Short Bike Rides in Minnesota
by Mark Weinberger (The Globe Pequot Press)
© Mark Weinberger/The Globe Pequot Press. All Rights Reserved.
I've ridden this trail several times and it's one of my favorites in the Twin Cities.
You start in downtown St. Paul, in Lillydale Park at the south end of the Wabasha bridge. Follow the bike trail south along the river. You can choose to ride either the bike path or Water Street. Water Street has very low traffic and lots of cyclists so it's quite safe - and my preferred choice. Once you get about half way, the trail will take a turn onto a bike only path at a railroad trestle near a parking lot and yacht club/restaurant. This trail is wide, wonderfully smooth and hard surfaced with spectacular views over the river.
The trail is slightly uphill (about 1% grade) to Eagan (easy) but makes for a nice return ride.
It's a great trail, easy, and perfect for families or for high speed road bikers. One of the best Trails we've ever ridden.
Very impressed! Overall we saw little traffic, making it a pleasant ride. Heavily wooded and right along the river, you'd never know you were in the middle of a city. I suggest packing a picnic lunch, as there are several great places to stop and take in the fresh air.
Just wanted to post some info about the trail, its actually only party the Lilydale Park Trail over 4 miles of it is Big Rivers Regional Trail. I was a little confused while looking for the Lilydale Trail, and figured out that it was seperate trails that continue on.
This pleasant, mostly level, river view trail is enjoyable even in the heat of summer. Combining this St. Paul trail with the River Road Tour in Minneapolis creates a much longer circuit of almost 30 miles. To accomplish this, continue South on the Lilydale Park trail to Ft. Snelling (crossing over the Mississippi at Highway 55). From Ft. Snelling there is a heavily wooded unpaved trail to Minnehaha Falls. On the return trip, cross over the Franklin bridge and stay on the River Road/Sam Morgan paths to the I-35E bridge, which connects back to the Lilydale Trail near the old marina.
An easy rise up from Harriet Island in downtown St. Paul gives you a glorious view of the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers and takes you through territory that you would swear is nowhere near a city. Beautiful at all times of year, you can also gain access to the trail from Minneapolis via the Mendota Bridge, which is accessible from a trail that passes Old Fort Snelling and continues along Minnehaha Creek to the chain of Lakes in South Minneapolis. If you ride south to the I-494 bridge and turn west along the paved trail, you come to a pathway that allows you to walk your bike a short way down to Fort Snelling State Park. From there, you can ride along the flats and see lots of wildlife. This trail allows you to double back on your route to Old Mendota. Investigate the old stone buildings there and then ride a short hill back up the the Lilydale trail. Minnesota's best urban ride.
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