Weekend Wheeling in the Twin Cities

City Trails
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Grand Round

The Twin Cities urban bike trail system forms the foundation of the recreational bicycling scene, providing the most heavily used trails and marked routes in the state. The granddaddy of them all is the "Grand Round" of Minneapolis, a loop with various connecting routes of almost 40 miles that ties together dozens of parks, six lakes, wide residential boulevards, and the Mississippi River into one of the most scenic urban tours anywhere. Starting in the 1970s, bicycle-specific paved paths were added to this corridor to match the steady growth of recreational bike use.

Ideal for family outings, urban exploration, and bicycle commuting, these one- or two-way routes have frequent access to park rest areas, drinking water, scenic overlooks, beaches, and other facilities. Over most of the course of the trail, separate paths are available for those on foot, as well as for those on wheels.

Dozens of short loops around lakes or out-and-back rides are possible anywhere in the Grand Round system. Some of the most popular visitor destinations include the Stone Arch Bridge and historic flour-milling district in the downtown area, Minnehaha Park and Minnehaha Falls in south Minneapolis, and the chain of lakes section in the uptown area.

The path system is beginning to show its age a bit, and occasional pavement cracks, potholes, and annoying mini-curbs may make faster riders or those with skinny tires prefer to ride on the usually adjacent parkways.

And St. Paul, Too

Not to be outdone, St. Paul also has a network of bike trails along the river and around its lakes. The city even boasts a unique marked bike route along the 19th-century mansion-lined Summit Avenue, where the homes of the timber and railroad barons of yesteryear were built.

An ambitious urban bike tour can be started in St. Paul by following the Gateway Trail as it leads 18 miles from the urban core into suburban and rural landscapes on the east side of the metro area. This is one of the busiest of the DNR-maintained state trails, with hikers, dog walkers, in-line skaters, and bicyclists all sharing the corridor. One of the most popular starting points is east of I-35E in Phalen-Keller Regional Park, the largest of St. Paul's lake-based park complexes.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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