With rarely anything more challenging than gently rolling hills between all its amazing scenery, Minnesota can be great for bike travel.
Despite Minnesota’s southeast corner’s many long climbs, most saddle jockeys consider it the top place to tour on two wheels. Besides mixing rural farm scenery, including the state’s largest Amish community, with unique glacial topography, the back roads are well maintained.
West-central Minnesota between St. Cloud and Fergus Falls, the center of Minnesota’s dairy industry, has many paved back roads and little traffic on the trunk routes.
Minnesota is a leader in converting abandoned railroad beds into trails, and nearly 600 miles of these are paved (as are many other routes that are not rails-to-trails). The Root River and Harmony-Preston Valley State Trails in the southeast, the Paul Bunyan State Trail through the heartland, and the Willard Munger State Trail outside Duluth are probably the most scenic.
Off-road riders will find a lot to like here too, from extreme single-track to quiet forest touring trails. The national forests have hundreds of miles of seldom-followed paths to ride, and the state forests have hundreds of miles more of even less used trails. Many of the state’s downhill ski areas open up trails to mountain bikers in the summer, and these are justifiably popular.
Minnesota Off Road Cyclists (www.morcmtb.org) have many detailed trail reviews on their website and Explore Minnesota Tourism’s handy Explore Minnesota Biking brochure has a comprehensive listing of paved and mountain bike trails.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition