From Country Roads To City Trails

May 21, 2015

The summer before moving to Minneapolis was filled with countless hours on country roads, collecting lakes and water towers. My routine involved waking very early on the hot days, or taking a three-hour lunch break on the nice days, to go on solo rides all over southern Minnesota. From where I lived, I could be outside city limits in less than five minutes, and depending on the obscurity of the route I chose, I could go miles without seeing another human being. An introvert’s dream, certainly, but also not the habits you’d expect of someone who says “I need to live in a bigger city.”


Fast-forward one reasonably mild winter, and the weather has made me realize what that routine did for my fitness and psyche. We live in the no. 1 bike city in the country, make no mistake, and the urban trails and bike lanes are inundated with every type of cyclist imaginable. But I’m a solo rider, and that means I’m more interested in the most scenic and underused county roads and trails I can find.

This summer will certainly be interesting, and I’ll start by marking off the trails that can be found in the city proper. A series of trails known, for some reason, as the Grand Rounds, circles from Northeast over to Robbinsdale, down around all of the fancy lakes and over to the river, where it heads up the West River Parkway back into downtown. All told, this is about 50 miles with a lot of potential for turnarounds and variations. Also, a whole lot of bike traffic.

Thankfully, the suburbs have another great network of trails, and you can get fairly lost trying to sort them all out. The two that I’ll be trying first are the Gateway trail heading northeast toward Stillwater, and the Cedar Lake trail heading southwest towards Excelsior. Both of these trails have everything you could ask for: uninterrupted pavement, beautiful scenery and (I’m assuming) bars on both ends.

Do you know some secret routes? Please let me know if you do!