After reading that Minneapolis had been ranked the best biking city in the country by Bicycling Magazine I thought a post about biking in Minneapolis was mandatory. I don’t consider myself a serious biker. I don’t bike everyday, never in winter, and when I do bike it is usually no more than 5 – 10 miles and often shorter. But when I do bike around Minneapolis, I can’t help but notice how incredibly bikeable the city (and many suburbs) really are. And not only that, but it seems like everywhere you ride offers natural beauty, action and excitement, or both.
My favorite place to ride is downtown. I have discovered that a person can see Target Field, the Sculpture Garden/Walker Art Center, Loring Park, Nicollet Mall, the Hennepin Ave Bridge, Nicollet Island, St. Anthony Main, Stone Arch Bridge, the Milling Disctrict, Metrodome (AKA Mall of America Field) and more, in about two hours, and without riding on any city streets except Nicollet Mall (which only allows bus, taxi, police, and bike traffic) and Nicollet Island (cars are very few and far between here, except when De La Salle High School is dismissing for the day). I have even found this route to be fun, safe, and manageable for children as young as nine riding their own bike. More adventurous bikers can explore more of downtown by riding in the many bike lanes that crisscross the downtown grid.
But of course, the great cycling is not limited to downtown. I also love to ride the paved trails around the chain of lakes, and particularly enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Calhoun that unfolds before you as you come through the tunnel under Lake Street from Lake of the Isles. The Mary Tyler Moore house and the stunning mansions on Lowry Hill are also easily accessible from these trails. In addition to the trails around the lakes, the cedar lake trail and kenilworth trail are also beautiful, easy rides (the Cedar Lake trail ends downtown right at Target Field). The other great thing about riding around the chain of lakes, besides the stunning beauty, is that there is no shortage of places to grab cool drinks, sweet treats, or even swim in the lakes. Lakes Calhoun, Cedar, and Harriet all feature multiple swimming beaches just steps from the bike trails. The lake harriet bike trail also connects to the Minneahaha creek trail which is an easy, beautiful ride that winds along the creek, past Lake Nokomis and Hiawatha, before ending at the spectacular Minnehaha park. The midtown greenway is another nice ride that should always include a stop at the Midtown Global Market.
For those of you who prefer more adventurous biking, Wirth Park now features miles of marked, official off road bike trails, which range in difficulty and offer riders the chance to navigate such obstacles as rocks, logs, sharp banked turns, and steep uphill and downhill slopes. I have ridden most of the trails, and found them to be quite fun and challenging, without feeling overly dangerous. Accessing the trails can be difficult if you have to drive to get there. If so, park at Wirth Beach and ride north to the trailhead at Highway 55 and Wirth Parkway on the northwest corner. There are other trailheads as well.
Whether you live in Minneapolis or are just coming for a visit, take the time to explore the city on a bike. Enjoy the beauty and serenity of the lakes and parks on the chain of lakes or Minnehaha Creek trails, or experience the excitement and energy of the city by riding downtown, to a Target Field for a Twins game, or on the Midtown Greenway. Most trails are easy rides for even young riders, and only those along the Mississippi river feature substantial uphill or downhill slopes. If you don’t own a bike, pick one up at the Nice Ride stands all over the city for a short trip, or rent one for a half or whole day from Freewheel, Calhoun Bike Rental (they also offer tours) or Erik’s (note: Erik’s at this time does not rent kids bikes). There are also limited bikes for rent from Wheel Fun Rentals at Lake Calhoun, and Minnehaha Park (lots of unique and fun bikes here). All of the buses and light rail trains are equipped to accommodate bikes to help you navigate areas that don’t have trails or bike lanes.
If you’d like to bike Minneapolis but aren’t sure where to start, or what to see, I would happy to recommend a route or even take you on a tour myself. The bottom line, find a bike, saddle up, check out these maps of bike trails, lanes and paths in Minneapolis, and find out why Minneapolis is so deserving of the title “Best Bike City in Minneapolis”.