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This bike pic Tuesday, a fun experience is biking along Ol’ Man River, on the Mississippi River Trail (MRT), through Minneapolis Northwest (Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park. This segment of the trail, a part of a National Park, offers the perfect round-the-river bike loops with a 13 and 26-mile option, using the Coon Rapids Dam as a crossing. A great choice for nature lovers and families alike, showcasing some of the best the river offers.
So, get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends, and check out more stories at Let’s Do MN.
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Now rolling through our 19th year as a bike tourism media, enjoy! As we pedal forward, we aim to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places you can ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.
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As we continue encouraging more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure. Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile-friendly, as we enter our 14th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.
Bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. With one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun, we may be around the corner. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.
Have a great day with a safe and memorable summer!
As fall approaches and many of the migratory birds are starting to gather for their departure south on the flyway we wanted to share a few bike/birding hotspots we found in the north Twin Cities Metro Area. While ground-truthing a few bike maps in the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide we noticed some migratory wildlife haunts perfect for viewing the fall migration that you may want to check out along the paved bike trails.
As migratory birds start to gather for their departure south on the flyway this fall.
An area once inhabited by Dakota and Ojibwe tribes, today the nine communities in the Gateway offer excellent viewing opportunities in the parks along its lakes and the Mississippi River. These parks provide nature enthusiasts with several places to enjoy bird watching. Why here? From these areas alone you are able to spot an impressive list of waterfowl, along with hawks and songbirds that are still around. Starting with many spots along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT), the Rice Creek Trail and the Blaine Wetland Sanctuary (BWS) check all the Important Birding Areas (IBA) out:
Bike/birding hotspots along the Mississippi River
The Mississippi River, north of Minneapolis, is an important IBA waterfowl area that is adjacent to floodplains areas easily accessible to the MRT bike trails passing through Anoka, Coon Rapids and Fridley. This IBA area also connects to the Rice Creek corridor and its adjacent floodplain on public lands. With the bike trail following the stream, it flows out of the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes, near Lino Lakes, towards the Mississippi where you will find many birding opportunities. According to the National Audubon Society website this IBA lies within an area that has a very high population density and an area that is one of the fastest-growing areas in the Twin Cities area.
A viewing spot on the Mississippi River Trail near the Coon Rapids Dam.
The Mississippi Flyway is not only a tremendously important flyway for waterfowl, but it also attracts raptors and other migratory birds. Warblers can be seen in abundance along the river because of its rich source of insects during both the spring and fall migrations.
Bike/birding hotspots along the Rice Creek Trail
A group of birders set up viewing along the Rice Creek Trail.
The Rice Creek IBA is another Important Birding Area and consists of two parts: The Ramsey County Open Space, also known as Arden Hills Army Training Site (AHATS) and Rice Creek North. This stretch, you will find sizeable populations of birds and other animals in a supported variety of marsh, grassland, and wooded habitats. See the National Audubon Society website on this northeast section of the Rice Creek flowage.
The Blaine Wetland Sanctuary
Back in the center of the Twin Cities Gateway, the Blaine Wetland Sanctuary (BWS) offers over 500 acres of wetland and upland habitat for viewing. A boardwalk through the sanctuary, extended from a parking area connects the existing paved trail to East Lake Park. Walk or ride your bike, with viewing equipment, along with the boardwalk and trail.
For more information on these birding hotspots and others, contact Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Department at (651) 748-2500 or see www.co.ramsey.mn.us/parks for more information.
Nearby places to stay and connect to the trails while birding, see these Twin Cities Gateway lodging properties. For maps showing bike trail access from your selected hotel, check here.
An experience you are sure to want share is biking along Ol’ Man River. Ol’ Man River is a National Park treasure you will discover while visiting the Twin Cities Gateway. If you are new to the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) system, this segment of the trail offers the perfect round-the-river bike loop with a 13 and 26-mile option. This is a great choice for nature lovers and families alike showcasing some of the best the river has to offer.
MRT Loop a part of the Mississippi River Recreation Area
In the middle of a bustling Minnesota urban setting is the scenic MRT. MRT is a part of the 72-mile Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service (NSP). The trail starts in the historic downtown area of Anoka (a Gateway City at the point where the Rum and Mississippi Rivers meet). Here, cyclists can consider a number of unique eating establishments, before or after their ride.
Touring this MRT Loop offers a chance to pedal through several parks, a national wildlife refuge, and along city streets. These streets are filled with stunning homes with beautiful landscapes. Beginning in historic downtown Anoka, the suggested route takes the East MRT Trail along the quiet city streets there. You will pass through the historic Christian Hill and McCauley’s Pond neighborhoods. Soon riders are cruising along a trail that parallels the local boulevard in the Gateway City of Coon Rapids. Then, along Mississippi Boulevard, a low traffic street that takes you to the Coon Rapids Dam, your first river crossing option.
Bike riding the Mississippi River Trail, in Twin Cities Gateway community of Coon Rapid, MN.
Coon Rapids Dam makes the perfect place for a picnic
Here, seven miles into the ride, you will find the perfect place to bring a picnic lunch or cross over the river, for the 14-mile loop. The dam, built in the early 1900’s, today offers some of the best bird watching in the Twin Cities Metro Area. The 446-acre park boasts an extensive trail system. This is great for bicyclists, roller-bladders, and hikers alike.
For those riding the 26-mile loop, continue along the MRT‘s East bank trail. You will be riding from one river community neighborhood to the next. Soon you are in the Gateway City of Fridley. This is the halfway point of your ride where you will head North after crossing the I-694/Mississippi River Bridge crossing. Now, on the West bank, the MRT takes you back up to the Coon Rapids Dam. Then, the trail continues up to Champlin, where the Loop crosses Hwy 169/Bridge into Anoka.
For more information on the MRT and the Twin Cities Gateway, click here.