The Best Biking Weekend in Minneapolis-Saint Paul
Biking in the fall means fewer bugs and cooler weather. Sign us up! This itinerary offers a whole weekend’s worth of bike trails to try, plus a few ideas on where to fuel up in between.
Kick off the weekend by pairing biking with sightseeing on Bloomington’s east side. Mall of America is a good starting point, with plenty of bike racks for visitors who want to grab a quick breakfast or a cup of coffee. Only a couple miles east of the mall, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is home to dozens of miles of trails and wildlife-viewing opportunities. Aviation buffs should head north to the MSP Aircraft Viewing Area, which is located in the heart of the airport’s airfield and offers spectacular views of aircraft takeoffs and landings.
Combine natural serenity with skyline views during a ride on the North Cedar Lake Regional Trail. The 4.3-mile paved trail starts at The Depot in Hopkins, a historic train depot that has been converted into a coffee house serving organic, fair trade coffee and energy-dense snacks. Travel north through the quiet neighborhoods of St. Louis Park, passing numerous parks and green spaces along the way. Then the trail turns east, following a tree-lined railroad passage into Minneapolis complete with sweeping views of the city skyline.
Spend the rest of the evening in Minneapolis, which is consistently ranked as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and boasts a network of biking paths that offer something for everyone. Beginners can cycle the Midtown Greenway, a 5.5-mile former railroad corridor in south Minneapolis that’s separated from streets for a safe, barrier-free ride. For more ambitious riders, the Chain of Lakes is a 15-mile route that circles the shorelines of Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lakes of the Isles, Bda Maka Ska and Lake Harriet. Intermediate and expert bikers will enjoy the single-track trails and loops near Theodore Wirth and Brownie Lake Park.
Start the day with a riverside ride along the Mississippi River Greenway, which runs for over 13 miles through South Saint Paul and Inver Grove Heights, linking local parks, trails and communities. Stop at Swing Bridge Park in Inver Grove Heights to take in the view from the Rock Island Swing Bridge, a historic walking pier that extends 680 feet over the Mississippi River.
Next, use the afternoon to explore Burnsville’s scenic biking trails. The Black Dog Trail winds for 3.8 miles through prairie and groves of willows and cottonwoods along the Minnesota River. For mountain bikers, there are trails at Terrace Oaks Park (including a technical loop) and Buck Hill, which offers a single track and skills area.
End the day by checking out some of Lakeville’s over 100 miles of paved bike trails. Many trails connect the city’s greenways and parks, giving visitors a chance to enjoy nature. Mountain bikers should head to the West Lake Marion Mountain Bike Trail, a 5-mile single-track trail system with segments for beginning, intermediate and advanced cyclists. Finish the evening by relaxing at the firepit at the trail’s end.
Get an early start and hit a trail or two in the impressive network of paved bike trails running through the Twin Cities Gateway communities of Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids, Fridley, Ham Lake, Lino Lakes, Mounds View, New Brighton and Shoreview. One great pick is the Rum River Regional Trail, which follows the Rum River upstream and passes through historic downtown Anoka. Another fun ride is the Coon Creek Regional Trail, which starts just outside Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park (be sure to walk across the dam to check out the view) and crosses the creek numerous times.
With 4,900 acres of woodlands, wetlands and reclaimed farm fields, Elm Creek Park Reserve provides a unique opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle. The park has 20 miles of paved trails, which connect to the Rush Creek and Medicine Lake Regional Trails for longer excursions. In addition, Elm Creek Park Reserve is home to 12.7 miles of single-track trail built to accommodate all levels of cyclists, from easy to most difficult.
Take a brief detour from Elm Creek Park Reserve and celebrate a successful weekend with a drink at Maple Grove’s OMNI Brewing Co. The craft brewery’s taproom features a patio, firepit and tasty eats from a rotating lineup of food trucks. The tap list spans a wide range of beer styles, plus hard seltzer and non-alcoholic beverages.