View the Scenic Prairies and St. Croix River Valley by Bike at Afton State Park

After a recent mountain bike outing at Afton Alps, I decided to ride up the road to check out Afton State Park.  I had never ridden there and wanted to see what the State Park had to offer cyclists.  I was pleasantly surprised after just a short distance down the bike trail.

I started off my ride by stopping at the office near the entrance to the park to pick up a map.  The park offers trails for hiking, horseback riding and biking and are clearly marked for their designated purpose.

There are only about 4 miles of bike trails in the park, but they're very scenic miles that should be ridden slowly in order to take in all of the beauty of the changing landscape.  The trail dead ends at the northern part of the park, so follow your route back for an 8 mile round trip ride.

The trail starts on a downhill which follows the main road into the park.  It then heads uphill to a vast rolling prairie which fills all of your field of view.  The sounds of songbirds and the occasional rooster pheasant call fill the air.

The scenery soon changes as you get closer to the St. Croix River.  The rolling grasslands become woods and the elevation begins to descend.  Along this section of trail there are several picnic areas and spots to view the St. Croix river, so bring a lunch and your camera.

Asphalt changes to gravel when you reach the section of trail called the North River Trail.  Along this stretch that runs high up along the river bank, there are many opportunities to snap some great pictures.  For a while there, I forgot that I was in the Twin Cities.  It felt like I had taken a trip up north and was miles away from the city.

Afton State Park is a great biking destination for families, nature lovers, birdwatchers and photographers.  When bringing the kids along for a ride, there is a lot for them to see, the trail isn't too long and there are several picnic areas and restrooms along the trail.  You will need a State Park Vehicle Permit to park at Afton State Park.  A daily permit or seasonal permit can be purchased at the State Park Office near the entrance of the park.  This is a nice park with a lot of facilities and is located close to the Twin Cities metro area, so put this one on your list of places to visit.

Trail Photo Gallery: Afton State Park


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