Weekend Wheeling in the Twin Cities

Heading Off-Road
  |  Gorp.com

Fort Snelling State Park

The south metro part of town — not far from the airport, the Mall of America, and the I-494 hotel, entertainment, and business strip — has some of the best technical mountain-bike rides available. Just south of all this hustle and bustle lies Fort Snelling State Park, spread out along the lowlands where the Mississippi and the Minnesota Rivers meet.

Several trail options in and around the park offer relatively easy yet interesting trail riding in the undeveloped river environment.

On the south side of the river, a seven-mile trail (accessible from Nichols Road under the Highway 77/Cedar Avenue bridge) provides an out-and-back ride on wide single- and double-track.

Across the river, accessible from Old Cedar Road, are about two miles of similar trails winding around a nature study area at the east end of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Following the old highway across the old bridge — closed to motor traffic — will lead across to the south-side trail.

For some more technical riding, there are a series of informal single-track trails at the north end of Fort Snelling on the Mississippi River floodplain. Access is usually made from Minnehaha Park or East 54th Street in Minneapolis. There may be construction of a new highway going on in that vicinity, but there is a corridor leading across it to the state park access trail. Follow the paved trail a short distance south, then drop down into the single-tracks and explore to your heart's content. Sharp corners, logs, mud, gravel, low branches, steep drops, and unleashed dogs are obstacles to watch for.

Additional trails in Fort Snelling are more suitable for casual riding; however, some are off-limits to mountain biking, so watch for the slashed bike signs. Entrance fees are required for motor vehicles.

South Metro Suburban Hills

Some more technical riding can be found in several regional parks in the suburban hills on the south side of the Minnesota River valley. Lebanon Hills in Eagan, Terrace Oaks in Burnsville, and Murphy-Hanrehan in Savage are three popular stops on the south metro mountain biking circuit.

Terrace Oaks, with three miles of trails, and Murphy-Hanrehan, with five miles, are sometimes restricted to limited dates, so check locally for the latest scoop.

Lebanon Hills Regional Park's mountain bike trail network, near Cliff Road and I-35E, is a small but enjoyable place to do a few laps for an hour or two on mostly moderately difficult single- and double-track terrain. On the 2.5 miles of trail, you will find sand, gravel, ruts, occasional roots, banked turns, and a few steep climbs and descents to keep you alert.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 16 Jun 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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