Special Sponsored Section
Photo Â© Explore Minnesota Tourism
You’ll find all kinds of mountain biking trails throughout Minnesota, from easygoing trails to wild off-road rides. Some downhill ski areas invite mountain bikers to their slopes in the off-season, and roads and trails up north offer hundreds of miles to explore. Here are some of the state’s most popular mountain biking destinations.
25 miles east of St. Paul
Distance: Approximately 8 miles
Description: This scenic wooded loop across the Afton ski slope offers challenging terrain and lung-busting hills. Shorter alternate loops range in difficulty from intermediate to advanced.
Trail fee: $8 daily pass, or $110 (plus tax) for season pass. Price subject to change. Helmets are required.
For more information: Call the Afton Alps Golf Course at 651-436-1320 or visit www.aftonalps.com. Map Online.
Battle Creek Regional Park
Eastern part of St. Paul
Distance: 7 miles of trails
Description: Take on steep downhills, wooded terrain, and a great variety of trails ranging from easy to difficult. Approximately half are singletrack. Pick up a free map at the trailhead and enjoy the view from bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.
For more information: Call Ramsey County Parks and Recreation at 651-748-2500, or visit www.co.ramsey.mn.us/parks. Map online.
Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area
Near Shakopee, just to the southwest of the Twin Cities, from Shakopee to Belle Plaine
Distance: 35 miles of trails
Description: Enter this trail from one of six spots between Shakopee, Jordan, and Belle Plaine, and experience a wild ride along the river bottoms. Your trip could either be tame or intimidating, depending on the rainfall. Oak forests and savannah make for woodsy surroundings, and the sand dunes will ensure a challenge regardless of the rainfall.
For more information: Call the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area Office at 952-492-6400 or the DNR at either 651-296-6157 or 1-888-646-6367, or visit www.dnr.state.mn.us. Map online.
Mount Kato Ski & Bike
Distance: Over 7 miles of trails
Description: Singletrack trails take intermediate and advanced bikers through woods, around ponds, and over ski trails. Stop at the top of the hill for a view of the scenic Minnesota River Valley. There are plenty of twists, turns, and switchbacks.
Trail fee: Call for rates
For more information: Call Mount Kato Ski and Bike at 507-625-3363 or 1-800-668-5286, or visit www.mountkato.com. Map online.
Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve
Near Savage, on the southwest edge of the Twin Cities
Distance: 6-mile trail open Aug. through Oct.; separate 3-mile winter trail
Description: Glacial ridges and hilly terrain define this rollercoaster experience. Advanced bikers will enjoy tackling the heavily wooded area. The multi-use winter trail allows biking, horseback riding, and skijoring.
For more information: Call the Cleary Lake Regional Park at 763-694-7777, Three Rivers Park District at 763-559-6778, or visit www.threeriversparkdistrict.org. Map online.
Chippewa National Forest
Around Deer River, Grand Rapids, Walker and Cass Lake
Description: Miles of gravel forest road offer easy to moderate mountain biking (but watch for vehicles on the roads). Intermediate and advanced bikers can explore old logging roads and dirt trails. One recommended option is the 13-mile Simpson Creek Trail northwest of Deer River near Chippewa Forest’s Cut Foot Sioux Visitor Center. Old dirt roads and paths wind over hills through pine forest and swamp, and hook up to the 18-mile Cut Foot Sioux Trail loop along old gravel and sand roads. North of Grand Rapids, the 19-mile Suomi Hills Trail of grass and dirt single-track explores a scenic area of lakes and woods. Watch for hikers along both these trails.
For more information: Call the Chippewa National Forest at 218-335-8600, or visit www.fs.fed.us/r9/chippewa.
Giants Ridge Golf & Ski Resort
Near Biwabik, east of Virginia
Distance: Over 50 miles of trails. Note: Connects to the paved Mesabi Trail.
Description: The combination of cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails with abandoned logging and mining roads make for plenty of mountain biking options at Giants Ridge, and they’ve added singletrack options. Race along 20-foot-wide mowed trails, or tackle the ski hill itself–a 500-foot vertical, gear-grinding climb. Cruisers and suspension rental bikes available on a first come, first served basis. Full service bike shop available.
Trail fee: $5
For more information: Call Giants Ridge at 1-800-688-7669 or visit www.giantsridge.com. Map online.
Lutsen Mountain Bike Park
Lutsen, northeast of Duluth
Distance: 20 miles of marked trails
Description: Lutsen is the only place in the Midwest with lift service to mountaintop trailheads. The bike park offers over 12 mapped, marked and numbered trails to let you know what you’re getting into. Whether you’re looking for an easygoing family ride, a vertical, rocky challenge or something in-between, Lutsen has it. Easy trails take you over the gravel of old work roads, intermediate trails offer varied conditions on a dirt track, and advanced trails take on rocky slopes. Bring your own bike, or rent from Lutsen’s front-suspension fleet.
Trail fee: Trail and lift passes range from $30-50; some include rentals.
For more information: Call Lutsen Mountain Bike Park at 218-663-7281 or visit www.lutsen.com.
Milaca Mountain Bike Trails
Distance: 14 miles
Description: Singletrack trails through a park reserve of woods, hills and fields along the Rum River, challenging riders of varying skill levels. Access to the trails is at Recreation Park, on Second Street Northwest and Fourth Avenue Northwest.
For more information: Call the City of Milaca at 320-983-3141 or visit www.cityofmilaca.org. Map online.
Superior National Forest
Around Ely and Grand Marais
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 type 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 more information and trail maps: Call the Superior National Forest at 218-626-4300.