By Andrew Ellis
Towards the southern edge of Bloomington, you will find the Minnesota River Bottoms Trail System, which is fun to ride throughout the year. For my most recent visit, I used the trailhead near the Bloomington Ferry Bridge. Here, you’ll see a rocky slope that travels down into the woods. A start of a great adventure. It’s known as the Minnesota River Bottoms Trail. The single-track trails here are perfect for a mountain bike, but you are safe on a Hybrid-trail/path bike, also. But you will have to watch where you’re riding.
The Bloomington River Bottoms Trail
The ride itself is fun and challenging. The trail is made out of heavy soil with a mix the dried river debris. For the most part, when dry it may be smooth riding. However, Mother Nature’s unpredictability can change the conditions of the trail fast. Pedaling along, you may come across places that are soft and muddy from recent rainfall. Because the trails here are so popular, you will see other tire tracks that have gone through and made the puddles deeper and muddier in the aftermath. Usually, you can ride through or ride around it. If you ride through, you may feel your tires slip, but as long as you keep going, you should be fine. Riding around the puddle will take a little more concentration. You may either be able to find a dry area around its perimeter where your tires can fit or an area that hasn’t been touched.
For most of the ride, you’ll be along the river with a few trails leading you away. You’ll come upon many obstacles as well, such as logs set up for you to ride over if you wish and different turns that will keep you alert. Small trails will split off the main path and take you to other scenic areas but eventually connect back to the main trail. While the trail is mostly flat, the sandy conditions can make it hard to pedal. Also, the trail often changes shape after the river floods, which makes for unique rides!
You’ll find a few opportunities to cross the tributary streams that feed the river. One is a wood bridge partly on a fallen tree branch. You can try riding across and risk falling in, or you can carry your bike across. There’s also a floating dock that allows room for you and your bike. You’ll use the rope to pull yourself across the river to continue your ride.
Why the trail is fun!
It takes a little more concentration than paved trails, but the uncertainty of what you’ll encounter is all part of the fun. You can have fun with twists, turns, climbs, and descends on the unpaved trail. You’ll even have plenty of views to stop and look at. But this track is different. While it is maintained, the trail gives you the feeling of being unprotected. It’s just you and the elements. Plenty of debris on the trail and more than a few low branches that you’ll either have to dodge or be okay with them hitting you in the face.
Find out more about Bloomington’s biking opportunities here.
Or, when you need a break from the outdoors and biking the river bottoms, there are plenty of fun options to keep your visit exciting in Bloomington. Check out more here.