MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Try a new bike trail

In Minnesota, fresh stretches of trail invite bicycle tourists.

A bicyclist and steam shovel on the Mesabi Trail.

© Beth Gauper

In Mountain Iron, the Mesabi Trail passes an old steam shovel.

There’s good news for bicycle tourists looking for a new stretch of trail to try.

This month, a troublesome 1½-mile stretch of the Mesabi Trail in northern Minnesota (pictured) finally was completed between Taconite and Marble, giving riders 74½ nonstop miles of beautiful asphalt.

The rolling trail, which does not follow a rail corridor, takes riders past turquoise mine-pit lakes, through rock cuts and to the door of nearly every Iron Range attraction. For more, see Rolling through the Iron Range.

Near Bemidji, an 11½-mile section of the Paul Bunyan State Trail has been paved. Now, bicyclists can ride 7½ miles along the east shore of Lake Bemidji from Lake Bemidji State Park, then on two miles of city streets to connect with the new stretch, which winds through the woods to Guthrie.

For more, see Bicycling the Bunyan. The 17-mile ride around Lake Bemidji, on trails, city sidewalks and quiet roads, also is very nice; see Bemidji's behemoths.

In southern Minnesota, the Shooting Star State Trail from LeRoy has been extended five miles to Adams. The route is famous for wildflowers; we rode it in May, when it was lined by Virginia bluebells. The first 10 miles through Lake Louise State Park still is prettiest, but Adams has a pool, a park and a cafe.

For a longer trip, drive 10 miles into Iowa from LeRoy and catch onto the Wapsi-Great Western Line Trail in McIntire. The paved 18-mile trail follows the Wapsipinicon River to the Minnesota border.

From Minneapolis' Theodore Wirth Park, just south of its Par 3 Golf Course, the paved, nine-mile Luce Line Regional Trail now connects in Plymouth to the Luce Line State Trail. It's a good trail to ride on hot days; it passes the city beach at Medicine Lake and the south side of Parkers Lake, where the beach is across the lake.

In the western suburbs of Minneapolis, the paved Dakota Rail Trail winds 13½ miles past the bays of Lake Minnetonka, between Wayzata's city beach and St. Bonifacius' city hall. For more, see Bicycling around the Twin Cities.

And in Red Wing, four miles of the paved Goodhue Pioneer State Trail to the Hay Creek recreation area connect to the 20-mile Cannon Valley Trail through city streets.

For more about trails, see Bicycling Minnesota.

Last updated on August 3, 2009