10/10/2018

Favorite Fall Rides In and Near the Twin Cities-Part 2


Fall is one of my favorite times of the year to ride and right now the leaves in and around the metro are starting to change color.  We have many trails and roads in Minnesota that are perfect for seeing all sights that Fall has to offer by bicycle.  There's something here for every type of cyclist whether you're a mountain biker, trail rider or gravel enthusiast.  Get out there soon as this opportunity comes and goes quickly.   Below are some of my favorites near the Twin Cities that I try to visit this time of year.

Minnesota River Bottoms

The Minnesota River Bottoms network of trails have always been a Fall favorite of mine for riding my fatbike.  The floodplain forest offers great views of the river and wildlife that inhabit this area.  However, with all the rain we have had recently some areas are too soft to ride or are underwater due to flooding.  The Bluffs section between 35W and Mound Springs Park has a high enough elevation where flooding shouldn't be a problem.  Other segments are rideable but there will be some spots that are muddy or under water and you may have to turn back.

The trail conditions in a floodplain are constantly changing so check for updates by visiting the MORC Trail Conditions page or see and hear about other's ride experiences on the MN River Bottoms Ride Report Facebook group.

Cannon Valley Trail/Hay Creek/
Goodhue-Pioneer State Trail

The Cannon Valley Trail is a little over 19 miles long and has trail access in Cannon Falls, Welch and Red Wing.  The trail was built on a former railway grade and offers beautiful views of the Cannon River, woods and prairies along the way. 

The ride doesn't have to end in Red Wing.  Hop onto the city trail that follows along Hay Creek and it will lead you to the Goodhue-Pioneer State Trail which also follows Hay Creek with awesome views of  the changing colors as you roll through the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest.  Follow the trail until it ends in the little town of Hay Creek which is the turn-around point.  Make a day of it and start at the Cannon Falls Trailhead and ride to the town of Hay Creek for a 52 mile round-trip ride.

Fort Snelling State Park

Fort Snelling State Park has trails to ride through the woods on both sides of the Minnesota River.  Near the historic fort on the north side of the Minnesota River there is plenty of parking and once you head down the hill on the trail near the fort you will come across both paved and unpaved trails on Picnic Island and around Snelling lake.  There is also the paved Minnehaha Trail that follows the Mississippi River north through the woods to Minnehaha Park.


Some of you may be very familiar with the Mendota Trail that follows along the Minnesota River on the south side from Mendota all the way to the Cedar Ave. bridge.  This section of natural treadway trail offers many views of the river as it meanders along through the woods past creeks, lakes and marshes.  With all of the rain we have had recently, some sections of the trail are very wet and/or underwater so keep that in mind.  Updates and photos for this section of trail can be found at the MN River Bottoms Ride Report Facebook group page.

Lilydale/Harriet Island Regional Park

The paved trails that run through Lilydale Regional Park and Harriet Island Regional Park are a joy to ride this time of year.  These trails pass through the floodplain forest along the south side of the Mississippi River from 35E in Lilydale all the way to Harriet Island in St. Paul.  The views of the changing colors along the way are spectacular and it's hard to believe that it's so close to downtown.  These trails also connect in Lilydale to the Big Rivers Regional Trail making for a longer ride along the river and multiple other trail options.  For a better view of the trails in this area, visit Google Maps to plan out your Fall color ride.

Umore Park/Vermillion Highlands

A place I continue to ride year after year in the Fall is close to home for me.  The Vermillion Highlands and UMore Park in Rosemount have paved and gravel roads that take you through part of what used to be the Gopher Works Ordinance plant during World War II and a wildlife management area.  Some of these roads I used to ride have been closed to the public by the University of Minnesota but there are still a lot of areas to see the Fall colors and experience nature. 


Explore old paved roads with light car traffic throughout UMore Park on the north side of 160th St. E. and then venture into the Vermillion Highlands on the south side.  Some roads to ride include Station Trail, Annette Ave., 190th St. and Blaine Ave.  Just off of Station Trail is the entrance to Whitetail Woods Regional Park that has a picnic area and restrooms. 


Don't delay as the Fall colors don't stick around for long.  Visit one of the areas mentioned in this post if you haven't before and experience Minnesota Fall on a bicycle.

Penn Cycle & Fitness
When you buy a smart trainer in October,
you can get up to 12 months free Zwift—
the virtual reality training program 
that makes it fun to ride inside.

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