Bash on a bike trail
In fall, kick up your wheels at a small-town festival.
In September, when the air turns crisp, everyone starts thinking the same thing: Time to plan a weekend trip.
Autumn is a great time to try out a new bike trail, not only because of fall colors and invigorating weather but because so many small towns throw harvest festivals in September and October.
Since trails go right through towns, bicycle tourists are right in the middle of the action — but not the traffic jams.
Food always is the main draw, and there's nothing bicyclists like more than food. Grape harvests result in wine festivals and Oktoberfests in a river of beer, which also goes over pretty well.
So why not pair a bike ride with a fun little festival? Here are some of the best destinations.
For more, see 15 great trails to ride in fall.
For fall weekend bike tours, see Tours on two wheels.
This 23-mile trail goes through Wisconsin cheese country, connecting to the Badger State Trail.
For more about the area, see Wisconsin's cheese country.
This paved 30-mile trail follows an old trolley line from the northern suburbs of Milwaukee to the tourist towns of Cedarburg and Port Washington on Lake Michigan.
For more, see Bicycling along Lake Michigan.
Follow the Chippewa River on this 19½-mile trail between Chippewa Falls and Cornell, named for a ferocious Civil War mascot.
For more, see A trail for Old Abe.
This 40-mile trail heads west from the Madison suburb of Fitchburg (linked to Capital City Trail) to Dodgeville.
Paul Bunyan State Trail in northern Minnesota: Fall Festival in Nisswa.
The Minnesota lakes country through which this trail cuts is unjustly forsaken when summer ends; the fall color there is as good or better than the display on the North Shore."
The Bunyan connects to the 47-mile Heartland State Trail just east of Akeley.
Root River and Harmony-Preston Valley state trails in southeast Minnesota: Taste of the Trail. The first weekend, festivities are between Lanesboro and Peterson; the second, from Fountain to Harmony; and the third, in Rushford and Houston.
The bluff country of southeast Minnesota and its bike trails, the 42-mile Root River and 18-mile Harmony-Preston Valley, are favorite destinations in fall.
For more, see Bicycling in bluff country.
This trail parallels I-35 but is out of sight. The 10 miles between Stacy and North Branch are especially scenic.
This 13-mile trail through the countryside south of Mankato connects to the 5-mile North Minnesota River Trail in town and the 39-mile Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail.
For more, see Mankato meander.
Grand Rounds in the Twin Cities: Saint Paul Classic Bike Tour.
It includes music and snacks at frequent rest stops on scenic, traffic-free river boulevards and parkways around lakes.
For more, see Bicycling in St. Paul and beyond.
This trail follows the Fox River from town to town, including Aurora, Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles, and through shady nature reserves.
Seventeen miles of crushed-limestone trail connect St. Charles to Sycamore.
This 11-mile paved loop around town mostly follows the Upper Iowa River and Trout Run Creek and is lined by wildflowers and artwork.