Tag Archives: Blue Heron Days

The Lino Lakes 10-mile bike loop is a true Minnesota experience

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

Here it can feel like you are smack dab in the middle of northern Minnesota, especially while enjoying bike loops along the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes. A perfect place for your next bike vacation the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop and the many trail connections here are worth considering. One of nine Twin Cities Gateway communities, the Lino Lakes area supports a large Blue Heron rookery and hosts the annual Blue Heron Days Festival held in the middle of August. Regardless of when you visit, you are sure to see several species of wildlife to enhance your Minnesota experience while pedaling while biking here.

A true north experience!

The Lino Lakes bike loop is a true north experience

For the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop, the route travels clockwise and begins at the parking lot of the Hampton Inn. After pulling out from the hotel you will find a bike trail running parallel on the east side of Lake Drive. From there It’s a short distance before you are riding in the stunning Rice Creek Park Preserves. One of the largest preserves in the Twin Cities Area the Rice Creek Chain offers both paved and water trails. On the bike route, you are sure to see some of the most significant native wildlife habitat and water resources in the metro area.

The Lino Lakes Area is a family fun location.

Entering the trail system next to the Lino Lakes YMCA the trail circles the shoreline around Marshan Lake, before crossing over the Rice Creek, as it flows out of George Watch Lake. At the next trail T, the route takes a sharp left and runs parallel to the golf course road. After a sharp right curve and before the clubhouse a service road helps trail riders get over to the north shoreline of Reshanan Lake.

From a cottage community to the park it is an enjoyable ride

Passing the Reshanan Lake cottage community, soon Shadow Lake Drive disappears and trail riders are meandering past marshy areas with occasional patches of a forest while making their way to Centerville Lake. Now on E Street, at the boat landing, it’s a short distance along the service road here up to the beach area where you will find restrooms and a visitor center. Leaving the park take the trial to the entrance on Main Street. The Lino Lakes 10-bike loop heads north, but there is an option if you don’t mind adding a couple more miles. Consider taking the trails south along Main Street and visiting the charming little community of Centerville.

A few more options as the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop heads north

Wildlife viewing along the roads and trails here offers many opportunities.

Pedaling north on the trail parallel to Main Street you will cross Rice Creek again as it flows from Peltier Lake across the road to George Watch Lake. Here from the road look up to the northeast end of Lake Peltier and you can make out the Blue Heron Rookery. Soon you are passing the entrance to Wargo Nature Center. A place devoted to increasing the awareness and appreciation of natural and cultural resources. The center is located on a peninsula surrounded by George Watch Lake and offers activities, labs and equipment rental. For another outing, check out the available rental canoes and kayaks to experience the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes water trail.

Back in Lino Lakes for a cool beverage and fun

After a ride, many enjoy stopping in Lino Lakes for a cool beverage.

After crossing over 35W, on the wide shoulder, you are rolling back into Lino Lakes. As you turn onto Lake Drive consider stopping in at the Hammerhead Brewery before returning to the Hampton Inn. Back at the parking lot, check out the nearby eating establishments and plan another fun adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Lino Lakes click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Lino Lakes click here

With the second Largest rookery in the state, bike over to Lino Lakes Blue Heron Days. The event starts on August 17th and will keep you and your family entertained for the whole weekend!

Ride your bike to and from Blue Heron Days for a good time

Emily Stocker, HaveFunBiking.

When you’re in Lino Lakes it can feel like you’re smack dab in the middle of northern Minnesota, especially when you bike to Blue Heron Days. One of eight Twin Cities Gateway communities, Lino Lakes has the second largest Blue Heron rookery in the state. While visiting you can pedal along many wide open roads and trails that take you by lakes and scenery that can meet you with the horizon. A place where roads, with no shoulder, offer trails or sidewalks that parallel the street to connect you to the vast Twin Cities Gateway trail system. Along the way enjoy the many options including the Blue Heron Celebration, August 17-19, when visiting Lino Lakes.

Bike to Blue Heron Days

Start the weekend with a free yoga session, perfect for yogis or newbies alike. After a relaxing workout, head over to Sunrise Park and catch some softball. There, the American Legion and Lino Lakes Police Department tournament will be taking place and is sure to be a great game. Afterwards, take the kids over to Lino Park with some blankets to watch Disney’s Inside Out. Finish the Friday by dancing the night away at the street dance featuring the band, A Girl’s Journey.

Saturday’s Event

The Lino Lakes Blue Heron Days Festival parade has many floats and marching bands.

The Lino Lakes Blue Heron Days Festival parade has many floats and marching bands.

Saturday, August 20th is packed full of events, making it one day you don’t want to miss. Bright and early, at 8 a.m., the day begins with Police Officer Shawn Silvera Memorial Run. Bring the kids to the YMCA at 9 a.m. for a Kids’ Fun Run and then head over to the parade at 11a.m. to enjoy music and floats. After catching and eating all that candy at the parade, jump off all of the sugar on the inflatables in Lino Park. Sit for a caricature drawing or a henna tattoo from 1 to 4 p.m. nearby. Also, take in the Business Expo, the Art Fair from noon to 4 p.m., a petting zoo, kiddie carnival, and live music by Authorities, all in Lino Park.  Saturday afternoon will keep you busy. Afterwards, another street dance closes the night with the band 8 Foot 4 jamming out for your entertainment.

Sunday’s Event

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. take a tour of Waldoch Farm’s Garden. Come on an empty stomach because they will also have a corn feed. Close out the weekend by supporting the royalty program. At 4:30 p.m. in Centennial Middle School, watch the crowning of the new Lino Lakes Ambassadors.

Get ready for a great weekend and bike over to Blue Heron Festival that runs from August 17th to the 19th.

More info for planning a trip to the Twin Cities Gateway

For bike friendly maps of the to get around the Lino Lakes and the rest of the Twin Cities Gateway click here. For lodging opportunities when visiting click here.

Biking Around Lino Lakes Is A Short Trip North For Fun

by Andrew Ellis

When you’re in Lino Lakes it can feel like you’re smack dab in the middle of northern Minnesota. You’re pedaling down wide open roads that take you by lakes, farmland and scenery that can meet you with the horizon. Where roads with no shoulder offer trails or sidewalks that parallel the street to connect you to the vast Twin Cities Gateway trail system for your #nextbikeadventure. Enjoy the many options, including the Blue Heron Celebration in August, when visiting Lino Lakes:

Riding around Lino Lakes which has the second largest Blue Heron rookery in the state.

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve

Easy to get to by bike from your hotel, an entire day here won’t be enough. The Park Reserve here offers seven lakes to make for an outdoor enthusiast feel like they are in heaven. Riding or hiking the trails around these lakes, amongst the prairies landscapes offers plenty of opportunities to get you in touch with natural. When not riding, you can also rent a canoe or kayak to paddle through the chain of lakes.

Wargo Nature Center

On your venture in Lino Lakes your first stop could be the Wargo Nature Center, which has plenty of programs for kids throughout the summer. After you ride down the scenic driveway, park your bike at the fish-shaped bike rack, next to the parking lot. Inside the visitors center take a look at the mapped hiking and biking routes. You can also rent a canoe here or view all the local critters that have been preserved and on display on the walls and shelves.

Another birding hotspot is in some of the open meadows that paved bike paths pass through the par

Another birding hotspot is in some of the open meadows that paved bike paths pass through the park.

Walk outside and you’ll see three entry ways to connecting trails that are mostly natural surface. The trails are very well maintained and wide enough to walk two abreast and pass others walking by. As you hike along you will be surrounded by the sounds and sights of nature. Along the trails you will see many kinds of trees and plants with plenty of birds chirping. You may even be lucky enough to see a little red fox ahead of you crossing the walkway.

There are also plenty of hand-drawn signs throughout the area that tell you more about the area and Minnesota’s natural history dating back to before the Ice Age. You can even step up and look out into wetlands at a couple dock stations along the shoreline. If you want to explore the wetlands more, you can check out a canoe or kayak back at the visitors center.

Blue Heron Rookery

Egrets and blue heron are also a common to see as you paddle along.

Egrets and blue heron are also a common to see as you paddle along.

A highlight to visiting this area of the Twin Cities Gateway is the Blue Heron Rookery. It’s the second largest heron rookery in the state, however it isn’t the exactly easiest to get to or see. You can catch glimpses of the island if you drive by some of the lake houses on the other side of the lake, or you use a canoe or kayak to get close to it. There is a no wake zone by the island, but you should be able to get a nice view of the island using field glasses or a zoom lens on your camera. For more information on the Peltier Island heron colony, visit the Facebook page.

Relax on the Beach, Swim, Bike, and More

You can also visit the main beach on Centerville Lake and go for a swim or just relax and let those rays give you a nice tan. There is also a little playground for kids, a beach volleyball area, and picnic tables here. You will also find plenty of paved trails leading in and out of here to help you get around the area, and one of them even leads to Chonomax Golf Course. The different lakes also have various public access points for fishing and boat launches.

HammerHeart Brewery

Stopping at the HammerHeart Brewery in Lino Lakes is always refreshing after a ride.

Whether you’re looking for a mid-day break or want to relax after a long day of exploring, there is nothing better than an ice cold beer at the Brewery here. Even better, the brews here are locally crafted and inspired by Norse and Celtic history, love, old world traditions. If you’re lucky enough to stop by on a Saturday there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get food from one of the various food truck they bring in to compliment their selection of brews.

Lino Lakes’ Blue Heron Days

Remember the Blue Heron Rockery? Well, by the middle of August the nests are all empty out on the island. However, the city of Lino Lakes who adopted the blue heron for their city logo many years ago has an annual event to celebrate the bird and its habitat. Perfect for the whole family the annual celebration features a parade, carnival, movie night, petting zoo, and more. This years event is scheduled for August 18, 19 & 20. For more information visit the city’s website about Blue Heron Days.

The celebration and parade in Lino Lakes is fun for the whole family.

The celebration and parade in Lino Lakes is fun for the whole family.

A part of Minnesota’s Twin Cities Gateway Community, Lino Lakes is located on the north side of Minneapolis and its easy to find your next bike adventure here.

Pedal, then Paddle Gateway's Rice Creek Chain of Lakes with canoe and kayak rentals at the Wargo Nature Center.

Pedal then Paddle Gateways Rice Creek Chain of Lakes

For a wildlife-rich experience not soon to be forgotten, pedal, then paddle, the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes up in the Twin Cities Gateway Area. With an abundance of bike trails and roads to get there, you will find several options at Wargo Nature Center once arriving. Head out with a paddle, hike, or bike the trails that meander around the chain of lakes shoreline in this mammoth park reserve in the Twin City Area.

Paddling the Twin Cities Gateway's Rice Creek Chain of Lakes is a wildlife-rich experience to remember.

Paddling the Twin Cities Gateway’s Rice Creek Chain of Lakes is a wildlife-rich experience to remember.

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes is located near the community of Lino Lakes, on the southside of Interstate 35W. Once there, Nature Center can fix you up with canoe and kayak rentals to paddle Rice Creek Chain of Lakes.  It is a bit of heaven in the north metro area. Being able to paddle out from the Nature Center on George Watch Lake is a tranquil experience.

What You Will See Paddling the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes

Through the summer and into the fall, you can paddle out from the dock at the Nature Center and connect to one lake after the next. Along the way you are sure to see occasional Leopard frogs hopping off a Lilly pad. Then, perhaps you’ll ever see a Blue Heron and Snowy White Egrets lift off as you pass by.

Hawks are common spectators to the activities as you paddle along the water trail or pedal along the bike trail in the Rice Creek Reserve.

Hawks are common spectator watching as you paddle along the water trail or along the bike trail in the Reserve.

The creek and lakes on this water trail offer excellent bird watching opportunities. And this is the perfect place for the novice paddler. Adventurers will see plenty of raptors such as egrets and herons that perch in nearby trees or forage along the shoreline. Along the way, you may see a sandpiper scampered across a sandbar.

Egrets and blue heron are also a common to see as you paddle along.

Egrets and Blue Heron are common to see as you paddle.

Maybe you’ll see a  soft-shell turtle sliding off the bank. Or maybe an eagle, osprey, or Turkey Vulture swooping down to grab its meal as a fish jumps. It’s scenic and wild at its best, right here in the Twin Cities Gateway!


About the Rice Creek Chain

The nearly 5,300-acre Rice Creek Chain is one of two regional parks in the Twin Cities Area that offer multiple-lake paddling. According to many who paddle this north metro chain, the mix of lake and forest vegetation makes it feel like a mini-Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The other reserve in the south metro is Lebanon Hills Park. Lebanon Hills Park is a 2,000-acre multi-lake area with only portage paths between them.

Generally on the Rice Creek Chain portaging is not necessary. The only exception is the occasional downed tree to circumvent, which normally happens in the spring. This rustic North Metro reserve has a water trail wandering through several lakes before it reaches Rice Creek. Rice Creek is a more challenging, less-traveled stretch that flows south to Long Lake. From there, it heads to the Mississippi River.

Paddlers who want a longer trip can follow Rice Creek out the northwest corner of Long Lake, in New Brighton. Here, the creek flows to the Mississippi River at Manomin Park in Fridley. The complete paddle from the Lake Peltier boat ramp in the Rice Creek Reserve to the Mississippi River is about 22 miles.

Rice Creek Reserve Rents

For canoe, kayak, and life jacket rentals, Wargo Nature Center is the place. Located on George Watch Lake, rentals can be used on: Peltier, Marshan, Rice, and Reshanau Lakes. Paddle craft rentals are available May through September, during normal hours. Here is their website for rental prices and times: https://www.anokacounty.us/874/Recreational-Rental-Equipment.  Call 651-429-8007 to check watercraft availability, lake temperatures, and water levels.

For those who want to use their own canoes or kayaks in the reserve, paddling access points include Rice Creek crossings near: Hodgson Road, Lexington Avenue, County Road I, and County Road J.

In the winter the Wargo Nature Center rents snowshoes for those who want to explore the park in a colder season.