MINNESOTA Mountain Bike
SERIES CUYUNA: 40 years of
LEADERSHIP, VOLUNTEERISM, and GRIT
TOP BIKE RIDES MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS
Crosby / Ironton Deerwood / Bay Lake Cuyuna / Emily 522 Sinclair Lewis Avenue Sauk Centre, MN 56378
www.MnTrails.com Minnesota Trails Staff Jan Lasar Editor/Publisher Joyce Frericks Accounting
Karen Knoblach Page Layout & Design Graphic Design
SERVICES EAT / DRINK
Brett Feldman Executive Director Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota
Vol. 27, No. 1 March 2022
DEERSTAND RESTAURANT & BAR 24188 Mohs Street, Deerwood 218-534-9253 www.deerstandrestaurant.com Why limit happy to one hour?
COLDWELL BANKER CROWN REALTORS Hwy. 6 & 210, Crosby 218-546-8346 www.coldwellbankercrown.com Impacting lives through real estate
SPECIALTY STORE CUYUNA LAKES CHAMBER 117 West Main Street, Crosby 218-546-8131 www.cuyunalakes.com
CRMC Minnesota Trails magazine is a continuation of Minnesota Bike Trails & Rides, published quarterly in cooperation with the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that acquires, protects and enhances critical lands for public enjoyment. Your $35 membership subscription supports this work. Minnesota Trails is not responsible for the return of unsolicited materials and reserves the right to reject unsuitable advertising. Information in this publication is as accurate as possible. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not of Minnesota Trails.
Cuyuna Regional Medical Center
TRAILSIDE TAVERN & PATIO 212 West Main Street, Crosby 218-546-5465 www.trailsidetavern.com Crosby’s newest trail-friendly restaurant
DEERWOOD MOTEL 23688 Forest Road, Deerwood 218-534-3163 www.deerwoodmotel.com Great rooms at great prices
RED RIDER RESORT 23457 Co. Rd. 31, Crosby 218-838-6858 www.redriderresort.com Cabins and camping right off the trail
SOO LINE DEPOT Cuyuna Range History Museum 101 1st Street NE, Crosby 218-546-6178 or 218-545-1166 www.cuyunahistory.org
HOSPITAL, CLINIC, PHARMACY 320 East Main Street, Crosby 218-546-7000 www.cuyunamed.org
VICTUAL 124 W Main St., Crosby 218-545-1000 www.shopvictual.com Ice cream, cheese, charcuterie, gourmet, gifts, spirits
FINANCIAL CYKEL 324 Curtis Ave, Ironton 218-772-0177 www.cykelonline.com Bike sales, rentals, repairs & custom builds
OARS-N-MINE 22640 MN-6, Crosby 218-546-6912 www.oarsnmine.com Docks, lifts, bait and tackle
TIMBER BUILDING SUPPLY 14506 State Highway 6, Deerwood 218-678-2063 www.timberbuildingsupply.com Your local building supplier
DEERWOOD BANK 21236 Archibald Rd., Deerwood 218-534-3111 www.deerwoodbank.com Banking Made Nice & Simple
MID MINNESOTA FEDERAL CREDIT UNION 117 West Main Street, Crosby 218-546-5428 www.mmfcu.org Member owned and working for you
Cuyuna Lakes Chamber members are open & ready to serve you you!
www.CuyunaLakes.com 2 Spring 2022
8 Minnesota Mountain Bike Series
6 Minnesota Miles
9 It’s OK to Be Here Alyssa Schauer
24 We Can Do This
4 Parks & Trails Council News
26 Cuyuna Retrospective Aaron Hautala
7 Trails Q & A Conversations with Trail Users
30 New MN Singletrack Trails 30 A Whole New Animal HIDDEN VALLEY
10 Minnesota Mountain
RECREATION AREA–ELY Jan Lasar
Minnesota Trails by Region
32 Singletrack Trails Coming to Anoka County Parks
18 Bike Ride Guide Minnesota Events May-October
RICE CREEK CHAIN OF LAKES PARK PRESERVE
38 MN Trails Map
34 A Hidden Gem XCEL ENERGY MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK–SHAKOPEE Amanda McKnight
Minnesota’s Trails At-A-Glance
39 Trail Partners
36 Driftless Bikepacking
Find Trail-Friendly Businesses
PHOTO ABOVE: Mountain biking through fields of wildflowers in Roseau, MN. Jan Lasar photo
COVER PHOTO: The new Drawpoint Trail at the Cuyuna Lake State Rec Area. Aaron Hautala photo
Your stop for on the Lake Wobegon Trail
Open May-October | 1400 4th Street, Holdingford | 320-746-0680
FIND US ON: Spring 2022 3
parksandtrails.org Lisa Filter/P&TC and Steve Young/P&TC
people saving special places
An aging barn on the property sits atop the hill with an expansive vista overlooking the park. Right: A trail cutting through the woods within this newly acquired 60-acre property.
P&TC Land Project
New era as farm turns to parkland for William O’Brien Parks & Trails Council’s influence on the development of William O’Brien State Park is undeniable. Starting in the early 1970s, while a major housing developer was eyeing lands in the area, P&TC spearheaded a major park expansion. It was a race to secure lands. Adding to the challenge, the Minnesota Legislature was debating whether the expansion should even be authorized. This meant P&TC was going out on a limb to buy lands that the park could potentially be prohibited from owning, but we couldn’t bear the thought of losing this land to developers, so we took the risk. Over the next couple years, P&TC bought the bulk of the land within the expansion area. Meanwhile, P&TC leadershp worked with legislators to pass the park boundary bill and transferred the lands to the park by 1973. Bit by bit, P&TC has been acquiring the remaining private lands within this park, including our latest acquisition of 60 acres from Myron Lindgren in December 2021 (see map on next page). 4 Spring 2022
Lindgren was born and raised on a farm that encompassed these 60 acres plus lands to the north and south that he previously sold to become part of the park. This last parcel held his homesite. It’s a bittersweet moment for him, as this sale also brings a move for him away from his beloved home of 80 plus years. But his heart lies in the
It’s a hard thing to know when to leave. ~ Myron Lindgren, landowner who sold his family farm to P&TC to become part of the park
countryside and this area was becoming unrecognizably urban in Lindgren’s assessment, with housing developments replacing family farms. “It’s a hard thing to know when to leave,” he explained.
Lindgren has idyllic memories of his childhood in the 1940s and 1950s as a time when everyone knew everyone else and there was a strong sense of community. He attended the country school and “everyone came out to the PTA [parent teacher association] meetings—now that was a gathering,” he said. Even the seemingly minor detail of whether the school should be heated with wood or become electrified required a community vote, to which everyone weighed in. Like many of the farms at the time, Lindgren’s family raised a small herd of milking cows, a couple pigs and grew potatoes and oats. Part of the land is wooded and before their home got electricity, which happened around 1947, the forest provided the wood needed for heating; they lived off the land. CHANGING LAND USE Across America farming has changed drastically in the last century and this area is no exception. Nearly all the small, family farms that were once the mainstay of the region—and predomiMinnesota Trails
people saving special places
Our Land Projects at William O'Brien
1,076 PERCENT ERCENT OF O PARK ACREAGE
ŠĹŅƋ ±ÚģƚŸƋåÚ üŅų ĜĹā±ƋĜŅĹš
$4.58 nately established by Swedish immigrants—are now gone. Of course, the area has undergone numerous other transformations prior to this latest one. Dakota peoples lived in this area for centuries followed by the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe). This area marks some of the border lands between the two tribes. Two questionable treaties were signed in 1837. At that time, the Anishinaabe retained some rights to this land for hunting and gathering. Meanwhile, the Dakota were pushed west of the Mississippi River as part of U.S. President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal policy, which intended to open lands for white settlement. Before the ink dried on those treaties, logging operations run by European immigrants began clearing the region of all the large pine trees. Most of the trees in the park were regrown after Minnesota Trails
this era. Minnesota’s first commercial sawmill opened at the nearby town of Marine on St. Croix in 1839. In fact, the park’s namesake comes from a lumber baron who owned the land prior to passing it on to his daughter, Alice. She enjoyed it for many years before donating the 180 acres near the St. Croix River to become the nucleus of the park. She intended that it be preserved and open for everyone to enjoy. Today, Myron Lindgren shares a similar sentiment in that, even though he is sad to see the area change from its farming days, he’s happier to see the land that’s been his lifelong home be preserved as parkland rather than developed into expensive housing.
—Lisa Filter, Parks & Trails Council
About the park William O’Brien was ĪƫƸÿěŧŏƫŊĪģ ŏŲ ړڐڕڍÿƫ ƸŊĪ ǿƣƫƸ metro-area state park. Its eastern border runs along the St. Croix River, which provides a migratory pathway for birds and habitat for mammals. The park rents canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. A popular year-round hike is the 1.6-mile trail that winds along the St. Croix River and by 100-year-old white pines. hÿŤĪ ŧŏĜĪ ܉ŲĪÿƣ ƸŊĪ ®Ƹ ƣżŏǢ ܉żǳłĪƣƫ swimming with a sandy beach, plus ÿŲ ÿĜĜĪƫƫŏěŧĪ ǿƫŊŏŲŃ ƠŏĪƣ The visitor center is named for Samuel H. Morgan, a past president żł £ÿƣŤƫ ¼ ޠƣÿŏŧƫ żǀŲĜŏŧ SƸ żǳłĪƣƫ interpretive displays and acts as a warming house for nordic skiers. Spring p g 2022 5
Miracle on County Road 38 “I’ve always had a passion to help kids that are less fortunate,” Marla Schnell told me on the phone recently. The central Minnesota retiree winters in Florida these days and to her friends and family she’s known as Mama Marla, a genuine, giving woman. Over the last two decades, thousands of others have been on the receiving end of her generosity, but they will never know it. It all started out with three guys training for a marathon, coworkers from her days at Banta Publications Group in Long Prairie. They ran to her house from town, a convenient half marathon away, she fed them spaghetti and drove them home. It was they who suggested she start a fundraiser run and bike ride, the one that would eventually turn into Mama Marla’s Hike It Or Bike It. For the last twenty years
she’s been the driving force behind this fundraiser that on average brought three times as many people to rural Clotho, MN as live there. Every Saturday after Mother’s Day people gathered at the Clotho United Methodist Church on Todd County Road 38, paid their dues and took off on foot for a 5k or 10k, or on bike for a 15-mile ride around the country block and Mama Marla and her small army of volunteers fed them. The first year she didn’t know what to expect, but as the cars poured into the parking lot she remembers thinking “I hope we have enough spaghetti.” Organizing the ride began each January and cooking that much food took an entire day, not to mention all the things to do on ride day. Even with husband Gary, children Molly and Grant and countless volunteers pitching in, it was a lot of work. Money was raised, everyone went home happy, the end, right? Not so fast, because the real miracle happened later. Each October she reached out to Todd County Child Protection Services, who put together a shopping list for her. Last Christmas that meant she and other volunteers went out and bought gifts for 300 area kids, anonymously. “We never knew where those items were going,” she
Minnesota Miles said. All they were told was the age and gender of the child and their clothing size. She lined up shoppers by working together with local churches and banks in Long Jan Lasar Prairie, Clotho, Trails Editor/Publisher Clarissa, Browerville and Eagle Bend and asked them and put in $10 on top of the $20 coming from Mama Marla’s. After husband Gary passed away, she relocated to Holdingford, MN, some 45 miles away and felt like she was losing the connection to Clotho. “This last year when Gary wasn’t there, it was tough,” she said. For a while she had hoped that somebody would consider taking over to keep the event going but almost everybody she approached told her “That’s more work than I want to do.” So after 20 years and raising roughly $70,000 for 4,000 kids, Mama Marla is hanging up her apron and the population of Clotho will stay at 25 souls the Saturday after Mother’s Day. She’s looking at it with a little sadness about the lost connection and a little relief because it was at times a tough job, but she feels it’s time to quit. “My heart is full,” she said.
BIKE _ HIKE _ EXPLORE
Choose C hoo ose Your Your Adventure. Adventture.
6 Spring 2022
of paved trails www.luvernechamber.com Minnesota Trails
& Q Trails A
Trails Q & A Snapshots of people we meet along the trail
Saint Peter, MN
Occupation: Retired, but currently doing maintenance on the side Seen: Taking a break on the Central Lakes Trail in Osakis while riding the Rail Trails 100 bike tour with friends Craig and Ann. Gear: Trek 5200 carbon fiber road bike How many miles do you bike a year? Between 1,000 and 2,000 miles, depending on my health. What does being outdoors mean to you? It’s enlivening. When I get down in the dumps I go out in nature and it revives me. Favorite Minnesota park? My favorite park is Forestville Mystery Cave. I love their hiking trails because there’s no cell phone reception out there and nobody can bother you. Favorite Minnesota Trail? I like the Wobegon. Ann and I used to ride it just about every day of the week. Best Minnesota experience? I was riding from Alexandria to Saint Cloud with a 35 mile per hour tailwind. I remember going down Melrose Main Street at 25 miles an hour. Worst Minnesota experience? The wind going the other way. Advice for the novice cyclist? Make sure your bike fits you. I don’t care how much money you spend on a bike if it doesn’t fit you, you’re not going to ride it. What’s on your Minnesota bucket list? To camp in all of Minnesota’s state parks, eventually. What would you do with $1,000? I don’t desire money that much. I’d give it to Ann and Craig. Trail Treat? Beer. The new craft breweries around here are just awesome.
Occupation: Project coordinator and head trail builder for Sensus Rad Trails. Seen: Building and test-riding new mountain bike trails at Barsness Park in Glenwood, MN. Gear: Banshee suspension mountain bike How many miles do you ride per year? I’ve never counted, but I do ride six to seven days a week. What does being outdoors mean to you? Being outside is part of human nature. I think it’s good for our health and mental wellbeing. Trails are a highway to a free mind. Favorite Minnesota mountain bike trail? I’m a sucker for liftaccess riding and I’m a big fan of Spirit Mountain up in Duluth. Best Minnesota experience? I volunteered with the Minnesota High School Mountain Bike League for a night. Seeing kids stoked on riding and asking a million questions was definitely a reminder that mountain biking is alive and well in Minnesota. Worst Minnesota experience? Leaving my car window open and having about 200 black flies in there. Advice for the novice trail builder? Start by volunteering with your local trail organization, see if you like the physical work. What’s on your Minnesota bucket list? Take a canoe trip to the Boundary Waters. What would you do with $1,000? I’d plan a really awesome, weeklong mountain bike trip, camping and eating the good food and buying lunch for my buddies every day. Trail Treat? I’ll have some gummy bears in my pocket.
Occupation: Beer sales for Founders Beer Co.
Occupation: Engagement Leader with Thrivent Financial
Seen: Riding the West Lake Marion Seen: Riding the Great River Ridge Mountain Bike Trail in Lakeville State Trail with wife Becky near with friends Marc and Tom. Elgin, MN. Gear: Santa Cruz 5010 full suspension carbon mountain bike
Gear: Specialized Como E-bike
How many miles a year do you mountain bike? About 10 miles, two to three times a week, year round.
How many miles do you bike a year? This is our first summer of getting back into biking after 20 years. So far it’s 452.6 miles in one month.
What does being outdoors mean to you? It means everything. Just getting outside in nature and ripping around is kinda fun.
What does being outdoors mean to you? I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s my favorite place to be. We hike, we bike, we play golf, we camp, we snowshoe, we move.
Favorite Minnesota trail? They’re all different. I ride at Lebanon Hills and I’ve been to Cuyuna. Best Minnesota experience? Up in Cuyuna, we rode the whole day and grabbed a couple of beers after. Worst Minnesota experience? I went over the handlebars when I clipped a tree on a berm, smacked my head on something and peeled open my kneecap.
Favorite Minnesota park? Anything along the North Shore, because of a lot of great memories from family trips. We’ve camped at most of them up there. Best Minnesota Experience? Biking the Root River Trail with our son when he was four. We biked and camped for a weekend.
Advice for the novice biker? Commit to doing it and recognize Advice for the novice mountain the value of doing things together. biker? Learn skills. Don’t take it too And, buy good bike shorts. seriously. Ask questions. Go buy an appropriate bike and just have What’s on your Minnesota bucket fun with it. list? We’re going to go to every state park before we retire. We’re What’s on your Minnesota at 16 now. bucket list? There are some trails in Duluth I want to ride. What would you do with $1,000? What would you do with $1,000? Buy someone a bike who doesn’t Hide it from my wife and buy more have one. mountain bike stuff. Trail Treat? Founders All Day IPA
Trail Treat? A nice, cold beer on a hot day.
Spring 2022 7
2022 Minnesota Mountain Bike Series FIND A CATEGORY THAT FITS YOUR SKILL AND FITNESS LEVEL After a successful return to cross-country mountain bike racing for 2021, the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series (MNMBS) offers a 10-race schedule in 2022 to test your fitness and skill on a mountain bike.
by Gary Sjoquist RACE 1: WOOLLY St. Croix Falls, WI | May 1
The season opener: Traditionally one of our largest races due to the close proximity to the Twin Cities, and a great test of your fitness level after a long winter. Plus, there’s a cool, new brewpub within walking distance of the finish chute! RACE 2: REDHEAD RUMBLE Chisholm, MN | May 22
New in 2022: Like Cuyuna and Tioga, Redhead is a repurposed mine site. But at Redhead you actually ride down into an abandoned open mine. As you wind your way past red rock canyon walls and around a fabulous aqua-blue mine lake you wonder “Is this still Minnesota?”
DETAILS & REGISTRATION AT:
With a family-friendly vibe, the MNMBS offers a variety of racing categories with different lengths and technical difficulties so you can race and learn new skills at the same time. Their events are great for meeting like-minded riders who share a love of mountain biking. With racers ranging in age from 8 to 75, many of our racing families hang out all day to either watch their kids race, or race themselves.
RACE 3: GAMEHAVEN Rochester, MN | May 29
RACE 6: LESTER PARK Duluth, MN | July 17
Gamehaven takes place on the ever-expanding black, loamy singletrack at the Scout Camp just south of Rochester. The 2021 event was epic and it became a test of simple endurance just to finish the darn thing.
The very definition of Old School trails, with narrow, wooden bridges, rocky climbs, and roots galore. Literally on the edge of Lester River for a post-race dip into frigid water, this course is racing like it used to be in the late 90s and early 2000s.
RACE 4: DETROIT MOUNTAIN SHAKEDOWN Detroit Lakes, MN | June 5
Many racers never make the trip to Detroit Lakes, unfortunately, and miss out on perhaps the best singletrack in the state. Come up early for Saturday, and sample some lift-served downhill action and wooden features. RACE 5: BORDER CROSSING River Falls, WI | June 12
You like roots? Rocks? Maybe a lung-busting climb right off the start, with another one later in the lap, just to test you again? The Border Crossing won’t disappoint and is another venue with a brewpub a short walk from the course.
RACE 7: MOUNT KATO Mankato, MN | July 24
Another venue with a big climb early in the lap to test your fitness multiple times. Kato also offers tight singletrack, steep uphill switchback climbs, and a cool section winding through pines where you can arc through corners on the outside knobs. RACE 8: TIOGA Grand Rapids, MN | August 14
New for 2022, Tioga offers perhaps the fastest singletrack course of the season with its rock-hard surfaces and flow orientation. An abandoned mine site similar to Cuyuna, Tioga also has tricky off-camber sections so it’s not just about speed. RACE 9: CUYUNA CRUSHER Crosby-Ironton, MN | August 21
Easily the state’s most visited mountain bike trail, Cuyuna’s rocky textures and swoopy singletrack brought the phrase “Shred the Red.” Often voted the best race of the MNMBS, Cuyuna is also known for shredding tires. Pay attention to psi if you want to finish. RACE 10: LADDIES LOPPET AT MAPLELAG RESORT Callaway, MN | September 3/4
Traditionally the last race of MNMBS season, Laddies also offers the chance to do a little short track racing the day before the cross-country race. Another Old School tight and tough trail network, Laddies is also a great family venue.
MNMBS RACERS GIVE BACK TO TRAIL GROUPS Instead of operating like a for-profit business, the MNMBS operates as a non-profit and partners with local groups hosting our races. The MNMBS collects race fees and sponsorship dollars to cover basic expenses (number plates, awards, insurance, etc.) to conduct a race, and then gives a percentage back to the local trail group after each race. In 2021, the MNMBS provided more than $51,000 back to the groups who maintain the trails we race on. By participating in the MNMBS, you’re giving back to the groups maintaining trail networks throughout Minnesota, while having a great time. 8 Spring 2022
AT FIRST GLANCE, MOUNTAIN BIKING CAN BE INTIMIDATING. NARROW TRAILS THROUGH THE WILD WOODS CURL AROUND TREES AND ROCKS AND TECHNICAL FEATURES LIKE SKINNY BRIDGES AND SLIPPERY ROCK GARDENS GET THE ADRENALINE PUMPING, NOT TO MENTION LOG JUMPS AND TEETER TOTTERS. Suppose you’re curious enough to want to try it, how do you get from the paved trail to the singletrack? For friends and newbie mountain bikers Lauren Kitrell and Mary Morris, learning how to ride singletrack last year was about chasing their curiosities and trusting their own paces in the midst of the racers and shredders around them. “I always liked biking the trails at Lake Rebecca Park Reserve, and I thought it’d be fun to try the mountain biking trail there, too. But I figured there’d be components that were different than biking [paved trails] and I wasn’t super confident to just go out and do it by myself,” Lauren said. In the beginning, she said, she was unfamiliar with singletrack trail etiquette and even which direction to ride the trail. “I didn’t know if I had to go a certain speed or if I was allowed to go slow and let people pass. I also just didn’t know some of the elements to mountain biking, like if there were special ways to deal with my brakes or certain ways to pedal compared to road biking,” she said. Although Lauren was apprehensive about trying mountain biking, she said her feelings didn’t come from a place of fear. “It would be kinda nice to get some tips first,” she chuckled. For Mary, an Outdoor Educator, learning mountain biking was about the opportunity to do more things outside, especially in the woods. “Mountain biking seemed like riding in a more natural environment and I thought that was kind of cool,” she said. She was curious, but still hesitant about just trying it on her own.“I had worries like ‘Am I gonna be in the way? Am I gonna get run over? Will there be features I have to jump?’” she said. Another qualm was not having the right bike. “I don’t have a mountain bike. It’s just a bike that I got when I was 12 years old and I felt the anxiety of not having the right equipment,” she said. Lauren, too, was unsure about having the right gear. “I’ve had my bike since I was 14. Technically it is a mountain bike but I wondered ‘Is this thing gonna work Minnesota Trails
or break down under me?’” she said. Despite their hesitations, Lauren and Mary connected in sharing a “slow pace” and jumped at the opportunity to take a Mountain Biking 101 class together offered through Three Rivers Park District at Elm Creek Park Reserve. In the class taught by Chad Hollinbeck, a Certified Level 1 Mountain Bike Coach through the Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP), Lauren and Mary learned fundamental riding techniques. They also came away knowing to keep two fingers on the brakes at all times and be ready to brake, and keeping their pedals parallel to the ground to avoid clipping rocks or logs with toes pointed down. They also learned to shift their weight and change their stance when going up and down hills and taking turns. “Chad set us up for success really well,” Lauren commented. “I consistently try to remember these tips any time I bike, whether on singletrack or paved trails.” Their coach not only provided handson instruction and helpful tips for mountain biking, but also gave them a fresh perspective on getting outside and the validation to ride singletrack trails, no matter what the experience level. “My two biggest takeaways were this: That it’s OK if you just have a regular bike and that I can use this place. That it’s OK for me to be here, even if I’m a beginner,” Mary said. These lessons were eye-opening for her, especially in her career as an outdoor educator. “As someone who is really comfortable with the outdoors, and who feels the outdoors is a place for me, it was a valuable experience to be in that beginner’s mindset and get an understanding of people who are totally new to the outdoors and other things we teach,” Mary said. “It was huge to feel that for myself.” Lauren, too, appreciated the validation of being able to show up as you are. “Definitely having that support system telling you ‘It’s OK’ was important. That you don’t have to look the part to do
this,” she added. This mindset was helpful on their first outing together on the singletrack trail at Lake Rebecca when they were lapped by the Rockford Area Mountain Biking Team. “Something I said multiple times during our ride was that there’s no shame in walking,” Lauren said and laughed. “There were a few points where the trail got really narrow and steep and I thought, ‘I’m just gonna walk this. Then you just get right back on.” Mary added that she’d remind herself just to listen while riding so she can get out of the way when other riders roll up behind her. “I just hopped off my bike, stepped to the side and let them pass. Knowing to do that was enough to make any discomfort tolerable.” FINDING MINDFULNESS ON THE TRAIL
One thing that stood out for both women was the peacefulness that came with focusing on the task at hand: keeping an eye on the trail ahead, listening, balancing and pedaling. To them, that’s what sets mountain biking apart from many other outdoor activities. “There’s really a nice mindfulness component to mountain biking. You are so focused on the trail and what your body is doing, being aware of your surroundings and what you’re doing in the moment. There is something really soothing about that,” Lauren said. Mary agreed. “That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed doing it. Because there is an element of risk there, your mind focuses in a way differently than jogging or even biking on a paved trail. Your mind can wander and you can mull or overthink about other things, but mountain biking cleared that for me.” As much as both Lauren and Mary enjoy their new sport, Mary doesn’t think she’ll be a technical mountain biker anytime soon. “Just having another way to enjoy being outside in Minnesota is awesome,” she said. Story by Alyssa Schauer, graphic by Greg Feinberg Spring 2022 9
Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails
NORTHEASTERN MINNESOTA HAS THE SAWTOOTH MOUNTAINS ALONG THE NORTH SHORE OF LAKE SUPERIOR, SKI HILLS AT SPIRIT MOUNTAIN AND GIANT’S RIDGE, THE DEEP FORESTS OF THE SUPERIOR AND CHIPPEWA NATIONAL FORESTS, THE 135-MILE ARROWHEAD STATE TRAIL, AND THE PRISTINE BEAUTY OF SOME OF THE STATE’S MOST BEAUTIFUL STATE PARKS. Carlton | Jay Cooke State Park–13 miles: Trail is a mix of grass, dirt and pavement with spectacular views. Silver Creek Trail and Summer Trail are groomed for fatbikes in the winter. Cloquet | Pine Valley Mountain Bike Trails 5 miles: Stacked loops rated beginner to intermediate with switchbacks and flow sections through stands of pine trees and open areas. These gravel trails are machine built and feature two expert and one intermediate jump trail. Because of the nature of the soil trails remain open even when wet. Skinnies and gap jumps with b-lines keep things interesting. Groomed for fat biking in a park that also has ski trails. A dirt parking lot with a porta-potty is available adjacent to the Cloquet hockey arena. Cohasset | Tioga Trails–25 miles: This new mountain bike trail system in the location of a former mine pit offers trails for all skill levels as well as jump lines, flow trails and a beginner skills section. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter.
• Mission Creek–23 miles: Beginner to intermediate. Fast and flowing singletrack with many bridges, berms, and rollers. This trail network traverses a dramatic, heavily forested landscape with spectacular views of the St. Louis River Valley and Jay Cooke State Park. Groomed for fat biking in the winter. • Piedmont & Brewer Trails–9 miles: Intermediate to advanced, challenging trails with bridges and features. Significant elevation changes with large rocky bluffs. Groomed for fat biking in the winter. • Spirit Mountain Bike Park–Beginner to advanced. Outstanding views of Lake Superior are the norm at Spirit Mountain. The terrain is demanding, but is sure to reward with amazing vistas. Lift-assisted downhill mountain biking and fat biking. • Stone Age–1.2 miles: Short, but quite a workout even for advanced riders. A long, technical uphill is rewarded with awesome views and the way down has challenges around every corner. Just north of the Mission Creek trails.
Duluth to Grand Marais | C.J. Ramstad/ North Shore State Trail–146 miles: This remote and rugged backcountry trail travels through wilderness areas on Minnesota’s North Shore. It’s primarily used for snowmobiling, but is open to hiking and biking and, in parts, ATV riding.
Duluth has been named Gold Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), one of six such destinations in the world. The Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) maintain and develop Duluth’s extensive trail system. • Craft Connector–1.1 miles: Two-way trail connecting the Enger Tower Scenic Overlook and the Lincoln Park Craft District. The downhill ride from Enger has some jump opportunities. • Downer Park–0.5 miles: A work in progress for the advanced rider. More trails coming. • Duluth Traverse–40 miles: As beginner level, two-way singletrack, the Duluth Traverse (DT) connects the city’s trail networks at Lester Park, Hartley Park, Piedmont-Brewer Park, Spirit Mountain and Mission Creek like a spine across the city. • Hartley Park–9 miles: Beginner to intermediate trails through the hardwood forests and open marsh areas of Hartley Nature Center. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter. • Lester Park–12.5 miles : Beginner to intermediate. Beautiful views of the river valley and smooth, flowing single track. There are some rocky or rooty sections, but overall the trail is non-technical and the best option in the Duluth area if you are newer to mountain biking. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter.
Open year round
For our guests hitting the trails a boxed breakfast is available.
Ely Area • Hidden Valley Recreation Area–23 miles: Hidden Valley’s ski trails turn into a mountain bike paradise during the warmer months. In addition to 13 miles of wide, grassy paths, there’s another nine miles of singletrack trail. The system currently consists of four loops rated beginner to intermediate. The singletrack trail is groomed for fatbiking in the winter. Hidden Valley also has a one-mile mountain biking skills course near the club chalet. • Fenske Lake–This area has many opportunities to explore forest and logging roads. Trails cross over rolling hills and pass through spruce forests. • Fernberg Tower–This area is located along the Fernberg Road east of Ely. Several county and forest roads intersect giving an opportunity to explore the Superior National Forest, visit the hill that once held the Fernberg Lookout Tower and visit several lakes. The route includes both gravel and natural surface trails. • Nickel Lake Area–This area provides rolling wooded hills, grassy bogs and beaver dams. There is access to several isolated lakes and an abandoned granite quarry that last operated in the 30s. Grand Marais | Pincushion Mountain– 10 miles: Challenging trails with awesome Lake Superior views. Switchbacks, bridges, rock gardens and lots of elevation changes. Groomed for fatbiking in the winter.
Grand Rapids Area
2810 Meyers Bay Road, Road Grand Rapids, Rapids MN 218-999-5795 • www.greenheronbandb.com 10 Spring 2022
• Forest History Center–5 miles: Explore the Forest History Center by bike. Beginner trail through 1900s logging camp and virgin timber forest. • Legion Trails–7 miles: Hand-built singletrack trail ranging from fast and flowing to tight, twisty and technical. Near Grand Rapids High School.
Grand Rapids to Ely | Taconite State Trail– 165 miles: Popular multipurpose trail that moves through out-of-the-way forests and lakes and stretches 165 miles from Grand Rapids to Ely. It intersects with the Arrowhead State Trail just west of Lake Vermillion. Passes through Bear Head Lake State Park. Some areas may be impassable in the summer. Hinckley | Saint Croix State Park–21 miles: Wide, grassy trail in the woods with some dirt sections on the Matthew Lourey State Trail.
Mesabi Iron Range Area • Biwabik | Giants Ridge–9 miles: Giants Ridge offers lift-served mountain biking on eight downhill gravity trails ranging from easy to expert. The Mountain Bike Park has over nine miles of purpose-built trails on rolling hills through the Superior National Forest. In the winter, 60km of the groomed ski trails are available for fatbiking and the resort also offers lift-served downhill fat biking on select downhill runs. • Chisholm | Redhead Mountain Bike Park–25 miles : A new, developing trail system on the grounds of the Minnesota Discovery Center. Built around a series of former mine pits, this challenging trail system has some beginner trails, but is mostly for intermediate to advanced riders. Punchy climbs and descents, plenty of rock gardens and jumps make for a great ride while the scenery is nothing short of spectacular with its ravines, red cliffs and views of deep, blue lakes. There’s even a waterfall crossing on Fractured Falls Trail. The ultimate goal is to expand the system to 30 miles and offer trolley rides to some of the far out trail loops near the Glen location, a restored, historic mining village. The Discovery Center has restrooms and a restaurant. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter. • Hibbing | Maple Hill Park–4 miles: Intermediate, two-way singletrack with a dirt surface in a 133-acre city park. • Virginia Big Aspen Trail–21 miles: The Big Aspen Trail in the Superior National Forest has many loop opportunities and beautiful scenic vistas. The trail is part of old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades from the Virginia and Rainy Lake Lumber Company. It is a multi-use trail, allowing mountain bikes, ATVs, horses, and in the winter, cross-country skiers. Lookout Mountain–11 miles: The trail system has dedicated mountain bike singletrack with berms, bridges and rock gardens in the Superior National Forest. Once you get to the top of a large hill it’s mostly rolling hills through forestland. There are a few large rock features and some challenging intermediate skill level sections. The trails are two-way, look out for oncoming bikes and hikers. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter. Side Lake | McCarthy Beach State Park– 17 miles: A choice of nice rides is available on the park trails and the low maintenance St. Louis County roads inside the park boundary. Bikers can venture out of the park on the Taconite State Trail. Minnesota Trails
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Spring 2022 11
NORTHEAST MN Tofte | Britton Peak Trails–5.5 miles: Trails are intermediate to advanced with a short beginner loop. Enjoy views of the Temperance River Valley and some advanced features like a rock garden and boardwalk. Access the Jackpot/ High Climber Trail System from the Britton Peak parking lot. Tofte/Lutsen |Jackpot and High Climber Trails–16 miles: This unique ride follows the rolling ridges overlooking Lake Superior and features machine-built flow trail with big berms, rock gardens, drops, jumps and rock-armored creek crossings in a wilderness setting. It’s laid out to be beginner-rated, but technical B-line options are up to expert level. Parking is available on either end at Britton Peak Trailhead (Tofte) and Ski Hill Road Trailhead (Lutsen Mountains) as well as on Onion River Road. Tower to International Falls | Arrowhead State Trail–135 miles: Approximately 69 miles of the trail are suitable for mountain biking in the summer, but there may be wet areas. Intersects with the Taconite State Trail, mountain bikers should call the nearest Parks and Trails Area office before leaving for their destination to inquire about local trail conditions and amenities. This is a multi-use trail, including horseback riding.
Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails
Two Harbors Area • Donald D. Ferguson Demonstration Forest–10 miles: Easy beginner trails through boreal woods in the Superior National Forest, shared with hikers. Trail system is set to expand, with the ultimate goal of 15-20 miles. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter, skis and snowshoes are also allowed. • Split Rock Lighthouse State Park–3 miles: Easy trail with a mix of dirt and grass shared with hikers. No singletrack. Great views of the Split Rock Lighthouse along Lake Superior. Can be combined with a return on the paved Gitchi Gami Trail for a 6 mile loop. Snowshoers and fatbikers share a groomed 8-mile loop. • Split Rock Wilds Trail–22 miles: The newest mountain bike trail system in northeastern Minnesota offers a challenging, point to point backcountry riding experience connecting the new Shipwreck Creek campground at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park with the Cove Point Lodge property. Trail conditions vary from rugged and rocky to fast and flowy and include multiple advanced and expert level features like jumps, rock rolls and drops. There is, however a beginner-friendly loop near the campground. The trails into Split Rock Lighthouse State Park will be closed until the official opening date, projected for summer of 2022.
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145 miles of
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Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails
THE MANY COMMUNITIES THAT MAKE UP THE METROPOLITAN AREA OF THE TWIN CITIES PROVIDE AN EXTENSIVE NETWORK OF RUGGED SINGLE TRACK AND EASY TO MODERATE MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS. MANY REGIONAL AND CITY PARKS MAINTAIN TRAILS TO PROVIDE SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE CLOSE TO A MAJOR METROPOLITAN AREA. Bethel | Bethel Haunted Forest Trails– 6 miles: A series of interconnected loops in an 80-acre wooded area, one mile south of the town of Bethel. Rated easy to intermediate with advanced sections featuring hills, twists and log crossings. Trails are shared with hikers and are open for fatbiking and snowshoeing in the winter. Bloomington | Minnesota River Trail– 11 miles: Intermediate: Nicknamed Minnesota River Bottoms. Mostly singletrack winds through wooded area near river. Challenging trail that can be muddy after rain. Plenty of jumps and some obstacles.
Burnsville Area • Buck Hill–6 miles: Beginner to intermediate, includes two downhill flow trails. Skills Park featuring a bermed course with drops, rock garden, skinnies and a dragon tail. • Terrace Oaks–2.3 miles: Intermediate: Mainly singletrack. A fairly technical trail with lots of climbs and amazing descents. Cambridge | Springvale County Park– 3 miles: Flowy singletrack trails with banked turns and beautiful rolling jumps weaving up and around a lake, traversing streams, swamps, forests and glacier moraine berms. Elevation gain is just under 160’ but these trails are fast and are great for beginner to intermediate riders. Constructed drops, teeter-totters, rolling jumps, boardwalk sections and rock gardens keep the ride interesting. Trails can be accessed from both the North and South parking lots. There is a bike repair station along with a bathroom and drinking fountain in the South parking lot. Groomed for Fatbikes in the winter. Chaska | Hawk’s Ridge Mountain Bike Trail–4 miles: Hawk’s Ridge occupies a narrow sliver of land just east of Pioneer Ridge Middle School. It’s primarily an open, hilly, multi-use trail, hand-built by volunteers of the Carver Trails group. Trails are beginner and intermediate levels with great views, challenging corners and verticals carved into the hillside. There is a green (easy) trail around the perimeter of the park, a short black (most difficult) trail as well. Cottage Grove | Cottage Grove Bike Park–This family-friendly bike park at 26-acre West Draw Park is a work in progress. Currently, it includes a 4x track, two pump tracks, and a complete dirt jump plaza. Eagan | Lebanon Hills Regional Park– 11 miles: This all skill level trail is a favorite for many. Good mixture of rolling hills and more technical singletrack. Woods provide secluded feel in suburban area. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter. Inver Grove Heights | Salem Hills– 4.4 miles: Gently rolling hills through woods and reclaimed prairie consisting of three loops: Harmon Park, Sawmill, Foul Pond Loop.
Lake Elmo Area • Lake Elmo Park Reserve–8 miles: Beginner to intermediate: Beautiful park with a pleasant view of Eagle Point Lake. This is a multi-use trail, including horseback riding and features some hard-packed singletrack, some grassy trail. Fat bikes are allowed on Big Bluestem Trail in the winter. Minnesota Trails
• Reid Park Trails–1 mile: This beginnerfriendly trail at 30-acre Reid Park is a work in progress. • Sunfish Lake Park–5 miles: Three loops with distinct ratings of easy, intermediate and advanced skill levels. Features include a bridge, logs and switchbacks. Note that other trails exist in this park and biking is only allowed on the singletrack trails. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter.
teeters, rock gardens, boulder piles and other features keep the ride interesting. The park also features a sculpture by a local artist and a bike repair station. Montiview Park is a work in progress, look for more trails to be developed here in the future. Parking and a restroom is available near the trailhead located at the top of Holy Spirit Trail, and the park can also be accessed from the off-road paved path off Jason Ave. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter.
Lakeville | West Lake Marion Trail–5 miles: Beginner to advanced: Hard-packed singletrack through woods and fields on the west side of Lake Marion near Casperson Park. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter.
Oak Park Heights| Valley View Trails– 3.2 miles: Intermediate singletrack with some beginner and advanced sections. Features include a bridge, boardwalk, rock garden and switchbacks. Trails are one way with an estimated 400’ elevation change.
Lino Lakes | Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park–3.2 miles: Singletrack trails consist of two separate, one-way trail loops, one on the east side of the park (Sherman Lake Loop) and one on the west side (Rice Lake Trail), about two miles apart. Both are continuous loops with a single entry and exit point connected to an existing paved trail riders will use to access the loops. The two trails ride similarly with a flowy design, but a slightly different feel. Both are entry-level trails suitable for most riders. The trail loop on the west side features a few challenging climbs combined with fun, flowy segments for a total length of approximately 1.4 miles. The 1.8-mile east side loop features a few jump opportunities with a couple of downhill segments that should add a little thrill for gravity trail fans. The plan is to eventually have additional miles of trails in separate nodes across the park. Maple Grove | Elm Creek Park Preserve– 12.7 miles: Interconnected singletrack loop trails. Built to accommodate all skill levels of riders, but mostly intermediate with short sections of easy and advanced trails. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter. Minneapolis | Theodore Wirth Park– 12 miles: Intermediate to advanced singletrack has twists and turns with many technical features. A great trail system consisting of several separate loops, just minutes from downtown Minneapolis. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter. Minnetonka | Lone Lake Park–5 miles: This trail system is designed to accommodate a variety of mountain biking skill levels. It offers ample challenges, from the steep topography to the fast, flowy single-track. The trail is also open to hiking and trail running in dry months, as well as snowshoeing and fatbiking in the winter. Two trailheads provide users easy access from Rowland Road, in the park’s southwest section, or Shady Oak Road in the east.
Monticello Area • Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park– 14.25 miles: This trail offers many options for all skills levels including a fast singletrack, switchbacks and a meandering doubletrack. Be ready to deal with logs, roots, and wooden bridges. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter. • Montiview Mountain Bike Challenge Course–2.75 miles: As the name implies, this trail demands good bike handling skills to negotiate. A very tight and twisty singletrack route with many short, steep hills runs through the woods and some open spots with great views of the surrounding area. Jumps, bridges,
Rockford | Lake Rebecca Park Reserve– 13.25 miles: Easy to advanced singletrack loops through wooded landscape with wetlands. Start at the Hilltop picnic area. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter.
Saint Paul Area • Battle Creek Regional Park-West–8 miles: Intermediate to advanced. Battle Creek features a wide selection of trails within its boundaries, including 3.3 miles of multi-use trails and 4.5 miles of singletrack. Thickly wooded, some limited visibility on turns. • Fort Snelling State Park–10 miles: Beginner: Enjoyable ride along the Dakota County side of the river. Generally flat trail, but scenic. Starts as a wide double track, then narrows to singletrack. Trails are multi-use and include fatbiking in the winter. Savage | Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve–10 miles: This trail features glacial ridges, hilly terrain and an extensive, lush forest. This is a challenging trail and a favorite for mountain bikers. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter. Shakopee | Excel Energy Mountain Bike Park–4 miles: Loop trails circling Quarry Lake are rated beginner to intermediate. The singletrack course weaves between the tree cover and a larger prairie area, taking advantage of natural and constructed topography. This trail was designed and built to be ridden in any kind of weather, so it doesn’t close when it’s wet. One special feature is the so-called chicken foot, a fallen oak tree that’s been cut flat for riders to balance on as they ride across it. The park also has a pumptrack. Waconia | Monarch Singletrack–10 miles: This trails system at Carver Park Reserve is made up of five connected loops that accommodate all experience levels. Easy Rider features wider tread and few sharp turns and climbs, making it ideal for hand cyclists and beginners. The Raptor Ridge loop has flowy trails and a highlight of the entire singletrack: A vista overlooking Parley Lake followed by berms and a roller descent. Paradise Trail has the longest climb of the system and an expert feature area with a concrete rollout, jumps, a slalom section and a shorter, technical climb. It offers bypasses for the difficult features, to accommodate intermediate level riders. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter. Woodbury | Carver Lake Park–4 miles: A series of interconnected loops and switchbacks on the south side of Carver Lake. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter. Spring 2022 13
14 Spring 2022
Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails
STUNNING BLUFF COUNTRY, MEANDERING RIVERS AND OPEN PRAIRIES GIVE SOUTHERN MINNESOTA A WIDE VARIETY OF NATURAL TERRAIN FOR MOUNTAIN BIKERS TO ENJOY. GO SOUTH AND FIND OUT WHAT TRAILS ARE WAITING FOR YOU. grasslands in the valley, to deciduous forests on either side and up the bluffs of the creek.
Albert Lea | Myre Big Island State Park– 7 miles: Intermediate: Well-marked trails shared with hikers through forested hills and by Albert Lea Lake. Lots of trails to choose from, but limited access when wet. Austin | Schindler’s Way–5 miles: This flat and fast singletrack system flows through forest and prairie and sweeps along the Cedar River near the Hormel Foods campus and Todd Park. A great beginner trail that’s groomed for fatbikes in the winter.
Northfield Area • Heath Creek Trail–1 mile: Across County Road 78 from the Sechler Park Trails you’ll find a short, more technical trail with a rock garden along Heath Creek. Great views in a densely wooded area. • Sechler Park–1.75 miles: Trail is designed to introduce beginners to mountain biking and runs along the woods on the shore of the Cannon River. Part of this system is a skills park with berms, jumps, drops, log piles, a teetertotter and more. Connects to Heath Creek Trail across County Road 78.
Faribault Area • Caron Park–3 miles: Beginner and intermediate singletrack loops with a dirt surface through a completely wooded area. Runs by Prairie Creek and features a natural waterfall. One interesting feature is a large erratic boulder on the intermediate loop. Trails are bi-directional. • River Bend Nature Center–10 miles: Multiuse, dirt and grass trail is shared with hikers and travels through hardwoods along the Straight River with scenic bluff views. Fat bikes are allowed in the winter, but must stay off groomed ski trails. • Shattuck St. Mary’s Trail–3 to 6 miles: The trails at Shattuck-St. Mary’s are built into the side of the riverbank above the Straight River in Faribault. Hand built, old school singletrack traverses up one ravine and down the next. Although the trails aren’t rated as expert, fitness and skills for riding switchbacks are key as you make your way up and down the many ravines. The trail is an out and back with a loop at both ends. Ridden as an out and back there are about 6 miles of trail. Henderson | Ney Nature Center Trail– 1.5 miles: Two single-direction trails: Trail one is rated intermediate and trail two is rated difficult with berms, drops and a rock garden. Trail access is not on Ney Nature Center property, but just north of the intersection of Henderson Station Road and County Road 19. Lynd | Camden State Park–5.25 miles: Beginner to advanced: Mixture of fire roads and singletrack rolls through hard-wood forests and prairie with a 1-mile section of rake-and-ride trail on top of the river valley.
Mankato Area • Ft. LeHillier Skills Trail–2.2 miles: A short skills building area south of Mankato on the Blue Earth River with rollers and berms winding through the wooded river bottom contours. This is a perfect trail to get new riders acquainted
Owatonna | Kaplan’s Woods–6 miles: Moderately difficult singletrack through hardwood forest in a 225 acre park. Some log jumps add challenges. The Owatonna Trails Association maintains six miles of mountain bike trail and grooms for fat bikes in the winter. Red Wing | Memorial Park Trails–12 miles: This beginner to advanced trail has many options: Long climbs, challenging obstacles, outstanding views, twisting singletrack. Select a ride that matches your skills and enjoy the view off Sorin’s Bluff. 7.5 miles of this system is dedicated singletrack, the rest is shared with hikers.
Camden State Park | Jan Lasar photo with their bike. Trails are bi-directional. Located on the intersection of Hwy. 66 and 90 just south of Mount Kato. • Kiwanis Mountain Bike Trail–6 miles: Two single-direction loops on the Minnesota River. The short beginner loop consists of rolling, berm filled singletrack in the river bottom land with no obstacles or challenging climbs for the novice rider. More advanced features and options like log piles, jumps and drops can be found on “B” lines with ride-arounds on the intermediate loop. A kids’ loop and skill park are accessible from the trailhead. Groomed for fatbiking in the winter. • Mount Kato–7 miles: Mount Kato has roughly seven miles of cross-country singletrack winding through the wooded hills of their ski area for novice to expert riders. Riders who like a challenge will enjoy the climbs and descents. • Seven Mile Creek–8 miles: Seven Mile Creek’s multi-use bi-directional trails feature little technical challenge but some climbs and descents are steep and very challenging. The area transitions from the Minnesota River to
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Rochester Area • Eastwood Park–7 miles: Three easy and two intermediate trails by Eastwood Golf Course. Trail is mostly wooded with many tight twists and turns along the Zumbro River. • Gamehaven Trails–12 miles: Five easy and two intermediate singletrack loops with scenic overlooks on Gamehaven Lake. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter. St. Peter | Traverse des Sioux Park– 11 miles: This system consists of rolling and winding trail through the Minnesota River bottoms weaving through the trees and over the undulating flood plain. The trails are bidirectional with trail difficulty rated easy and beginner friendly. These trails have some of the area’s best views of the Minnesota River. Winona |Holzinger Lodge Trail–7 miles: Advanced: One of the area’s best singletrack trail systems with short, steep climbs, winding curves and excellent views of the Mississippi at Bluffside Park. Some winter trails.
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June 11, 2022 Austin, MN is becoming a well-known destination for biking enthusiasts! Over 13 miles of hard-surfaced trails connect you with many locations in the city as well as to the Shooting Star, adding an additional 30 miles through the southern region.
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View the history of over 80 bicycles displayed on the walls inside the shop. Including the 1868 “Boneshaker” and a bike from the late Robin Williams’ personal collection.
507-437-4563 | 301 North Main Street, Suite 101• Austin, MN Spring 2022 15
Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails
THERE’S GREAT MOUNTAIN BIKING IN THE HEART OF MINNESOTA. FROM THE PURPOSE-BUILT RED DIRT FLOW TRAILS OF THE CUYUNA LAKES, TO THE GRANITE OUTCROPPINGS OF QUARRY PARK IN ST. CLOUD, THE CENTER OF THE STATE HAS A GREAT VARIETY OF TRAILS TO EXPLORE. Alexandria | Lake Brophy County Park– 6.5 miles: Beginner to expert gravity flow trail singletrack with 200’ elevation change. The top overlooks the entire park and the city of Alexandria and has a prairie landscape. Dock jumps, drops and a rock garden can be found on the more technical, expert sections on the west side of the trail system. The eastern part is more of a cross-country ride with long straightaways and sweeping turns. There are bathrooms, beach access and a playground. The paved Central Lakes Trail skirts the park and provides access by bike. Cuyuna, Crosby, Ironton | Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System–About 70 miles: An IMBA Silver Level Ride Center. Clearly marked, one-way singletrack trails from easy beginner to hardcore expert with stunning views from the top of overburden piles left from the area’s mining days. Deep mine lakes offer refreshment after a hard ride and invite you to dive in or take the kayak out for a paddle. Many trails are groomed for fat tire biking in the winter, including the paved Cuyuna State Trail, which runs through the heart of the system and connects many of the mountain bike trail clusters. The town of Cuyuna also has a pump track. Coming in 2022: A new 7.5-mile adaptive trail that accommodates hand cycles. Elk River | Hillside Park–6 miles: Mostly advanced to expert trail that is either climbing or descending for the entire course. Good skills practice. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter. Fergus Falls | Ferber Park–2.2 miles: A mix of rolling hills and flat terrain in wooded and grassy areas with less difficult to more
16 Spring 2022
challenging trails. Trails were developed by volunteers with help from the City of Fergus Falls and continue to be improved. Look for additional trails in the future. Glenwood | Barsness Park– 7 miles: Beginner to intermediate single track with two challenging climbs to panoramic views of Lake Minnewaska near downtown Glenwood. This system packs in a lot of rollers, berms and fun, flowy sections including some rock obstacles. Hutchinson | Stahl’s Lake County Park– 3 miles: Moderate terrain with some small hills, a balance beam and seesaw. Kensington|Kensington Rune Stone Park– 7.5 miles: Beginner to intermediate, dedicated singletrack. The park has a visitor center with bathrooms. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter. McGregor | Savanna Portage State Park– 10 miles: Mixture of grass and dirt doubletrack. The trail offers varied topography in its several loops with a challenging climb up the Continental Divide with an awesome view as a reward. Milaca | Milaca City Trails–14 miles: Located near the Rum River, this singletrack offers a variety of trail options for riders of all skill levels. Most of the trails are singletrack and go through a mix of woods, hills and fields. Trails are groomed for skiing and fat biking in the winter. Pillager | Pillsbury State Forest–27 miles: Mixture of gravel logging roads, grass and dirt. The trail winds and twists through forest and past lakes with rolling terrain. All trails are multiuse, some include horseback riding.
Pine River | Cut Lake Trail–10 miles: Wide, grassy trails through the forest around Deer and Cut Lakes, ranging from beginner to intermediate. Great solitude and backcountry riding. Groomed only for skiing in the winter.
Saint Cloud Area • Jail Trail–7.5 miles: Beginner to intermediate with advanced options. Singletrack trail runs through dense woods with sections along the fence of the Minnesota Correctional Facility. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter.. • River Bluffs Regional Park–3 miles: Beginner singletrack loop near the Mississippi River. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter. Spicer | Prairie Woods ELC–4 miles: Easy singletrack trails at the Environmental Learning Center start at the parking lot and wind through a mix of open prairie and deciduous woods. The Oak Savannah Trail has a seesaw; other trails have short sections of boardwalk and bridges. The Kandi Trail Riders maintain these trails and groom for fat biking in the winter. Wadena | Black’s Grove–8 miles: Beginner to advanced scenic trails that wind through a wooded setting and along Oak Creek. Groomed for skis and fat bikes in the winter. Waite Park | Quarry Park–2.2 miles: Intermediate: Doubletrack with a mixture of gravel, dirt and grass around some granite outcroppings. Runs through a heavily wooded area with a few fairly technical sections where you bike over billion-year old bedrock. This park has separate trails for walking, skiing and fatbiking in the winter.
Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails
MANY OF THE MOST POPULAR MOUNTAIN BIKE DESTINATIONS IN NORTHWESTERN MINNESOTA CAN BE FOUND IN STATE PARKS AND FORESTS. THIS AREA OFFERS MORE TWISTS AND TURNS AND A GREATER CHANCE TO COME ACROSS WILDLIFE WHILE ROLLING DOWN A HILL OR ALONG A HARD-PACKED SINGLETRACK. Bemidji Area • Lake Bemidji State Park–5 miles: Beginner to advanced: Park has much to offer with dirt and packed grass trails. System is well maintained. Forested terrain has some challenging sections. • Movil Maze–8 miles: This system lives up to its name, so bring a compass and use the map of the area. There are several spurs that branch off this trail. The trail is a combination of grassy sections and dirt singletrack with ramps. Parts of the system are groomed for fatbiking in the winter. Callaway | Maplelag–23 miles: Mixture of challenging singletrack and grassy double track. Easy to expert. About 25km are groomed for fatbiking in the winter.
Detroit Lakes Area • Detroit Mountain–10 miles: This trail system has trails from beginner to expert. Ride contour flow trails, or take the lift up to the top and zip down the downhill flow trails, or ride the skills park. Lodge with bathrooms, bar, and concessions is a must-see. Connecting trail takes you to Mountain View Rec Area. Groomed fatbike trails are available in the winter. • Dunton Locks County Park–3 miles: Trail loops along the shores between Lake Sallie and Muskrat Lake. Some wind through hardwood forested hills. Trails are shared with hikers and are groomed for skiing in the winter. • Mountain View Recreation Area– 6 miles: Single track loops through mature, mixed hardwood forest. Trails are laid out to be challenging. Connecting trail takes you to Detroit Mountain.
Gooseberry Park in Moorhead, MN | Mitch Highman MJOY photo • Iwen Park (Fargo)–7 miles: Beginnerfriendly trail consisting of a north and south section. Not groomed for fatbikes, but usually well-traveled by snowshoers.
Roseau Area • Hayes Lake State Park–5 miles: Beginner trail on grassy, level terrain in a wooded area. Trails start at Hayes Dam. • Mount Roseau–6 miles: Twisting trails on rolling hills in an open, grassy area, rated beginner to intermediate. Lots of switchbacks on this 60-foot artificial hill keep you on your toes.
Ulen to Crookston | Agassiz Rec. Trail– 53 miles: This abandoned railroad grade is a designated multiple use trail shared by pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians and ATV riders. It passes through Ulen, Twin Valley, Gary, Fertile and Crookston and offers scenic views of the Sand Hill and Wild Rice Rivers and Minnesota farmland.
Mountain Bike Trail Guide Sources: BAMB, LAMBAT, Fargo Moorhead Trail Builders, MNDNR, MTBProject.com, Singletracks.com, TrailForks.com, individual cities, counties and organizations.
Lake Bronson | Lake Bronson State Park– 5 miles: Good variety of easy trails and loops to allow for different choices. The trails go through forest and prairie and are a mixture of grass and gravel.
Fargo/Moorhead Area • Gooseberry Mound Park–3.5 miles: Flat and wide singletrack loops on the banks of the Red River of the North. Connects to a short skills building trail with bridges and rock gardens in Horn Park. Beginner-friendly, because obstacles have ride-around options. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter. • M.B. Johnson Park–4 miles: Singletrack loops along the banks of the Red River of the North with some obstacles. Trailhead has bathrooms, water and a shelter. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter.
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Spring 2022 17
Bike Rides & Tours Earth Day Gravel Grinder
Bike MS: Twin Cities
Le Grand Du Nord
Gravel | Northfield, MN
Road | Saint Paul, MN
Gravel | Grand Marais, MN
April 23, 2022
May 15, 2022
May 28, 2022
Road | Minneapolis, MN
Gravel | Northfield MN
PurpleStride Road | Saint Paul, MN
April 30, 2022
HASTINGS/PRESCOTT BIKE TOUR
TOUR DE PEPIN
The Log Jam
May 7, 2022
Mountain Bike | Cloquet, MN
Lake Alice 100 Road | Fergus Falls, MN
May 21, 2022
Tour de Pepin is one of the Midwest’s most unique cycling tours where riders have several options ride through the captivating terrain and historic towns around Lake Pepin. Distances: 32, 40, 50, 72, 100 miles.
TOUR DE WATER
Tour of Lakes
Spring Valley 100 Gravel | Spring Valley, MN
Road | Winona, MN
May 21, 2022
May 7, 2022
Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour Road | Red Wing, MN
May 14-15, 2022
June 4, 2022
www.mntrails.com/event/lake-alice-100 Road | Minneapolis, MN
Road | Lake City, MN
May 21, 2022
May 7, 2022
Fulton Gran Fondo
June 4, 2022
May 21, 2022
Trail | Hastings, MN and Prescott, WI Get outdoors this spring and enjoy two river towns at the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. Take a ride on the Point Douglas Trail between Hastings on the Minnesota side and its neighbor across the river, Preston, WI.
Tour de Cure: Minnesota
Road | Brainerd, MN
June 4, 2022
A scenic “urban” tour of Winona’s parks and trails with visits to Goodview Lake, Prairie Island Park and Latsch Island. The goal of the Tour de Water is to highlight current and future bicycle infrastructure, recreational opportunities and environmental organizations working to keep our lakes, streams, and rivers healthy. Distances: 5, 10, 15, 20 miles.
River Towns Tour Road | Hastings, MN
June 5-10, 2022
Bike MS: MS 150 Road/Trail | Proctor, MN
June 11-12, 2022
ONE STEP FOR ME
SECHLER PARK PAVILION 1200 Armstrong Rd Northﬁeld, MN 7 AM – 2 PM
Riding to Prevent Suicide
25 & 50-mile road 7, 2 and 30 & 55-mile gravel routes
REGISTER AT: SAVE.org/events $5 OFF REGISTRATION, use code TDS2022 18 Spring 2022
Staggered start times starting at 7 am
JULY 30, 2022
20TH ANNUAL RIDE
120 miles for you
MNBIKETRAIL.COM Minnesota Trails
Bike Rides & Tours
CARAMEL ROLL RIDE
The Tour of Minnesota
Trail | Albany, MN
Road | Little Falls, MN
Road/Trail | Brainerd, MN
June 11, 2022
June 18, 2022
June 18-25, 2022
Choose from three options: East to Avon, Collegeville and Saint Joseph, west to Freeport, and of course, north to Holdingford and the covered bridge, then on the Soo Line Trail to Bowlus and Blanchard Dam on the Mighty Mississippi River. As always the best Caramel Rolls you can find anywhere will be available at all the rest stops along the way!
Follow the Great River Road through Charles A. Lindbergh State Park to historic Blanchard Dam and enjoy miles of Mississippi riverfront and quiet back roads with two rest stops. The Dam2Dam Bike Ride is a great way to experience the Mississippi River and the Little Falls area and it’s free! Sign up on the day of the event. Distances: 20, 40 miles.
LADY SLIPPER RIDE
Trans Mni Sota Wheel Race Road | White Bear Lake, MN
June 18, 2022
Lutsen 99er Mountain Bike | Lutsen, MN
Gravel | Farmington, MN
Trail | Avon, MN
June 25, 2022
June 11, 2022
June 18, 2022
SHOOTING STAR TRAIL RIDE Road/Trail | Austin, MN
June 11, 2022
Take a ride through Minnesota’s prairies on this southern Minnesota family favorite. All routes are fully supported with rest stops and SAG support and are either a combination of trail and hard surface county roads or trail only. Distances: 20, 40, 62, 100 miles
See the Minnesota State Flower, the Pink and White Showy Lady’s Slipper in full bloom. This is a short ride to see the beautiful Lady’s Slipper orchids growing along the Lake Wobegon Trail. It’s a free ride, but donations will be accepted. Distance: 6 miles
Loop the Lake Ride Trail | Bemidji, MN
June 18, 2022
TOUR OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER VALLEY (TOMRV) Road/Trail | Bettendorf, IA
June 11-12, 2022
TOMRV is a Midwest cycling tradition now in its 45th year. Every year bicycling enthusiasts from across the country enjoy a ride on scenic paved roads, through Midwest farmland, and along the Mississippi River on this fully-supported celebration of cycling. Each day, choose between a short route (45-60 miles) or the full 100 miles. Registration covers rest stops, road support, the Saturday Happy Hour and a ride t-shirt. A fundraiser ride for the Quad Cities Bike Club.
Minnesota Iron Man Bike Ride Road | Shakopee, MN
June 18, 2022
T W O D AY S O F C YC L I N G
Tour de Water WWW
The Minnesota North Shore Tour Road/Trail | Duluth, MN
June 12-17, 2022 & July 24-29
$25/ 25 miles
An Tou Urban scenr aroun d Win ic ona , MN
Each day offers a century and a shorter route! T W O DAY S O F A TO M R V F I R S T
Riverfront ride for partners, spouses and friends! T W O DAY S O F F R I E N D LY V O LU N T E E R S
...plus, plenty of food!
The Central Lakes Trail Starts Here BikeFergusFalls.com
J U N E 11 & 1 2 , 2 0 2 2 Register online at Q C B C . O R G / TO M R V or G E T M E R E G I S T E R E D. C O M / TO M R V A Q U A D C I T I E S B I C YC L E C LU B E V E N T, S I N C E 1978
Spring 2022 19
Bike Rides & Tours THE SPRING BIKE FLING
GREAT SCOTT BIKE RIDE
Tour of Saints
Trail | Walker, MN
Prior Lake, MN
Road/Trail | Saint Joseph, MN
June 25, 2022
July 4, 2022
July 10, 2022
Take a ride on the Paul Bunyan Trail from Walker to Hackensack and experience the beauty of the Chippewa National Forest in Paul Bunyan’s back yard. Your ride options are plentiful: A 24 or 48-mile out and back or a 36-mile loop ride. Included in the registration are a t-shirt and a bag full of awesome swag.
Enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of rural Scott County, Minnesota on this family-oriented ride hosted by the Great Scott Cycling Club. Route choices are 25 and 50 miles and a 10-mile family fun ride. SAG, rest stops and lunch are provided.
Habitat 500 Road | Fergus Falls, MN
July 14-17, 2022
www.leech-lake.com/spring-bike-fling UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION & DETAILS at: MNTRAILS.COM/EVENTS
BLUENOSE GOPHER 50 Gravel | Granite Falls, MN
July 16, 2022
Mountain Bike | Monticello, MN
July 10, 2022
Photo Credit: Explore MN
Walker, MN is connected to more than 150 miles of paved trails!
Minnesota’s newest gravel ride explores the challenging ups and downs of the Minnesota River Valley in search of the route of a long-forgotten 1890s bike race. Breathtaking views, billion year old granite and quiet back roads steeped in history are the backdrop for a unique ride that starts and ends at Bluenose Gopher Public House.
Bike MS: Ride Across Minnesota Road | Proctor, MN
July 18-22, 2022
TOUR DE BUN BICYCLE CLASSIC leech-lake.com | 218-547-1313 3
Road | Montgomery, MN
July 23, 2022
Ride your bike in the heart of Minnesota Czech Country in scenic Le Sueur County. Each route will have refreshment stops at various points and will provide scenic rural countryside on paved, lightly traveled roads. After the tour, riders will have plenty of time to participate in all the Kolacky Days weekend festivities.
The Fox Gravel | Finland, MN
July 30-31, 2022
TOUR DE SAVE Road or Gravel | Northfield, MN
THE SOURCE OF Pedal at your own pace
Explore Itasca Park on two wheels
Cruise the Heartland Trail
July 30, 2022
Join SAVE and local area cycling clubs for the annual Tour de SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.) The ride supports SAVE’s mission to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, and to reduce the stigma of brain illnesses that affects more than 23 million Americans. Distances: 7, 25, 50-mile road routes and a 30-mile gravel route.
Tour de Tonka Minnetonka, MN
August 6, 2022
CaNDak | www.parkrapids.com
Road | Riverdale, ND
August 6-13, 2022
www.mntrails.com/event/candak 20 Spring 2022
Bike Rides & Tours
Bike Duluth Festival
RAIL TRAILS 100
RED RIBBON RIDE
Mountain Bike | Duluth, MN
Trail | Fergus Falls, MN
Road/Trail | Willow River
August 5-7, 2022
August 6, 2022
DAIRYLAND DARE Road | Dodgeville, WI
August 6, 2022
Set in southwest Wisconsin, the land untouched by glacial flattening during the last ice age, the Dairyland Dare offers some of the most extreme hills in the Midwest. The area is characterized by steep, forested ridges, and deeply carved river valleys. Distances: 50, 100, 150 or 200 km (31, 62, 93 or 124 miles)
The Central Lakes and Lake Wobegon Trails offer some of the best trail riding in the state of Minnesota and this is your chance to conquer both of them in one day! You’ll board a luxury coach bus in Saint Joseph early in the morning and you and your bike get shuttled to the start in Fergus Falls. All you have to do is enjoy the 100-mile ride back.
The Red Ribbon Ride is a fully supported, 2 day, 150-mile bike ride through the wilderness of Minnesota to raise funds for HIV/AIDS service organizations. Whether you are a first time rider, experienced veteran, or have a connection to the cause, the Red Ribbon Ride is for you.
GITCHI-GAMI TRAIL RIDE Road/Trail | Gooseberry Falls State Park
August 20, 2022
Enjoy a supported, recreational ride on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail along Lake Superior’s scenic North Shore. Get up close and personal with superior views, be serenaded by waterfalls, wind through multiple state parks and don’t forget: Snacks, t-shirts and sag support provided! Ride lengths: 8, 28, 34 and 55 miles.
GREAT RIVER ENERGY MESABI TRAIL TOUR Trail | Chisholm, MN
August 20, 2022
The tour is back in 2022. Choose from four different routes of 12, 32, 46, or 64 miles – all traveling out and back on Trail from the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm. While you pedal fully supported along one of Minnesota’s premiere paved bicycle trails you will encounter historic and scenic points of interest, enjoy food and music at rest stops, and a finish line celebration complete with lunch and more music.
www.mesabitrail.com/events-and-tours/ annual tour
RIDE ACROSS WISCONSIN (RAW) Road/Trail | La Crosse to Milwaukee, WI
August 20-21, 2022
° Camp at Memorial Park ° Shops | Dining | Arts Falls Cafe and Canoe Rentals ° 507-401-5566
MORE THAN YOU IMAGINE
FREE REGISTRATION www.bluenose.coop/b www.bluenose.coop/bluenosegopher50
Saturday, July 16, 2022
LIVE MUSIC BY: Jason Evans 6-9 PM Bluenose Gopher outdoor beer garden Minnesota Trails
° Minnesota River Paddling Upper Sioux Agency State Park ° ° Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway
This year’s ride will take you down the historic Elroy-Sparta Trail, through the iconic tunnels, across the Wisconsin River on a ferry, make a stop at Trek HQ and throw a huge party at the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Choose a one-day or two-day option to cover the 235 miles on this fully supported ride produced by the Wisconsin Bike Fed.
2022RIDEMN1 The Annual Minnesota Crossing for a Good Cause!
SEPTEMBER 10-17, 2022 Pipestone, MN to Superior, WI RIDEMN1.ORG Spring 2022 21
Bike Rides & Tours River Valley 100
TASTE OF THE TRAIL
RIDE THE RIDGES
Road or gravel | Mankato, MN
September 10, 2022
Road | Winona, MN
August 28, 2022
Trail | Lanesboro, Whalan, Peterson, MN
September 17, 2022
September 17, 2022 Trail | Fountain, Preston, Harmony, MN
September 24, 2022
CARAMEL APPLE RIDE Trail | Sauk Centre, MN
September 10, 2022
Enjoy the fall colors and great apple refreshments at all the rest stops including caramel apples and other treats from local vendors. Spend the day riding the great Lake Wobegon Trail Country.
Trail | Houston, Rushford Area, MN Three consecutive weekends, each feature a different selection of towns. Get a taste of each community with different activities, food and music. Enjoy what is special about each town while you pedal your way through the beauty of Bluff Country along the Root River.
Road | Pipestone, MN
September 10-17, 2022
RideMN1 holds an annual bicycle ride across Minnesota to raise awareness and raise funds for cancer research. This year they visit Pipestone, Granite Falls, New London, St. Cloud, Sandstone and Superior, WI. There’s optional pre-ride camping and a dinner the day before.
Trail | Saint Paul, MN
Winston County Gravel Cup Gravel | Houston, MN
September 24, 2022
September 11, 2022
North Star Bicycle Race
PARK2PARK BICYCLE RIDE
Road | Saint Paul, MN to US-Canada border
Road | Little Falls, MN
September 14, 2022
Get to know the future route of the Camp Ripley/Veterans State Trail and explore Little Falls. When complete, this unique trail will connect The Soo Line bike trail with Crow Wing State Park and join together the Central Lakes, Lake Wobegon, Soo Line, Paul Bunyan, Heartland and Mi-GiZi Trails! Leave Charles A. Lindbergh State Park and choose from several options.
Mora Bike Tour Road | Mora, MN
September 17, 2022
www.mntrails.com/event/mora-bike-tour UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION & DETAILS at: MNTRAILS.COM/EVENTS
Saint Paul Classic Bike Tour RIDEMN1
Ride the Ridges will take riders through some of the most scenic areas in southeastern Minnesota, from lush valleys along streams to bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. All routes have well-stocked rest stops featuring local delicacies. Rider amenities include a longsleeve t-shirt, meal coupon, showers, and SAG support. Distances: 18, 42, 65, 106 miles
Paul’s Bacon Ride Trail | Brainerd, MN
September 17, 2022
September 24, 2022
EXPLORE… the LUCE LINE STATE TRAIL
Hutchinson Chamber of Commerce & Tourism
Enjoy 55 miles
of beautiful, paved rail-trails across central Minnesota. ac SAVE THE DATE
RAIL TRAILS 100 BIKE TOUR
22 Spring 2022
Bike Rides & Tours
Fall de Tonka Road | Minnetonka, MN
September 25, 2022
Headwaters 100 Road | Park Rapids, MN
September 24, 2022
1 & 2 DAY OPTIONS
Heck of the North Gravel | Two Harbors, MN
October 1, 2022
The Filthy 50 Gravel | Lanesboro, MN
October 8, 2022
Mankato River Ramble Road | Mankato, MN
October 9, 2022
Gray Duck Grit Gravel | Northfield, MN
October 14-15, 2022
As of deadline, the information in this calendar was accurate. Check MnTrails. com/events for additional information.
Ride Winona’s beautiful Bluff Country!
August 20-21 2022
Sept. 17, 2022 23, 44, 67 & Century routes
Rent a trike or rent a shuttle
It’s a good day for a ride!
For more info please visit RideAcrossWisconsin.com
TRANSPORT OR TRIKE
Spring 2022 23
We Can Do This Grassroots efforts bring mountain bike trails to Glenwood, MN
Story and photos by Jan Lasar
Brett Shofner of Nomad Trails and Cody Wilkins discuss trail features during construction. 24 Spring 2022
LAST OCTOBER THE SMELL OF FRESHLY TURNED DIRT WAS IN THE AIR AT BARSNESS PARK IN GLENWOOD, MN. ON A WARM FALL DAY, THE BUZZ OF PLATE COMPACTORS AND EXCAVATORS BROUGHT A BRAND NEW SINGLETRACK TRAIL SYSTEM TO THIS CENTRAL MINNESOTA TOWN OF 2,500 ON THE SHORES OF LAKE MINNEWASKA. It took more than five years, but the grass roots efforts of a few local mountain bike riders finally paid off with the beginning of the end of construction at the popular 200-acre park. “We just knew the terrain was there,” said Tom Haus, a physician at the local clinic. He and friend Jim Beck saw the potential for a mountain bike trail and began a fundraising campaign in 2016. “Jim and I just started knocking on doors and we were lucky to find Minnesota Trails
some generous donors,” he said. They connected with a “civic-minded, local entrepreneur” who matched their initial donations of about $25,000. After getting the OK from the city, Haus, who owns some construction equipment, and a group of others, began building trails. “We tried to pick a path that looked like it was going to be conducive to flow,” he said. The resulting four and half mile system was just the beginning. After five consecutive, unsuccessful applications for a trail building grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR), the group finally got the nod and was awarded $200,000. It was time to bring in a professional builder. Because the park has natural springs that cause massive ice dams in the winter, selecting the right contractor wasn’t easy. “It took us a while to find a builder who was comfortable with what we had in mind,” Haus said. They finally chose Sensus R.A.D. Trails, a Nevada-based nonprofit, but construction didn’t start until October of 2021. “It was one obstacle after another,” Haus said about the time following the grant award. “Maybe it was a frustrated homeowner who lived near the park, who didn’t want to see any bicycles in the park, maybe it was a little pushback from people who were worried about the environmental impact, but eventually things fell into place.” Enter Cody Wilkins, Director and Project Manager for Sensus R.A.D. He and his crew were busy improving the existing trails and adding about two and a half miles by the end of the build season. Wilkins said his design comprises progressive mountain bike trails with a lot of berms and rollers to access the unused space within Barsness Park. “We’ll have some technical features with some of the great, big rocks we found in the area, some wood features. I want to put in some jumps where you can work on your skill set, but it’s really just enhancing this park.
We’re getting singletrack into areas that haven’t ever had traffic in them,” he said. Construction has been going well so far. “The dirt’s been pretty good here, it drains really well, so it allows us to build some really cool stuff and build really quickly. There’s not a lot of rocks, so it’s going really smoothly,” Wilkins said and he expects work to be wrapped up by June of 2022. Haus likes what Wilkins has built so far. “We were very surprised what he could do, just by putting in rollers and berms and different features. We didn’t even know it was an option,” he said. He, too, thinks the trails are an improvement because they create connections between park users and the city “These [trails] are in parts of the park you could never access because it was so overgrown,” he said. They’ve also spurred the forming of a local group to take on the Sisyphean task of eradicating buckthorn at the park by raising money and even bringing in goats. Now that they’re almost complete, Haus said, the trails, conceived as multi-use trails, have been accepted by the community. “After the initial turbulence we see a lot of walkers, a lot of snowshoers on the trail,” which he said helps compact the ground. Visiting riders from other parts of the state have also had positive comments. Haus is looking forward to this spring, which will wrap up construction “I think we’ll end up with seven or eight miles because we have some additional places where we can squeeze features in,” he said, adding he hopes to also see a skills area. While they wait, local riders are working on forming a mountain bike club under the umbrella of the Big Ole Bike Club from nearby Alexandria. “We’re hoping that promotes the sport and we get more local riders involved in trail maintenance and the next generation of people can come and say ‘We can do this’,” Haus said. Spring 2022 25
an dp ho tos
by Aa ron Ha uta la
40 years of LEADERSHIP,
Aaron Hautala grew up on the Mesabi Range and currently resides in Cuyuna. He is an active member of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, served on the Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Taskforce, and was named the 2018 Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota Advocate of the Year. He is passionate about humanpowered outdoor recreation and speaks globally about the power it has to transform communities. Hautala is the Founder of Cuyuna Adventure Town USA ®, and he is the President and Creative Director of Strateligent™, a communications and advertising agency based in Cuyuna. 26 Spring 2022
THE CUYUNA REGION—ONCE AN IRON ORE MINING HUB—IS NOW HOME TO MINNESOTA’S FAMOUS RED DIRT MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS. BY THE END OF THIS YEAR, THE CUYUNA COUNTRY STATE RECREATION AREA (CCSRA) AND ADJOINING CROW WING COUNTY LAND WILL FEATURE 70 MILES OF CLEARLY MARKED, ONE-WAY TRAILS THROUGH ASPEN FORESTS, NATURAL SHORELINES, CRYSTAL-CLEAR WATERS, AND BREATHTAKING OVERLOOKS. IT HAS BECOME A GLOBAL TOURISM DESTINATION THAT NEW AND RETURNING CYCLISTS—FROM BEGINNER TO ADVANCED—CONTINUE TO VISIT EVERY YEAR.
Since opening in 2011, numbers of visiting cyclists have increased by 665%. It didn’t happen by chance, and it wasn’t an overnight success. For decades, area residents wouldn’t stop when hearing “no,” but worked tirelessly to preserve the land, create and expand the trails, and build a community that people choose to visit again and again. THE END OF AN ERA SPARKS A NEW BEGINNING. The last iron ore shipment left the Cuyuna Range nearly 40 years ago—putting to rest the industry that propelled the region to success. “Mama Cuyuna” Barb Grove and countless dedicated community members banded together to reclaim the mine land for human-powered outdoor recreation. In 1993, Minnesota State Representative Kris Hasskamp helped pass legislation that led to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) creating the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Representative Hasskamp said: “We’re preserving this unique area and giving local people access to it and control over it...to protect it and preserve it from abuse.” Ensuring the conservation of the land was their first hurdle. In 2000, bikes first appeared in Cuyuna with the Cuyuna Lakes State Paved Trail—following decades of advocacy and volunteer work by area residents led by John Schaubach and Jenny Smith. A decade later, mountain bike trails arrived—however 2011’s twoway trails hardly resembled 2022’s trails. The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, a volunteer group dedicated to trail maintenance and preservation, conducted a survey of 700 cyclists in 2014. The survey asked visiting cyclists what they liked and didn’t like about the CCSRA mountain bike trails, what amenities they wanted from local communities, and what would make them stay. This year, nearly everything these cyclists asked for will be a reality. MAINTENANCE IS KEY TO GROWTH AND SUCCESS. When the trails opened in 2011, the DNR trail counters Minnesota Trails
recorded 15,552 cyclists at the CCSRA. In 2021, nearly 119,000 cyclists visited—far surpassing the long-term goal of 40,000 cyclists a year. Trail counters have limitations—they cannot differentiate between unique visitors (cyclists are counted each time they visit). However, they can indicate trail use, confirming that the number of cyclists will likely continue to grow, along with maintenance needs. Today’s trail system looks vastly different from 2011’s—with nearly triple the number of singletrack miles, advanced technical features, and groomed fat bike trails. By the end of 2022, Cuyuna will have a 7.5-mile, adaptive, handcycle trail designed for three- or four-wheeled hand-powered cycles, used by cyclists without the ability to use their legs. The Crew has grown, too. Trail maintenance requires approximately one active volunteer per mile, along with support from a broader network of people, businesses, and local, county, and state governments. The Crew’s ability to retain current volunteers while recruiting new ones is crucial to Cuyuna’s ongoing success. While one paid DNR employee helps, the volunteers accomplish thousands of annual hours of CCSRA trail maintenance, ongoing advocacy, meetings, planning, and daily communication. Having enough volunteers to put forth these hours could allow for an expansion of another 20+ miles in and adjacent to the CCSRA. A loss of volunteers could mean the trails do not get maintained and pose safety risks that send cyclists elsewhere. Poorly maintained trails would run the risk of cyclists not returning or closure by the DNR or Crow Wing County. Trail closure would severely affect the local economy of any outdoor recreation destination within Minnesota. LOCATION MATTERS. Community economic development can flourish with well-maintained trails and a location close enough to gain travelers to build the region’s economics. Being located Spring 2022 27
Daily cyclists are counted by three separate one-direction counters. Due to the geographic separation of the counters, the counts are conservative representations of the actual number of cyclists in the Cuyuna. Count under reporting, because of lack of counters, is anticipated to be greater than any double count from a cyclist riding a trail twice. Future new counters will help with the under counting of cyclists.
two hours from metro and micro hubs—the Twin Cities, Duluth, Fargo—makes it easier to visit. The farther away a destination, the more attractive an experience must be— from in-town businesses to lodging to the trail system. Building a village gives residents and visiting cyclists reasons to linger and invest in businesses that provide the off-trail experience. With so many new cyclists visiting each year, on-trail wayfinding is imperative. By the end of 2022, new CCSRA wayfinding signage will provide more intuitive navigation of the entire trail system. To bridge the on- and off-trail experiences, discussions are underway to connect the wayfinding from just outside the CCSRA to the main streets of the Cuyuna-area cities. MEASURE ECONOMIC IMPACT. Cuyuna was purpose-built to offer the appropriate amount of beginner, intermediate, and expert trails to entice cyclists to stay a day or two to experience it all. The 2014 Cuyuna economic impact study found that a cyclist spends $95 per day, on average. Using this figure, the 119,000 cyclists who visited in 2021 would have contributed nearly $12 million. COMPLEMENTARY ACTIVITIES ENSURE SUSTAINABILITY. What if mountain biking falls out of style? Complementary, human-powered experiences that coexist peacefully make a more sustainable trail system. In Cuyuna, complementary summer activities include paved trail cycling, gravel grinding, pump-track riding, swimming, snorkeling, scuba, hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and camping. Winter adventures include fat biking, snowshoeing, alpine skiing, backcountry skin ski skiing, sauna, and ice fishing. MAKE IT EASY TO FIND AND DO. In 2016, while (then) Crew president Aaron Hautala was presenting Cuyuna at EUROBIKE in Germany, many European 28 Spring 2022
cyclists asked for more information on how to visit and experience the trails. At the time, a comprehensive resource to plan a trip or explore the trails didn’t exist—there was nowhere to learn more. During his final year as Crew president, Aaron challenged regional and local chambers of commerce and regional destination marketing organizations to position Cuyuna as a global tourism destination. To supplement the work of these organizations, he and his wife, Beth, created Cuyuna Adventure Town USA (cuyuna.com), a regional tourism website. THE SECRET SAUCE? COLLABORATION IS CRUCIAL. Cuyuna is a global tourism destination for mountain bikers and humanpowered outdoor enthusiasts thanks to the Crew, Cuyuna business community, regional Chambers, bicycle industry advocates, local governments, and state and federal elected officials working together to serve the residents and visitors. This continued collaboration, adaptation, and forward-thinking will ensure mountain biking and other human-powered outdoor recreation is sustainable in the region—not just another chapter in history. Minnesota Trails
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Minnesota Trails TK22_MN_Retailers_Hybrid_Feb_Group_Ad.indd 1
Spring 2022 29 1/26/22 2:48 PM
A Whole New Animal
BY JAN LASAR P H OTO S B Y PAT H F I N D E R T R A I L B U I L D I N G
Beginning in the late 1980s, the newly formed Ely Nordic Ski Club began the process of building cross-country ski trails at Hidden Valley Recreation Area on the edge of Ely, MN. This 15-mile network of ski trails has become a central part of the community, but not just during the cold months. When the snow is gone these wide, mowed trails also see hikers and mountain bikers who enjoy the rugged scenery close to the Boundary Waters. Last year, the addition of about eight miles of purpose-built singletrack has been well received by locals and visitors alike and sparked a mountain bike boom that led the local ski club to change its name and logo. Brett Ross, chair of the renamed Ely Nordic Ski and Bike Club, has seen the sport of mountain biking become an overnight success in Ely. “These trails are a whole new animal,” he said. Inspired by Dr. Scott Anderson, a retired dentist, a local group formed to raise money to hire Dirt Candy Designs, a mountain bike trail designer and builder from Grand Marais, MN to rough in a potential trail and make a design plan for a 10-mile system of interconnected, purpose-built singletrack at Hidden Valley. In 2020 Dirt Candy built a skills area near the club chalet. This mile-long practice run with boardwalks, rock gardens, drops, berms and two small gravity runs served as an introduction to riding singletrack while the group raised more funds to build the rest of the trail system. After the city of Ely signed a long-term lease with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division (MDNR) and received a substantial grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) Trails Grant, the project was ready for the next phase. Between May and October of 2021, Pathfinder Trail Building, an Eagan based trail design and build firm, finished the initial four loops, totaling about eight miles. Owner Adam Buck calls the resulting system a Choose Your Own Adventure Trail. The easier sections are geared toward the novice mountain biker while the other loops get progressively more challenging. “The loop closest to the trail head is a good beginner trail with some fun, challenging climbs and a couple of fun downhill sections, kind of like flow trails with jumps and rollers,” he said. As you get further back into the park, the look and feel turns more natural to blend with the landscape on the edge of the Boundary Waters. Here, Buck said, riders will have to navigate roots and rocks on a narrower, low impact singletrack. “It’s going to feel more like a backcountry trail,” he said. Working around the existing ski trails without negatively impacting them was a key element in the
All photos by Pathfinder Trail Builders
construction of the trails and Buck’s crew put a lot of extra effort into removing brush, yet keeping the natural look of the area. “One of the things with singletrack is, you don’t necessarily want people to realize that someone even built a trail,” he said. The resulting system, he said, is as unique as the landscape around Ely and will provide a good experience that’s fun for any level of rider. “The challenge will be that it’s not a perfectly groomed trail. It’s meant to be a real, raw cross-country trail experience.” He added that because the soil is made of glacial deposits, meaning rocks and gravel, trails should hold up very well to wet weather. Buck and his crew will be back in May of this year to finish the final loop and bring the total length up to about ten miles. While details on the 2022 construction are still pending, Buck said it will be an intermediate level jump trail with ridearounds, to allow inexperienced riders to take a look before attempting a jump. “We’ll make sure both routes are fun and flowy and give you a chance for some air time,” he said. “We went into the whole mountain bike thing head first,” said Harold Langowski, Clerk, Treasurer and Operations Director, city of Ely, who saw the new loops being used as soon as they opened to the public. “Every day there were cars in the parking lot
N E W S I N GLETR AC K TR A I LS I N E LY 30 Spring 2022
NEW HIDDEN VALLEY SINGLETRACK LOOPS 1. A-LINE: Any level of rider. Balance of climbs and ﬂowy downhills. 2. THE BIG PINES LOOP: Scenic views as you drop into and climb out of a narrow slot canyon. 3. ERRATIC BEHAVIOR: Good climbs, big boulders and rock gardens with challenging terrain. 4. THE OUTBACK: The most difficult and longest trail into the far corners of Hidden Valley. Great vistas, good drops, opportunity to get some air, rocks to climb. COMING IN 2022: Intermediate level jump trail loop, trail kiosk, maps and enhanced signage.
HIDDEN VALLEY RECREATION ON AREA BIG PINES TRAIL 9+ Miles of Track | Skills Loop Visit Ely.org to plan your trip!
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B Y N I C O L E G R E E N W E L L , A N O K A C O U N T Y PA R K S P H OTO S B Y A N O K A C O U N T Y PA R K S
RI CE C RE EK C HA IN O F LA K E S PA RK RE SE RV E A DD S N EW O U TD O O R E X P ERI EN C E .
and people biking these trails,” he added. Compared to other trail projects around the state, the Ely trail system came together remarkably fast. Langowski credits all the parties involved for their dedication to the project. Ely Nordic, trail builders, the city of Ely, Saint Louis County, IRRRB, Minnesota Forestry Department and the US Forest Service all worked together through the often-complicated process of permitting and financing. “It’s not as simple as just hiring somebody to cut a path through the woods and make a trail,” he said. The total cost of the project was $ 521,500. $190,000 of it came from The Federal Recreational Trail Program, the IRRRB contributed $260,000 and the balance came from the city of Ely and the fundraising efforts of the Ely Nordic Ski and Bike Club. With the Hidden Valley Mountain bike trails so close to completion and the final connection of the iconic Mesabi Trail into town just around the corner, Langowski is excited for future biking opportunities coming to Ely. “What we’ve tried to do is look at diversifying the amenities and what’s available for the visitors. Mountain biking is certainly one of those features that have caught on fire,” he said. Ross is also looking to the future. 2021 marked the inaugural season of Team Borealis, the high school and middle school team with about 18 kids, traveling as far as Mankato for races, and the club plans to establish a youth mountain biking program similar to the ski program already in place. Because the new trails were designed to coexist with the prized ski trails, they will be groomed for fat bikes in the winter. A grant from the Northern Saint Louis County Trails Task Force enabled the club to purchase a Trail Tamer groomer. Without actual trail use counts it’s hard to say what the impact of the new singletrack trail has been so far, but Ross has also noticed more cars in the parking lot of Hidden Valley. “I’ve been using those trails for almost 24 years now and this past summer was the busiest I’ve seen it in all previous summers combined,” he said. The long-term goal is to have many more miles of singletrack in the Ely area. “One of the things we want to do is make [Ely] a specific destination for mountain biking,” Ross said, but he puts the threshold at which a trail turns into an economic development tool at about 20 miles in length. “While we had the crews here, we actually took them out to a couple of other tracts of land that we’ve been eying up as potential future singletrack.” Ely has long been a hub for outdoor recreation and a staging point for trips into the Boundary Waters. The new singletrack at Hidden Valley is only the beginning of what could become Minnesota’s next big mountain biking destination. Paired with the arrival of the Mesabi Trail, the future there looks bright for pedalpowered recreation.
Singletrack Trails Coming to Anoka County Parks Imagine exploring some new singletrack on a summer day. You ride in the shade of towering red pines along a chain of lakes, the smell of the trees is in the air and your tires are gripping the dirt just right as you round another berm with a satisfying crunch. After a good workout it’s time to roll back to your campsite and relax by the fire while the sun sets over the water. This feels like up north, but it’s not as far north as you might think. The 5,500-acre Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve is the largest park within the Anoka County Park system and it takes up about a quarter of the footprint of the community of Lino Lakes. People already come here to camp, hike, paddle the chain of lakes, ride the paved Rice Creek Regional Trail, visit the Wargo Nature Center and tee off at Chomonix Golf Course, but the addition of singletrack mountain bike trails will give park users a new type of outdoor experience. What started out as unsanctioned trails almost came to an end as the county considered demolishing the rogue network that was beginning to take shape in the area, but Anoka County Parks saw a service gap within the community and instead decided to make them into an attraction for everyone to enjoy. Purpose-built mountain bike trails are safer, and more sustainable than wild trails and county officials sought the help from experts at Pathfinder Trail Building, an Eagan based trail design and build
firm and Terra Active, a trail planning and design consultant from the Twin Cities that’s been involved in developing mountain bike trails at MurphyHanrehan Park Reserve, Elm Creek Park Reserve, Lake Rebecca Park Reserve, Carver Park Reserve, Bertram Lakes Park Reserve and Hillside Park in Elk River. “When you experience a purpose-built single track trail it might appear as a very random thing, but I can tell you that from initial design to the skilled operators who run the machines, there’s much more to it than meets the eye,” said Jay Thompson, owner of Terra Active.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE TRAILS The new single track trails at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve consist of two separate trail loops, about two miles apart. The 1.8-mile Sherman Lake Trail is located on the east side of the park while the 1.4-mile Rice Lake Trail is on the west. Both trails are one-way continuous loops with a single entry and exit point connected to an existing paved trail, which riders use for access. Builders took every opportunity the landform provided into consideration while designing these two trails. They’ll ride similarly with a flowing design, however Pathfinder Trail Building was able to build them each with a slightly different feel. Rice Lake Trail features a few challenging climbs to elevate the heart rate, combined with fun flowing segments. The Sherman Lake Trail also has a flowing design and adds a few jump opportunities and a couple of downhill segments that should add a little thrill for the gravity trail fans. “I anticipate that most riders will be very pleased,” said Thompson.
A VALUED PARTNER OF THE NEW TRAILS IS MINNESOTA OFF-ROAD CYCLISTS (MORC). MORC IS A TWIN-CITIES BASED NONPROFIT ADVOCATE FOR MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS AND THEY’LL BRING THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE ON INNOVATIVE TRAIL IDEAS AND TRAIL MAINTENANCE SO EVERYONE CAN ENJOY THE NEW SINGLETRACK TRAILS. VOLUNTEERS WANTING TO HELP WITH MAINTENANCE OF THESE TRAILS ARE INVITED TO CONTACT MORC. WWW.MORCMTB.ORG
Sherman Lake and Rice Lake trails will be ready to ride in the summer of 2022. The plan is to expand the trails at Rice Creek into different interconnected nodes providing additional miles to enjoy over the next few years. During your visit at the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve, be sure to check out other amenities this beautiful park has to offer. A beach, boat launch, campground, canoeing, kayaking, Chomonix golf course, cross-country skiing, fishing, geocaching, picnic pavilion, playground, and Wargo Nature Center. For more information visit www. anokacountyparks.com.
Spring 2022 33
A Hidden Gem The Xcel Energy Mountain Bike Park in Shakopee, MN occupies an unassuming spot, tucked between an industrial park and busy Highway 169, obscured by woods. Behind the sheltering foliage, however, the picture changes. Mountain bikers zip down the trail, rip through corners and balance on logs while enjoying scenic lake views, almost blissfully unaware they’re in the middle of suburbia. The new mountain bike park opened to the public last year as a collaborative project between the city of Shakopee, Xcel Energy, Shakopee Public Schools and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. With four miles of loops circling Quarry Lake and riding options for beginners and advanced riders, it’s the perfect choice for a day trip no matter your skill level. “This mountain bike course builds on the city’s vision of Quarry Lake Park as a recreation
N EW M O U N TAI N BI K E TR A I LS M A KE CON N E C T I O N S I N SHA KOPEE. 34 Spring 2022
BY AMANDA MCKNIGHT P H OTO S B Y PAT H F I N D E R T R A I L B U I L D I N G
destination for outdoor enthusiasts in this hidden gem of a park,” said Shakopee Mayor Bill Mars. “Folks can make a day of it on the bike trails and the lake.” The single-track style course weaves between the tree cover and a larger prairie area, taking advantage of natural and constructed topography. These features, along with the loop around the lake, provide a unique riding experience, but this is no accident. During the conceptualization process the city consulted with active mountain bikers from community organizations like the Shakopee Mountain Biking Team and Little Bellas, a nonprofit organization offering mountain bike camps and programs to young girls, to ensure trails would meet the needs and wants of those who use it. The Xcel Energy Mountain Bike Park is an allweather trail that stays open in winter for fat tire bikes and can stay open even after a rainfall. The trail base is a fine sand topped with four inches of compacted and crushed asphalt, so it drains very well and there’s no organic matter to make mud and ruts. “Many trails close after it rains, sometimes for days,” Mars explained. “Our trail is ready to ride an hour after the rain stops and actually rides best immediately after a rain.” One of the signature features of the trail is the “chicken foot,” which is a large, fallen oak tree that’s been cut flat on top for riders to test their balancing skills. The design and location of the trail supports future plans to use the course for National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) racing, as well. Shakopee Public Schools Superintendent Mike Redmond pointed out the trail was made possible by different organizations working together for the good of the community. “At one point, we were considering building a much smaller bike trail,” Redmond said of the school district, which has a mountain biking team. “Thanks to terrific communication and support between the City of Shakopee, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Xcel Energy, and Shakopee Public Schools, we were able to join together and create an outcome that is far superior to these initial plans.” Eventually, the paved trail that leads to Quarry Lake Park and the bike trail will be extended to the south to cross Highway 169 over a pedestrian bridge to allow pedestrians and bikers to cross the highway safely. The bridge has received Shakopee City Council approval and construction is expected to begin in 2022. On the north side of the highway, the existing paved trail extends from Quarry Lake Park to the Minnesota Valley State Trail at the Valleyfair grounds. Riders can take a leisurely ride on the paved state trail with Xcel Energy Mountain Bike Park as their destination.
“THE PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE IS A VERY EXCITING PIECE TO THE QUARRY LAKE PARK PUZZLE,” MARS SAID. “WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO PROVIDING EASIER ACCESS TO OUR BEAUTIFUL OUTDOOR AREAS AND PROVIDING MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDERS ANOTHER OPTION FOR A PLACE TO SPEND THE DAY ADVENTURING.”
The Chicken Foot: Downed tree turned balance beam.
1 City: Hastings, MN 4 Trails: Mississippi R. Greenway Vermillion R. Greenway Point Douglas Trail Hastings City Trails 30 Miles: Experience all this and more on 30 plus miles of biking our local trails. VisitHastingsMN.org
Spring 2022 35
Story and photos by Rick Pertl
Driftless BIKEPACKING Social distancing is the new normal and there is no better place to get off the grid than bikepacking on the backroads of Minnesota. Deep in the southeast corner of our state you’ll find a vast network of gravel roads that connect three Minnesota State Parks, all a full day of bike riding apart. Whitewater, Beaver Creek Valley and Forestville Mystery Cave State Parks also feature one of the hidden gems of our park system-camper cabins. Typically, bikepacking adventures are self-supported trips with sleeping in tents, but sometimes it’s okay to spoil yourself. These simple cabins are the prize after a long day in the saddle. For the past five years, my good friend Keith and I have picked a different area of the state to explore. The idea for this trip was to lighten our load and leave our tents and sleeping pads at home by spending three nights in camper cabins. The day before the ride Keith and I drove two hours from the Twin Cities to Whitewater State Park, which is in a valley somewhere between Rochester and Winona in Minnesota’s Driftless Region. After settling into the cabin we went out for a 20-mile ride and soon found out that Driftless meant serious hills, which set the tone for the rest of the trip. Day one of a bikepacking trip is always full of excitement. All of the planning and anticipation come to fruition and now the rubber hits the road. The day promised blue skies and a tailwind, which is all I ever ask for. The route from Whitewater to Beaver Creek Valley State Park
is approximately 85 miles, mostly on gravel roads. To call the views scenic is an understatement and our mode of travel is the best way to see one of the most
beautiful areas in our state. We traveled through Amish country and passed a few horse drawn buggies working their way up and down the many bluffs in this region. We finally finished our last section of gravel road and saw the sign for the park entrance. Our day’s trip finished with a 1.5 mile downhill into the park. Nobody was waiting for us at the office, so we headed to our cabin which was left unlocked and ready for us to settle in. One of the challenges of bikepacking is transporting firewood to your site. Park staff has always accommodated us by dropping it off for us, but there was no one around. Luckily, the campground host interrupted his dinner and gave me a ride in his pickup a half mile back to the office to grab some wood. It’s not part of his job description, but that’s the hospitality we always receive when staying in a state park. Beaver Creek Valley is very remote, very beautiful and very much without cell phone signal-and that’s OK. Keith and I spent our evening exploring the park’s two unique features. The Big Spring is an extremely cold, natural spring and it doubles as an ice bath for sore muscles. Also, the road going deeper into the park traverses Beaver Creek a few times, but without bridges. You just ride through the river and luckily the water was low enough for our bikes. We spent some time exploring the riverbed and it resembled a scene from the movie Avatar, a lush, green river valley on a foreign planet. Day two started with a long, slow climb out of the park. We were in no hurry to leave the many new and incredible views behind even though we had 70 miles ahead of us. For the first 40 miles every bend in the road
delivered an amazing backdrop for our ride and we felt lucky to be able to see parts of Minnesota that most people will never see. Both of us were more than ready for lunch when we pulled into Lanesboro. Our next stop was Preston, where we picked up supplies and made it the last eight miles into Forestville Mystery Cave State Park. We entered the park from the
north through historic Forestville, which is full of buildings from the mid 1800’s. We crossed an old iron bridge-closed to traffic, but open for bikes-and arrived at the park office. The ranger was super friendly and drove firewood right to our cabin. He told us about an easy hike to an access point in the South Branch Root River so we could go for a swim. We spent our third and final night sitting around the fire before getting a good night’s sleep in the cabin. Each cabin provides two bunk beds, an indoor picnic table and a screened-in porch. They’re simple, but so much more luxurious than our tents. Packing up in the morning is easier especially if you awaken to rain. We knew there was a chance of storms for our last day and were awoken around 4 am to loud thunder in the distance. The storm missed our park, but more was on the way. The last day is always a mix of sadness that the adventure is ending and happiness of the good times you’ve had. It was a 60-mile ride back to Whitewater State Park, almost all of it straight north. The impending storm had sustained 20 mph winds out of the south and we made great time, arrived back at our car and packed up just before the rain started.
Don’t miss PRESTON P T Trout Days th May -17th May15 20-21
Enjoy more than 60+ miles of paved trails! l
www.gethookedonpreston.com | 507-765-2100
36 Spring 2022
I would recommend this trip for anyone with good fitness who likes bikepacking on gravel roads and camper cabins in state parks and I hope the weather gods smile on you as they did on us.
e r o l Exp ony Harm sota Minne
Cele 25 y brating Harm ears of th on e Valle y-Preston y Tra il
Come for the bike trail . . .
Rest stop along the Root River
. . . Stay to explore!
Camper cabin at Forestville Mystery Cave State Park
• Niagara Cave • Amish Tours • Antique Mall • Gift Shops • Casual & Fine Dining
Call for a free visitor guide! 1-877-886-2469 www.exploreharmony.com
Spring 2022 37
Garden Island Rec. Area
Minnesota’s bike trails, long distance hiking trails, water trails, state parks, state recreation areas and biomes
Lake of the Woods
Zippel Bay Lake Bronson
Red River of the North
Lake Cass Winnibigoshish Lake Paul Bunyan Migizi Schoolcraft
La Salle Lake Rec. Area
Leech Lake Walker
OHV Rec. Area
Grand Portage National Monument
Temperance Cascade River River
Chisholm Iron Range
Hill Annex Mine
Judge C.R. Magney
Bear Head Lake
Lake Vermilion /Soudan Undergound Mine 169
Border Route Trail
Lower Red Lake
Red River Rec. Area
Voyageurs National Park
Big Bog Rec. Area
Upper Red Lake
George H. Crosby Manitou Silver Bay
Split Rock Lighthouse
Gitchi Gami Trail Cloquet Two Harbors Heartland 169 Mississippi Park Buffalo River Detroit Superior Hiking Trail North Paul Rapids Lakes Country Lake Superior 2 Bunyan Trail North Duluth Country Jay Cooke Pine Trail Crow Savanna 59 Cuyuna Wing Portage Willard Alex Country Otter Maplewood Laveau Rec. Area Munger Tail Segment Moose 94 Brainerd Wadena Kettle Crosby Lake
Mille Lacs Kathio
71 Long Prairie 10
Soo Line Little Falls
Lake Carlos Lake Wobegon
Glacial Lakes Pomme de Terre
Big Stone Lake 12
Lake Rec. Area
Fort Marshall Ridgely Camden Cottonwood Lake Shetek
Pipestone National Monument
Split Rock Creek
Pipestone Casey Jones
Blue Mounds Luverne
Watonwan St. James
St. Croix River
North Branch Sunrise Prairie Hardwood Creek Grand Rounds Hugo Saint Paul
STATE RECREATION AREAS
BIKE TRAILS Interstate
William O’Brien Marine on St. Croix Brown’s Creek Stillwater Gateway
Hastings Fort 52 Snelling Cannon Red Wing Minnesota Valley 61 Frontenac Valley Cannon Rec. Area
TALLGRASS ASPEN PARKLAND
Minneapolis Luce Line Hutchinson Crow, Dakota LRT South Fork Greenleaf Rail
St. Croix Snake
Charles A. Lindbergh
Father Hennepin Hinckley
169 Sauk Sauk Centre Soo Line Albany Saint Cloud St. Joseph ROCORI 94 Mississippi Paynesville Sibley Crow, Glacial North Fork Lakes
Lac qui Parle
Upper Sioux Agency
Mille Lacs Lake
New Ulm Mankato
35 Falls Cannon
STATE WATER TRAILS CITIES LONG DISTANCE HIKING TRAILS Not for Navigation Jan. 2021
Mississippi Pioneer 63 Nerstrand Great Zumbro Big Woods River Carley
Faribault Straight Douglas Ridge John A. Latsch Sakatah Singing Hills Whitewater 14 Winona Owatanna Rice Lake Great River Bluffs Rochester Whitewater 52 Root Cedar Root River Myre Blue Blazing 90 Lanesboro Big Island Earth Star Shooting Beaver Creek Valley Preston Star 63 Blue Austin Shell Albert Harmony-Preston Valley Earth Rock Lea Lake Louise Harmony Forestville /
i scove r
PHOTO: LINDA FLANAGAN
3 Spr 38 Sp Spring ing ng 2022 22
PIPESTONEMINNESOTA.COM Minne Mi Minnesota nnesot sotaa TTrails raiils
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CENTRAL LAKES TRAIL ASSOCIATION 320-763-0102
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Minnesota Trails Directory Regions
324 Curtis Avenue, Ironton www.cykelonline.com
FITZHARRIS BIKE & SPORT
EAT & DRINK
A quick and easy reference for planning your adventure!
124 2nd Street NE, Little Falls www.tourightbicycleshop.com
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TRAILHEAD CYCLING & FITNESS
COLDWELL BANKER CROWN REALTORS 218-546-8346
CUYUNA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER 218-546-7000
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DRIFTLESS TRADING POST 763-712-0312
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Hwy. 6 & 210, Crosby
320 East Main Street, Crosby www.cuyunamed.org
11350 Aquila Drive, Suite 505, Champlin www.trailheadcyclingandfitness.com
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CENTRAL LAKES TRIKES
Osakis, MN | Trike Rental & Shuttle Service www.centrallakestrikes.com
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TONKA CYCLE AND SKI
318 Mill S, Peterson www.driftlesstradingpost.com
MID MINNESOTA FEDERAL CREDIT UNION 218-546-5428
117 West Main Street, Crosby www.mmfcu.org
22640 MN-6, Crosby www.oarsnmine.com
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14506 State Highway 6, Deerwood www.timberbuildingsupply.com
B&Bs COUNTRY BED AND BREAKFAST 651-257-4773
5 miles from Taylors Falls www.countrybedandbreakfast.us
GREEN HERON B&B
2810 Meyers Bay Road, Grand Rapids www.greenheronbandb.com
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124 West Main Street, Crosby www.shopvictual.com
23688 Forest Road, Deerwood Great rooms at great prices.
RED RIDER RESORT 23457 Co. Rd. 31, Crosby www.redriderresort.com Minnesota Trails
1110 Hiawatha Dr. E www.bigriverresort.com
See more details about these trail-friendly businesses:
www.mntrails.com/trail-partners Spring 2022 39
Caramel R ll
Where every season is above average!
2ND SATURDAY IN JUNE
100 miles: Shuttle out, ride back.
1st Saturday in August
LakeWobegonTrail.com Lake Wobegon businesses are open and ready to serve you!
EAT & DRINK
Avon Cabin Café
105 Avon Ave. S, Avon www.AvonCabinCafe.com (320) 356-7198 +RPH FRRNLQJ DW LWV Ɠ QHVW
Bad Habit Brewing
25 College Ave. N, St. Joseph www.BadHabitBeer.com (320) 271-3108 Grab an after-ride pint
200 Avon Avenue S, Avon www.GatheringGroundsAvon.com (320) 356-1106 Hot and cold coffee drinks, pastries and more
Jordie’s Trailside Café
105 1st Ave., Bowlus wwwJordiesTrailside.com (320) 584-8193 Best pie on the trail
Art in Motion
1400 4th Street, Holdingford www.ArtInMotionOnTheLakeWobegonTrail.com (320) 746-0680 Art, music, food, craft beer, ice cream
The Outpost Mercantile 615 6th St. S, Sauk Centre www.TheOutpostMercantile.com (320) 351-7678 Healthy sandwiches, smoothies and goodies.
40 Spring 2022 2203LakeWobegonTrailAssociation.indd 1
AmericInn Sauk Centre
1230 Timberlane Dr., Sauk Centre www.WyndhamHotels.com (320) 352-2800 Stay with us after a day on the trails
The Estates Bed and Breakfast
29 E Minnesota St., Saint Joseph www.EstatesBedAndBreakfast.com (320) 557-0300 firstname.lastname@example.org
Minnesota Street Market 27 W Minnesota St., St.Joseph www.MnStreetMarket.com (320) 363-7733 Food, Drink, Art and Conversation
75 Callaway St E, St Joseph www.JoetownMn.com (320) 363-7201 Small town warmth. Big city cool.
Minnesota Trails 3/1/22 9:59 AM