Short Bike Rides in Minnesota
by Mark Weinberger (The Globe Pequot Press)
© Mark Weinberger/The Globe Pequot Press. All Rights Reserved.
I agree about the trail being so different from end to end; I reccomend shaving off five miles on the N St Paul end...not missing much.
I do like the diversity of the ride; I prefer moutain / off road biking; my two girlfriends prefer trail. I rode the horse / moutain bike trail. They road on the paved trail right along side me...since I am a much faster rider, we were aligned and I had a MUCH better workout! Need to wath out for the horse poop, though;-)
There are really two reports that need to be made with this trail, as it changes drastically as you progress. We started our ride from the trail head in St. Paul. The first 8 miles or so were very disappointing. The scenery was urban to suburban, graffiti was abundant, traffic was almost always within earshot, and there are numerous road crossings. The trail is an asphalt paved trail that is showing its age with constant deep cracks in the path making for an uncomfortable ride on a touring or road bike. The trail does wind through some nicer suburban areas, near parks and golf courses. It serves it purpose of getting you out of the city but could be improved greatly.
We were about to give up on the ride when it got much better, The remainder of the path was wonderful, traveling through serene wooded areas, near ponds, by wetlands, prairie, and an oak savannah restoration. Wildlife was abundant, especially birds of many varieties. This portion of trail is new or more recently restored and is a nice smooth ride. This ride is truly a get away to nature, even though it is just outside of the cities.
No part of the trail is challenging topographically, it is a fairly level ride. My recommendation is to start at Pine Point Park trailhead and ride toward the cities. Turn around when you get to I-694. The ride will be an easy 20 miles round trip on the portion of the trail that is best maintained and has the best scenery.
This is a great trail for your first big ride. It is mostly flat and has great tree coverage. I would recommend this trail anytime.
We like to visit Stillwater often, so it made sense to start in Pine Point Park, go west and then back to Stillwater for dinner and giggles. The trail is great for enjoying the colors of autumn and the Indian Summer weather, and by starting on the Stillwater side, you can make the ride a total woodsy trail experience by turning around and going back when the trail becomes more urban and parallels the highway. It's an easy little ride and the fall colors are better than on the Cannon Valley Trail.
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