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It’s a great place to shred some trails. Enjoy the new mountain bike trail system in Bluffside Park, overlooking Winona, MN. The park offers over five miles of switchback trail fun above this historic river town. The mountain bike park opened in November, showing spectacular views of the scenic Mississippi River Trail in Minnesota’s Driftless Area.
Two of the four new Bluffside Park trails are exclusively for mountain bikers, with two others multipurpose. Winter snow promises to bring out fat bikers and snowshoers alike. And as soon as we have enough snow on the ground, I plan to check out the new trail to share more with you.
Winona’s scenic bluff trails
This area of Bluffside Park provides ideal terrain for snowboarding, skiing, and snowshoeing, all just a short walk from the Holzinger Lodge parking lot. The switchback paths leading up the bluff side are perfect for winter hiking and snowshoe excursions under wintery conditions. Bluffside Park is Winona’s one-stop winter recreation oasis.
More on the trails of Winona’s scenic bluffs
According to a recent article in the Minneapolis Star & Tribune by Bob Timmons. Winona’s new mountain biking trails bring southern exposure to a cycling scene more apt to produce headlines in central and northern Minnesota parks at systems such as Cuyuna Country, Tioga, and Redhead in northern Minnesota.
Fun anytime, biking around Winona
Sheldon Morgan discovered the sport of mountain biking in the late 1980s and has been doing it ever since. Now, he rides his mountain bike and organizes rides here in Winona.
Trails can be a great therapy for kids when visiting the area. According to Sheldon Morgan, mountain biking could be great therapy for kids who’ve lost touch with their roots and with nature. “There’s a lot of stress on teenagers these days. It’s higher than ever because of social media and access to all kinds of media,” he said. “They need to re-engage with the world.”
Sheldon points out that parents and peers can do a lot to encourage kids, maybe by first getting on a bike. “The city has to provide the infrastructure, but parents and peers bring kids in.” That’s how he learned. “My whole family was very active in outdoor sports. It’s in my DNA, I think?”
He and his 26-year-old ride together, as they have for years. They go on mountain bike journeys together, riding and camping and taking a break occasionally for rock climbing. Biking, rock climbing, running, and kayaking — he loves it all. “And it’s all right here in Winona!” he exults.
Located in Southeast Minnesota along the Mississippi River, the city is a very comfortable place to explore on two wheels. Don’t miss the fun throughout the year. Check out the www.visitwinona.com web pages to find out what’s happening.
Celebrating communities coast to coast with National Bike Month, we wanted to share what residence of Winona, MN are saying. A Bronze Bike Friendly Community, this area offers many bike-related activities for you to enjoy any time of the year while visiting.
Located in Southeast Minnesota along the Mississippi River, the city is a very comfortable place to explore on two wheels. Thanks to Pam Eyden, who profiled the following cyclist, we think you will agree that Winona is a place to consider while visiting with your bike. Don’t miss the fun, also check their May Bike Month web page www.visitwinona.com/may-is-bike-month to find out what’s happening.
Fun biking around Winona and the 6-day 500-mile ride, Profile #1
Enthusiastic as a kid about riding her bike, Deb Hegland rides 500 miles in Six Days and loves it! Whether alone, with her husband Bryan or with friends, she gets out as often as she can. When together they both enjoy riding the roads at home and away. This winter Deb and Bryon went to Australia, where they did city tours on e-bikes.
Deb and Bryon Hegland in Duluth on a ride.
Biking in the Habitat for Humanity Minnesota 500 Ride, every summer, is another high point of Deb’s year. This will be her eighth year of riding for the charity. Her goal is to do 20-consecutive years. “I wish I’d started earlier,” she laughed. Eight years ago, a friend talked her into signing up for what was then a seven-day fundraising ride in support of Habitat for Humanity and its aim of providing safe, affordable housing for all who need it.
Riding 500 miles in seven days sounds daunting for the average recreational bike rider. Her husband was skeptical because Deb had never done anything similar before. “He said, “fine, sign up. Just don’t sign me up!” Deb recalled. “He fully expected that I would call and want to be rescued part way through the ride.” Her daughter expected the same thing but that didn’t happen. Early on, Deb was overwhelmed and considering dropping out.
Then she was befriended by a woman who knew the ropes. “She taught me everything!” Deb stated. Everything meant riding 90-miles a day, pacing yourself — it’s a ride, not a race — washing shirts in a sink at night and sleeping in school gyms alongside dozens of “new best friends” as Deb calls them.
Deb owns her own business and works out of her home, a perfect situation for someone who likes to create her own schedule and freedom to ride and train when she wants. “I will never retire because I love my business,” she said, “but I really love to have fun,” she exclaimed.
The Habitat Minnesota 500 Ride will be held July 14 – 19 (it’s now just a six-day ride) this year in northern Minnesota. Despite recuperating from ankle surgery, Deb said she and her husband, who joined the ride after that first year, will be there. They don’t want to miss the fun, and she suggests that you don’t want to miss it, either. — Pam Eyden
A family on wheels, biking around Winona, Profile #2
When they first met in Utah years ago, some of Sundra and Patrick Menton’s first dates were on mountain bikes. “He was already into it,” she said, “so I started riding, too.” They married, moved to Winona and now have two kids, Avri and August and biking is a total family activity.
“We ride wherever we can ride together,” said Sundra. Sometimes that means riding around Lake Winona; sometimes it’s gravel country roads, and sometimes it’s the Root River Trail out of Rushford, MN. At the end of that ride, there’s ice cream for a treat — a sure incentive.
The Menton’s taught their children to ride using “balance bikes,” pedal-less
bikes that toddlers can walk, stride, push and glide on. Kids seem to learn faster how
to steer and keep their balance than when they start with tricycles or training
wheels, Patrick said.
Avri has just finished her first year on the Winona Composites/Winona High School mountain biking team. She knows the trails up on the bluffs behind Holzinger Lodge and at Bronk Unit’s Cherry Hill pretty well by now. Her brother August just joined the team. The family will be taking their vacation to Bentonville, Arkansas, this spring. The town has become a mountain biking mecca because of its many miles of constructed mountain biking trails in nearby hills, ravines, and forests.
Patrick, who works as Winona’s assistant recreation director, is an enthusiastic supporter of the new “Bluff Traverse” trail system Winona is planning to build. It will connect the town with the blufftop, and offer both hiking and biking trails for people of all skill levels. “We have all the trailers and gear we need,” he said, “but when Winona’s new trails are built, we’ll be able to ride from our house, around town and to the top of the bluffs without driving.” — Pam Eyden
Fun anytime, biking around Winona, Profile #3
Kay Peterson, a client services coordinator at Winona Volunteer Services, loves bicycle riding. She has six bikes — a road bike, a fat-tire bike, two mountain bikes, a winter bike with used snowmobile bar mitts to cover her arms, and her everyday bike, which she calls her “horse.” She rides her horse to work, a four-mile round trip most days.
Kay Peterson, in front of Winona Volunteer Services
“I’ve been doing this for 10 years,” Kay said. “I started when I had an old car that burned gallons of gas just to drive short distances. It was a waste of money! I thought, ‘This is such a small town, I’ll try riding everywhere.’ After I started, I was hooked.”
She rides all year, even in the depths of winter, when wind chill temperatures are way below zero, in blizzards, ice, snow, wind, and rain. She’s got the gear, she’s got the clothes and swears she never gets cold. Or not very cold.
Biking clears her mind, she said. New ideas come to her while she’s wheeling down the street. In the summer she also loves gardening. “Biking and gardening are always competing for my time,” she laughed.
A few years ago a friend persuaded her to try mountain biking. She soon came to love the challenge and the thrill of it. Her favorite trails are at Cherry Hill, in the Bronk Unit (location). “It’s a hidden gem,” she said.
She encourages friends and clients to get on bikes and ride. In an effort to get bikes to people who need them, she coordinates the Winona Volunteer Services Bike Program. Adventure Cycle and Ski accepts donated bikes, fixes, and tunes them up, then the Bike Program donates them to qualified people who need them. The program has given away 160 bikes in the last ten years. — Pam Eyden
Bike around Winona, Profile #4
Emily Krall, 31, likes biking for the freedom and for the convenience of it. Manager of Blooming Grounds Coffeehouse, in downtown Winona, she usually bikes to work, at least when the weather’s good. She lives just a couple of miles away and could easily drive or walk, but biking is best. “I haven’t timed it, but biking is probably faster than driving,” she said. “Besides, the great thing is I don’t have to find a place to park! Before I got my bike I got lots of parking tickets. I work full time — having to move my car every two hours all day is no way to live.”
Emily lives just a couple of miles away from work and could easily drive or walk, but biking is best.
She also rides her bike to do errands, like to pick up a few things at Target. She carries purchases home in her backpack, which works fine, she said, because she’s not a person who likes to buy a lot of new stuff. She prefers the side streets and always rides defensively. “I trust that no one will hit me, but I watch everything,” she stated.
Bike touring after work
After work, she enjoys touring around Lake Winona and out to Prairie Island on a 13-mile loop near the river that passes the Minnesota City Boat Club and the airport.
Access to the natural world is one thing Emily loves about Winona. She recently moved here from Greenville, North Carolina, a city of 80,000, where the traffic was bad and biking was difficult. “Greenville wasn’t bike-friendly at all. I had to drive a couple of hours just to find a place to ride in nature. Here it’s so easy! There aren’t a lot of bike lanes in the town, but Winona is surrounded by so much beauty!”
Emily bought her bike on Craigslist for $150 from someone whose family had had it for three generations. It’s a classic Schwinn, with original green paint, original logos, and original seat. She mostly rides alone now, but will soon have company. Her four-year-old daughter is about ready to ride along. — Pam Eyden
Getting around Winona by bike, Profile #5
When Jo McGrath moved to Winona, from Rochester in 1997, friends told her to bring her bike because the town was flat and bikeable. She can’t remember why she was skeptical, but she did as they advised. Twenty-one years later, she’s still riding. She never bought a car. “I have a big bike with three baskets. That’s all I need,” she said. “If the weather’s bad or the trip is long, I can put my bike on the bus — although not if the baskets are full.”
Jo, who retired from work as a nursing assistant and personal companion, now volunteers one day a week at the Catholic Worker’s Bethany House. She lives on West Broadway and rides her bike to town several times a week — to the Bluff Country Coop, the library and farmers market. She also rides over to the river to see how the floodwaters are doing. “I just do the normal things,” she said. “I stay off of Broadway and take Seventh St. instead, which is easier.”
Using Winona’s quiet neighborhood streets to get around
She used to go on biking adventures with her husband and she also rode with the bike group at the Winona Friendship Center. One of her four daughters leads bicycling tours in Europe, but biking is just a part of everyday life for Jo. She’s happily riding her bike to the Center in Winona to play ping-pong. “As a child, I had training wheels on my bike until I was in seventh grade!” she said. “I didn’t give them up until my friends wanted to go on a picnic at Mayowood. Then I learned. I was not going to ride with training wheels on my bike that day!
Jo is quite comfortable riding at her own speed, on side streets, but she’s watchful.
“We all have to be aware of each other. Bikers can do crazy things, so can walkers and drivers. I believe in mindfulness. Of course, putting it into action is another thing!” she laughed. — Pam Eyden
A mountain biker, Profile #6
Sheldon Morgan discovered the sport of mountain biking in the late 1980s and has been doing it ever since. Now he rides his mountain bike at least eight hours a week and travels to other parts of the country for trail events and races, besides organizing rides here in Winona.
Sheldon commutes 20-mile round trip with his everyday bike.
Winter he rides fat-tire bikes in the snow
To work at his office in downtown Winona, where he consults on IT projects, he rides his everyday bike — a 20-mile round-trip commute. I ride more miles on roads, but more hours on trails,” Sheldon said. “I mostly ride on roads when the trails are wet.”
Mountain biking is number one for him. Trails put him closer to nature, which he enjoys. Riding through the woods is solitary and challenging. Endorphins and risk are also addictive.
“Even riding the same trails, you can always improve your speed, your grace, and your not-falling!” he said.
The Hillbilly Gravel Grinder
In early May he organized the Hillbilly Gravel Grinder, a 100-mile ride on the gravel county roads of Winona, Fillmore and Houston Counties. About 25 people started out at 9 a.m. and most completed the route by 6 — nine hours, including breaks. People enjoy the county roads because there isn’t as much traffic. “I ride for the mental stability and the exercise. I like to run, too, but I can’t run as long or as far as I can ride,” Sheldon said.
Winona’s mountain bike trail design
Over the years, Sheldon has developed an interest in and expertise in trial design. He and a partner formed a business, Dirty Deeds Earth Services, LLC, to help with trail maintenance and design at Holzinger Park, which, he says has “old school” trails, not well designed to counter erosion. He’s also helped the city at Sugar Loaf and has designed and created single-track mountain biking trails at the Bronk Unit of Minnesota’s Richard Dorer State Forest. This area, called Cherry Hill, is one of his favorites in the area.
Trails at Holzinger and Sugar Loaf will get a new, close examination for sustainability during the Winona City park planning process this summer.
Trails can be great therapy for kids
Sheldon believes mountain biking could be great therapy for kids who’ve lost touch with their roots and with nature. “There’s a lot of stress on teenagers these days. It’s higher than ever, because of social media and access to all kinds of media,” he said. “They need to re-engage with the world.”
Sheldon points out that parents and peers can do a lot to encourage kids, first maybe by getting on a bike themselves. “The city has to provide the infrastructure, but parents and peers bring will kids in.” That’s how he learned. “My whole family was very active in outdoor sports. It’s in my DNA, I think?”
He and his 26-year-old ride together, as they have for years. They go on mountain bike journeys together, riding and camping, and taking a break once in a while for rock climbing.
Biking, rock climbing, running and kayaking — he loves it all. “And it’s all right here in Winona!” he exults.
Come for the trails, see the views, then stay for the hospitality.
National Bike Month
May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to give biking a try. National Bike to Work Week 2019 will be held from May 13–19. Bike to Work Day is May 17!
Riding south out of Winona, MN, on a scenic bluff country ride, the Historic Pickwick Mill makes a perfect stop to relax and reflect how our world continues to change.
Get into the zone and plan your next bike outing with family and friends at one of the many HaveFunBiking Destinations. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the new HaveFunBiking Guide.
Thanks for viewing our ‘Rest Stop’ Pic of the Day
Now rolling into our 11th year as a bike tourism media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun. While highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more destinations you can have fun at we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. As you scroll through the information and stories we have posted, enjoy!
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: [email protected]. 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 do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.
As we continues to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your next bike adventure – Also, check out the latest Bike Guide, mobile friendly as we enter into our 9th year of producing print and digital guides.
So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. Please share all our pic’s with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the next corner with a HFB camera ready to document your next move while you are riding and having fun. Capturing you in one of our next ‘Pic of the Day’ posts.
Here is a course that will help you feel more comfortable and confident riding your bike. Cycling Savvy is returning to the Twin Cities area again this summer with a three-part bicycle safety class. By enrolling in this class you will feel secure going anywhere on your bike safely and confidently.
Bike with Hokan and John Hardy doing a “chalk talk.” Sign up for Cycling Savvy to learn more.
Course structure and content for a safe bike ride
While Cycling Savvy inevitably teaches some of the same essential traffic cycling principles and skills as other cycling courses, it is an entirely new curriculum. From the ground up, it is built upon an understanding of the needs of adult learners. The course addresses the challenges of today’s changing behavior that is strongly rooted in our traffic culture. Much of the content in the Cycling Savvy curriculum is completely original. Traditional content is framed and delivered in unique ways to maximize the learning process. It is a modular course, consisting of three, 3-hour classes, with seasoned certified instructors to help you along the way.
Class I (Train Your Bike!)
This three-hour session is conducted in a parking lot. It consists of a set of progressive drills designed to increase students’ control and comfort handling their bikes in various situations and includes:
Class II (The Truth & Techniques of Traffic Cycling)
Through guided discussion with video and animation, this three-hour session will familiarizes students with bicycle-specific laws, traffic dynamics and problem-solving strategies. Students discover that bicycle drivers are equal road users, with the right and ability to control their space.
This session is an experiential tour of Minneapolis roads. This 3.5 hour final course includes some of the most intimidating road features (intersections, interchanges, merges, etc.) a cyclist might find in his/her travels. The students travel as a group, stopping to survey and discuss each exercise location. After observing the feature, discussing the traffic dynamics and the best strategy for safe and easy passage, the students ride through individually and regroup at a nearby location.
Please note, the Tour of Minneapolis session* above is only available for those who take the full course. The first two sessions may be taken á la carte, in any order.
The sun is warming the morning air as you ride along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) through Saint Cloud, MN. Now in Granite Country, you are looking for a change in scenery as you pass a group of buildings, then realize its St. Cloud State University (SCSU). Across the Mississippi River and easy to reach crossing the bridge with your bike is the popular Munsinger/Clemens Gardens. This area, as the river bends to the southeast, is prime and ready to give you and your friends or family many biking opportunities when visiting here.
The Lake Wobegon Trail is a family friendly paved path system offering everyone a fun time.
Saint Cloud is labeled a city, but don’t let that scare you away. The area’s spacious layout provides plenty of room to escape from all the noise of everyday life that can bombard many with stress. The area offers many parks, family friendly trails and other attractions to give you memories that will last a lifetime.
More about bike-friendly Saint Cloud
Now with the Lake Wobegon Trail running through Saint Cloud and stretching 63 miles to Sauk Center, you can visit three colleges along the way. Besides SCSU, the Granite County Area is also home to Rasmussen College, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. Their presence in the area and the communities they create, along the trail system, helps add to the area’s welcoming atmosphere and unique points of interest for cyclists visiting throughout the year.
The Munsinger Gardens is unique botanical experience along the MRT where you can stroll the paths experiencing its treasure.
The Saint Cloud Area is also a bike-friendly community, awarded by the League of American Cyclists. This gives you the assurance there are plenty of places for you to comfortably roam around using designated bike lanes and trails. And while there are plenty of fun things to do on west side of the river. Don’t forget to cross the river and explore the jaw-dropping and joy-spreading Munsinger and Clemens Garden’s.
Biking trail opportunities in and around Saint Cloud
Granite Country has many opportunities for you to put your tires to the pavement, or whichever surface you prefer to ride on. There are many trails tucked into the area’s various parks, several chances to put your mountain biking skills to the test, trails that take you beyond the city limits, and more. No matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for, Granite Country has you covered. For more information see At-A-Glance St. Cloud and our HaveFunBiking map of the area.
Riding the Mississippi River Trail through the neighborhoods as the route rolls into Saint Cloud.
If you go west out of St. Cloud you can take the Lake Wobegan Trail and stop along at one of the many trailheads along the way. You can also travel along the famous Mississippi River Trail as you explore St. Cloud and everything you meet along the river’s edge. There even points to cross the river and see what the other side has to offer. For more bicycle touring loop options see Central Minnesota Bicycle Club’s many mapped bike routes.
Quarry Park and Nature Reserve
The largest park in the Stearns County Parks System is bound to have a plethora of biking opportunities. The trails will give you a great overview of the reserve has to offer and they all connect in some way so it’s easy to switch when you want to. There is also some section for mountain bikers to pedal over granite bedrock that is a billion years old.
Pineview Park BMX
Freestyle cycling fun at Pineview BMX
Saint Cloud also has its own BMX park. You can hit the tracks, watch races on the weekends, and work on your skills if you are there during the week.
Riding out on the Jail Trail is one of several mountain biking options in Granite Country.
In addition to the Quarry Park and Reserve, the area has a few more mountain biking opportunities for you. The Jail Trail is an intermediate level mountain bike loop system located east of Saint Cloud. The main loop has some easy elevation challenges, but overall stays pretty flat. There are also additional side loops that add some technical difficulty. Then there’s the heavily wooded Plum Creek Trail, which is an exhilarating five mile-plus ride on a very narrow single-track filled with its share of hills.
Other Off-Road Opportunities
If you don’t want to battle mountain bike trails, but still want to go an adventure you’re in luck. You can hop on the Oxcart Trail that starts at Southside Park and travels north through Lions Park, Municipal Park, and Island View Park. Then there’s the Mayhew Creek Park Trail, Sauk Rapids’ newest trail, which consists of two loops and gives you just over one mile of riding. Also, the secluded crush aggregate Rotary Trail takes you through a wooded wetland complex that goes north of Bob Cross Park to the Bob Cross Nature Preserve. There are boardwalks and observation decks along the way.
Other opportunities when not biking in Saint Cloud
There are plenty of other ways to navigate your way around Granite Country on you bike. Some of the routes lead to downtown St. Cloud where you can explore its many shops and restaurants. See more at Visit Granite Country.
New Ulm achieved honorable mention bike status designation in 2016. Last week it was announced they are the 21st Minnesota community to earn the bike friendly honor, with bronze. Provided by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), to celebrate the honors local residence and dignitaries convened in Harman Park, this last Saturday for a bike ride marking the occasion.
Cindy Winters from Hearts Beat Back Project is shown here presenting the LAB Bicycle Friendly Community plaque to New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman.
A Proud Accomplishment For Everyone In New Ulm
“This is a huge accomplishment that everyone in the entire community should be very proud of,” said Cindy Winters, manager for Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project, which collaborated with The New Ulm Bike Club and the City of New Ulm to submit the application. “Over the last several years, individuals and organizations throughout our community have worked very hard to help implement changes that make it safer and more enjoyable for everyone to bike,” Winters said.
Enjoying the 13-mile paved bike trail loop around the city of New Ulm
A Bicycle Friendly Community welcomes bicyclists by providing safe accommodations for bicycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. Making bicycling safe and convenient are keys to improving public health, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and improving quality of life.
Dorian Grilley, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) will present the designation to the New Ulm City Council, at its May 16 meeting. Grilley said, “I am very pleased to see the work of the City, schools and The Heart of New Ulm Project be rewarded with a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community award. BikeMN looks forward to continuing our support of their efforts to make bicycling and walking an easy, safe and fun choice for all.”
Click here for a complete list of Bike Friendly LAB Communities in Minnesota
County level bicycle maps are now available in Minnesota. As the second most bicycle friendly state in the United States, according to the League of America Bicyclists, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has recently announced the first of a series of bicycle maps. These are county by county level bicycle maps for the state. In the link below, you’ll find 125 maps with some counties split into more than one sheet. All at this one link location, click on any County Bicycle Mapand see trails, road conditions, and more.
Selecting One of the County Level Bicycle Maps
Once you have selected a map, you can print out any of the maps by county (on 8.5×11 or 11×17 paper) to take along to help navigate your bike adventure. Please note, there are no printed versions of these county bike maps available, so you will need to print you own.
According to MnDOT, “because this is the first effort to show data at the county scale there are some gaps and we will continue to work with the counties to improve the data and layout of these maps with future versions.” They also welcome your comments on how to improve the maps. Submit feedback or changes by emailing [email protected].