by Andrew Ellis
Summer is here and with things opening up from COVID-19, I have a big decision to make. Where should I go for my first out-of-town weekend bike getaway?
For me, one favorite is Albert Lea, Minnesota with its beautiful bike routes around Fountain Lake and the Blazing Star State Trail. Another option is to follow one of the routes from the annual bike ride called Rock n’ Roll the Lakes. Normally scheduled in June, the events bike routes can offer cyclists a whole lot of fun scenic Southern Minnesota touring options for that #NextBikeAdventure.
Bike-friendly Albert Lea
Less than a 2-hour drive down Interstate 35 from Minneapolis, after passing the I-90 crossroad pull into Albert Lea and prepare for a weekend of outdoor fun. Known as the Land Between the Lakes, the city sits between Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake, Both prime destinations for soaking in the rays while biking or paddling. Getting around on your bike from your choice of lodging options is easy with the city’s low traffic bike lanes and trails. After checking in at one of the hotels its exciting to ride around this southern Minnesota community.
Touring around Albert Lea Lake
In town, touring around Fountain Lake traveling clockwise is recommended. The experience of this route is reminiscent of riding around Lake of the Isles, in Minneapolis. With beautifully landscaped lawns along the fingering shoreline, a ride around the lake is very picturesque. This popular route is about eight and a half miles around using a combination of trails and quiet residential streets.
After returning to the downtown area of Albert Lea, you will find many options for lunch. Then its time to ride on the paved Blazing Star State Trail out to Myre-Big Island State Park.
Myre-Big Island State Park and the Blazing Star State Trail
Here in the park, you will find both a mountain bike and a paved trail system for cyclists of all skill levels to enjoy. For mountain bikers, the park offers about seven miles of wide grass trails in a sequence of three separate loops, strung together alongside the State trail. The Blazing Star State Trail is paved and runs from Albert Lea Lake in town out through Myre-Big Island State Park, approximately six miles.
Throughout the park, both trail systems meander through the open prairie meadows with some young woodland near Lake Albert Lea. Nice rolling hills make for a surprisingly good workout and the park is also known as an excellent birding spot.
Road Biking Opportunities
Exploring the area on a bike is easy, too. You can use the roads to navigate both around town and rural routes throughout southern Minnesota. There’s even a dedicated bike lane to safely get you in and out of town. From past Rock n’ Roll the Lakes events, here are the printable maps for both the 10-mile loop option and the 30/50 mile loop option for your enjoyment.
More about Albert Lea
When you need a break from the outdoors there’s plenty to keep your exciting adventure going. There are locally-owned shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants, and the area history will top off your bike adventure. Check out more here.
The best part about spending time here in Albert Lea, it’s easy to get around by bike, while keeping your social distance from others, for a memorable adventure.