MN Biking Guide 2013-2014 : Page 18

ON ROAD TOURING Mississippi River Trail The Mississippi River has a rich heritage: a flyway for migrating birds, a travel way for American Indians, a route for European exploration, and a conveyance for Minnesota’s commerce. The Mississippi River Trail (MRT) bike route is an opportunity for a profound bicycle adventure exploring this scenic, iconic river. SPECIAL SPONSORED SECTION Featured route: FOLLOW THESE SAFETY TIPS ALL CYCLISTS: • Always wear a helmet. • Obey all traffic lights and signs and signal your turns. • Look both ways at intersections and driveways. • Carry water and other drinks to avoid dehydration. • Use a front light and rear reflector when it’s dark. • Ride in the same direction as vehicles. • Be predictable to motorists. • Ride on the right side of the trail so that others may pass. • Alert other users you are passing by calling “On your left!” • Move off the trail when resting, to keep the path clear for others. The MRT: Minnesota’s MRT strings together relatively quiet roads, shouldered highways, and off-road paved trails to create a continuous bicycling experience from the river’s humble headwaters, continuing through the Twin Cities, and onward to Iowa. Ride all 500-plus miles or select specific segments that match your interests and skill levels. Along the way are welcoming, bicycle-friendly communities, parks, historic sites and river views. Northern section: The route begins in picturesque Itasca State Park, where the mighty river begins as a small stream. The MRT then travels through the north woods, along the river and past numerous lakes, to Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Brainerd, Little Falls, and St. Cloud, with the Paul Bunyan State Trail as an optional route. After the Brainerd Lakes Area, the river widens and the land opens into farmland. ON ROADS: ON TRAILS: www.sharetheroadmn.org B -18 | mnmo.com | april 2013

On Road Touring

Featured route: Mississippi River Trail<br /> <br /> The Mississippi River has a rich heritage: a flyway for migrating birds, a travel way for American Indians, a route for European exploration, and a conveyance for Minnesota’s commerce. The Mississippi River Trail (MRT) bike route is an opportunity for a profound bicycle adventure exploring this scenic, iconic river.<br /> <br /> The MRT: Minnesota’s MRT strings together relatively quiet roads, shouldered highways, and off-road paved trails to create a continuous bicycling experience from the river’s humble headwaters, continuing through the Twin Cities, and onward to Iowa. Ride all 500-plus miles or select specific segments that match your interests and skill levels. Along the way are welcoming, bicyclefriendly communities, parks, historic sites and river views.<br /> <br /> Northern section: The route begins in picturesque Itasca State Park, where the mighty river begins as a small stream. The MRT then travels through the north woods, along the river and past numerous lakes, to Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Brainerd, Little Falls, and St. Cloud, with the Paul Bunyan State Trail as an optional route. After the Brainerd Lakes Area, the river widens and the land opens into farmland.<br /> <br /> Metro area: The bicycle-friendly Minneapolis-St. Paul area offers a plethora of natural and cultural highlights. The river in the metro area is within the Mississippi National River Recreation Area, and for miles bike paths trace the river, offering scenic views. There are great restaurants, museums, parks, and festivals, many of them right along the river. Take some extra time to explore the many great bike trails, bike routes, and attractions here.<br /> <br /> Southern section: From the Twin Cities area and south, the river is bordered by tall, wooded bluffs. Scenic river towns like Red Wing, Lake City, Wabasha, and Winona are great stops for restaurants, shops, and museums. Advanced cyclists comfortable riding with traffic can follow the shoulders of busy—but scenic—Highway 61 from Red Wing to Iowa, with an option of following the Apple Blossom Scenic Byway, climbing to panoramic views of the river valley. Linking to the MRT are several challenging but scenic loop routes adjacent to Lake Pepin and Winona. (Check with Winona and Lake City for more information.)<br /> <br /> For more info: Riders have plenty of lodging options: camping at eight state parks or other campgrounds, staying at motels in most of the river cities, and booking rooms at charming bed and breakfast inns. This and other information is available at the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s website, including detailed maps you can print or download into your smart phone or GPS unit: www.mndot.gov/bike<br /> <br /> NORTHERN TIER BICYCLE ROUTE <br /> <br /> The MRT is Minnesota’s first entry into the emerging U. S. Bicycle Route System, a series of routes that cross the country. Another multi-state bicycling route also passes through Minnesota. The Northern Tier Route, compiled by the Adventure Cycling Association, stretches from Washington to Maine. The Northern Tier crosses Minnesota diagonally between Moorhead in the northwest and Stillwater, just east of St. Paul, then mostly follows the MRT to Iowa. It passes through Bemidji and Brainerd, incorporating the Paul Bunyan State Trail. An alternate route follows the Central Lakes and Wobegon trails in central Minnesota. A set of detailed maps is available for purchase. For more info: adventurecycling.org<br /> <br /> MINNESOTA STATE BICYCLE MAP<br /> <br /> Minnesota is biking country. The state is laced with roads that explore the countryside of lakes and forests, charming towns and rolling farmland. Bike routes along country roads can be planned with the help of the Minnesota State Bicycle Map, developed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, showing the suitability of roads across the state for biking. Roadways are color-coded to denote if there is a paved shoulder and whether traffic is light or heavy. The map also shows state and regional bike trails and outlines the Mississippi Bike Trail route. The Minnesota State Bicycle Map is available online: mndot.gov/bike

Share The Road

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