Tag Archives: Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve

A Twin Cities Gateway bicycle adventure, pre or post your soccer game

by Russ Lowthian

Before or after that next soccer game, at the National Sports Center, grab the handlebars of a bicycle for a true north Twin Cities Gateway bicycle adventure. Surrounding the soccer fields,  in Blaine, MN, the nine communities of the Gateway offer hundreds of miles of paved trail for you and family members to explore.

A Gateway bicycle adventure

Here are the maps of the bike-friendly Twin Cities Gateway communities: Anoka; Blaine; Coon Rapids; Fridley; Ham Lake; Lino Lakes; Mounds View; New Brighton; and Shoreview. All unique in their own way, each offers relaxed small town-type atmospheres with plenty to do.

So take a deep breath as you grip your handlebars

Enjoying a Twin Cities Getaway bicycle adventure you will feel as if you’re deep in the country as several communities here border the Mississippi River Trail. Along with several nature parks, it can expand your personal playground while visiting. Options, traveling by bike include stopping along a lake to go swimming or fishing; play a round of disc golf; go birding; explore one of the many parks; or travel the trail through the chain of lakes by bike or rent a canoe. You can even satisfy your inner sports desire by visiting the velodrome track on the grounds at the National Sports Center.

Stop along the trail in the Twin Cities Gateway for a some fishing.

Stop along the trail in the Twin Cities Gateway if wetting a line and catching some fish are a part of your agenda. 

Off-road trails and parks

You can take the Rum River Regional Trail down to where it meets the MRT, maybe stopping in historic downtown Anoka along the way? There is also the scenic trails in Bunker Hills Regional Park offering heavily wooded and prairie flower landscapes. Or, take the thrilling Coon Creek Regional Trail that connects to the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and the MRT.

Stop along the trail in the Twin Cities Gateway for a round of disc golf.

Stop along the trail, in several of the parks in the Twin Cities Gateway for a round of disc golf.

For more extensive rides you can also explore the trails along the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve. Or, take the Rice Creek West Regional Trail back to the Mississippi River. This trail passes through Long Lake Park which has several trails that take you by the park’s namesake and Rush Lake. Another option is the trails in the Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park which is filled to the brim and full of beautiful scenery as you switch from one trail to the next.

The velodrome at the National Sports Center

If you’re tired of riding trails and want more of a challenge, check out the velodrome at the National Sports Center. Especially their ‘Thursday nights under the lights’, the wooden track is open to the public for single speed fun. The season begins in late spring and through the summer. Check out their schedule for more details.

Twin Cities Gateway area bike shops and rental services

Car’s Bike Shop | 2661 County Road I, Mounds View, MN 55112 | 763-784-6966
Jerry’s Schwinn | 4136 Coon Rapids Blvd. N.W., Minneapolis, MN 55433, USA| 763- 421-4270
Pioneer Cycle    | 12741 Central Ave. N.E., Blaine 55434 |  763-755-8871

For more info on the Twin Cities Gateway 

Here you will find more details on where to stay, play, and explore this nine-city area.

More places to bike and explore in Minnesota

Check out the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.

As fall approaches and many of the migratory birds starting to gather for their departure south on the flyway, we wanted to share a few bike/birding hotspots we found in the Twin Cities Gateway.

A Minnesota fall bike/birding hotspot in the Twin Cities Gateway to enjoy

As fall approaches and many of the migratory birds starting to gather for their departure south on the flyway, we wanted to share a few bike/birding hotspots we found in the Twin Cities Gateway. While ground-truthing a few bike maps in the MN Bike/Hike Guide we noticed some wildlife haunts perfect for viewing the fall migration.

As migratory birds start gather for their departure south on the flyway this fall.

As migratory birds start 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 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.

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, 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.

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 connect 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.

Have Fun!

AA great destination for a bike adventure riding the trails and bike friendly roads in the Twin Cities Gateway.

An endless bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway of Minnesota

by Andrew Ellis

Take a deep breath as you grip your handlebars and prepare for a bike adventure in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities. You will feel as if you’re deep in the country. As this north metro community area borders the Mississippi River Trail it can be your personal playground while visiting.

When in the area you can: stop and fish; play a round of disc golf; go birding; travel through a chain of lakes by bike or canoe; or explore one of the many parks. You can even satisfy your inner sports fan by visiting the National Sports Center, with a velodrome track.

Stop along the trail in the Twin Cities Gateway for a some fishing.

Stop along the trail in the Twin Cities Gateway if wetting a line and catching some fish are a part of your agenda.

The Twin Cities Gateway is made up of nine different bike-friendly communities: Anoka; Blaine;, Coon Rapids; Fridley; Ham Lake; Lino Lakes; Mounds View; New Brighton; and Shoreview. All unique in their own way they all offering relaxed small town-type atmospheres with plenty to do, perfect for anyone looking to get away and only minutes from the big city.

A friendly bike adventure get-away

The Twin Cities Gateway is just a short drive or an easy commute by bike from Minneapolis or St Paul. Another major feature is the Mississippi River Trail  (MRT) following the river’s edge in three of the nine Getaway communities: Anoka; Coon Rapids; and Fridley. Plus the other six Gateway Cities have bike-friendly roads and trails that lead to the MRT for a bike adventure.

After riding the trails and bike friendly roads in the Twin Cities Gateway enjoying a cold beverage with friends is a great way to seal the ride.

After riding the trails and bike-friendly roads enjoy a cold beverage with friends at the Hammer Heart Brewery, it’s a great way to seal the ride.

 Mississippi River Trail (MRT)

The MRT starts at the headwaters of  Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and passes through the Twin Cities Gateway before flowing into the Gulf, at the mouth of the river in Venice, Louisiana. While riding along the river in the Gateway communities you’ll pass many opportunities for site-seeing, so make sure your camera is fully charged.

Other Off-Road Trails and Parks

You can take the Rum River Regional Trail down to where it meets the MRT, maybe stopping in historic downtown Anoka along the way? There is also the scenic trails in Bunker Hills Regional Park offering heavily wooded and prairie flower landscapes. Or, take the thrilling Coon Creek Regional Trail that connects to the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and the MRT.

Stop along the trail in the Twin Cities Gateway for a round of disc golf.

Stop along the trail, in several of the parks in the Twin Cities Gateway for a round of disc golf.

For more extensive rides you can also explore the trails along the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve. Or, take the Rice Creek West Regional Trail back to the Mississippi River. This trail passes through Long Lake Park which has several trails that take you by the park’s namesake and Rush Lake. Another option is the trails in the Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park which is filled to the brim and full of beautiful scenery as you switch from one trail to the next.

National Sports Center

If you’re tired of riding trails and want more of a challenge, check out the velodrome at the National Sports Center, in Blaine. The wooden track is open to the public every Thursday for single speed fun. The season begins in late spring and through the summer. Check out their website for more details.

For more info take a look at the At-A-Glance TC Gateway article

Now that you are considering an adventure to the Twin Cities Gateway, also check out our HaveFunBiking  At-A-Glance Twin Cities Gateway Article. Here you will find more details on where to stay, play, and explore this nine-city area. Great for planning and to link to your hand-held device, for guaranteed fun.

Biking Around Lino Lakes Is A Short Trip North For Fun

by Andrew Ellis

When you’re in Lino Lakes it can feel like you’re smack dab in the middle of northern Minnesota. You’re pedaling down wide open roads that take you by lakes, farmland and scenery that can meet you with the horizon. Where roads with no shoulder offer trails or sidewalks that parallel the street to connect you to the vast Twin Cities Gateway trail system for your #nextbikeadventure. Enjoy the many options, including the Blue Heron Celebration in August, when visiting Lino Lakes:

Riding around Lino Lakes which has the second largest Blue Heron rookery in the state.

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve

Easy to get to by bike from your hotel, an entire day here won’t be enough. The Park Reserve here offers seven lakes to make for an outdoor enthusiast feel like they are in heaven. Riding or hiking the trails around these lakes, amongst the prairies landscapes offers plenty of opportunities to get you in touch with natural. When not riding, you can also rent a canoe or kayak to paddle through the chain of lakes.

Wargo Nature Center

On your venture in Lino Lakes your first stop could be the Wargo Nature Center, which has plenty of programs for kids throughout the summer. After you ride down the scenic driveway, park your bike at the fish-shaped bike rack, next to the parking lot. Inside the visitors center take a look at the mapped hiking and biking routes. You can also rent a canoe here or view all the local critters that have been preserved and on display on the walls and shelves.

Another birding hotspot is in some of the open meadows that paved bike paths pass through the par

Another birding hotspot is in some of the open meadows that paved bike paths pass through the park.

Walk outside and you’ll see three entry ways to connecting trails that are mostly natural surface. The trails are very well maintained and wide enough to walk two abreast and pass others walking by. As you hike along you will be surrounded by the sounds and sights of nature. Along the trails you will see many kinds of trees and plants with plenty of birds chirping. You may even be lucky enough to see a little red fox ahead of you crossing the walkway.

There are also plenty of hand-drawn signs throughout the area that tell you more about the area and Minnesota’s natural history dating back to before the Ice Age. You can even step up and look out into wetlands at a couple dock stations along the shoreline. If you want to explore the wetlands more, you can check out a canoe or kayak back at the visitors center.

Blue Heron Rookery

Egrets and blue heron are also a common to see as you paddle along.

Egrets and blue heron are also a common to see as you paddle along.

A highlight to visiting this area of the Twin Cities Gateway is the Blue Heron Rookery. It’s the second largest heron rookery in the state, however it isn’t the exactly easiest to get to or see. You can catch glimpses of the island if you drive by some of the lake houses on the other side of the lake, or you use a canoe or kayak to get close to it. There is a no wake zone by the island, but you should be able to get a nice view of the island using field glasses or a zoom lens on your camera. For more information on the Peltier Island heron colony, visit the Facebook page.

Relax on the Beach, Swim, Bike, and More

You can also visit the main beach on Centerville Lake and go for a swim or just relax and let those rays give you a nice tan. There is also a little playground for kids, a beach volleyball area, and picnic tables here. You will also find plenty of paved trails leading in and out of here to help you get around the area, and one of them even leads to Chonomax Golf Course. The different lakes also have various public access points for fishing and boat launches.

HammerHeart Brewery

Stopping at the HammerHeart Brewery in Lino Lakes is always refreshing after a ride.

Whether you’re looking for a mid-day break or want to relax after a long day of exploring, there is nothing better than an ice cold beer at the Brewery here. Even better, the brews here are locally crafted and inspired by Norse and Celtic history, love, old world traditions. If you’re lucky enough to stop by on a Saturday there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get food from one of the various food truck they bring in to compliment their selection of brews.

Lino Lakes’ Blue Heron Days

Remember the Blue Heron Rockery? Well, by the middle of August the nests are all empty out on the island. However, the city of Lino Lakes who adopted the blue heron for their city logo many years ago has an annual event to celebrate the bird and its habitat. Perfect for the whole family the annual celebration features a parade, carnival, movie night, petting zoo, and more. This years event is scheduled for August 18, 19 & 20. For more information visit the city’s website about Blue Heron Days.

The celebration and parade in Lino Lakes is fun for the whole family.

The celebration and parade in Lino Lakes is fun for the whole family.

A part of Minnesota’s Twin Cities Gateway Community, Lino Lakes is located on the north side of Minneapolis and its easy to find your next bike adventure here.