Cedar Lake LRT Regional Trail to Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail
1. The Eat-And-Drink Ride
Lake Calhoun to Lake Minnetonka, 20 miles round-trip
This flat easy ride takes you through open and wooded trails in St. Louis Park, Hopkins, and Minnetonka to the shores of Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior, with so many great bites and local brews along the way it will be hard to choose. (Good thing you’re burning calories.)
Eat: Try the red wine burger at PUB 819 in Hopkins (pub819.com), stop for a trailside bite at Peoples Organic Café in Minnetonka (peoplesorganic.com), or do the lake al fresco at Bayside Grille (bayviewevent.com) or Maynards (maynardsonline.com) in Excelsior.
Drink: Steel Toe Brewing in St. Louis Park (steeltoebrewing.com), LTD Brewing Co. in Hopkins (ltdbrewing.com), and Excelsior Brewing Company in Excelsior (excelsiorbrew.com) are all new to the taproom scene within the past five years.
Learn more: threeriversparks.org, 763-559-9000
Gateway State Trail and Brown’s Creek State Trail
2. The Nature Ride
North St. Paul to downtown Stillwater, 26 miles round-trip
This converted rail trail winds through parks, fields, and wetlands. Begin at the North St. Paul Trailhead between First and Second Streets just north of Seventh Avenue, then keep right when the trail splits to follow Brown’s Creek State Trail.
Eat: Marx Fusion Bistro (marxwbg.com) and Domacin Restaurant & Winebar (domacinwinebar.com) in Stillwater offer wine and American fare. QuickFire Pizza (quickfirepizza.com) turns out pies in 90 seconds.
Drink: 1887-founded Neumann’s Bar in St. Paul (neumannsbar.com) is the state’s oldest. The state’s first steam-powered brewery, Joseph Wolf Brewing Company, is enjoying a revival by the founder’s great-granddaughters.
Play: Rent paddleboards and get out on that river (stcroixsupco.com).
Learn more: dnr.state.mn.us, 651-296-6157
Bonus Ride for Trailblazers
Be among the first to ride the completed Swedish Immigrant Trail when it opens later this year. The 20-mile paved trail follows an abandoned railway bed from Wyoming through the Chisago Lakes area to Taylors Falls, where you can eat at the Drive-In Restaurant and bunk in a jailhouse. taylorsfalls.com, oldjail.com
3. Scott County's New Ride
The Scott West Regional Trail will eventually connect Cleary Lake Regional Park and Spring Lake Regional Park in Prior Lake. When fully complete, the trail also will connect to Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, the Minnesota Valley State Trail and the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail. For now, ride at Cleary, where there’s a golf course, a beach, a campground (one of the few in our metro), and 20 miles of trails. And keep tabs on this trail at threeriversparks.org.
Mississippi River Trail
4. The Overnight Ride
Fridley to Elk River, 50 miles round-trip
The mighty Mississippi is your natural guide. Start just north of 694 at Islands of Peace Recreation Area. You’ll leave the Twin Cities behind for river cities. Ride to Elk River, then back to downtown Anoka for dinner and warm bed.
Gear: Drop into Fridley Heights Cyclery (fridleyheightscyclery.com) for anything from quick tune-up to full restoration.
Play: At Oliver H. Kelley Farm in Elk River (mnhs.org), where it’s always the 1860s.
Stay: Try the Ticknor Hill Bed & Breakfast in Anoka, a Queen Anne that still has a jetted tub for sore quads.
Learn more: Liz Walton, Minnesota Department of Transportation, 651-566-4186.
Battle Creek Mountain Bike Trail
5. The Mountain Bike Ride
From downtown St. Paul or Woodbury, 12 miles or less round-trip
The excellence of exclusivity! Of the nine miles of track in Battle Creek Regional Park, 4.5 are “mountain bike only,” and a few are advanced. Single-track lovers call it a diamond in the rough and recommend a guide your first time.
Caffeinate: Start at the arty Black Dog Café in downtown St. Paul (blackdogstpaul.com). End there with beer and wine, too.
Eat: Carb up on giant pancakes on either end of your ride—at Keys Café and Bakery (keyscafe.com), in both Woodbury and St. Paul.
Minnesota Valley State Trail
6. The Diverse Ride
From Chaska to Belle Plaine, 30 miles round-trip
You’ll find six miles paved on this relatively new trail, and the rest natural surface, plus a stunning diversity of landscape—floodplains, forest, and wetlands. It’s a nature-lover’s dream, starting from the charming downtown that is Chaska.
Gear: Drop in to Michael’s Cycles (michaelscycles-mn.com) in downtown Chaska before you head out. They rent bikes, too.
Caffeinate: At the Dunn Bros in downtown Chaska, or the family owned A Cup of Carver (acupofcarver.com) after you’ve headed south on the trail a few miles.
Eat: At Emma Krumbee’s Bakery & Restaurant in Belle Plaine (emmakrumbees.com), where the pie is divine. Or Egg and Pie Diner in Chaska, for (what else?) great pie.
Drink: Have margaritas at Patrón Mexican Bar & Grill.
Play: The trail follows the Minnesota River through the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. There will be plenty of places to study and photograph.
Learn more: mndnr.gov/trails, 952-492-6400, 651-296-6157
Big Rivers Regional Trail
7. The Kid-Friendly Ride
Eagan to Lilydale, 10 miles round-trip
Take the whole family on a scenic journey overlooking the sacred confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Built on an old Minnesota Central Railroad rail bed, it’s an easy and beautiful ride for any age.
Gear: Tune up at Hiawatha Cyclery in Minneapolis (hiawathacyclery.com) or OneTen Cycles in Mendota Heights (onetencycles.com), or rent four-seat family cruisers at Wheel Fun Rentals in Minneapolis (wheelfunrentalsmn.com).
Caffeinate: TK’s Coffee in Lilydale (tkscoffee.com) has caffeine, plus fruit smoothies for the kids, and soups and sammies, too.
Play: Picnic or play catch in Fort Snelling State Park or Lilydale Regional Park, or tour the Sibley House in Mendota, one-time home to our first governor.
Learn more: dakotacounty.us/parks, 952-891-7000