Tag Archives: Mississippi River Valley

Biking around Hastings new 10-mile Scenic Circuit loop describes the route that follows along both the Mississippi and Vermilion rivers for all ages and skill levels

Hastings 10-mile trail loop allows riders scenery along two rivers

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking

Biking along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is just one of the many fun opportunities visitors can enjoy when biking in Hastings, MN. As this historic river town expands its bicycle infrastructure, I had to make it back to Hastings recently to check out the completed 10-mile trail loop. Dubbed the “Scenic Circuit” cyclist of all ages and abilities are finding this scenic trail loop, that follows along both the Vermilion and Mississippi rivers, breathtaking. Along this dual river trail route, cyclists will discover many unique points of interests in both the city parks and along the trails. For those who would like to add a few more miles from the Scenic Circuit it’s easy following the MRT to Schaar’s Bluff and beyond. See the Hastings HaveFunBiking map for more options.

Starting in Historic Hastings

The old mill ruins from 1857 to 1894 produced high quality flour under the name "Belle of Hastings."

At the old mill ruins, high quality flour was produced from 1857 to 1894, under the name “Belle of Hastings.”

Starting our ride in the historic Hastings Downtown Aea we found plenty of parking options when arriving. Both the city parking lot and streets around the historic city hall, on 4th Street, work well. Plus, it’s a short walk after your ride to 2nd Street (the city’s downtown main street) for a snack or meal. For this review we choose to ride the Scenic Circuit counter clockwise, leaving from Levee Park on the MRT.

Following the Mississippi River Trail out of Hastings

Just west of downtown Hastings, this metal sculpture was made from materials collected from the river clean up.

Just west of downtown Hastings, this metal sculpture was made from materials collected from a river clean up.

In the first few miles riding through Jaycee Park, we enjoyed an aerial show from several Bald Eagles. The river art along the trail was also interesting. Several markers explain the rivers history and one art sculpture made a statement from a river clean up project several years back. The giant dragonfly (above) was made from different metals dredged from the river at the time of the Clean Water Act. Further along the Scenic Circuit the trail passes by U.S. Lock and Dam 2. Here it’s always fun to stop and watch boats of all sizes move through the locks from the viewing platform.

The trail running along the back water here is a perfect place to view wildlife and and other bird species that frequents this area.

The trail along the back water is a perfect place to view wildlife and and other bird species that frequents the area.

Before leaving the river bottom another highlight was riding along the picturesque causeway before climbing out of the rivers bluffs. At the top, for those who would like to add a few more miles, Schaar’s Bluff and the new trail out to Dakota County’s Spring Lake Park is an option (see below). To continue along on the 10-mile Scenic Circuit riders should take a left, crossing Nininger Road and then follow the city trail south, down Pleasant Drive.

From the Mississippi to the Vermilion River

Now on the western side of Hastings the Scenic Circuit jogs a little further west along 4th Street, from Pleasant Drive – then heads south along General Sieben Drive. After crossing Highway 55, those who need a rest stop will find Culver’s, on the corner. Continuing south the route turns east onto River Shore Drive. Then, in about an eighth-mile watch for the trail to cross the road and head north up to Northridge Drive. There you should take a right and continue east on the Circuit.

These cyclists enjoyed a perfect day to ride Hastings 'Scenic Circuit'.

These cyclists enjoyed a perfect day to ride Hastings ‘Scenic Circuit’.

At Pleasant Drive take a right, the trail follows the road south to the Vermilion River. After crossing the bridge, on the east side, pick up the trail that flows with the river back into Hastings. You will soon discover why this section of the trail is such a popular part of the MRT.

Along the Vermilion River

Biking and rollerblading Hastings "Scenic Circuit is perfect for all ages and skill levels.

Biking and rollerblading the “Scenic Circuit is perfect for all ages and skill levels.

As the Vermilion River flows swiftly to the east the trail along this scenic stretch of river offers nature lovers a peaceful ride through serenity. From here cyclists and walkers alike will enjoy the two underpasses, one on County Road 46/47 and the second one at U.S. 61, to stay away from traffic. After passing under Highway 61 the Scenic Circuit is now entering Vermilion Falls Park.

Vermilion Park

As you cross over the Vermilion River you will notice all the padlocks attached to the railing.

As you cross over the Vermilion River here you will notice all the padlocks attached to the railing.

Riding into the park, at the first trail intersection you will have an opportunity to park your bike and walk about 100-feet to view Vermilion Falls. Continuing east and taking a left at the trails“T”you are now on the bridge where its easy to view the stream overhead as it cascades towards the Mississippi River. You will also, notice all the padlocks on the bridge’s railing?

No one knows exactly when, why or who started this European trend in Hastings. But this romantic ritual has become very popular with hundreds of locks being attached to the fence on the old railroad bridge that is now a part of the Scenic Circuit trail. The practice invites lovers to hang a padlock on the bridge and toss the key into the water below. For now the city parks department finds the trend touching and so far plans to leave the public love notes (locks) alone as a wall of art.

Another historic option to checkout is the Old Mill Park, about an eighth-mile ahead. Here is another opportunity to park your bike and walk down to the old mill ruins and maybe hike one of the many trails along the river.

From the Mill Park, the trail crosses the railroad tracks and then continues north again towards Downtown Hastings. At the next split in the trail riders should take a right and then follow the MRT signs back to the downtown area for some fun.

Enjoy Historic Downtown after your ride

Over the last few years downtown Hastings has been going through what many call a “Riverfront Renaissance.” With events scheduled throughout the spring, summer and fall the historic river town atmosphere is the perfect place to shop, dine and try biking or walking along the Mississippi River Trail and the Scenic Circuit. After our ride we found several options for cool refreshments and dinner in the downtown Area. You can find more options in our our At-A-Glance article.

If you didn’t bring your bike along, Hastings has a bike share program (first 2-hours free). The Zagster bike station is located under the bridge on 2nd Street and you will need a credit card to activate the locking system to the cycle you wish to ride,

More miles to Schaar’s Bluff and Spring Lake Park.

Returning back to Hastings from Schaar's Bluff its approximately 6-miles.

Returning back to Hastings from Schaar’s Bluff its approximately 6-miles.

The trail loop also connects to several neighborhood parks and the Mississippi River Regional Trail. Known by many as the “hidden jewel” of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, view some spectacular scenery along the way as you pedal along. Riding out to Schaar’s Bluff adds around 12-miles.

This newly completed section of the Mississippi River Regional Trail offers cyclist an occasional view of the river, bridges that cross deep ravines, prairie flowers that border along limestone bluffs.

This newly completed trail offers cyclist an occasional view of the river, two new bridges that cross deep ravines and prairie flowers that border along limestone bluffs.

If you choose to ride out to Dakota County’s Lower Spring Lake Park Reserve and cross the two new bridges on this trail it will add an extra 8-miles and is well worth the extra effort!

‘Ride the Ridges’ out of Winona, are up for the challenge?

How far, how high? how tough you ask? With ‘Ride the Ridges’ (RTR) bike ride, out of Winona, MN, you choose the level of challenge you want with four routes options. Ranging from 18 miles to a Century, Ride the Ridges features something for everyone.

If you up for the challenge and believe you will exceed your planned level of endurance this summer here is a memorable way to test those glutes, thighs and calf muscles. In its seventh year, on Saturday, September 21, 2019, the Winona Rotary Club is expanding its annual road tour event. This ‘Ride the Ridges‘ event will take riders through some of the most scenic areas in Southeastern Minnesota.  Participants of RTR will pedal into lush valleys riding alongside cascading streams then up into the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Will you be up for the challenge?

Bike Routes on Riding the Ridges

The beautiful scenery and the challenging hills make this ride one to remember.

The beautiful scenery and the challenging hills make this ride one to remember.

Choose one of four RTR routes, each having hills, valleys, and spectacular views. All routes have rest stops and SAG support!

Registration, with a stunning jersey available

Early registration is through September 1 and includes a pair of RTR socks, rest stops, SAG support, post picnic and party. If you like the jersey, orders close Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

The RTR benefits the Winona Rotary Clubs – Feed My Starving Children program. Can’t ride, donations are always welcome!

Visiting Winona

Check here for places to stay, eating establishments and attractions when visiting.

What past riders say about RTR

You have to do this ride if you enjoy biking. Great roads, great event!

  • The beautiful scenery and the challenging hills make this event one to remember.
  • Ride The Ridges is as good as it gets when it comes to bike tours. It offers great scenery, safe roads, superb organization, wonderful volunteers, excellent rest stops, mechanical support and a choice of distances…….everything a cyclist could ask for.
  • Ride the Ridges had the best rest stops and volunteers. The food selection was excellent. The volunteers were extremely friendly. I also loved the HAM operators supporting the ride.
  • See more comments here.

For more places to ride this Fall

See the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide and the Iowa Bike/Hike Guide.

If you think you will exceeded your planned level of endurance through the summer and are looking for a memorable way to test those glutes, thighs and calf muscles consider 'Ride the Ridges'.

As a seasoned summer rider will you be ready for ‘Ride the Ridges’?

If you think you will exceed your planned level of endurance riding through the summer and looking for a memorable way to test those glutes, thighs and calf muscles, consider ‘Ride the Ridges’. In its sixth year, on Saturday, September 15, 2018, the Winona Rotary Club is expanding its annual road tour event. This ‘Ride the Ridges‘ (RTR) event will take riders through some of the most scenic areas in Southeastern Minnesota.  Participants of RTR will pedal into lush valleys riding alongside cascading streams then up into the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Are you up for the challenge?

Bike Routes on Riding the Ridges

The beautiful scenery and the challenging hills make this ride one to remember.

The beautiful scenery and the challenging hills make this ride one to remember.

Choose one of four RTR routes, each having hills, valleys and spectacular views. All routes have rest stops and SAG support!

Registration

Early registration is through August 31, and includes a pair of RTR socks , meal voucher ($7.50 value), rest stops, SAG support, and after-ride drink token at Island City Brewing Co.

The RTR benefits the Winona Rotary Clubs – Feed My Starving Children program.

Visiting Winona

Check here for places to stay, eating establishments and attractions when visting.

What past riders say about RTR

You have to do this ride if you enjoy biking. Great roads, great event!

You have to do this ride if you enjoy biking. Great roads, great event!

  • The beautiful scenery and the challenging hills make this event one to remember.
  • The ride is beautiful and scenic with long flats and some rolling hills. But what makes this event stand out are the wonderful volunteers along the way. They all had smiles on and each one offered us enthusiastic encouragement. The warm and tasty coffee from Mugby Junction made the event all the more welcoming and memorable.
  • Great ride support. Will do it again.  Hopefully without the rain.
  • Even in the rain, the camaraderie of participants and volunteers was excellent. I would ride definitely ride again.
  • Shower after and a vegan option food truck…what could be better.
  • I have done multiple century rides and the spacing, food quality and staffing of the rest stops is the best I’ve seen. Thank you!
  • Ride The Ridges is as good as it gets when it comes to bike tours. It offers great scenery, safe roads, superb organization, wonderful volunteers, excellent rest stops, mechanical support and a choice of distances…….everything a cyclist could ask for.
  • I have participated in many century rides around Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. This was my first time doing the “Ride The Rides” century and it was a treat! It was challenging, beautiful, fun, great volunteers and in the top 3 of all the century’s I have completed.  If you want an awesome ride come to Winona!
  • This was my first organized cycle event. Being from out of town l was a little nervous but i met some awesome volunteers and local folks that made it a great experience well done.  See you next year.
  • Best organized ride that I did this season. Very scenic and somewhat difficult route.  Just the kind of ride that I want to usher in the end of an awesome road biking season. Thank You All….
  • You have to do this if you enjoy biking. Great roads, great event!
  • This is my third time Riding the Ridges. The route is my favorite among sponsored rides. The signage is always clear and the support along the way is wonderful.  Will definitely do it again!
  • Ride the Ridges had the best rest stops and volunteers. The food selection was excellent. The volunteers were extremely friendly. I also loved the HAM operators supporting the ride.

For more places to ride this Fall

See the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide and the Iowa Bike/Hike Guide.

Road Biking Minnesota with a rest stop at the Pickwick Mill, just south of Winona, along the Mississippi River Trail.

Bike Pic Nov 30, A Memorable Rest Stop Along the Mississippi River Trail

Road biking Minnesota with a rest stop at the Historic Pickwick Mill, is a few miles south of Winona, along the Mississippi River Trail.

As many upper Midwest bike riders are now changing their gear over to winter fun activities, including fat biking, ice fishing, skiing, snowshoeing and other cold weather sports, see all the places to explore in the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide

Thanks for viewing the Bike Pic captured along the Mississippi River Trail

Now rolling into our 10th 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 place to have fun 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: 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 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 MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing the guide.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. Please share all our picks with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the next corner with one of our camera’s ready to document your next move while you are riding and having fun. We may capture you in one of our next Pic of the Day posts.

Have a great day!