by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com
If you have three days or more open and looking for a true north biking experience in Minnesota, consider Roseau. A few miles from the Canadian border on a recent visit I found this area full of fun offering many off-road bicycling opportunities.
An outdoor bicycle paradise
Perfect for the whole family, the city of Roseau offers a paved bike trail, along with a number of quite street routes. Making it easily get around, to and from your hotel, by bike.
On the eastern edge of the city, I found Mount Roseau. Here, with no forest vegetation on the hill, it made it easy to see the countryside as I rode up, down and around the trails of this mountain bike park. At the top, the view was worth a few moments. But, what was really exciting was learning about the areas remote logging roads and trails in Beltrami Island State Forest. For the fat, gravel, and mountain bike fans this is a haven to check out if you are craving a true north experience.
Roseau a true north biking experience
Minnesota’s North Star City, the community is located in an environmental transition area of the state where the forest gives way to the prairies of the Red River Valley. Located only 13-miles south of the Canadian Border and 27-mile to Lake of the Woods, by auto, Roseau is a six-hour drive from the Twin Cities. In this friendly Scandinavian community, visitors will find many recreational opportunities in the town’s parks and nearby state forests parks.
As a result of this unique location, wildlife enthusiasts traveling by auto, bike or on foot can appreciate the outdoor paradise the area offers. Nearly forty percent of Roseau County is accessible by state or county parks, and wildlife areas. Surrounding Roseau there are tamarack bogs to the north, prairie grasslands to the west and sandy pine forests to the east. All areas provide ample opportunity for a gravel road ride or wilderness fat and mountain biking adventures. Along the way take in several wildlife viewing stations, pick blueberries or just go for a hike and explore. Plus, the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail, near Roseau, is on Minnesota’s premier bird-watching list.
Parks to explore in the area
Four of the most visited Roseau outdoor recreation areas are the Roseau City Park, Sprague Creek Natural Area, Hayes Lake State Park, and Beltrami State Forest.
Roseau City Park
The City Park here is located on 40 wooded acres, along the Roseau River. The park provides a variety of activities including paved trail and mountain biking on Mount Roseau. The single-track trail system offering over 6.5 miles of fun twists and turns for all skill levels. The park also offers various playground equipment, sand volleyball, a fishing pier, and Frisbee golf activities.
Click here to see our bike map of Roseau.
Sprague Creek Natural Area
Easy to ride to, the Peatland Scientific and Natural Area, is just north of Roseau. Once you arrive this area offers hiking trails that feature many bird viewing opportunities.
Hayes Lake State Park
Accessible by bike, Hayes Lake State Park is located 18 miles southeast of Roseau, on County Road 4. Located on the edge of Beltrami Island State Forest, this quiet true north park consists of 3,000 acres of pines, the lake, and wildlife to observe. The park also features a day-use area with fishing pier, swimming beach, and campsites. The lake is a non-motorized recreational area where canoeing and kayaking are popular. While here, also enjoy the opportunity to view rare birds such as bald eagles, great grey owls, Sandhill cranes and a variety of warblers. Wildlife sightings found in the area include elk, moose, bear, and wolves.
Beltrami State Forest
Further east from the State Park and as I mentioned earlier, what really excites me about this area for a true north biking experience is Beltrami Island State Forest. The second largest of Minnesota’s 60 state forests, there are five rivers that have their headwaters here. Also containing scientific and natural areas, riding the forest here is unique.
In this huge forest, there are more than 138 miles of logging roads and trail to explore on your bike. Make sure you have a compass or GPS device along when exploring the trails. Pedaling around low flatland’s, peat bogs and ridges covered in pines, it’s easy to get lost. Along the forest roads, you might find evidence of a former homestead foundation or village. As s you explore, you will for sure want to stop and enjoy some blueberries when you hit a patch.
When not biking
Being the birthplace of snowmobiling and Polaris Industries, in between daily outings take in a plant tour and the museum. At the Experience Center see artifacts from the earliest snowmobiles to Polaris’s movement into All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). History buffs will enjoy the Roseau Pioneer Farm and Village, as well as the Roseau County Museum.
Another Roseau summer tradition is the 100-year old Roseau County Fair. Held in the middle of July, this annual event can add to your biking adventure if you visit at that time. Other activities around town include the community pool, paddling the Roseau River, the local theatre, a bowling alley, and arcade. In the downtown area, you will find many antique shops to browse and reminisce about the past.
Places to stay for a true north biking experience
On my last visit, while exploring this true north destination I headquartered at the AmericInn. Roseau also offers a couple more hotels to fit your needs. Camping (RV and tent sites with water and electric) in the city park is also an option.
Roseau has something for every interest. Check your calendar and plan your next true north biking experience to Roseau, today.