Tag Archives: Rice Creek Trail

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!

Enjoying nature riding the Rice Creek Trail out of Mounds View.

Discover the Rice Creek Trails natural settings out of Mounds View

If you missed the annual ‘Festival in the Park‘ celebration, with bike races, last weekend in Mounds View, MN, this Twin Cities Gateway community is still worth checking out. Here, you will find a great mix of busy and calm. Where you can ride your bike along creekside trails to visit attractions amongst mother nature. Many who visit here enjoy following the natural settings along Rice Creek and the trail near it. Another option, are the bike friendly roads to expand your coverage for more adventure – And you can start, right from your Twin Cities Gateway hotel.

Rice Creek North Regional Trail

Riding over one of the wooden bridges crossing the Rice Creek Trail

Riding over one of the wooden bridges crossing the Rice Creek Trail

Mounds View is one of the many places that gives you access to the Rice Creek North Regional Trail with the Rice Creek North Regional Trail Corridor. The Rice Creek North Regional Trail is located in the Southeast quadrant of Anoka County [see map].

In the Meadows along the Rice Creek Trail see song birds amongst the wild flower.

In the meadows along the Rice Creek Trail see song birds amongst the wild flower.

 

The trail provides a connection between Anoka and Ramsey counties and connects the Cities of Blaine, Shoreview and Lino Lakes. A unique feature of the trail the 8-10 foot wide paved trail passing towering trees and the creek (bearing the same name) underneath crossing quaint wooden bridges along the way. Enjoying nature riding the Rice Creek Trail out of Mounds View.

There are also several different landscapes passing through wooded areas where trail users can occasionally see whitetail deer. Then wandering through open meadows the trail greets users with array of natural flower and songbirds. Further along, cyclist will circle several low land marshy areas where it is easy to view many species of waterfall gathering for the fall migration. On the north end of the trail, one can witness prairie restoration.

On the Rice Creek Trail, as fall approaches, view waterfowl as they gather for and prepare for migration.

On the Rice Creek Trail, as fall approaches, view waterfowl as they gather for and prepare for migration.

A part of Minnesota’s Community, located on the northside of the Twin Cities it is easy to find your next bike adventure with a mix of mother nature, near your lodging choice when visiting the area.

Good times riding in New Brighton

Bike the Long Lake Trail while visiting New Brighton’s Stockyard Days

by Andrew Ellis, HaveFunBiking.com

Riding the Long Lake Trails and taking in Stockyard Days, in New Brighton is a great example of what you will find visiting this area. Located on the north side of the Twin Cities, alongside the 35W Freeway in the Twin Cities Gateway Community, you will find many trails to explore. Along with many bike friendly roads the trail  around Long Lake Regional Park and connects to the Rice Creek Trail Circuit. If you have the kids along and want to take a break from exploring, consider Eagles Next Playground. Another opportunity when in the area the middle of August is Stockyard Days, a long standing New Brighton tradition.

Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton

From your hotel it’s easy to hop on a trail with your bike to get to the park and its many amenities. Pedaling deeper into the park one of the first things you’ll come across is the New Brighton History Center.  Slightly larger than a one room school house, right outside the building is an old train on the tracks.

The recently refurbished depot was converted into the History Center with many railroad artifacts.

The recently refurbished depot was converted into the History Center with many railroad artifacts.

Move past and you will start seeing more places to stop. The beach, by the main parking lot, is a place to stop, relax and enjoy the cool water. Several play areas for kids are also sprinkled throughout the park. There’s also an all grass ball field, with a backstop, picnic tables, and more.

You’ll also notice that the area is full of paths for both riding and walking to take you anywhere in the park. There are even smaller natural surface walking paths that allow you to get a little close to the water. The paved paths are especially fun for bikers with steep climbs that result in exhilarating descend. It’ll quench that need for speed.

Long Lake Regional Park Map in New Brighton

Long Lake Regional Park Map in New Brighton offers many trails.

The trail left of the beach ends up near a parking lot with a very popular fishing pier. If you travel to the right of beach you have more options for exploring. There will be an area where you’ll see a bridge. If you go to the left of the bridge you’ll end up following train tracks along a paved path that’s part of the Rice Creek West Regional Trail.

If you decide to cross the bridge you’ll begin the lengthy journey on the Rice Creek North Regional Trail which takes you by trees, wetlands, and more. Also, pay close attention, because at some point you’ll have to turn onto a residential sidewalk and after that the trail isn’t very well marked. There’s also road construction that may be obstructing the next trail section. There’s also a gas station and McDonald’s close by if you need a break.

Eagles Nest Indoor Playground

A fun place for the whole family when not biking the trails.

A fun place for the whole family when not biking the trails.

Across the highway is the New Brighton Community Center which houses the massive Eagles Nest Playground. There are plenty of places to sit as your kids crawl in side the tunnels, use the slides or play in the ball pit. There are also a few vending machines for snacks and refreshments. It’s a great way to cool off and relax.

New Brighton’s Stockyard Days

If you’re visiting the area from August 5th to the 13th, come enjoy the city’s annual Stockyard Days celebration. The festivities include a golf tournament, Medallion Hunt, movie night, softball tournament, live music, Grande Parade, and more. Long Lake Park will also feature three days of food and crafts. You’ll also catch the finish of the 120-mile Antique Car Run. These cars were built in 1908 or earlier.

tockyard Days celebrates the communities past when stockyards, railroads, fashionable hotels and meatpacking plants flourished here. Days is full of fun

Stockyard Days celebrates the communities past when stockyards, railroads, fashionable hotels and meatpacking plants flourished here. Days is full of fun

The festival began in 1981 as a way to recall the early days of New Brighton as a center for the cattle industry including the stockyards, railroads, fashionable hotels and meatpacking plants.

Stockyard Days bike sprints will give you a taste of NASCAR Racing on two wheels.

Stockyard Days bike sprints will give you a taste of NASCAR Racing on two wheels.

Welcome New Brighton the beginning of your #NextBikeAdventure.