Going The Distance: Trails with Scenic Mileage For The Long Haul Cyclist-Part 3

Lake Harriet-Grand Rounds Scenic Byway
For those cyclists looking for a longer trail to put some miles behind them, rail trails and State Trails around the state are a great place to start.  These paved trails offer trailheads with parking,  amenities such as restroom facilities, access to drinking water and long distances where you can ride all day if you want instead of just for an hour or two.  Because these trails are built on old railroad beds or are State Trails, they offer multiple access points, great scenery and pass through small towns along the way. 

There are so many trails of length in Minnesota that I decided to make this a multi-part installment of trail listings.  Click the links to read Part 1 and and Part 2 I have broken these trails down by region and will conclude with this installment.   They all have significant mileage of paved surface providing a smooth riding experience unless otherwise stated.

Twin Cities Area
  • The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway is a 50.1 mile trail split into 7 byway districts, each with its own unique characteristics and charm.  The Downtown Riverfront District is only 1.2 miles long but shows off the historic Downtown Minneapolis Riverfront including the west side milling district, Mill Ruins Park, Nicollet and Boom Islands, the Stone Arch Bridge, St. Anthony Falls and Lock & Dam No. 1.  The Mississippi River District is 9.2 miles long and follows the East and West River Parkways providing great views of the river along its bluffs and flats.  The Minnehaha District is 12.6 miles long and runs from the East Lake Harriet Parkway along the winding Minnehaha Creek, around Lake Nikomis and on to Minnehaha Park and Falls.  The Chain of Lakes District is 13.3 miles of trails around Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles and along the west shore of Cedar Lake to Theodore Wirth Park.  This is one of the most popular sections of all of the Byway districts and can draw a lot of traffic on the weekends, so hit these trails early in the morning to beat the crowds.  The Theodore Wirth District spans 4 miles passing through the largest regional park in Minneapolis and intersects the Cedar Lake Trail.  The Victory Memorial District travels 3.8 miles from the Mississippi River via the Webber Parkway and past the memorials placed along the Victory Memorial Parkway to Theodore Wirth Park.  The Northeast District starts on the Ridgeway Parkway near the Francis A. Gross Golf Course  on the edge of the Minneapolis city limits and routes north along the Stinson Parkway to the St. Anthony Parkway totaling 6 miles in length.  You will pass the Columbia Golf Course on your way to cross the Mississippi River and connect to the Victory Memorial District section of the trail.  There are lots of parking options available making it easy to start your ride anywhere along the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway.  So, take advantage of this Minneapolis gem and see the city like you haven't before. Downtown Riverfront District map  Mississippi River District map  Minnehaha District map  Chain of Lakes District map  Theodore Wirth District map  Victory Memorial District map  Northeast District map

Central Minnesota
  • The Hardwood Creek/Sunrise Prairie trails combine for a total of 24 miles following an old Burlington Northern rail line that starts in Hugo in Washington County and continues through Wyoming, Stacy and on to North Branch in Chisago County.  With parking available in Hugo, Forest Lake, Wyoming, Stacy and North Branch, you can make this trail as long or as short as you want to ride.  Hardwood Creek/Sunrise Prairie Trails map  

Northern Minnesota
  • The Mesabi Trail is a 10 foot wide paved trail partially built on old railroad beds.  When completed, the trail will stretch more than 132 miles passing through more than 25 communities making it one of the longest paved trails in the country.  Right now, the trail has 115 miles completed from Grand Rapids to Aurora, but will continue on to Ely when all is said and done.  There are many access points and parking areas located in the communities along the trail making it easy to pick the length of ride you would like to do.  The Mesabi Trail website has a communities page which has links to all of the towns along its path which contain information about the town, parking, access points, highlights and services available.  A wheel pass is required by anyone over 18 years of age to ride the trail.  A 3 day special pass will cost you $5 and an annual pass is $15.  Wheel passes can be purchased online or from local area vendors, click here for more information.  The Mesabi Trail Shuttle Service is available for those that would like to ride the trail without having to bike back to your car or hotel.  There are plenty of lodging options available along the trail for the out-of-towner as well as public campgrounds.  This is truly one of Minnesota's premier paved trails and should not be missed.  Put it on your list of trails to ride this year.  Mesabi Trail map
This concludes the series "Going The Distance: Trails with Scenic Mileage For The Long Haul Cyclist" and I hope it inspired you to travel some of these great long distance trails around Minnesota this year.

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