson
On this year’s tour the ride leaves from Peterson, Friday morning to explore the many scenic roads that take you along the bluffs. Many of these roads parallel and overlook the Root River Valley and its popular trail system.
In Fremont, this historic store location was built in 1856 and is still in operation by owner Martha Johnson. Leaving the store, the tour starts a meandering downhill run to Rushford for a taste of some Scandinavian delights.
Now heading east for lunch, riders will discover Vinegar Hill Pass on the way down to Money Creek. Then heading south, passing an elk farm, it’s a slight downhill cruise to Houston. The far east trail head of the Root River system, visit the National Owl Center and bike sculptures at the Houston Nature Center at the Root River Trail head.
After lunch the tour heads back west towards Rushford for an overnight visit and a chance to experience the town’s milling culture before a fun-filled evening.
Friday Night, the Tour Enjoys Rushford
After settling in ride participants will have a chance to visit the historic Rushford Depot & Village Museum. Then wander downtown to sample some locally produced lefse and other delicious treats.
As evening approaches, riders will find several restaurants to replenish their energy for Saturday’s adventure. Then enjoy some of the local entertainment or check out the historic walking tour of the architecture of this once vibrant milling community.
On Saturday, after a hearty Bluff Country breakfast the tour pedals through the rolling Amish countryside finally cruising the “Buggy Lane” on Minnesota’s Amish Byway. Along this section of the route you will see draft horses still used to work the fields while many farmsteads along the way offer fresh baked goods, honey, and crafts. *Please note, if you stop and purchase any of the Amish item offered, our sweep support staff will stop and haul them for you.
For lunch today the tour visits Harmony, on the south end of the Root River Trail System. Here learn more about Amish culture while watching this busy farm community in action. While checking out the town you will find several statues throughout the community to take a selfie with. Departing, the afternoon route circles to the northwest passing a couple ghost towns before rolling into Preston.
An Evening of Fun and Games In Preston
Saturday night’s dinner and overnight stay will be in Preston. Located along the southern branch of the Root River it is also known as Minnesota’s Trout Capitol and home to the National Trout Center. In the evening enjoy the music and some fun games that are planned. If you’re interested in a self-guided walking tour, Preston has a very interesting itinerary and map.
On Sunday, the tour heads north and rides the Root River Trail to Fountain, the “Sinkhole Capitol of the World.” In Fountain the tour stops at the Fillmore County History Center Museum and Genealogy Library. Here you will get a sampling of the area’s past. With several buildings full of captivating historical exhibits, you’ll want to plan another trip here to take it all in. This is also a great place to learn more about the area’s ghost towns that you past through on Saturday. Plus, learn more on the facts of these sink holes that supply clean water to the areas springs and eventually flow into the Root River, its amazing!
Take in the Charm of Lanesboro, then on to Whalan for Pie
On the road again, the tour circles out through Bucksnort Pass before coasting down into Lanesboro. Surrounded by bluffs, this Bed & Breakfast community here is rich in the arts and has some fabulous local diners and restaurants for lunch. Also, be sure to save room for pie. After visiting some of the shops in Lanesboro, the tour heads west to Whalan.
Nationally known for their “Stand Still Parade,” the first thing you’ll notice in Whalan is its miniature golf course and a beautiful park area in the center of this small Irish community. You will also find Whalan’s famous Aroma Pie Shoppe, which offers some sinfully delicious desserts to select from. Before leaving town take a quick spin around the neighborhood to see Ernie’s 1917 filling station.
Now back on the Root River Trail, it’s roughly nine miles back to Peterson to check out the fun possibilities visiting this Norwegian community before loading up and heading home. If you missed out on the pie earlier, or you want to do a taste test and compare, check out Burdey’s Cafe. Another well-known stop for their desserts and Sunday dinners on the Root River Trail.
More About the Bluff & Valley Bike Tour
Camping and other lodging options are available on this supported ride hosted by the Root River Trail Towns and run by Have Fun Tours. Get more information and registration here to guarantee your spot on the Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour.
The following miles each day are an estimate at this time as all routes are being reviewed by both county and state departments for any upcoming road construction that may change the route and mileage. Currently we are looking at:
- 58 miles for Day 1 [48 miles using RR Trail short cut]
- 62 miles for Day 2 [48 miles using RR Trail short cut]
- 56 miles for Day 3 [40 miles using RR Trail short cut]
Peterson, the start of the ride, is located about 2-hours south of the Twin Cities and about 45-minute west of LaCrosse Wi. [Google Maps Location]
The ride benefits the Friends of the Root River Trail. And all the the Trail Towns and HaveFunBiking.com look forward to you riding the tour. For a printed version of the Root River Bluff & Valley Bike Tour Package , click here.