Tag Archives: Heartland Trail

In Minnesota's lake country, the Heartland Trail Area never lacks when it comes to outdoor recreational activities. Discover many fond memories pedaling the trails and attending festival scheduled throughout the summer here. 

Enjoy Minnesota’s forest and lake features on the Heartland Trail

by Hayley Spalding

In the heart of Minnesota’s lake country is the Heartland Trail that never lacks when it comes to fun outdoor recreational activities. Throughout the seasons, spending time visiting family and friends in the Park Rapids area I have had many fond memories. In the spring, you will find a color dash of trail riding as our feathered friends return. Then as the weather warms making it comfortable the wear shorts, pedal to many outdoor festival scheduled throughout the summer. In the fall you will find many gravel road riding opportunities. Before the season turns once again to winter’s prime  activities, including cross country skiing and fat biking. It’s always fun here in the Heartland.

Riding the Heartland Trail out of Park Rapids

Riding the Heartland Trail out of Park Rapids in the fall is a picturesque experience

Exploring Park Rapids

Each year people spend time on the beach, pedal the Heartland Trail or discover Itasca State Park. If shopping is your thing  a stroll downtown on their quaint Main Street is another option. It’s fun to window shop through the old fashioned stores fronts, where parking is never an issue. Cars are allowed to park in the middle of the street and getting downtown by bike is easy. What I find most appealing, is the community itself. It has small town charm and little quirks that makes it appealing to people of all ages, whether they are into riding a bike or not.

Where to Bike

The Park Rapids area, offers fun opportunities for both the recreation trail rider and the touring cyclist, with:

The Heartland State Trail

This 49 mile paved trail system starts in Park Rapids on the west side. Then connects with the Paul Bunyan Trail as it passes through Walker, before ending in Cass Lake. A multi-recreational trail system the Heartland Trail is open for biking, hiking and other trail uses. Parts of the trail also has a parallel grass track alongside for runners. Heartland trail, meandering past shaded pathways that pass alongside several lakes, offers cyclists plenty to see.

Shorter rides on the Heartland

A mileage marker on the Heartland Trail

A mileage marker on the Heartland Trail

The Heartland trail is used by a variety of people from serious cyclists to leisurely riders and everyone in between. For those who prefer a shorter distance rather than the full 49 miles. consider biking to Dorset, the “Restaurant Capital of the World. Its about five miles out-and-back from Park Rapids. Riding from Park Rapids to Nevis and back is around 15 miles. This will allow you a chance to see the World’s Largest Tiger Muskie. No matter how far you bike on this State Trail, you will find a welcoming community and a Loon calling out to greet you.

Stopping in Nevis for a selfie

Stopping in Nevis for a selfie

Bike Itasca State Park

About ten miles up the highway from Park Rapids is another place for trail riding. This State Park, known for the Headwaters of the Mississippi River and Historic Douglas Lodge offers 16 miles of paved bike trails. The rolling trails in the park winds through virgin pine forests that meander around a couple lakes, fun for the whole family. For a full bicycle tour of the park the Wilderness Drive, shared with motorists, adds an additional 10 miles to your ride. For those into road riding, at the Headwaters parking lot, the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) begins its journey to New Orleans.

At the Headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park

Start your journey at the Headwaters of the Mississippi River, in Itasca State Park.

Gravel and road touring options

Besides a road trip out of Itasca State Park on the MRT, the Park Rapids area also offers a network of bike-friendly roads so you can explore the Heartlands countryside. See more with MnDOT’s county bike map, of Hubbard County.

For more information on visiting the Park Rapids Area see our HaveFunBiking At-A-Glance article on Park Rapids. Also check out our information and maps for mountain biking in the Walker Area.

Bike Pic Dec 16, a fun photo opp on the Heartland Trail

It’s Saturday and time to ride off on another adventure or visit your favorite bike shop for those last minute stocking stuffers. Here in the photo we caught this biker dude posing with the worlds largest muskie, in Nevis, MN, on the Heartland Trail. It is approximate 16 on the trail from Nevis to Walker.

What better way to continue your 2017 biking fun and to plan your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends at one of the HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for viewing our ‘Heartland Trail’ Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to 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.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage 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 into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, 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. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

In Minnesota's lake country, the Heartland Trail Area never lacks when it comes to outdoor recreational activities. Discover many fond memories pedaling the trails and attending festival scheduled throughout the summer here. 

Bike Park Rapids and enjoy Minnesota’s forest and lake features

by Hayley Spalding

In the heart of Minnesota’s lake country, Park Rapids never lacks when it comes to outdoor recreational activities. Throughout the seasons, spending time visiting family and friends in the area I have had many fond memories. In the fall you will find many hunting and gravel road riding opportunities. Through the winter cross country skiing and fat biking are prime. Then in the spring, a color dash of trail riding as our feathered friends return. Before pedaling to many outdoor festival scheduled throughout the summer. It’s always fun here in the Heartland.

Riding the Heartland Trail out of Park Rapids

Riding the Heartland Trail out of Park Rapids

Exploring Park Rapids

Each year people spend time on the beach, pedal the Heartland Trail or discover Itasca State Park. If shopping is your thing  a stroll downtown on their quaint Main Street is another option. It’s fun to window shop through the old fashioned stores fronts, where parking is never an issue. Cars are allowed to park in the middle of the street and getting downtown by bike is easy. What I find most appealing, is the community itself. It has small town charm and little quirks that makes it appealing to people of all ages, whether they are into riding a bike or not.

Where to Bike

The Park Rapids area, offers fun opportunities for both the recreation trail rider and the touring cyclist, with:

The Heartland State Trail

This 49 mile paved trail system starts in Park Rapids on the west side. Then connecting with the Paul Bunyan Trail as it passes through Walker, before ending in Cass Lake. A multi-recreational trail system the Heartland Trail is open for biking, hiking and other trail uses. Parts of the trail also has a parallel grass track alongside for runners. This unpaved path is also available to mountain bikers, horseback riding and snowmobilers. The Heartland trail, meandering past shaded pathways that pass alongside several lakes, offers cyclists plenty to see.

Shorter rides on the Heartland

A mileage marker on the Heartland Trail

A mileage marker on the Heartland Trail

The Heartland trail is used by a variety of people from serious cyclists to leisurely riders and everyone in between. For those who prefer a shorter distance rather than the full 49 miles. consider biking to Dorset, the “Restaurant Capital of the World. Its about five miles out-and-back from Park Rapids. Riding from Park Rapids to Nevis and back is around 15 miles. This will allow you a chance to see the World’s Largest Tiger Muskie. No matter how far you bike on this State Trail, you will find a welcoming community and a Loon calling out to greet you.

Stopping in Nevis for a selfie

Stopping in Nevis for a selfie

Bike Itasca State Park

About ten miles up the highway from Park Rapids is another place for trail riding. This State Park, known for the Headwaters of the Mississippi River and Historic Douglas Lodge offers 16 miles of paved bike trails. The rolling trails in the park winds through virgin pine forests that meander around a couple lakes, fun for the whole family. For a full bicycle tour of the park the Wilderness Drive, shared with motorists, adds an additional 10 miles to your ride. For those into road riding, at the Headwaters parking lot, the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) begins its journey to New Orleans.

At the Headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park

At the Headwaters of the Mississippi River, in Itasca State Park.

Gravel and road touring options

Besides a road trip out of Itasca State Park on the MRT, the Park Rapids area also offers a network of bike-friendly roads so you can explore the Heartlands countryside. See more with MnDOT’s county bike map, of Hubbard County.

For more information on visiting the park Rapids Area see our HaveFunBiking At-A-Glance article on Park Rapids.

Here this cyclist is enjoying Minnesota's peak riding time on the Paul Bunyan Trail.

Minnesota’s Peak Riding Time Is Fall: Part One

Autumn Is Minnesota’s Peak Riding Time: Northern Minnesota

With the summer season officially off the calendar, fall is a great time to extend your bike riding adventures here in Minnesota. As the trees change colors along the miles of paved and mountain bike trails, cyclists will find a kaleidoscope of colors along the way. With the abundant rainfall this year, colors are predicted to be spectacular. If the weather remains mostly sunny during the day and cool at night, conditions will favor a stunning ride while exploring Minnesota. It’s no surprise that Minnesota’s peak riding time is fall.

Each year the fall color peak normally arrives in the northern one-third of the state in mid-September to early October. Granted, there is an exception to that rule if you are looking at biking in the Arrowhead region along Lake Superior. If you are, then the peak fall colors normally arrive about a week later than inland areas due to the warming effect of the lake. In the central one-third of the state, wooded areas become colorful between late September and early October. For the southern-third of Minnesota, colors peak early to mid-October. This year the peak cycle, statewide, is running a week or so later than normal due to ideal summer conditions – so enjoy!

To get a more accurate gauge to the change in colors in areas of Minnesota that you would like to visit, a color report is available online or through a weekly e-newsletter from Explore Minnesota Tourism each Thursday afternoon during the fall season.

This section is part one of a three part series.

Northern Minnesota Trails To Enjoy Peak Colors 

Northeastern Minnesota

Gitchi-Gami: This trail along the North Shore now has a 29 mile segment. This segment goes from Gooseberry Falls State Park through Split Rock Lighthouse State Park to Beaver Bay. For more information on visiting the area see Heart of the Northshore Tourism Association.

Mesabi: This is one the most interesting trails in the state with 120 miles completed so far between Grand Rapids and Virginia/Biwabik. Built only partly on old rail lines, it dips and climbs around bogs and mine-pit lakes. Then, it continues around slag heaps and natural lakes highlighted by aspen and pines. See more at Grand Rapids Tourism on the west end and the IronTrail Tourism for the east end of the trail.

Willard Munger: This 75 mile trail between Hinckley and Duluth is one of the oldest and longest paved trails in the nation. The trail starts in Hinckley, Minnesota 61 and then goes to Carlton. For more information on the south end of the trail see: Hinckley Tourism and at the northern end. For near Jay Cook State Park, see Carlton Tourism.

Sunrise Prairie/Hardwood Creek: These county trails, just north of the Twin Cities and parallel of Interstate 35W, starts from Washington County’s Hardwood Creek Regional Trail at Forest Lake. Then, the trail changes to Sunrise Prairie Trail at Stacy for another 16 miles up to North Branch. See more information at Sunrise Trail Prairie Trail or Hardwood Creek Trail.

Northwestern Minnesota

Paul Bunyan: This 120 mile trail winds through lake country from Brainerd/Baxter to Bemidji. The southern trailhead is in Baxter, off Minnesota 371 at Excelsior Road (parking is near Northland Arboretum). The trail takes you up through the Chippewa National Forest then to Akeley (7¾ miles to Walker on the Heartland Trail). Afterwards, the trails continues onto Bemidji. Then, it goes to Bemidji State Park. See more information on the south end of the trail at Brainerd/Baxter/Nisswa Tourism and Bemidji Tourism at the north trailhead.

Heartland: There are lots of towns to explore on this 49 mile ride. The trail takes you between Park Rapids to Cass Lake, through Walker and connects to the Paul Bunyan Trail. For At-a-Glance Tips see: Leech Lake Tourism on the east end and Park Rapids Tourism at the west end of this trail.

Migizi: This scenic U.S. Forest Service loop ride around Pike Bay is 17 miles if you count the spur to-and-from Norway Beach Recreation Area on Cass Lake, streets in the town of Cass Lake, and the three miles that run south of Cass Lake along Minnesota 371. See Cass Lake Tourism for more information.

 

Trip Tips: To Enjoy Minnesota’s Peak Riding Times by Bike

Before you go:

  • Always check the MnDNR website for a trail map or to see if road construction or flooding has closed a portion of that area.
  • Also, each Thursday afternoon during the fall season a color report is available online. You can also receive it through a weekly e-newsletter at Explore Minnesota Tourism.

Staying safe:

Even on off-road trails, bicyclists need to wear helmets. Since you are much more likely to fall on your head by locking wheels with another bike or by stopping suddenly than you are to be hit by a vehicle, make sure to wear helmet.

Don’t forget to stop at stop signs on the trail, even if it’s just a driveway or gravel road.

Also, ride with a buddy, especially on isolated stretches.

Have Fun and check back this Thursday for part two of Minnesota’s Peak Riding Time!

Bike Pic July 15, ice cream smiles Friday!

Here is a family enjoying an ice cream treat, near the Paul Bunyan Trail in Nisswa – Which is in Minnesota’s Brainerd Lakes Area. The Paul Bunyan Trail stretches 120 miles from Brainer/Baxter up to Bemidji and connects to the Heartland Trail.

Find many more bike friendly places to ride and explore in the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.

Thanks for viewing the Bike Pic of the Day here at HaveFunBiking (HFB). 

Now rolling into our 10th year as a bicycle tourism media source, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike, while showcasing unforgettable places to ride. As HFB searches and presents more fun cycling related photos, worth a grin, scroll through the information and stories we have posted that may help you Find Your Next Adventure. Then, while out there if you see us along a paved or mountain bike trail, next to the route you regularly commute on, or at an event you plan to attend, be prepared to smile. You never know where our cameras will be and what we will post next!

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you know that you would like to see us post? If so, please send it our way and we may use it. Send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com with a brief caption (of each), including who is in the photo (if you know?) and where it was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 800 pixels wide or larger for us to consider using them. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and an acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As HaveFunBiking continues to encourage more people to ride, please reference our blog and the annual print and quarterly digital Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide to Find Your Next Adventure. We are proud of the updated  At-a-Glance information and maps we are known for at the HFB Destination section on our website and in the guide. Now, as the Guide goes into its seventh year of production, we are adding a whole new dimension of information, now available for mobile devices.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure – we may capture you in one of the next photos we post.

Have a great day!

A Luxury Bike Vacation at the Leech Lake B & B

Emily Stocker, HaveFunBiking.com

When looking for a luxury bike vacation on your next Minnesota getaway consider giving Gary and Sandra a call, for a little slice of heaven. Tucked in the trees along the shoreline of Leech Lake is a peaceful and beautiful home away from home, at the Leech Lake Bed & Breakfast.  This lakefront lodge, located North of Walker, MN is the perfect place to stay for a relaxing vacation, spring, summer or fall, in luxury at fair price.

The Leech Lake B & B Suites

The Leech Lake Bed & Breakfast makes you feel right at home as soon as you walk in. With Northwoods themed rooms, any of their suites would be a wonderful place to stay.

A relaxing sight from the Harbor View Suite, at Leech Lake B & B.

A relaxing sight on your luxury bike vacation, from the Harbor View Suite at Leech Lake B & B.

I got a sneak peak at the Up North and Harbor View suites. The Harbor View suite has a large window overlooking the lake with a comfy couch to spend hours on, soaking in the view with a good book. Gary says, ” the majority of people that stay in that suite hardly leave the couch and usually take breakfast in their room, just to enjoy the view”.

A luxury bike vacation at a Fair Price

The B&B here is situated on the Paul Bunyan Trail and close to the Heartland Trail to plan some wonderful biking adventures. The Heartland Trail was the first rails-to-trails in the world and connects to the Paul Bunyan. If you don’t have a bike or don’t want to bring yours along, Gary and Sandra have bikes you can borrow, included with the room cost. Gary will even map out where the best sights are on the trail. He also can recommend where to go depending the length and level of a ride (your preference).

Other Activities

Relax on the deck near the Leech Lake B & B fire pit with a lake view.

On your next luxury bike vacation relax on the deck near the Leech Lake B & B fire pit with a lake view.

The B & B ensures that you have fun on your luxury bike vacation. With 24 boats to choose from (seven included with your room) you can spend time on the lake when not biking. So whether it’s by kayak, canoe, or a stand-up paddleboard, you are sure to have a good time exploring the lake. For the golfers out there, get a 25% discount at two of the local golf course by staying at the Leech Lake Bed & Breakfast. If you want to stay in and relax for a night, they have a DVD collection for you to choose from. Another option is to enjoy the bonfire on their patio or spend some time in any of the comfy chairs they have on the back lawn overlooking the lake. You could also spend time reading on the “island” at the end of the dock.

The Food

In the words of Gary, “if we don’t have good beds and we don’t have a breakfast they’re gonna make us change the sign out front.” While I did not get to taste the breakfast, the guests raved about it.

Enjoy a special Leech Lake B & B breakfast before your day of fun.

Enjoy one of the special Leech Lake B & B breakfasts before your day of fun.

All of the guests have access to a large shared refrigerator as well as the 24-hour coffee, tea, and treat bar. Besides the expected variety of teas at this bar, they also have homemade spiced chai that Gary and Sandra make themselves. To help you decide where to get lunch or dinner, Sandra has collected menus from all of the local restaurants.

So the next time you are in the Walker area looking for a place to stay, look no further than the Leech Lake Bed & Breakfast for a luxury bike vacation. It’s a little slice of heaven right on Leech Lake.

Bike Pic June 11, cool spots for mountain bike fun

A fun place to mountain bike with warmer days ahead is the Godbolt Lake and Hanson Lake Loops, near Walker, MN, Just south of Leech Lake.

Find many more bike friendly places to ride and explore in the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.

Thanks for viewing the Bike Pic of the Day here at HaveFunBiking (HFB). 

Now rolling into our 10th year as a bicycle tourism media source, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike, while showcasing unforgettable places to ride. As HFB searches and presents more fun cycling related photos, worth a grin, scroll through the information and stories we have posted that may help you Find Your Next Adventure. Then, while out there if you see us along a paved or mountain bike trail, next to the route you regularly commute on, or at an event you plan to attend, be prepared to smile. You never know where our cameras will be and what we will post next!

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you know that you would like to see us post? If so, please send it our way and we may use it. Send your picture(s) to: editor@HaveFunBiking.com with a brief caption (of each), including who is in the photo (if you know?) and where it was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 800 pixels wide or larger for us to consider using them. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and an acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As HaveFunBiking continues to encourage more people to ride, please reference our blog and the annual print and quarterly digital Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide to Find Your Next Adventure. We are proud of the updated  At-a-Glance information and maps we are known for at the HFB Destination section on our website and in the guide. Now, as the Guide goes into its seventh year of production, we are adding a whole new dimension of information, now available for mobile devices.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure – we may capture you in one of the next photos we post.

Have a great day!