MN Biking Guide 2013-2014 : Page 20

SPECIAL SPONSORED SECTION Superior National Forest Chippewa National Forest Giants Ridge Duluth Trails Cuyuna Milaca Minnesota Valley Battle Creek Afton Alps Murphy-Hannehan Mount Kato MOUNTAIN BIKING When it comes to mountain biking in Minnesota, you can choose your own adventure. Terrain ranges from casual gravel roads to lung-busting ski hills to challenging single-track trails over hill and dale. Here are some of the most popular mountain biking destinations in the state. Photography courtesy of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails B -20 | mnmo.com | april 2013

Mountain Biking

When it comes to mountain biking in Minnesota, you can choose your own adventure. Terrain ranges from casual gravel roads to lung-busting ski hills to challenging single-track trails over hill and dale. Here are some of the most popular mountain biking destinations in the state.<br /> <br /> NORTHERN MINNESOTA<br /> <br /> Chippewa National Forest <br /> <br /> Location: Around Deer River, Grand Rapids, Walker, and Cass Lake <br /> <br /> Distance: Varies <br /> <br /> Description: Intermediate and advanced bikers can travel along old logging roads and dirt trails. Drive the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway to reach the Suomi Hills Trail system. This 19-mile loop system, located north of Grand Rapids, is a grass and dirt single-track rolling between lakes and through the birches. A great ride with a little challenge in the topography! The Cut Foot Sioux area is another popular moderate mountain biking site. Park at the Cut Foot Sioux Visitor Center and hit the 13-mile Simpson Creek Trail. The Visitor Center is 17 miles north of Deer River off Highway 46. Simpson Creek connects with the 18-mile Cut Foot Sioux loop. This is a mix of narrow dirt trail, old gravel road, and sand tote road.<br /> <br /> For more info: 218-335-8600; www.fs.usda.gov/chippewa. Maps online.<br /> <br /> Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area <br /> <br /> Location: Crosby-Ironton area <br /> <br /> Distance: 25 miles <br /> <br /> Description: Designated as an International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Ride Center, Cuyuna Lakes is one of only a handful of ride centers in the world. This purpose-built trail system winds through a landscape created by 70 years of iron ore mining, where water-filled mining pits are now deep, crystal clear lakes. The varying terrain makes for great mountain biking territory. The single-track trails are carved into the rocky landscape, circling lakes and winding over hills, through the woods, and across bridges over little ravines. Elevated areas offer outstanding views of the landscape’s many natural and mine lakes. The trail system is also home to Sand Hog, an IMBA Flow Country designated trail. The trails range from easy to extremely difficult.<br /> <br /> For more info: 218-546-5926; mndnr.gov/parks.<br /> <br /> Milaca Mountain Bike Trail <br /> <br /> Location: Milaca <br /> <br /> Distance: 14 miles <br /> <br /> Description: Take a relaxing, easy ride along The Meadow or Rum River Run, or—if you want to get your heart really pumping—tackle the more challenging terrain of Sky Hill Trails on the Milaca mountain biking trails, offering something for every skill level. This 14-mile single-track trail system is nestled within 200 acres of woods, hills, and fields along the beautiful and scenic Rum River. Access to the trails is at the city’s Recreation Park, on Second Street and Fourth Avenue Northwest.<br /> <br /> For more info: 320-983-3141; cityofmilaca.org. Map online<br /> <br /> Duluth Trails <br /> <br /> Location: In Duluth <br /> <br /> Distance: Varies by park <br /> <br /> Description: The city of Duluth spreads uphill from the shore of Lake Superior, and these wooded hillsides harbor a number of scenic parks. Several offer mountain biking in loop trails over hilly terrain, most at the intermediate and advanced level: 9 miles in Harley Park, 4.5 in Lester Park, and about 9 miles at the Piedmont Trails. In addition, the Spirit Mountain Recreation Area is opening two unique downhill mountain biking trails in the summer of 2013. These trails flow downhill for about a mile each, and riders catch a chairlift to bring them back to the hilltop. Pay for a single ride or an all-day pass; the trails and chairlift will be open Thurs.-Sun. Also in Duluth, construction will begin in summer 2013 on initial segments of a cross-city, single-track mountain biking trail called the Duluth Traverse. Check for updates.<br /> <br /> For more info: Check the website of Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores, coggs.com<br /> <br /> Giants Ridge <br /> <br /> Location: Near Biwabik, east of Virginia <br /> <br /> Distance: Approximately 30 miles of trails.<br /> <br /> Note: Connects to the paved Mesabi Trail.<br /> <br /> Description: Long gear-grinding climbs and white-knuckle descents (a 500-foot vertical) challenge riders at Giants Ridge. New construction on the Oslo Trail offers excellent views of the forest. Cruisers, suspension bikes, and full suspension downhill bikes are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis. Full-service bike shop available.<br /> <br /> Trail fee: $5 daily pass <br /> <br /> For more info: 800-688-7669; giantsridge.com. Map online.<br /> <br /> Superior National Forest <br /> <br /> Location: Around Ely, Tofte, and Grand Marais <br /> <br /> Distance: Varies <br /> <br /> Description: The Superior National Forest is a hotspot for mountain biking up north. In addition to forest roads, there are designated mountain bike routes throughout the forest. Most of these routes follow old logging roads, altering in terrain and types of road surface (gravel, dirt, etc.) The routes vary in difficulty, ranging from easygoing with just a few easy hill climbs and smooth surfaces, to thrilling routes that test the skills of even the most experienced mountain biker. For a short, smooth ride in the Tofte-Grand Marais area, head out on the five-mile Old Gunflint Trail.<br /> <br /> For a more difficult ride, try the 30-mile Timber/Frear/Cross River Lake loop along challenging forest roads. In the hilly, wooded Ely area, there’s a delightful 12-mile network of loops in the Hidden Valley Recreation Area.<br /> <br /> In addition to road biking opportunities, the Superior National Forest and partners have developed a series of single-track mountain biking trails that provide a unique opportunity to ride off-road trails near Tofte and Grand Marais. The Sugarbush singletrack system is located at the Britton Peak Trailhead approximately two miles from Tofte. This trail system consists of close to six miles of trail and includes beginner, intermediate, and advanced riding options. The Pincushion Mountain trail system, north of Grand Marais on the Gunflint Trail, has just over four miles of single-track trails and is connected with several other riding opportunities on state land.<br /> <br /> For more info: 218-626-4300 or www.fs.usda.gov/superior<br /> <br /> TWIN CITIES AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA<br /> <br /> Afton Alps <br /> <br /> Location: 25 miles east of St. Paul <br /> <br /> Distance: Approximately 8 miles <br /> <br /> Description: You have to work to enjoy views of the scenic St. Croix River Valley at Afton Alps, offers winding single-track, lung-busting climbs, and screaming descents across one of the metro area’s largest ski hills. Shorter alternate loops range in difficulty from intermediate to advanced.<br /> <br /> Trail fee: $9 daily pass, or $110 (plus tax) for season pass. *Prices subject to change. Helmets required.<br /> <br /> For more info: 651-436-1320; aftonalps.com. Map online.<br /> <br /> Battle Creek Regional Park <br /> <br /> Location: Eastern part of St. Paul, off I-94 <br /> <br /> Distance: 7.8 miles of trails <br /> <br /> Description: Enjoy scenic views while getting in a great workout from a trail system that includes 3.3 miles of multi-use trails and 4. 5 miles of single-track trails. Trails range in difficulty from easy to expert; with some steep downhills as they wind through the park’s hilly, wooded terrain. Portions of the trail overlook the Mississippi River. Trail access to free parking, drinking water, picnic areas, and restrooms.<br /> <br /> For more info: 651-748-2500; parks.co.ramsey.mn.us or goramsey.org. Map online.<br /> <br /> Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area <br /> <br /> Location: Near Shakopee, just to the southwest of the Twin Cities, from Shakopee to Belle Plaine D<br /> <br /> istance: 35 miles of trails <br /> <br /> Description: Enter this wide doubletrack trail from one of six spots between Shakopee, Jordan, and Belle Plaine, and enjoy a flat ride along the river bottoms. Oak forests and savannah make for woodsy surroundings. Enjoy scenic views of the river along the route, which you may share at times with hikers, runners, and horseback riders.<br /> <br /> For more information: 651-259-5774, or the DNR at 651-296-6157 or mndnr.gov/parks . Map online.<br /> <br /> Mount Kato Ski and Bike <br /> <br /> Location: Mankato <br /> <br /> Distance: Over 7 miles of trails <br /> <br /> Description: There are over 80 percent single-track trails for both novice and expert riders at Mount Kato, taking bikers through woods, around ponds, and over ski trails. Stop at the top of the hill for a view of the beautiful Minnesota River Valley. Enjoy plenty of twists, turns, and switchbacks.<br /> <br /> Trail fee: $8 daily pass or $110 (plus sales tax) season pass. Helmets required. * Hours and prices subject to change.<br /> <br /> For more information: 507-625-3363 or 800-668-5286; mountkato.com. Map online.<br /> <br /> Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve <br /> <br /> Location: Near Savage, on the southwest edge of the Twin Cities <br /> <br /> Distance: 10 miles <br /> <br /> Description: Some describe this trail as a “rollercoaster,” with plenty of hilly terrain. The sustainably-designed single-track mountain bike course, just south of Savage consists of three one-way loops—easy (just under a mile long, through an open, rolling prairie), intermediate (over 2 miles long, weaving through the woods and over a boardwalk on the edge of a wetland), and advanced (over 5 miles long, over high and narrow ladder bridges, rock obstacles, and an optional log ride for the thrill-seekers).<br /> <br /> For more info: 763-559-6778; threeriversparkdistrict.org. Map online.<br /> <br /> MINNESOTA STATE FORESTS<br /> <br /> Location: Various locations statewide <br /> <br /> Description: Mountain biking is permitted on all state forest roads and trails unless posted closed, except in the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest, where mountain bikes are permitted only on designated trails. The many gravel roads and dirt trails in the forests can offer scenic mountain biking. These areas are multiple use, so riders must watch for vehicles on roads, and hikers, ATVs and other trail users. For a list of state forests and their trail mileage, visit the DNR website and find the biking page under “Recreation.” Then link to State Forests.<br /> <br /> State forest roads can range from asphalt to gravel, maintained to minimal maintenance road surfaces.<br /> <br /> Forest roads are used by cars, logging trucks, and other forest users (hikers, hunters, horseback riders, ATVs, and offhighway motorcycles). Check the state forest maps and website for road and trail closures. Mountain biking events require a special event permit.<br /> <br /> For more info: Please visit mndnr.gov/state_forests

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