3 CYCLING TRAILS TO KEEP YOUR LEGS PEDALING AND HEART PUMPING
Get to know the Twin Cities from a bike seat.
Image by Ron Ryan Aviles/flickr
Minnesota has gotten pretty comfortable near the top of the nation’s most bike-friendly states, and for good reason—its abundance of trails, bike-only highways and near-constant biking events making cycling a year-round pastime. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or are just now dusting off your decades-old 10-speed, take part in the fun with this weekend cycling itinerary.
Start your weekend of cycling with a relaxed journey along the Midtown Greenway in South Minneapolis. You can access the trail (a former railroad corridor) from the street on the north shore of Lake Calhoun, and ride the five-mile paved trail all the way to the Mississippi River. Follow the trail east as it takes you through the heart of Uptown, past municipal parks and to the shores of the river.
Once there, head south along the West River Parkway until hitting the Marshall Avenue bridge where you’ll cross the Mississippi into St. Paul. Continue on the bike-friendly street—it has clearly marked bike lanes going both directions—to Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe where flavors of ice cream run the gamut. We recommend their coffee ice cream, which they make by steeping the ice cream in dark roast Guatemalan coffee beans from Peace Coffee. When they remove the beans, what’s left is sweet and smooth coffee-flavored ice cream.
Hop on your bike at Chain of Lakes Regional Park and hit the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, a 50-mile system of bike and on-road trails that, with the help of a segment of the Great River Road Scenic Byway, creates a loop around Minneapolis. The morning jaunt will take you along the shores of Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles before making a pit stop to energize and refuel for the rest of the day.
Located just a few blocks north of Lake of the Isles, The Kenwood is a small neighborhood eatery featuring unique plates to entice any palate. Some highlights of the breakfast menu, which is available from 8 to 10 a.m., are the omelet with cured tomato, spinach and chevre cheese; pancakes with black walnut butter; and any selection of the house-made pastries. Pair with a cup of Dogwood coffee to get the boost of caffeine you’ll need on today’s excursion.
Hop back on the Grand Rounds trail and head north along Cedar Lake, through Theodore Wirth Park and past the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. Eventually, the trail turns east and takes you across the Mississippi River into St. Paul. Continue north on Grand Rounds.
Cross over Mississippi and turn south on Great River Road.
The Grand Rounds system picks back up right around St. Anthony Main and the Stone Arch Bridge. Choose from a variety of restaurants along the cobblestone street for lunch: Wilde Roast Cafe has a menu with delectable sandwiches and a wide variety of gelato flavors; Tuggs Tavern is a laid back spot with the famous “beer rocket,” a 128-ounce container that you can order with the draft brew of your choosing; Aster Cafe’s menu promises unique spins on beloved bistro fare.
After lunch, continue south on the trail as you wind along the shores of the Mississippi River. Spend some time in Minnehaha Regional Park, located on the southeastern corner of the loop. With the famous Minnehaha Falls, hiking trails and walking paths along a peaceful stream, the park is the perfect place to connect with nature, and take a break from pedaling.
Continue along the trail and, depending on how much energy you still have, make loops around Lake Nokomis and Lake Harriet before completing the circuit. Reward yourself with dinner at Lucia’s Restaurant, the original farm-to-table eatery in Minneapolis. Their menus change weekly depending on local farmers and suppliers.
Enjoy a leisurely cruise around the Cathedral Hill neighborhood in St. Paul. Named for its close proximity to the Cathedral of St. Paul, this area has a historic vibe with unique architecture and peaceful, on-road bikeways to enjoy.
After exploring the area, stop at French Hen Cafe for brunch. The menu has a New Orleans influence most notable in the Creole market hash, which features roasted root vegetables, bacon, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and toast. Enjoy dining at this neighborhood favorite to cap off a weekend packed with cycling adventures.
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