Tag Archives: Twin Cities Gateway

With spring here, we wanted to share another bike/birding hotspot we have enjoyed over the years that you may want to add to your list of places to explore.

Bike/Birding hot spots in the Twin Cities Gateway area to enjoy

With spring here, we wanted to share another bike/birding hotspot we have enjoyed over the years that you may want to add to your True North list of places to explore. Check out several bike trails in the north suburbs of the Twin Cities Gateway this spring and summer. While ground-truthing the maps in the MN Bike/Hike Guide, we noticed many birding haunts in the community of Shoreview, MN.

An area once inhabited by Dakota and Ojibwe tribes, today the Shoreview community has many parks along its lakes and bike trails. These parks provide both residents and visitors places to enjoy bird watching. From these areas alone, you can spot an impressive list of songbirds, hawks, and waterfowl.

Looking for some new birding spots to explore?  The Twin Cities Gateway has you covered, starting with a local apple orchard. From there, we have identified several additional birding hotspots worth checking out.

A Birding Hotspot – Victoria Valley Orchard

Another birding hotspot to see hawks is the victoia Valley Orchard, in Shoreview.

A birding hotspot to see hawks is at the Victoria Valley Orchard in Shoreview.

As warmer weather will soon be upon us, many bird nesting sites can be found in the Victoria Valley Orchard’s apple trees. This is a good place to spot many seasonal birds and hawks. Like many groves around the country, orchards are rich in nesting habitat as the birds forage nearby. Here are a few of the birds that have been observed here: the Baltimore Oriole, Blue-Winged Warbler, Chimney Swift, Osprey, Red-Shouldered Hawk, several species of sparrows, and the Scarlet Tanager.

Location: The Victoria Valley Orchard is located at 4304 North Victoria Street, in Shoreview, MN. You are welcome to wander the orchard throughout the year to spot the different birds that live or pass through here.

Commercially for apples, they are only open from early September through mid-November if you would like to buy some of the 19 varieties they grow there. For more information, please visit their website at http://www.victoriavalleyorchard.com/.

A Birding Hotspot – Snail Lake

A birding hotspot can be found along most of the paved bike trails that meander through the parks in Shoreview.

A birding hotspot can be found along most of the paved bike trails that meander through the parks in Shoreview.

Another birding hotspot on our tour in Shoreview is the trail along Highway 96. This trail borders the north side of Snail Lake. One of two areas to observe the birding activity is at the grassy area just off the trail. With a few potholes and a line of trees partially blocking the view of the lake, you may spot several varieties of warblers. Plus, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Red-Shouldered Hawks. A variety of other marsh birds that use this area can also be seen here.

Location: The trail location is on Highway 96 and across from the Shoreview Public Library. There is a public park at the south end of the lake for another viewing location.

Birding Hotspot – Sucker and Vadnais Lakes

Now heading further east along Highway 96, our next two birding hotspots takes us first to Sucker Lake. Then, across County Road F, the trail takes you into Vadnais Lake’s park area. Both these lakes and the park areas are a part of the Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park and are reservoirs for the St. Paul Regional Water Authority. These lakes are fairly deep, and the wetlands are composed of extensive tamarack and shrub swamps with large marshy areas. Here, the forest area is mainly mature pine plantations with some oak woods for nesting Pine Warblers and Red-Shouldered Hawks. A variety of marsh birds use the shoreline here. Along with the fall migratory waterfowl activity of both lakes, this area is also good for migratory warblers and Red-Breasted Nuthatches.

Location: Just south of Highway 96, take the Rice St. exit from I-694 and go north. The north access and parking are east of Rice St. on Sucker Lake Road. The south entrance is east from Rice St. on County Road F, then north on Sucker Lake Road.

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

Another birding hotspot is in Grass Lake, where paved bike paths pass through some of the open meadows.

Birding Hotspot – Grass Lake

Another birding hotspot in Shoreview is Grass Lake, which is also a part of the Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park system. The main vegetation here is the deepwater cattail marsh with floating mats. On both the east and west shoreline of the lake, patches of oak can be found. There is a mixture of swamp shrubs and grasslands that are prevalent on the north side of the park. Here at Grass Lake is where Marsh Wrens, Osprey, and Red-Shouldered Hawks commonly nest. Common Loons are often seen in the spring and summer, and many sparrow species stopover here during their return migration.

Location: Grass Lake is reached by turf and paved trails from the parking area off of Gramsie Road. The parking lot can be reached by taking the Victoria St. exit from I-694 and going north to Gramsie Rd., then east to the MacKubin Rd. Intersection. The entrance is on your right.

For more information on these birding hotspots and others, contact Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Department at (651) 748-2500 or www.co.ramsey.mn.us/parks for more information.

A 12.5-mile Bike Loop to Shoreview’s Birding Hotspots

For those interested in riding their bicycle to the above parks described, we have identified an easy path to take to have optimal bird-watching capabilities. Please download both the Shoreview Bike Map and the 12.5-mile Turn-by-Turn Route to begin your bird-watching journey by bike to see some of Shoreview’s birding hotspots.

More map options can be found at the Ramsey County Maps.

The Lino Lakes 10-mile bike loop is a true Minnesota experience

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

Here it can feel like you are smack dab in the middle of northern Minnesota, especially while enjoying bike loops along the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes. A perfect place for your next bike vacation the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop and the many trail connections here are worth considering. One of nine Twin Cities Gateway communities, the Lino Lakes area supports a large Blue Heron rookery and hosts the annual Blue Heron Days Festival held in the middle of August. Regardless of when you visit, you are sure to see several species of wildlife to enhance your Minnesota experience while pedaling while biking here.

A true north experience!

The Lino Lakes bike loop is a true north experience

For the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop, the route travels clockwise and begins at the parking lot of the Hampton Inn. After pulling out from the hotel you will find a bike trail running parallel on the east side of Lake Drive. From there It’s a short distance before you are riding in the stunning Rice Creek Park Preserves. One of the largest preserves in the Twin Cities Area the Rice Creek Chain offers both paved and water trails. On the bike route, you are sure to see some of the most significant native wildlife habitat and water resources in the metro area.

The Lino Lakes Area is a family fun location.

Entering the trail system next to the Lino Lakes YMCA the trail circles the shoreline around Marshan Lake, before crossing over the Rice Creek, as it flows out of George Watch Lake. At the next trail T, the route takes a sharp left and runs parallel to the golf course road. After a sharp right curve and before the clubhouse a service road helps trail riders get over to the north shoreline of Reshanan Lake.

From a cottage community to the park it is an enjoyable ride

Passing the Reshanan Lake cottage community, soon Shadow Lake Drive disappears and trail riders are meandering past marshy areas with occasional patches of a forest while making their way to Centerville Lake. Now on E Street, at the boat landing, it’s a short distance along the service road here up to the beach area where you will find restrooms and a visitor center. Leaving the park take the trial to the entrance on Main Street. The Lino Lakes 10-bike loop heads north, but there is an option if you don’t mind adding a couple more miles. Consider taking the trails south along Main Street and visiting the charming little community of Centerville.

A few more options as the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop heads north

Wildlife viewing along the roads and trails here offers many opportunities.

Pedaling north on the trail parallel to Main Street you will cross Rice Creek again as it flows from Peltier Lake across the road to George Watch Lake. Here from the road look up to the northeast end of Lake Peltier and you can make out the Blue Heron Rookery. Soon you are passing the entrance to Wargo Nature Center. A place devoted to increasing the awareness and appreciation of natural and cultural resources. The center is located on a peninsula surrounded by George Watch Lake and offers activities, labs and equipment rental. For another outing, check out the available rental canoes and kayaks to experience the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes water trail.

Back in Lino Lakes for a cool beverage and fun

After a ride, many enjoy stopping in Lino Lakes for a cool beverage.

After crossing over 35W, on the wide shoulder, you are rolling back into Lino Lakes. As you turn onto Lake Drive consider stopping in at the Hammerhead Brewery before returning to the Hampton Inn. Back at the parking lot, check out the nearby eating establishments and plan another fun adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Lino Lakes click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Lino Lakes click here

This Bike Pic Friday, with several inches of snow to cover the ice on the trail, having some fun. Maybe taking in a race?

Bike Pic Feb 05, yeah its Friday more snow for a cold weekend

This Bike Pic Friday, with several inches of snow to cover the ice on the trail, bundle up in layers this weekend and have some fun. Here in this photo, cyclists were warming up for the Ham Lake Snow Bowl Fat Bike Race in February 2019.

Get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Friday’ Bike Pic  

We are now rolling into our 16th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward, our goal is 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 places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know 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 use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 13th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have a great day, with a safe, memorable 2021!

Have a great day and a memorable New Year!

This Bike Pic Wheelie Wednesday, if life were a mountain bike trail and a wheelie dropped you into your sweet spot, why not take a chance.

Bike Pic Feb 03, fond memories this Wheelie Wednesday

This Bike Pic Wheelie Wednesday, take a chance! If life were a mountain bike trail and a Wheelie helped smooth out your day-to-day ride or aided you in dropping into your sweet spot, why not review the following tips to make your week, the adrenaline high? Here in this pic, a cyclist warming-up for the Ham Lake Snow Bowl Fat Bike Race in 2019.

Get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Wednesday’ Bike Pic  

We are now rolling into our 16th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward, our goal is 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 places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know 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 use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 13th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have a great day, with a safe memorable 2021!

Bike Pic Aug 01, fond memories with a possibility of rain

With rain showers threatening many outdoor activities this bike pic Saturday, take a moment to reflect, while planning your #nextBikeAdventure. This photo was shot as this biker chick and her friend were riding the Mississippi River Trail, in the Twin Cities Gateway.

View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa Bike Guide or the Minnesota Bike/Hike edition. Then plan your next outing with family and friends at one of the HaveFunBiking Destinations

Thanks for viewing our Saturday Bike Pic here at HaveFunBiking (HFB). 

Now, rolling into our 15th year as a bicycle media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike, while showcasing unforgettable places to ride. As we search for more fun photos worth a grin, share your stories so more can find their next adventure. Then, while out there if you see us along a paved or mountain bike trail, be prepared to smile. You never know where our cameras will be and what we will post next!

Submit your photos

Do you have a fun photo of yourself or someone you know that you would like to see us publish? If so, please send it our way and we may use it. Send your picture(s) to [email protected] with a brief caption (of each), including who is in the photo (if you know?) and where it was taken. Photo(s) should be at least 900 pixels wide for us to use them. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and an acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

See our blog

As HaveFunBiking continues to encourage more people to ride, please see our media to find your next adventure. We are proud of the updated – At-a-Glance information and maps we are known for in the HFB Destination section on our website and in the guide. Now, as the Bike/Hike Guide goes into its seventh year of production, we are adding a whole new dimension of bicycle tourism information available for mobile devices where you may see some additional bike pics – maybe of yourself so.

Bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure – we may capture you in one of the next photos we post.

Have a great day!

Bike Pic July 31, Yeah its Friday on the MRT

This bike pic Friday, enjoy miles of bike smiles riding the Mississippi River Trail (MRT), taking the Highway 169 bridge loop into Anoka, MN. Across the river find a trail system with over 200 miles through the Twin Cities Gateway.

View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa Bike Guide or the Minnesota Bike/Hike edition. Then plan your next outing with family and friends at one of the HaveFunBiking Destinations

Thanks for viewing our Bike Pic Friday 

Now rolling into our 15th year as a bicycle tourism media source, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike, while showcasing unforgettable places to ride. As HFB searches and presents more fun cycling related photos, worth a grin, scroll through the information and stories we have posted that may help you Find Your Next Adventure. Then, while out there if you see us along a paved or mountain bike trail, next to the route you regularly commute on, or at an event you plan to attend, be prepared to smile. You never know where our cameras will be and what we will post next!

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you know that you would like to see us post? If so, please send it our way and we may use it. Send your picture(s) to [email protected] with a brief caption (of each), including who is in the photo (if you know?) and where it was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 800 pixels wide or larger for us to consider using them. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and an acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As HaveFunBiking continues to encourage more people to ride, please reference our blog and the annual print and quarterly digital Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide to Find Your Next Adventure. We are proud of the updated  At-a-Glance information and maps we are known for at the HFB Destination section on our website and in the guide. Now, as the Guide goes into its seventh year of production, we are adding a whole new dimension of information, now available for mobile devices.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure – we may capture you in one of the next photos we post.

Have a great day!

The Anoka 10-mile bike loop offers fun while exploring its history

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

At the confluence of the Rum and Mississippi Rivers, discover Anoka, Minnesota with fun at every turn along its bike routes. With its river city charm and designated the ‘Halloween Capital of the World’ this bicycle-friendly community is a place to explore. Riding your bike on the scenic 10-mile bike loop here you will discover several river-front parks and historic neighborhoods along the route. A part of the nine Twin Cities Gateway communities, in the north suburbs of the Twin Cities, you will find over 250-miles of connecting trails to enjoy. It’s the perfect destination to visit with your bike.

The Anoka 10-mile bike loop is an adventure for all skill levels of riders.

The Anoka 10-mile bike loop

For this bike ride, we will start at the Gathering Place Bandshell along the river. It’s located on the east bank of the Rum River, a block west of Ticknor Hill Bed & Breakfast in Akin Riverside Park, in Anoka.

It’s fun riding parts of the Mississippi River Trail while in Anoka.

 

Traveling clockwise, the route begins by crossing over the river on the pedestrian bridge, then across Ferry Street. Now pedaling along Benton Street, you will find a picturesque lane in the Historic Whiskey Flats neighborhood, The street here is a part of the Mississippi River Trail (MRT). Soon you are on the actual trail pedaling into Mississippi River Community Park, at Kings Island.

Kings Island and park amenities

Signage along the trail as you enter Kings Island.

Arriving in the park you will find restroom facilities, a playground, and some extra trails and observation decks along the river to view nature’s settings here. On the east bank of Mighty Mississippi, the Kings Island section of the park incorporates the natural beauty of a wooded flood plain. Add to your fun by exploring nature. Along the walking trail that circles the island, view an occasional mix of wildflowers amongst riverside flora and fauna.

Up to River Bend Park on the Rum

Leaving the MRT, the Anoka 10-mile loop utilizes the trail along its northern route up through Anoka’s industrial area. After crossing Highway 10, notice the Regency Inn Hotel to your left. And those who prefer to shorten the loop to 6-mile should turn right and head east on Vista Way (see the printable Anoka Map for more details).

Back on the 10-mile loop pedaling north up to Bunker Lake Boulevard, and turn east. At the intersection of Saint Francis Boulevard (Hwy 47), you will find several rest stop options. Then, before crossing the Rum River check out River Bend Park. If you picked up a sandwich at the rest stop, this is a perfect place to stop and view the river while enjoying your lunch.

After crossing the bridge over the Rum River, another option is to stop at the Rum River Library or the Anoka Nature Preserve. Looking east, notice the trail that crosses Bunker Lake Boulevard? That trail will safely get you up in the area of the library and nature preserve.

The Anoka Nature Preserve is a 200-acre passive recreational area with low maintenance, hard-packed roads, perfect for 2-lane off-road cycling, and hiking. At the trailhead here, north of the library, you will find a playground and a restroom option. The trails in the Preserve are perfect for off-road family riding. At the riverbank to the Rum, several paths lead to wildlife observation decks.

Following the flow of the Rum River back to Anoka

Now heading south along the east bank of the Rum River, the trail offers wildlife viewing opportunities at every turn. As you get closer to the inner city of Anoka the trail merges onto a bike lane on 4th Avenue and through the historic Cutterville and Wet Flats neighborhoods. Here the 6-mile loop joins from the west and the trail route resumes along the river.

The Anoka 10-mile bike loop is fun for all ages!

The historic downtown district of Anoka

As you approach four metal grain bins along the trail you are entering the north side of the historic downtown area of Anoka. Here you will find several delicious dining establishments and many historic points of interest. Also known as the Halloween Capital of the World, the city of Anoka becomes alive with festivities each fall. Now, before taking the river trail, under Main Street and back to the band Shell, check out the observation deck at the Rum River Dam.

Downtown, don’t forget to stop at Two Scoops for ice cream.

Back at the Gathering Place Band Shell or your hotel checkout a nearby eating establishment and Two Scoops Ice Cream while planning another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For individual bike maps of the nine Twin Cities Gateway Communities click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Anoka click here

The Fridley 10-mile bike loop lets visitors discover the MRT

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

Named for an early settler along the east bank of the Mississippi River. Today the bike-friendly Fridley 10-mile bike loop lets visitors discover art, nature and beautiful flower gardens along the way. With many cycling paths connecting to both the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) and the Rice Creek Trail, bike touring is easy. One of the nine communities of the Twin Cities Gateway, the city of Fridley is located just north of Minneapolis, and a fun place to explore. So, if you enjoy biking along the trails that Red River oxen carts once used we have some options to explore while enjoying the Fridley 10-mile bike loop.

Fun on the Fridley 10-mile bike loop.

The Fridley 10-mile bike loop

Starting from the outer parking lot of the LivINN Hotel, the Fridley route heads out in a clockwise direction. After crossing the Central Avenue intersection, drive your bike by using the bike lane on 53rd Avenue for the next two miles. Now turning to the north on Main Street, once over Interstate 694 you will pass Woodsprings Hotel. For those who would like to begin the 10-mile bike loop from this point, continue north up to 61st Avenue. Here on your left, you are at the Fridley train station.

Passing through Edgewater Garden Park on the MRT.

Taking the tunnel under the RR tracks

On the east side of the Northstar-Line Fridley Station use the elevator. Taking your bike with you down to the lower level and walk through the tunnel to the west side of the train tracks. On the main level, on the west side, the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is right outside the door and ready for you to venture north again. An option for another day, consider boarding the Northstar Train with your bike and ride it up the Anoka, Elk River or Big Lake, then pedal back to Fridley, on the MRT. See the multi-modal train-to-trail cue-sheet here.

Many roads in Fridley offer trails that parallel for added comfort.

More adventure awaits at the Locke Lake trail T

Flower gardens invite you into the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts.

Back on the 10-mile bike loop, continue pedaling north on the MRT as the trail passes through Edgewater Garden Park. A little further on, before turning into Locke Lake Park at the trail T, you have a couple more options. If you don’t mind adding some additional miles out and back, continue on the MRT to the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts. With rotating art exhibits, the art center is next to Manomin County Park. Another mile further you will find the Springbrook Nature Center. These three community highlights can add more memorable moments to any bike ride.

Manomin County Park is on the same grounds as the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts.

Back on the 10-mile bike loop, the trail connects to the Rice Creek Trail in Locke Lake Park. Use caution as you ride your bike through this area. You will need to apply both your front and rear brakes (or walk your bike) as you descend down along Locke Lake on the trail. If you are riding with others allow extra space between each, as there are a few sharp turns passing under the RR tracks next to Rice Creek, as it flows into the lake. Finally, at the next T, the Rice Creek Trail runs through Fridley Community Park.

Now riding east along the Rice Creek Trail

After crossing University Avenue, at the stoplight, resume riding east on the Rice Creek Trail. In this section between University and Highway 65, the Rice Lake Trail offers an upper and lower trail segment. The 10-mile loop uses the upper trail, as it’s a bit shorter and takes you past restroom facilities in the park before reaching the tunnel under Highway 65. After the tunnel resume the route by taking left at the trail T to Central Ave. If you are staying at Budget Host Hotel, or desire to start the 10-mile loop from here, at this trail T take a right and head south a block to the hotel.

Turning south ice cream may soon be an option

The trail route now, heading south, runs parallel to Central Avenue. If you have a sweet tooth and desire delicious Ice cream treat, turn right on Moore Lake Road into Grandpa’s Ice Cream.

The flavors here are worth stopping for.

Continuing along Central Ave, as you reach Hillcrest Drive you have one more option to cool off. If it’s a hot day, half-mile further south is Moore Lake Park where you will find a beach for a refreshing swim. Otherwise, take a left on Hillcrest and the route jogs through several neighborhood streets down to Matterhorn Drive. After crossing over Interstate 694, once more, turn right on Skywood Lane and follow the freeway border wall around to the start.

Back at the parking lot or your Fridley hotel, check out the nearby eating establishments and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Fridley click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Fridley click here

The Coon Rapids 10-mile bike loop makes it easy to connect and discover

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

Named for the turbulent Mississippi River waters at the confluence of Coon Creek, the city of Coon Rapids is a fun place to explore on a bicycle. One of the nine communities in the Twin Cities Gateway it’s a perfect destination for a bike vacation using the Coon Rapids 10-mile bike loop. Here you will find many connections to hundreds of miles of trails. Both the Coon Creek Trail and the Mississippi River Trail are two greenway systems here that allow you to safely pedal throughout the area. So, if you enjoy biking along rivers and creeks we have some ideas for you starting with the Coon Rapids 10-mile loop.

The 10-mile bike loop is fun for all levels of riders.

The Coon Rapids 10-mile bike loop

Leaving from the outer parking lot of the Muddy Cow Restaurant, or a nearby hotel the route travels in a clockwise direction. Pulling out onto Springbrook Drive this tour safely crosses Coon Rapids Boulevard. Once across, we suggest using the paved trails that run parallel to the street due to heavy traffic. After crossing 85th Avenue, about two miles into the loop consider stopping at the Springbrook Nature Center.

Many roads here offer trails that parallel for added comfort and fun.

Now pedaling along the south side of 85th Avenue, at East River Road cross the street at the stoplight and use the sidewalk on the west side, up to 85th Lane. Here enjoy the quiet neighborhood streets that connect you to the Mississippi River Trail (MRT).  At 86th Avenue continue straight ahead on the MRT up between two residences and the real fun begins. As the trail drops into the forested vegetation along the bank of the Mississippi River its a whole new experience.

The visitors center here makes a great rest stop.

Following the trail along the river to the Coon Rapids Dam, you will pass several trail T’s in the park offering more loop options. One loop in the park circles Cenaiko Lake where you will find many people fishing for trout.

The Coon Rapids Dam and Visitors Center

At the visitor’s center at the Coon Rapids Dam, you will find more information on the area and the history of the dam. The dam is another popular fishing location and a crossing point for many cyclists riding the Three Rivers Trails throughout the Twin Cities Metro.

Riding across the Coon Rapids dam always offers a refreshing mist of cool air.

Turning north to Coon Creek

Riding up Egret Boulevard you can ride in the bike lane or use the parallel pedestrian path.

Now at the Dam, the 10-mile Loop leaves the MRT and heads north out of the park on Egret Boulevard. A bike-friendly road, you can ride the designated bike lane or use the pedestrian path paralleling the street. Continuing north after crossing Coon Rapids Boulevard, at Robinson Drive you will find the Coon Creek Trailhead. On the trail and after crossing the creek, at the trail T, the 10-mile loop takes a right. If you want to add a few for miles to your ride here is another option. To your left, the trail will take you up through the Erlandson Nature Center and further along connects to Bunker Hills Regional Park.

The smells, sounds, and views of nature as you pedal

Now pedaling south alongside Coon Creek, enjoy the smells, sounds, and views of nature. This stretch of the trail is a tranquil wilderness setting as you pedal along the stream through the forested canopy.  After crossing over a creek bridge one more time, pass under the railroad tracks for another option. Stop for a round of bumper boats, go-karts or miniature golf at Lilli Putt before heading east and completing the 10-mile Loop.

Enjoying the enjoy the smells, sounds, and views of nature along the trail.

For the last few miles of the route, the trail runs parallel along Coon Rapids Extension and Boulevard. Back at the parking lot, or your hotel, check out nearby eating establishments and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Anoka click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Anoka click here

The Blaine 10-mile bike loop can add more memories to a sporting event

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

With miles of connecting bike trails around the city of Blaine, sports fans and visitors alike will find many phenomenal sights while bicycling here. One of the nine communities of the Twin Cities Gateway this city is a perfect destination for a bike vacation tied to a sporting event. The city offers many trail opportunities surrounding the sports facilities here. So, whether you are an athlete looking for a fun way to get a pre-game workout. Or, a visiting sports fan looking for some added memories we have some ideas starting with the Blaine 10-mile bike loop.

The Blaine 10-mile bike loop can add more fun to your game visit.

The Blaine 10-mile bike loop

A perfect bicycle tour before or after a game this bike loop begins in the parking lot of the National Sports Center(NSC). The route heads south using the service road between NSC and Schwan Super Rink and passes through several parking lots south to 101st  Avenue. Traveling in a clockwise direction drive your bike south on Davenport to the stoplight at 99th Avenue and cross Highway 65. If you are staying at the Asteria Inn & Suites, on 93rd Ave, this is a great place to meet up with the 10-mile loop. it is a short 1/4-mile ride, north on Baltimore Street, from the hotel to 99th Avenue.

The Blaine 10-mile bike loo is fun for all ages.

Crossing the highway and enjoying the trails in Blaine

If you prefer staying off the streets after crossing the highway the trail that runs parallel on 99th Avenue, on the south side, for your added comfort.  On Clover Leaf Parkway, take a right and you are soon on a sequence of city trails up through several neighborhoods. For the next couple miles the route meanderers to the north. As you pedal along the trail you will pass several small neighborhood ponds where it is common to view wildlife.

Many roads here offer trails that parallel for added comfort.

At 113th Ave. the route relies on a combination of roads (with parallel trails). These quiet, low traffic city streets connect you to more neighborhood trails on the route up to Paul Parkway. The last stretch on this section takes riders through the Blaine Baseball Complex with several trail options circling the ball fields. One option, if you don’t mind adding more mileage to your ride is taking a left at the trail T to Bunker Hills Regional Park. On the 10-mile loop turn to the east on Paul Parkway where you will find a trail running parallel with the street.

A sweet tooth option at the 6-mile mark

It’s always fun when riding in the Twin Cities Gateway to stop for ice cream.

If you don’t mind adding a couple of extra miles, take a left on Ulysses Street for ice cream. It is approximately a mile, each way, that you will have to add to your total mileage, But the Big Dipper Creamery is worth the extra miles with 52 flavors to choose. For any bike service needs, while touring here, Pioneer Cycle is across Highway 65, north of Main Street.

Enjoying nature along the trail.

Continuing east on Paul Parkway the route crosses over Highway 65 and turns south on Aberdeen St, again with a trail running parallel on the west side. If you have worked up an appetite for breakfast, lunch or some pie,  Carol’s Restaurant is an option. Her homemade cooking is always a treat when I stop there!. Further south, the 10-mile loop jogs to the east and meanders past some more picturesque trail setting that takes you over a wooden bridge.

Returning back to the NSC or your hotel

After the round-a-bout at 113th, the route continues south on Club W. Parkway. For those staying at the Best Western Plus or  Fairfield Inn & Suites in Blaine, take a right on 108th Ave. The Hotel is south of Target, on the east side to Baltimore Street. If you missed the Big Dipper Creamery option, above you will find ice cream next door to the hotel. For bike touring visitors staying at Asteria Inn & Suites, on 93rd Avenue, continue south using the cue sheet link below.

The 10-mile Blaine loop continues south on Davenport, below 105th Avenue and into the National Sports Center parking lot. Back at the NSC or your hotel checkout a nearby eating establishment and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Blaine click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Blaine click here