Minnesota Trails Spring 2023

Page 1

Spring 2023



522 Sinclair Lewis Avenue Sauk Centre, MN 56378


Minnesota Trails Staff

Jan Lasar


Joyce Frericks Accounting

Karen Knoblach

Page Layout & Design

Graphic Design

Editorial Board

Brett Feldman

Executive Director

Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota

Vol. 28, No. 1

March 2023

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.

Continuing the


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2 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023
Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 3 E-bike rental in Red Wing, MN Visit our new Red Wing location at 2345 Main Street. Reserve online today & “e-joy” your ride! easy to rent. easy to ride. e-BikesWhe www.RollingRiverBikeRental.com THANK YOU: FIND US ON: SPRING 2023 Contents FEATURES 25 Minnesota Mountain Bike Series Gary Sjoquist 26 High Fun Factor Jan Lasar 28 Shifting Gears: Cuyuna Aaron Hautala 30 New Mountain Bike Trails at Sauk River Regional Park Jan Lasar 32 Good Connections A Visit to Marshall, MN Jan Lasar 34 A Trail Ride and a Little History: A Visit to Brainerd, MN Jan Lasar 36 Straddle & Paddle Rick Pertl COLUMNS 8 Minnesota Miles Jan Lasar DEPARTMENTS 4 Parks & Trails Council News Lisa Filter 9 Minnesota Mountain Bike Guide Minnesota Trails by Region 18 Bike Ride Guide Minnesota Events May–October 38 MN Trails Map Minnesota’s Trails At-A-Glance 39 Trail Partners Find Trail-Friendly Businesses ABOVE: Forest meets prairie in Camden State Park, Lynd, MN. Jan Lasar photo COVER: Brian Kremer of the Mid Minnesota Cycling Club rides the new trails at Sauk River Regional Park in Sartell, MN. Jan Lasar photo

Photo Contest Winners

Four categories highlight four “corners” of Minnesota

Minnesota’s Southwest State Parks



4 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023
John G. White at Upper Sioux Agency State Park
- was to picture it with the surrounding prairie grasses trails and roadways. The image was made toward the end of June 2021. 2
John G. White Blue Mounds State Park
TRAIL | Spring 2023
Tomas Alvarez Minneopa State Park

Minnesota’s Southeast State Parks Mi


ne of my favorite things to photograph is water-there in person.

Tomas Alvarez at Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park
Justin Pruden Fort Snelling State Park
2 3
Scott M Mohn Fort Snelling State Park

Photo Contest Winners

Four categories highlight four “corners” of Minnesota

Minnesota’s Northeast State Parks


our might to what we hold dear.

Tomas Alvarez at Gooseberry Falls State Park
1 “T -
2 Steve Simmer Bear Head Lake State Park 3 Jim Sochko Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Minnesota’s Northwest State Parks Mi



"I have a strong fondness for tree/forest photog-

Lori Warne at Itasca State Park Chris Brendemuhl Itasca State Park Walt Huss Maplewood State Park
2 3


Recently, Star Tribune Outdoors Weekend Editor


Bob Timmons asked me to answer a simple question for an article he was working on. “What is a bucket list experience you are planning this year?”

Lots of things came to mind immediately: Skydiving, driving a race car, swimming with sharks, riding the Orient Express, and so forth. There was only one problem, these were the bucket list items of people I know, not mine. It turns out I didn’t have one.

My head started to spin. There will be a day when the foot meets the bucket, and I really should have a list, shouldn’t I? I think so. Otherwise, I may cross into the great beyond with things left undone. Is my life so full of excitement that there’s no need for a list? Hardly. There’s plenty of tedium in front of a computer monitor in the life of an outdoor magazine editor and I have to schedule adventure to have any.

The more I thought about it, the more the fog lifted. Maybe I was reaching too high and trying too hard. Roller skating through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art sounds fun, but is it attainable? After

1City: Hastings, MN

4Trails: 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.

all, what good is this bucket list if it drains your savings and things take months to plan? The concept of the bucket list also looks like a whole lot of pressure, with only death as a reward. I decided to re-brand the bucket list as the Minnesota To Do List (MNTDL). It’s limited to six entries and the prize for completing one item is getting to add another one.

Entry number one in the new, fun register: STAY IN A CABIN IN THE WOODS, OFF THE GRID. That’s the answer I submitted to Bob Timmons. This one was easy. It was already on the calendar and will be checked off by the time you read this. I wrote “I look forward to skiing, snowshoeing, fatbiking, French press coffee, getting beat in Yahtzee and hacking a hole in the ice to jump in after the sauna.”

My mental logjam finally broke and the ideas started to flow.

22 years ago, my wife, Jen, and I biked the MESABI TRAIL for the first time. We couldn’t do it all with the time we had, and some significant gaps in the trail required some long stretches of road riding. Sometime next year the Mesabi Trail is projected to officially be finished, connecting Grand Rapids and Ely with 165 miles of trail. This trip will be MNTDL item number two, scheduled for 2024.

After rummaging through my collection of Minnesota state park patches, I realized I had only 11 PARKS LEFT TO TICK OFF THE LEDGER. Visiting Franz Jevne, Grand Portage, George H. Crosby Manitou, Scenic, McCarthy Beach, Big Stone Lake, St. Croix, Whitewater, Carley, Great River Bluffs and Beaver Creek Valley state park is now an official goal. I should accomplish this in the next three years.

Once I check Grand Portage State Park off the MNTDL, I’ll have been to both MINNESOTA NATIONAL MONUMENTS, so task number four is already 50% completed.

Visiting VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK, Minnesota’s only national park, is the next item on the list. This one comes with the bonus mission of a sea voyage to Garden Island State Recreation Area, 27 miles across Lake of the Woods from Warroad.

Another must-do item is A PADDLE TRIP ON EACH OF MINNESOTA’S 35 STATE WATER TRAILS. The odds are not in my favor on this one, because I’ve been on exactly one state water trail so far and I’m going to be fifty years old a week after this issue comes out.

But, I now have an official list without the grim reaper as the curator and as these things get checked off, you’ll read about them in this magazine or on mntrails.com.



8 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023
me at jan@mntrails.com
Jan Lasar Trails Editor/Publisher Minnesota Miles

Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails

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.

Duluth Area

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.


• 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.

Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 9
2023 Details at www.mntrails.com/ mountain-bike-trails WWW.SPIRITMT.COM LIFT-SERVED DOWNHILL MOUNTAIN BIKING WITH A VIEW



Ely Area

• Hidden Valley Recreation Area–24 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 10 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

• 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

bikin’ lake county

10 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023 2810 Meyers Bay Road, Grand Rapids, MN 218-999-5795 • www.greenheronbandb.com
For our guests hitting the trails a boxed breakfast is available. Road Grand Rapids MN NORTHEAST MNMinnesota Mountain Bike Trails 2023 DISCOVER THE IronRange.org From the top of a ski hill to the bottom of a mine pit - if you mountain bike, it’s time to Discover the Range Discover world-class trail systems.
Explore three of Minnesota’s most scenic and diverse trail systems, from along Lake Superior’s North Shore to miles of paths carved through the rugged wilderness. Visit LOVINLAKECOUNTY.com for trail maps and more info! BeaverBay, MN Split Rock Wilds Two Harbors, MN Demonstration Forest Gooseberry Falls to Silver Bay Gitche-Gami State Trail
Redhead | Mesabi Trail | Giants Ridge

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 fatbikes in the winter.

Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 11 NORTHEAST MN Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails 2023 The Mesabi Trail. DISCOVER DISCOVER THE plan your trip now > mesabitrail.com | visitgrandrapids.com | ironrange.org Explore vast wilderness, pedal quiet town roads, and traverse Minnesota’s historic Iron Range. Ride the Mesabi Trail.

NORTHEAST MNMinnesota Mountain Bike Trails 2023

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.

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.

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. Details

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Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails 2023

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. These trails are fast and are great for beginner to intermediate riders. Constructed drops, teetertotters, 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. Note: Parking is available across the street at Pioneer Ridge Middle School during off-school hours only. Since there’s no parking on any of the residential streets around Hawk’s Ridge, riders need to park at nearby city parks and ride in during school hours.

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. Fatbikes are allowed on Big Bluestem Trail in the winter.

• 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.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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 fatbikes 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.


Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails


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.

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 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 fatbikes 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 fatbiking 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 fatbikes in the winter..

• River Bluffs Regional Park–3 miles: Beginner singletrack loop near the Mississippi River. Groomed for fatbikes in the winter.

Sartell | Sauk River Regional Park-2 miles: A great beginner trail for a quick round or running laps in an 80-acre park on the Sauk River. One technical line runs along a berm. Rock gardens in the woods add to the fun. Skills area coming in 2023.

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. 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 fatbikes 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


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.

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.

• 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 Recreational 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.

Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 15
Mount Roseau in Roseau, MN | Jan Lasar photo
320.219.7433 SALES • SERVICE • RENTALS Right off the Central Lakes Trail 419 N. Nokomis Street, Alexandria Details at www.mntrails.com/ mountain-bike-trails

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.

Faribault Area

• Caron Park–2 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. Fatbikes 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.

Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails

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.

Jackson | Belmont Park-5.3 miles: Beginner to Advanced natural surface singletrack under the mature canopies of oak, walnut, and ash trees with a beautiful view of the Des Moines River. Bobsled-style flow trails on intermediate and advanced portions of the trails system have plenty of switch backs, berms, and jumps as they drop 120 feet into the river valley. The one-mile beginner trail near the parking lot is balance-bike friendly. Other amenities are an enclosed log shelter house with fireplace, picnic tables, outdoor grills, bonfire area, hand pump for water and an enclosed pit bathroom.

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 with their bike. Trails are bidirectional. Located on the intersection of Hwys. 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 grasslands in the valley, to deciduous forests on either side and up the bluffs of the creek.


Minnesota Mountain Bike Trails

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.

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.


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 fatbikes 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.

Mountain Bike Trail Guide Sources: BAMB, LAMBAT, Fargo Moorhead Trail Builders, MNDNR, MTBProject.com, Singletracks.com, TrailForks.com, individual cities, counties and organizations.

Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 17
Mount Kato, Mankato, MN Jan Lasar photo
Details at www.mntrails.com/

Bike Rides & Tours 2023

Earth Day Gravel Grinder

Gravel | Northfield, MN

April 22, 2023


PurpleStride Road | Saint Paul, MN

April 29, 2023


Fulton Gran Fondo Road | Minneapolis, MN

May 6, 2023


Granny’s Gravel Grinder

Gravel | Princeton, MN

May 6, 2023



Trail | Hastings, MN and Prescott, WI

May 6, 2023

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. www.hastingsmn.org

LAKE ALICE 100 Road | Fergus Falls, MN

May 13, 2023

No, you don’t have to ride 100 miles, but if you do, 87 laps will get you there. It’s always held the Saturday before Mother’s Day and always free.


Bike MS: Twin Cities Road | Saint Paul, MN May 13, 2023


The Log Jam Mountain Bike | Cloquet, MN May 13, 2023


Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour Road | Red Wing, MN May 20-21, 2023


The Heywood Gravel | Northfield, MN May 20, 2023


Spring Valley 100

Gravel | Spring Valley, MN

May 20, 2023


Le Grand Du Nord

Gravel | Grand Marais, MN

May 27, 2023


Tour de Cure: Minnesota

Road | Minneapolis, MN

June 3, 2023



Road | Lake City, MN

June 3, 2023

Tour de Pepin is one of the Midwest’s most unique cycling tours where riders have several options to ride through the captivating terrain and historic towns around Lake Pepin. Distances: 32, 40, 50, 72, 100 miles.


Tour of Lakes Road | Brainerd, MN

June 3, 2023


River Towns Bike Tour Road | Hastings, MN

June 4-9, 2023


18 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023
www.VISITSAUKCENTRE.org 320-352-5201 • visitsaukcentre@gmail.com Start YOUR JOURNEY Here on the Lake Wobegon Trail!
all three golf courses, experience art, camp, explore & enjoy great fishing, shopping, and dining! STAY AND PLAY GOPHER PRAIRIE INN fi g shopp p • Mural Tour - call for details
Self-Guided Historic Tour - call for details
Chalk in Sauk (June 24-25) Sinclair Lewis Avenue • Art on the Ave. (June 24-25) Sinclair Lewis Park Check for details at www.510artlab.com • Sinclair Lewis Days (July 12-16) See SaukCentreChamber.com • Stearns County Fair (July 26-30) MuralTour llf dtil Saturday, June 17, 2023 Explore Minnesota’s Shooting Star Trail with rides of 20, 40, 60 and 75 miles. Shooting Star Bike Ride ShootingStarTrail.org 25th Annual Starting in LeRoy, MN Fully Supported, Great Rest Stops


Trail | Albany, MN

June 10, 2023

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!


Iron Trail Road Tour

Road | Duluth, MN

June 10-16, 2023


KKD Gravel

Gravel | Farmington, MN

June 10, 2023



Trail/Gravel | Custer, SD

June 13-15, 2023

Enjoy the beauty of the heart of the Black Hills as you travel through the scenic valleys, old railroad tunnels and historic mining towns on the 119-mile Mickelson Trail. It’s a great way to explore the Black Hills at a slower pace. Registration includes trail pass, shuttle, refreshments and meals.



Kenmare, ND

June 16-18, 2023

Bike the fascinating scenery of North Dakota and discover the second to none hospitality of the Peace Garden State. Sign up for one, two or the full three days of riding between North Dakota and Manitoba. SAG, water stops, t-shirt and end of tour lunch is included. www.biketheborder.com


Road | Little Falls, MN

June 17, 2023

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. 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.



Trail | Avon, MN

June 17, 2023

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



Trail | Bemidji, MN

June 17, 2023

Take a bike cruise around Lake Bemidji with the whole family and experience the first city on the Mississippi from the seat of your bike. There’ll be lots of familyfriendly activities.



Shakopee, MN

June 17, 2023

The Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride features routes for every cyclist, any level. Stay for the Big Taste of Fun party at Huber Park after the ride. Proceeds benefit Free Bikes

4 Kidz Minnesota.



Road/Trail | LeRoy, MN

June 17, 2023

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, 60, 75 miles www.shootingstartrail.org


Road/Trail | Central MN

June 17-24, 2023

The 49th annual Tour of Minnesota, formerly the Klobuchar Bike Ride, will visit Central Minnesota in 2023. Daily trip length will vary, but riders will travel a total of about 350 miles with a rest day.


‘Sota Wheel Race Road | White Bear Lake, MN

June 18-July 1, 2023


Lutsen 99er

Mountain Bike | Lutsen, MN

June 24, 2023



June 24, 2023

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.


JUNE 17, 2023



June 16-18, 2023 | Kenmare, ND

Sign up for one, two OR three DAYS OF RIDING between North Dakota and Canada and discover the hospitality of the Peace Garden State.


4 Routes : 5-100 miles

Big Taste of Fun Festival

Starts & Ends in Shakopee


Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 19
Rides & Tours



Gravel | Freedhem, MN

July 1, 2023

The Freedhem 76 is a race/ride on north central Minnesota’s finest gravel, minimum maintenance roads and trails to celebrate Independence Day. There’s lots of gravel, lots of lakes, and scenery galore.


The Fox

Gravel | Finland, MN

July 1-2, 2023


Great Scott Bike Ride

Road | Prior Lake, MN

July 4, 2023


Bike Duluth Festival

Mountain Bike | Duluth, MN

July 7-9, 2023


Bertram Blast

Mountain Bike | Monticello, MN

July 9, 2023



Gravel | Granite Falls, MN

July 15, 2023

This gravel ride explores the challenging ups and downs of the Minnesota River Valley in search of the route of a longforgotten 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. www.bluenose.coop/bluenosegopher50

Hotdish 100

Gravel | Winona, MN

July 15, 2023



Road/Trail | Saint Joseph, MN

July 16, 2023

It’s not a race. It’s a heavenly little ride. From cities across Minnesota and neighboring states, each year 1,000 or more cyclists gather in St. Joseph to wind their way along quiet byways and rolling hills of central Minnesota. Distances: 18, 35, 50 miles.


The Wolf Gravel | Two Harbors, MN

July 21-23, 2023


20 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023
Bike Rides & Tours
June 24 24, , 2023 24 36 48 miles
Walker to Hackensack, MN Craft beer, music and swag at Rendezvous Brewing in Hackensack and Portage Brewing in Walker. Ride from Walker to “Hack and Back” through the amazing scenery of the Chippewa National Forest on the Paul Bunyan Trail.


Road | Ottertail, MN

July 24-28, 2023

The 5-day experience you know and love is back! Start in Ottertail, MN, and cycle to Fergus Falls, Wadena, and Long Prairie before returning to Ottertail. Cycle through these beautiful cities and join a community of riders dedicated to changing the world for people with MS. www.bikems.org



Road | Montgomery, MN

July 29, 2023

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.



Road or Gravel | Northfield, MN

July 29, 2023

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. Distances: 7, 25, 50-mile road routes and a 30-mile gravel route. www.save.org/event/tour-de-save


Road | Hazen, ND

August 5-12, 2023

This ride carries on the tradition of the CANDISK ride of North Dakota with daily routes ranging from 35 to 70 miles and a century option. This is a multi-day tour through North Dakota with terrain varying from flat fields to steep hills. www.candak.net

Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 21 Bike Rides & Tours
2023 FREE REGISTRATION MORE THAN YOU IMAGINE visitgranitefalls.com www.bluenose.coop/bluenosegopher50 www.bluenose.coop/blue New at Memorial Park: Group camp, natural playground, camper cabin Saturday, July15, 2023 AREA LODGING: www.visitgranitefalls.com/explore/spendthenight • Shops | Dining • Arts | History • Outdoor Adventure GRANITE FALLS: Your stop for Open May-October | 1400 4th Street, Holdingford | 320-746-0680 www.ArtInMotionOnTheLakeWobegonTrail.com on the Lake Wobegon Trail RIDE ACROSS MINNESOTA JULY 24-28, 2023 OTTERTAIL, FERGUS FALLS, WADENA, LONG PRAIRIE REGISTER › BIKEMS.ORG OR TEXT BIKEMS TO 68686* UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION & DETAILS at: WWW.MNTRAILS.COM/EVENTS

Bike Rides & Tours


Road | Dodgeville, WI

August 5, 2023

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) www.dairylanddare.com



Trail | Ely, MN

August 5, 2023

Ride the Mesabi Trail for the most fun you can have on two wheels this year and explore the newly constructed segment between Tower and Ely. Choose from three different routes—12, 30 or 54 miles—all traveling out and back on Mesabi Trail from one start and finish location in Ely.

www.mesabitrail.com/events-and-tours/ annual tour


Road | Minnetonka, MN

August 5, 2023

Tour de Tonka is a scenic bike ride that travels through the Lake Minnetonka area and its surrounding communities. With so many different route options, there’s a ride for everyone.


Hollo Gravel Classic

Gravel | Battle Lake, MN

August 12, 2023

www.mntrails.com/event/hollo-gravel-classic ROCK-N-ROLL THE LAKES

Road | Albert Lea, MN

August 12, 2023

Albert Lea knows how to rock! Riders can choose from one of three different routes—10, 30, or 50 miles—of SAGsupported, “rolling” fun around our lakes and community. All three courses hug picturesque lake shores and offer a variety of beautiful southern Minnesota scenery. www.bikemn.org/all-events/rock-and-rollthe-lakes


Road/Gravel | Stillwater, MN

August 13, 2023

Join the Stillwater Sunrise Rotary Club on an epic trip through the hills and valleys around Stillwater, MN. Route options: 10, 25, 45, 70 and a 75 mile Gravel Challenge. Part of the Rivers, Lakes, Fields Tri-Ride Series including Pedal Prior and the Northfield Rotary Bike Tour. Ride all three for extra swag and entry into cash prize drawings.


Bicycling Around Minnesota (BAM)

Road/Trail | Minnesota Bluff Country

August 17-20, 2023

Distances: average 50-75 miles daily. www.mntrails.com/event/bicycling-aroundminnesota-bam


Willow River, MN

August 18-20, 2023

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.




Trail | Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN

August 19, 2023

Enjoy a supported, recreational ride on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail along Lake Superior’s scenic North Shore. You’ll get up close and personal with some superior views, be serenaded by waterfalls, wind through multiple state parks and don’t forget: snacks, t-shirts and SAG support are provided! Ride lengths: 8, 28, 34 and 55 miles.



Road/Trail/Gravel | La Crosse, WI to Milwaukee, WI

August 19-20, 2023

RAW offers both a mixed-surface (crushed limestone, road, & paved trail) and all paved (road & paved trail) option. Choose a one-day or two-day option to cover the 235 miles on this fully supported ride produced by the Wisconsin Bike Fed. www.rideacrosswisconsin.com

| Spring 2023
2023 rivers, lakes & fields August 26, 2023 Prior Lake MN PedalPrior.com 11, 40, 69 mile and gravel routes August 13, 2023 Stillwater MN SunRotary.org/page/btv September 9, 2023 Northfield MN NorthfieldRotary.org road, gravel and family routes A SERIES OF ROTARY-SPONSORED RIDES: REGISTER FOR ALL 3–GET EXTRA SWAG & ENTRY INTO 3 CASH PRIZE DRAWINGS 10, 25, 45, 70 miles road & 75 miles gravel routes One week & 400+ miles. Hazen, ND August 5-12, 2023 CaNDak.net leech-lake.com | 218-547-1313 3 Walker, MN is connected to more than 150 miles of paved trails!
Photo Credit: Explore

PEDAL PRIOR Road/Trail | Prior Lake, MN

August 26, 2023

Discover beautiful Prior Lake and Scott County as you pedal your way through quaint towns, picturesque lakes, and rolling farmland. Distances: 11, 40, 69 miles. Part of the Rivers, Lakes, Fields Tri-Ride Series including Bridge the Valley Bike Rally and the Northfield Rotary Bike Tour. Ride all three for extra swag and entry into cash prize drawings. www.pedalprior.com

River Valley 100

Road or Gravel | Mankato, MN

August 27, 2023



Trail | Sauk Centre, MN

September 9, 2023

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. www.lakewobegontrail.com/lwta-rides



Road/Gravel | Northfield, MN

September 9, 2023

The posse rides again on Defeat of Jesse James Day! There’s a route for everyone: road, gravel or family. Part of the Rivers, Lakes, Fields Tri-Ride Series including Bridge the Valley Bike Rally and the Pedal Prior. Ride all three for extra swag and entry into cash prize drawings. www.northfieldrotary.org/page/northfieldrotary-bike-tour


Road | Twin Valley, MN

September 10-16, 2023

RideMN1 holds an annual bicycle ride across Minnesota to raise awareness and raise funds for cancer research. This year they visit Twin Valley, Fosston, Bemidji, Hill City, Palisade, Cromwell and Duluth/Superior. There’s optional pre-ride camping and a dinner the day before. www.ridemn1.org

North Star Bicycle Race

Road | Saint Paul, MN to US-Canada border

September 13, 2023




Trail/Road | Saint Paul, MN

September 10, 2023

The Saint Paul Classic is back touring the Grand Rounds. The ride will be held on bike trails and lanes only, there’ll be no road closures at all. Attendance is limited to 2,500. Mileages: 15, 31 www.bikemn.org/all-events/st-paul-classic


Trail/Gravel | Custer, SD

September 15-17, 2023

Enjoy the beauty of the heart of the Black Hills as you travel through the scenic valleys, old railroad tunnels and historic mining towns on the 119-mile Mickelson Trail. It’s a great way to explore the Black Hills at a slower pace. Registration includes trail pass, shuttle, refreshments and meals.



Road | Mora, MN

September 16, 2023

The annual Mora Bike Tour starts and finishes at the Vasaloppet Nordic Center and offers two routes on rural country roads. Rest stops keep riders hydrated and a mobile repair van lends assistance if needed.



Road | Winona, MN

September 16, 2023

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. Distances: 22, 44, 70, 110 miles


Ride Winona’s beautiful Bluff Country!

Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023

22, 44, 70 & 110 mile routes


Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 23
Bike Rides & Tours

Tour of Lakeville

Road/Trail | Lakeville, MN

September 16, 2023

www.mntrails.com/event/tour-of-lakeville Headwaters 100 Road | Park Rapids, MN

September 23, 2023

www.mntrails.com/event/headwaters-100 WHEELIN’ TO WALL

Road/Gravel | Wall, SD

September 23-24

Experience the magic of Badlands National Park and its striking rock formations on this two-day cycling celebration. Road and gravel routes are available on this supported ride and a Pedal Parade of Lights and a poker run are part of the fun.


Winston County Gravel Cup Gravel | Houston, MN

September 23, 2023


Fall de Tonka Road | Minnetonka, MN

September 24, 2023


Heck of the North Gravel | Two Harbors, MN

September 30, 2023

www.mntrails.com/event/heck-of-the-north ROSEWOOD GRAMBLE Road, Gravel | Thief River Falls, MN

September 30, 2023

Join Bike Thief River Falls on this ramble on gravel (Gramble) and see rural Pennington and Marshall Counties. You’ll ride the former beach ridges of Glacial Lake Agassiz, minimum maintenance roads and a bit of trail.



October 8, 2023

This fall classic features great rest stops, ride support, delicious food and beverages, live music and much more. All routes pass through beautiful Sibley Park where the Blue Earth River joins the Minnesota River. Distances:12, 26, 42 miles


The Filthy 50 Gravel | Lanesboro, MN

October 14, 2023


Gray Duck Grit

Gravel | Northfield, MN

October 13-14, 2023


As of deadline, the information in this calendar was accurate. Check www.MnTrails. com/events for additional information.

24 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023
Tours 2023 ALBANY
Bike Rides &

Minnesota MOUNTAIN BIKE Series

What New Racers Say About the Series

If you are unsure about “racing,” three participants new to the Series in 2022 shared their experiences:


The MNMBS offers a 10-race schedule for beginners through elite-level riders, starting in mid-May and ending on Labor Day. The Series is truly statewide, venues range from the south (Rochester and Mankato), to the west (Detroit Lakes and Callaway), east (St. Croix Falls and River Falls), and north (Duluth), with 3 races on the Iron Range (Cohasset, Chisholm, and Crosby). After the season concludes, the Series offers a free awards banquet where racers can celebrate their successes, receive some hard-earned medals, a lot of swag and hang with new riding buddies to re-live the season.


1. Gamehaven Rochester May 21

2. Redhead Chisholm June 4

3. Border Crossing River Falls, WI June 18

4. Spirit Mt. Duluth July 9

July 16

July 23

July 30

Aug. 13

The Series has been a highlight of my year. From the friendly, supportive people and the amazing terrain, I’ve advanced my skills and met so many new people. It’s just a great, supportive environment.


The sense of community and a family-friendly vibe is important for the Series, which is governed by a small Board of Directors. As a volunteerrun, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Series also is structured to give back; after expenses, race proceeds are given back to the host trail clubs or organizations who develop and maintain the trails the Series races on. In 2022 that meant just over $55,000 went to ten organizations.

Each course meant new challenges, different hills and jumps, and meeting new riders with different riding styles. Traveling to new locations with beautiful scenery was cool, too. Each race unlocked a new mountain biking experience!

As a mountain bike racing newbie, the Series was a great way to get me on my bike and meet other riders. Each race is unique, and helped me gain experience. Different courses and terrain forced me to learn new skills. I also loved the community atmosphere.

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5. Woolly St. Croix Falls, WI 6. Bluff Riders Charge Mankato 7. Shakedown Detroit Lakes (DMRA) 8. Thrillseeker Cohasset (Tioga) 9. Crusher Crosby (Cuyuna) Aug. 27
10. Laddie’s Loppet Callaway (Maplelag) Sept. 3 Citizen Marathon class TOMMY SINGER Marathon class

Sam Espey, part-time youth minister and owner of Ezekiel’s Wheel bike shop in Jackson, MN had his first taste of mountain biking at Mission Trails Regional Park when he was stationed at San Diego Naval base years ago. Back home, while riding on deer trails at Belmont County Park, he stopped and looked around. “Someday, this is going to be a really cool mountain bike area,” he remembers thinking. After graduating from college and a tour in Afghanistan he opened up his shop in 2016 and connected with the Friends of Jackson County Trails, a local advocacy group. “I missed mountain biking,” he says and suggested the group approach the County board about building trails at the 80-acre property on the Des Moines River. Spurred on by the success of the Minnesota High School Cycling League and visions of people moving to and working in communities with recreational trails, the group made their case in 2017.

“They were seeing it happen across the Iron Range, in areas that weren’t used for anything else,” says Jeremy Bartosh, Jackson County’s Parks and Trails Supervisor. “They were seeing that tourism was exploding in those areas,” he adds. The pitch to the Commissioners worked. “They were all for improving the park so it can be enjoyed more than it has been in the past,” Bartosh remembers.

In early 2021, the County received a $190,000 grant from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund and together with supplements from the Friends of Jackson County Trails and Jackson County, there was enough money to solicit bids for the project. Trail Source, a contractor from Excelsior, MN started construction in mid-April of 2022 and wrapped it up at the end of September. There’s now three trail loops with Lakota names in the park, totaling five miles. Wowahwa (peace) is an easy, flat, 0.7-mile beginner trail. Ian Shasha Wapka (Red Stone River, the Lakota name for the Des Moines River) is a 1.8-mile, intermediate ride and advanced riders will find the 2.7-mile Thaththanka (bison) trail a good fit.

“When it got built, the word was getting out and people were heading out there and getting some early rides in,” Bartosh says and adds that riders may be surprised at what they find at Belmont County Park. “For southern Minnesota, people think of flat land, corn and soybeans and here’s 80 acres of elevated woodland—and there’s ravines.”

26 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023
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“The terrain there allowed for us to just go at it and it told us what it needed. It was really, really good for mountain biking,” says Hunter Rust, owner of Trail Source. When he first set foot on the property, he says he was excited by the possibilities the river valley topography offered and he’s pleased how the trails turned out from both a fun factor and sustainability standpoint.

With good clay to work with, his crew was able to stack dirt and construct features, like the berms on some key areas of the system. “My favorite trail has seven or eight berms that link together and go down the hill and you don’t have to pedal one time,” he says. Compared to the 400 to 500 feet Rust’s crew can build in a day, these two luge-style segments took longer to construct at only 150

feet per day, but to him it was worth the effort. “It was just so fun and we felt that it needed to happen,” he says.

Now that the project is complete, he hopes the trails at Belmont County Park will bring riders of all experience levels. “There’s a good variety of trails, it gives everyone something to do,” he says.

Word about what happened at Belmont County Park has drawn more than local enthusiasts. “We’ve had people come down from the Twin Cities area to try it. They know Trail Source and their work and they wanted to try Trail Source’s new trail,” Espey says. While the five-mile system isn’t very technical, he says, the fun factor is incredible. “It’s like you take all the best parts of your favorite trails and throw them into one.”

It’s no surprise he enjoys the luge features carved into the sides of the river valley. “I judge the quality of the trail by how many school girl laughs I do on the way down. This one is epic when it comes to that,” he says.

Trail development has also spurred other improvements. The County invested in much needed repairs to the old log enclosed shelter by replacing the roof, repairing a water hand pump, and installing two new grills and a bonfire pit. Down the line, Bartosh says, there’ll be an additional skills area, more parking, updated restrooms and three primitive tent sites. He hopes the new trails will bring more visitors to southwestern Minnesota and that a high school mountain bike team will eventually begin training there. The trails are also open to hikers, who have to walk in the opposite direction. “It’s another piece to the many other trails we have in the area,” he says.

Espey feels proud knowing that the trail system he envisioned is now a reality. “It’s more incredible than I thought it would be,” he says.

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& photos by JAN LASAR
Sam Espey and his son Jonah ride the trails at Belmont County Park in September of 2022


GEARS: A vision to build upon Cuyuna’s mountain bicycling success.

The Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area (CCSRA) now features 70 miles of unidirectional singletrack and has become a tourism destination for cyclists across the globe. The master vision of mountain bicycling trails is now complete, after decades of work by dedicated volunteers, elected officials, and tireless advocates and additional mountain bicycle trail development is now officially paused. Over the next five years, it must be proven that the current gold standard of trail maintenance, developed, perfected, and facilitated by the volunteers of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, is sustainable. If it is, and volunteerism continues to trend upward, it could be possible that a future expansion will bring the total up to 100 miles.


The future of Cuyuna will focus on creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) and the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area Advisory Council have discussed new, minimally invasive trail systems within the CCSRA for the enjoyment of three other distinct user groups: paddlers, hikers, and horseback riders.


It’s important to also remember that Cuyuna is more than the CCSRA. It’s an entire region with many possibilities for partnerships that can bridge counties, cities, and communities together through human-powered outdoor recreation.

The late Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar was a dedicated cyclist and avid supporter of bicycle and pedestrian trails. His vision was to connect all three Minnesota Iron Ranges,Vermillion, Mesabi, and Cuyuna, by way of a paved trail for recreation and transportation. The congressman’s dream continues to be alive and well as volunteers have already started the initial conversations to connect the paved Cuyuna Lakes State Trail from Riverton to Brainerd and from Deerwood to Grand Rapids. Once completed, the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail will intersect with the Mesabi Trail, giving cyclists a path to Ely, and with the Paul Bunyan Trail, giving cyclists a route to Bemidji, each providing a uniquely Minnesota paved trail experience.

“To be able to cycle alongside the Mississippi River through Aitkin County would be incredible. It’s a natural, winding, beautiful waterway, surrounded by

trees,” said Mark Jeffers, Aitkin County Economic Development Coordinator. “Cycling near that stretch of the headwaters will become a favorite cycling destination nationally and internationally, putting our world river and future paved cycling and walking trail front and center.”

Improving paved trail connectivity on this scale would create an opportunity to cycle along the Mississippi River headwaters over several days or weeks, an adventure that cyclists across Europe, specifically Germany and the Netherlands, have been waiting for and would not ignore.

Cuyuna connectivity could even extend

| Spring 2023
Building the future by aligning vision ACROSS CITY AND COUNTY LINES. story by AARON HAUTALA photos courtesy of CUYUNA.COM

For many, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is the definition of Minnesota wilderness, meaning remote, natural shoreline, abundant wildlife, fishing, serenity, and seemingly endless paddling. Cuyuna provides similar immersive backcountry paddling with its undeveloped shoreline, towering trees, spring-fed lakes with 40-foot clarity, and more wildlife than people.

The rec area’s paddle and portage future may feature three natural lakes and 12 mine lakes, including Mahnomen Mine Lake, Minnesota’s deepest inland lake at 525 feet. These potential routes mean multiple days of paddling for most users, with the option to develop paddle-in primitive campsites to the Cuyuna backcountry as well.

“Portaging the Cuyuna mine lakes would give paddlers a chance to experience what it is like to be deep within the woods without being too far from modern-day comforts,” said Sarah Katzenberger, co-owner of Cuyuna Outfitters. “You get a taste of BWCA-like paddling, but your internet will still work, your smartphone will still have reception, you will be able to make a phone call, and at the end of the day, you’re only minutes away from restaurants, shopping, healthcare, and lodging.”

for those who choose to walk rather than ride, and make the experience safer.

Similar to the mountain bicycle trails, the future CCSRA hiking trail network is intended to be purposebuilt to meander throughout the rec area, filled with sweeping overlooks, pristine mine lakes, wooded glens, and chances to spot wildlife along the way. Trail-goers can also discover the region’s rich mining history as they pass by mining artifacts and relics.

The original management plan for the CCSRA included an equestrian trail network. similar to the mountain bicycle trails, offering miles of loops to explore the rec area’s wildlife and scenery. But the idea stayed put, never gaining traction until now.

Today, creating dedicated, equestrian-only trails within the CCSRA is still in the very early stages and the MNDNR is looking for interested parties and volunteers to move the idea forward. These trails will exist outside of the paved trail, singletrack, and any future hiking trails, eliminating horses being startled by hikers and cyclists along the trail.

The working vision for the next generation of trails in Cuyuna will be dog-friendly pedestrian trails for walking, hiking, and trail running. While hiking is allowed on the existing singletrack, the trails are shared with mountain bicyclists who are often moving quickly and come up on hikers without much warning. Developing new, high-quality trails specifically designed for foot traffic would bring a deeper level of serenity and solitude

to a full-day, land-and-sea-style adventure between the cities of Aitkin and Trommald. The adventure would begin in Cuyuna, cycling the paved trail (when constructed) from Trommald to Aitkin, and end with a return paddle trip on the Mississippi River.

“It’s exciting to see the cities working together to create these shared experiences for our counties,” said Ashley Gustafson, co-owner of Unbound Adventures. “Connecting Aitkin and Cuyuna creates a wider sense of community and creates economic growth through outdoor recreation.”

“Equestrian trails would unlock yet another way for people to enjoy the rec area, and open the door for yet another group of outdoor enthusiasts, both residents and visitors,” said Anita Hollenhorst, Ironton resident, horse owner, and chair of the Cuyuna Off-Road Triathlon. “Similar to how the singletrack tapped into mountain bicycling without bona fide mountains, equestrian trails in Cuyuna would bring sincere, purpose-built equestrian trail riding to riding to the Midwest.”


It all begins with people. The volunteers. Much like the conversations that happened during the beginning stages of building the mountain bike trails, this is the cusp of a potential next chapter of Cuyuna’s bright future. But it doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without people and years of volunteer work. While an existing network of volunteers currently maintains the singletrack, a new generation of volunteers will need to rise up to make these new ideas a reality. Residents, visitors, and businesses who are inspired by what could be are encouraged to step forward and lead, moving these conversations from ideas to execution. With the right people, the Cuyuna, Aitkin, Brainerd, Itasca, and Mesabi regions can grow, serve a larger national and international audience, and continue the regional economic growth and revitalization the mountain bike trails have ignited.

If you’re inspired to be part of the next movement that moves the region but not sure where to start, EMAIL AARON@CUYUNA.COM for guidance on reaching the right people, in the right place. LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN, MINNESOTA.

Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 29
Paddle and portage the “BABY BOUNDARY WATERS” Going from BIKE TO HIKE. Human-powered MEETS HORSE-POWER.

NEW MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS at Sauk River Regional Park

The Sauk River State Water Trail flows out of Lake Osakis and meanders southeast through rural central Minnesota. At the end of its 90-mile run it joins the Mississippi River in Sartell, Minnesota. Near its mouth, the river makes a textbook horseshoe loop, surrounding a lobe of forested land on three sides. Early homesteaders found this an ideal place to farm and it stayed that way for many years. In 2015 the city of Sartell purchased the 30-acre property and began making plans for improvements which included a two-mile singletrack mountain bike trail and a skills area.

The project was off to a rough start, according to Tim Kohlhaas, foreman at Rock Solid Trail Contracting, a builder based in Copper Harbor, Michigan and Bentonville, Arkansas. After his crew built part of the system in late April of 2022, construction was put on hold because rapid snow melt and large rainfall events flooded the park and drowned the fresh trails in four feet of water. By early fall the ground had dried out, building resumed and wrapped up by the end of October. “What we had constructed held up remarkably well,” he says. He explains that the sandy soil in the park allowed the water to

drain. While this level of flooding was unprecedented, he says, his crew also installed drainage measures.

Decades ago, a previous owner had built a berm to keep the river in check and Rock Solid made good use of it by running the trail along the top on one of the more technical lines. “That barrier was some of the only elevation change that we had in the whole trail system,” he says.

Crews also used the many pieces of construction debris they found on the once neglected site, turning concrete chunks and boulders into ramps and rock gardens. Although the foot print of the system is small, Kohlhaas says the trails are a perfect spot for after-work

laps with the kids, “It’s a family-friendly beginner spot to learn some technical skills.”

“It’s really set up for any level of rider,” says April Ryan, City Engineer for Sartell, whose eight-year-old son has taken a liking to riding the new trails at Sauk River Regional Park.

Ryan says the funds came from a grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that was matched by Sartell’s Parks Department. It enabled the city to purchase the property and construct a paved, wheelchair-accessible path to the river, a park shelter, signage, lighting, and finally, mountain bike trails. She credits Public Works Director John Kothenbeutel with the idea to build mountain bike trails. Kothenbeutel, she says, does not mountain bike, but recognized the significance of this growing sport and took the initiative to enhance this underused piece of river property.

“We really pride ourselves in our trail system,” says Nikki Sweeter, Engagement Director for the City of Sartell. A citizen survey from two years ago identified


recreational trails as one of the top three reasons families chose to live in Sartell, so the city makes enhancing outdoor recreational spaces a priority. “That’s what people tend to like,” she says. The reaction to the improvements has been positive and now that the trails are done, she says a lot of residents are visiting the park for the first time.

That’s good news for Jon Kern, President of the Saint Cloud based Mid Minnesota Cycling Club. The club maintains hand-built trails at Plum Creek, Quarry Park and next to the Minnesota State Correctional Facility

on Highway 10. Kern said he’s seen area ridership increase and the club responded by launching a riding group for kids of all ages, the Mud Puppies, and a high school mountain biking team. He welcomes the addition of new machinebuilt trails in the area. “We have banked corners, that’s awesome and the flow is great. I only wish it was more,” he says.

Ryan says there’s potential for expansion at Sauk River Regional Park. An adjacent piece of property, currently held in a living trust, will eventually be added to the park and more trails may be built there in the future.

story &
Members of the Mid Minnesota Cycling Club try out the new mountain bike trails at Sauk River Regional Park in October of 2022: Steve Christensen (red helmet), Jon Kern (green helmet), Brian Kremer (yellow helmet), Joe Voegeli (gray helmet)
photos by JAN LASAR
Skills Development Area Trailhead Beach Shelter Bridge to Whitney Park (St. Cloud) SaukRiver Sauk River 1 2 4 5 3 Sauk River Point of Interest Trail Hub Paved Trail Walking Path Shared Path Trail Direction Skills Trail Sauk River Loop (1.03 mi.) North Fork Trail (0.04 mi.) River Park Divide (0.22 mi.) Rolling Ridge Trail (0.07 mi.) Face Plant Path (0.07 mi.) Third Rapids Pass (0.09 mi.) Skills Development Area
Map courtesy of City of Sartell


Down in southwestern Minnesota, where the views are unimpeded and grain elevators loom large on the horizon, the town of Marshall has made great outdoor connections. Much of the city’s parks system is linked by bike trails and on-road routes, including the 16-mile Camden Regional Trail into Camden State Park. Like most trails, this one was built in pieces with the final connection into the state park happening in 2016.

Early in the morning, my wife, Jen, and I took off from the trailhead at the Red Baron Arena and Expo, destination Lynd, MN.

Our route was sort of a candy-cane shape, with the handle pointing to the right. The trail travels north, then west and finally south to the state park. Along the way it passes through many of the city’s parks with a healthy dose of self-service bike repair stations sprinkled in and plenty of benches offer places to rest. Within the city limits, we rode on a flood diversion embankment put in place to keep the Redwood River in check. Recent rain storms had the river roaring and foaming, but it stayed safely contained as we enjoyed a wonderful, but breezy morning ride in the sun.

The next day we wanted to take a ride on the mountain bike trails at Camden state park, but recent, heavy rains had made the trails too wet to ride and we went for a hike, instead. The 3-mile Hiking Club Trail, aka the Dakota Valley Trail took us up the lively creek that feeds the sand-bottomed swimming pond in the valley. Trees hadn’t fully leafed out yet, so the first wildflowers were blooming in the dappled sunlight. We also came across a garter snake taking in some sun on a rock. Once we reached the rim of the valley the scenery changed to rolling prairie hills. We followed the wide, mowed path for a while and stopped to listen to the birds in the woods. Nature was waking up on this warm and sunny day in southwestern Minnesota and just like all the other creatures, we needed sunshine.

Read the full story:


On the southern end of town, we left the embankment and dropped farther south, this time along Highway 23. When we reached the village of Lynd, our odometers showed just about 14 miles. The park was only another two miles away. Here, we began a steady climb past downtown Lynd as the trail followed a quiet backroad. Both Jen and I felt we shouldn’t have been struggling as much as we were, even with it being an early season ride into the wind. When we checked our tire pressure at a bike repair station near the park it became clear that we were squishing around on grossly underinflated tires. A few strokes of the pump fixed that and we both rolled a lot easier. The trail wound through the park for a mile or so and ended at the contact station. After a short break we made it back to Marshall in a tailwind-fueled, recordbreaking race. There’s just nothing like going 20 miles an hour without even trying.

The trail eventually dropped back down and we completed the loop at the swimming pond, where some brave kids were splashing in the frigid water. Our early season visit to Marshall had come to an end, but it won’t be the last time we visit.

32 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023
A Visit to Marshall, MN
TRAIL | Spring 2023
story & photos by JAN LASAR
Photos: Rural scene on the Camden Trail south of Marshall city limits / Inside Camden State Park / Near the Marshall Golf Club / The Hiking Club Trail at Camden State Park

a trail ride and A LITTLE HISTORY

Brainerd, MN has been the launching point of some great day trips for my wife Jen and I, but for our last trip we decided to take some time and a closer look.

Lum Park has been around since the early 19th century. On the northern end of Rice Lake, a long, stretched out bulge in the Mississippi River, the city of Brainerd turned 38 acres of shoreline property into a very popular park and campground. Being close to town, Lum Park made a perfect headquarters for our weekend of biking and exploring.

Saturday morning began with a drizzle, but it eventually let up and we snuck out between the rain drops. Our route was pretty simple and took us directly downtown by bike in about 15 minutes with no problems. The sun was beginning to peek out and things were looking good for the walking tour we had signed up for.

At the Visit Brainerd office, a small crowd had gathered for a tour of historic downtown. Coffee cups and helmets in hand, we joined in. On this 90-minute walk around the block, our tour guide covered a lot of ground.

From the city’s origin as a railroad stop, simply called The Crossing; to the christening of Brainerd after the maiden name of the wife of a railroad president; to a bustling lumber town with electric street cars, fancy banks with marble columns and a 2,000-seat opera house; to the eventual decline of retail when the malls moved in; to a growing tourist industry and the renewed interest in downtown revival, we took a long trip back in time. The results of present-day preservation efforts can be seen in various places in downtown Brainerd.

A sign pointed us in the direction of the park and with sunshine and a tailwind we soon reached the green outskirts of Brainerd’s neighbor, Baxter. We ducked into the woods, literally, and immediately forgot we were only about a mile from busy Highway 371. Through the trees we could see posh villas along the trail. On this short stretch we spotted some cute fairy houses at the base of a few trees. A tiny door revealed some small toys inside, to the delight of a little boy whose parents were patiently waiting for him to pick one. Another resident had installed a rainbow-colored bench for people to rest and watch their goats play in their fenced-in yard. As soon as we stopped, they came running, looking for handouts. I’ve been to many trails, but that was the first goat-viewing bench I’ve seen.

The next couple of miles took us through an area of Baxter that looked primed for development. Wide roads flanked by thick stands of pines, traffic-less roundabouts and a sparkling, new Elementary School appeared to be ready for Read

After the tour, the rain clouds had moved out for good and the weather was perfect for a ride.

All we had to do was bike west on Laurel Street across the Mississippi River bridge and pick up the Paul Bunyan State Trail at the corner of West Laurel Street and Northwest 4th Street.

34 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023
the full story:
a-visit-to-brainerd TRAIL PAIRINGS
to Brainerd, MN
TRAIL | Spring 2023
story & photos by JAN LASAR

more new construction. We came across several local trail connections and broke out the map at each intersection to make sure we stayed on track. Eventually, we came to a cul-de-sac and the trail dipped under Highway 371, crossed the Mississippi River on a separated bike trail and spit us out at the entrance to Crow Wing State Park. The six miles inside the park made for an amazing ride. Unconstrained by a railroad bed or existing architecture, the path winds through the park and rolls around the woods on gentle bumps that don’t take

much effort to climb. Sightlines are short and you can’t see more than one or two turns ahead. To me this is a sign of good trail layout, because anticipating what’s around the next bend keeps your mind engaged and makes for a more interesting ride. It also meant riding single file.

Toward the end of the trail inside the park, we exited the woods and rode through a short section of open prairie. The trail ends at the park’s main parking lot, just past the contact station. Of course, there’s more to the Paul Bunyan

Trail than this little leg from downtown to the park, but whether you want a quick 30-mile out-and-back or a multi-day bike trip, Paul Bunyan’s got you covered. This hall of fame rail trail travels all the way to Bemidji from Crow Wing State Park and connects with the Heartland State Trail near Walker and the Migizi Trail in Cass Lake.

Add it all up and there are close to 200 miles of paved trail to explore, leaving from downtown Brainerd.

Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 35 Choose Your Adventure.
Photos: Cruising down Laurel Street / At Crow Wing State Park the trail crosses through restored prairie / Mural on the wall of The Crossing Arts Alliance in downtown Brainerd / Tour guide Carl Faust tells the story of the iconic Brainerd water tower

Top: Start/Finish Line

Bottom: Rice Lake Road beaver dam crossing

This is where the adventure begins.

Temperance River State Park in Cook County was our start and finish point. After morning coffee and packing the bikes, we climbed a few miles on the gravel roads leading away from Lake Superior. It was a gorgeous bluebird day that suddenly made us realize all the work getting to this point was worth it. The hours of creating our route, researching resupply options and finding the perfect campsites was behind us now, along with the stress of our daily lives.

Straddle &Paddle

The first day of a bikepacking trip is always exhilarating and exhausting and this day was no different. The gravel roads snaked through deep woods, up and down many hills and past rivers and lakes, all without another soul in sight. We passed a few primitive campsites that would have made for some beautiful, remote camping, but our destination was the Sawbill Lake Campground on the southern edge of the BWCAW, at the end of a 64-mile day. Sawbill Canoe Outfitters had water, showers and a small general store. Most importantly, they had the canoes for the paddle portion of our trip. They also sold mosquito head nets, which we found out to be mandatory.

Minnesota’s Arrowhead Region provides some of the best recreation in the Midwest with spectacular hiking, biking and camping along Highway 61. My annual trips along the North Shore rarely ventured far from Lake Superior, so this year my friend Keith and I decided to challenge ourselves by getting away from the lake and ride the roads less traveled. It’s difficult to create a multi-day excursion into an area without many services. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we used the Straddle and Paddle route on bikepacking.com. This four-day loop combines a bikepacking trip with a short canoe excursion into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). It is highly customizable in length and difficulty and you can make changes on the fly. Most of the route is off the beaten path, so it helps to be selfreliant, confident in navigation and have good bike handling skills. Most of the route follows gravel forest roads of varying conditions and it’s always good to have a Plan B. Our excursion ended up being a 170-mile loop with a threehour canoe trip on Sawbill Lake.

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Right: Keith heading uphill away from Lake Superior by RICK PERTL photos by RICK PERTL Top: Rick taking in the scenery of Sawbill Lake | photo by KEITH VELASKI Bottom: Sunset at Sawbill Lake Campground | photo by RICK PERTL

After a good night’s sleep, we awoke to another gorgeous day, packed up our campsite and biked to the outfitters to trade in our bikes for a canoe.

The mini-portage to the lake was just over five minutes long. We launched into a strong northerly wind and the large waves on Sawbill Lake tried to push us backwards. Keith is a Boundary Waters veteran, so he took the rear position and kept us near the shoreline for some protection. Paddling close to the edge of the lake also provided the best scenery, with dense forest, rocky shoreline, and an occasional primitive campsite. We struggled going into the wind, but the return trip went incredibly fast with a huge push home. The canoe portion of this trip was a surprisingly nice respite from the many miles of the biking.

By late morning, we were back on the bikes heading down forest roads that at times turned into double-track paths laden with chunky gravel. Calling Rice Lake Road a road was a stretch. Our bike handling skills were put to the test navigating large rocks and fallen branches, and we never knew what was around the next corner. Then we had to cross the flooded path in a spot where a beaver dam had created a miniature lake. It was about 100-feet across and no telling how deep. There was no going around it and no turning back, so we put our bikes on our shoulders and soldiered on. All of our ultra-light camping gear did not seem so ultra-light while we carried our bikes. Luckily, the water never went above our knees.

A long descent into Grand Marais finished at the Voyageur Brewing Company with well deserved beers and fish tacos after riding 37 miles. Later, we shared stories around the fire with another group of bikepackers camping next to us.

The Java Moose Espresso Café was our first destination in the morning. We enjoyed delicious lattes and pastries on their deck overlooking Lake Superior before heading back into the wilderness.

Another cloudless day provided the backdrop for our ride to Ninemile Lake Campground, a US Forest Service site near Finland, MN. We took the brand-new stretch of Gitchi-Gami Trail heading south out of Grand Marais and took in amazing views of Lake Superior. Back into to the deep woods and more gravel grinding, we stumbled upon Toohey Lake which had a small beach and dock. Of course, bike

shorts double as swimsuits and we jumped in. It felt great to cool off and get a break from turning the cranks.

After 53 miles in the saddle, we arrived at an empty campground and found a gorgeous site on the lake. A solar-powered faucet provided water, and the concrete outhouse doubled as our bear locker. According to the friendly campground host there had been a recent bear sighting in the area, but at least there were no mosquitos.

Raindrops on the roof of my tent rang in the last day of our trip. We decided to shorten our route and take a more direct course back to the car. We had already ridden many miles of gravel on this trip and we were satisfied with our efforts so far. The rain remained on the light side and didn’t dampen our spirits, only our helmets. Ending at Lake Superior after 16 drizzly miles meant a long, welldeserved downhill finish. After changing our clothes and putting our bikes in the car, we took a quick drive to the Coho Café & Bakery for lunch.

Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 37
Explore over 2,000 miles of trails. Find trail maps and plan your next ride at VisitCookCounty.com/Bike READY.
Cook County, MN
We relished our latest adventure and wondered where our next bikepacking trip might take us.

Minnesota’s bike trails, long distance hiking trails, water trails, state parks, state recreation areas and biomes

38 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 38 3 MIN MI NES NE OTA TR AIL A S Spring 20023 2 ExploreHUTCHINSON.com #MuchInHutch LUC E LINE S TATE TRA I L 800.572. 2 6689 info f @expplo l reehutchinson.ccom Hutchinson Chamber of Commerce & Tourism PRAIRIE DECIDUOUS FOREST CONIFEROUS FOREST TALLGRASS ASPEN PARKLAND STATE PARKS STATE RECREATION AREAS BIKE TRAILS ROADS STATE WATER TRAILS CITIES LONG DISTANCE HIKING TRAILS May 2022 MAP LEGEND Not for Navigation Mille Lacs Lake Lower Red Lake Lake Winnibigoshish Leech Lake Upper Red Lake Lake of the Woods Rainy River Rainy Lake Minnesota St. Croix River Mississippi Lake Superior Lake Superior Little Fork Red Lake Pomme de Terre Chippewa Redwood Cottonwood Des Moines Watonwan Blue Earth Shell Rock Cedar Root Zumbro Whitewater Straight Cannon Red River of the North Big Fork Vermillion Mississippi Rum Kettle Snake Mississippi Pine Crow Wing Long Prairie Sauk Crow, North Fork Crow, South Fork Cloquet St. Louis Otter Tail Cass Lake Grand Marais Tofte Ely Duluth Two Harbors Silver Bay Eveleth Bemidji Brainerd Walker Wadena Park Rapids Detroit Lakes International Falls Hinckley Mora Crosby Marine on St. Croix Stillwater Hastings Lake City Cannon Falls Hugo North Branch Sandstone Minneapolis Hutchinson Saint Paul Rochester Red Wing Winona Harmony Preston Lanesboro Owatanna Faribault Marshall Mankato New Ulm Pipestone Saint Cloud Little Falls Fergus Falls Alexandria Willmar Albert Lea Austin Blue Earth Worthington Luverne St. James Moorhead Erskine Crookston Chisholm Grand Rapids 94 94 35 35 90 90 10 71 71 53 2 2 71 75 59 59 12 12 59 59 75 14 14 52 52 61 63 169 212 212 169 75 75 63 Paynesville Sauk Centre Albany St. Joseph 169 Voyageurs National Park BWCA North Country Trail North Country Trail Kekekabic Trail Border Route Trail Superior Hiking Trail Central Lakes Glendalough Cuyuna Country Rec. Area Paul Bunyan Paul Bunyan Heartland Migizi Minnesota Valley Rec. Area Sakatah Singing Hills Fair Ridge Camden Casey Jones Blue Mounds Lake Wobegon Soo Line Soo Line Willard Munger Mesabi Rainy Lake Alex Laveau Segment Brown’s Creek Gitchi Gami Trail Gateway Harmony-Preston Valley Blazing Star Shooting Star Root River Douglas Great River Ridge Cannon Valley Glacial Lakes ROCORI Dakota Rail Luce Line Grand Rounds Sunrise Prairie Hardwood Creek LRT Goodhue Pioneer Frontenac John A. Latsch Great River Bluffs Beaver Creek Valley Forestville / Mystery Cave Lake Louise Myre Big Island Rice Lake Whitewater Carley Sakatah Lake Nerstrand Big Woods Minneopa Kilen Woods Blue Mounds Split Rock Creek Pipestone National Monument Lake Shetek Flandrau Fort Ridgely Camden Upper Sioux Agency Lac qui Parle Big Stone Lake Monson Lake Sibley Greenleaf Lake Rec. Area Fort Snelling Lake Maria Glacial Lakes Lake Carlos Charles A. Lindbergh Mille Lacs Kathio Father Hennepin Banning Moose Lake Jay Cooke Gooseberry Falls Split Rock Lighthouse Tettegouche George H. Crosby Manitou Temperance River Cascade River Judge C.R. Magney Bear Head Lake Lake Vermilion /Soudan Undergound Mine Scenic McCarthy Beach Hill Annex Mine Iron Range OHV Rec. Area Savanna Portage Crow Wing Maplewood Glendalough Buffalo River Itasca La Salle Lake Rec. Area Schoolcraft Lake Bemidji Big Bog Rec. Area Franz Jevne Garden Island Rec. Area Zippel Bay Hayes Lake Lake Bronson Old Mill Red River Rec. Area Grand Portage Wild River Interstate William O’Brien St. Croix Afton Grand Portage National Monument


You need a place to eat, stay, play and upgrade your gear? Our Trail Partners are here to help!



324 Curtis Avenue, Ironton www.cykelonline.com



211 America Avenue NW Bemidji 218-444-7011 www.bemidjibeer.com

THE HUDSON 218-772-0096 208 Curtis Avenue, Ironton www.hudson218.com

THE DEERSTAND RESTAURANT AND BAR 24188 Mohs Street, Deerwood 218-534-9253 www.deerstandrestaurant.com

TACONITE CANTEEN 218-545-2220 240 Curtis Avenue, Ironton www.taccanteen.com



105 7th Avenue S, St. Cloud www.fitzharrismn.com

JAKE’S BIKES 320-219-7433

419 N. Nokomis St., Alexandria www.jakesbikes.com


160 29th Avenue South, St. Cloud www.revolutioncycleandski.com


124 2nd Street NE, Little Falls www.tourightbicycleshop.com


6489 Cahill Avenue, Inver Grove Heights www.bike-king.com



COLDWELL BANKER CROWN REALTORS Hwy. 6 & 210, Crosby 218-546-8346 www.coldwellbankercrown.com

CUYUNA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER 320 East Main Street, Crosby 218-546-7000 www.cuyunamed.org

DEERWOOD BANK 218-534-3111 21236 Archibald Road, Deerwood www.deerwoodbank.com




2661 Co Road I & Old Hwy 10, Mounds View www.CarsBikeShop.com


30235 Redwing Avenue, Shafer www.maklinbikeshop.com

MID MINNESOTA FEDERAL CREDIT UNION 117 West Main Street, Crosby 218-546-5428 www.mmfcu.org

OARS-N-MINE 218-546-6912 22640 MN-6, Crosby www.oarsnmine.com

TIMBER BUILDING SUPPLY 218-678-2063 14506 State Highway 6, Deerwood www.timberbuildingsupply.com



RAMSEY BICYCLE 763-323-6666 6825 Hwy. 10 NW, Ramsey www.ramseybicycles.com


11350 Aquila Drive, Suite 505, Champlin www.trailheadcyclingandfitness.com


12901 16th Ave. N, Plymouth www.trailheadcyclingandfitness.com





COMMON GOODS 218-772-2999

27 W Main Street, Crosby www.littlerockdesigns.com

LITTLE ROCKS DESIGN STICKERS Melrose 320-333-2520 www.commongoodsmn.org

VICTUAL 218-545-1000 124 West Main Street, Crosby www.shopvictual.com



103 4th St N, Cannon Falls www.cannonfalls.org

VISIT MARSHALL 507-537-1865

1651 Victory Drive, Marshall www.visitmarshallmn.com

CENTRAL LAKES TRAIL ASSOCIATION 324 Broadway, Alexandria 320-763-0102 www.centrallakestrail.com

5 miles from Taylors Falls 651-257-4773 www.countrybedandbreakfast.us

GREEN HERON B&B 218-999-5795

2810 Meyers Bay Road, Grand Rapids www.greenheronbandb.com


BIG RIVER RESORT 651-565-9932

1110 Hiawatha Dr. E www.bigriverresort.com

CUYUNA LAKES STAY 218-866-2325

23688 Forest Road, Deerwood www.cuyunalakesstay.com

RED RIDER RESORT 218-838-6858

23457 Co. Rd. 31, Crosby www.redriderresort.com See

A quick and easy reference for planning your adventure!


112 Washington Ave. W, Fergus Falls www.visitfergusfalls.com


2 Main St., Hutchinson www.explorehutchinson.com

VISIT BRAINERD 800-450-7247

14084 Baxter Drive, STE 12, Brainerd www.visitbrainerd.com


1301 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Minneapolis www.loppet.org


19950 Dodd Blvd., Lakeville www.visitlakeville.org

LOVIN’ LAKE COUNTY 218-391-5081 1330 MN-61, Two Harbors www.lovinlakecounty.com

Spring 2023 | MINNESOTA TRAILS 39 35 71 71 2 2 94 90 90 Minnesota Trails Directory Regions Northeast Region Duluth St. Cloud Bemidji Mankato Northwest Region Southern Region Metro Region Central Region
more details about these trail-friendly businesses: www.mntrails.com/trail-partners



SCHEELS Eden Prairie scheels.com | Eden Prairie, MN

SCHEELS Mankato scheels.com | Mankato, MN

SCHEELS Moorhead scheels.com | Moorhead, MN

SCHEELS Rochester scheels.com | Rochester, MN


40 MINNESOTA TRAILS | Spring 2023
little extra boost leads to incredible possibilities and a whole lot of fun. On an electric bike, you can ride farther and faster, easily carry everything you need, and explore new places. E-bikes make it simple to ditch the daily traffic jam, get more exercise, and feel great about treading more lightly on the planet. Best of all, no matter your reason to ride, you’ll have a blast along the way. Visit your authorized Trek retailer today!
Cycle & Ski advcycle.com | Winona, MN
Bike Shop dlbikeshop.com | Detroit Lakes, MN Downtown Bicycles downtownbicyclesllc.com | Northfield, MN
Cycle gatewaycycle.com
Oakdale, MN
Bikes jakesbikes.com
Cycling & Fitness martinscyclingandfitness.com
Motion outdoormotionbikes.com
Hutchinson, MN
| Alexandria,
| Albert
MN Outdoor
Ramsey Bicycle ramseybicycle.com | Ramsey, MN Red Wing Bicycle Co. redwingbikes.com | Red Wing, MN Revolution Cycle and Ski revolutioncycleandski.com | St. Cloud, MN Rick’s Cycling and Sports Center rickscycling.com | Willmar, MN
Cycling cycling-fitness.com | Rochester, MN
Rydjor Bike Shop rydjor.com | Austin, MN
TK23 MN Retailers Ebike Feb Group Ad indd 1 2/2/23 4:21 PM
St. Cloud scheels.com | St. Cloud, MN Straight River Sports straightriversports.com | Owatonna, MN The Bike Shop thebikeshopmarshall.com | Marshall, MN