Bike: Trails in the Twin Cities

The Twin Cities is absolutely loaded with bike trails—whether you bike for exercise, for fun, to socialize, to get your kids outside…whatever the reason.

OutsideOnline.com listed Minneapolis/St. Paul as the Best Place to Bike-Commute Year-Round in 2017. This recognition is in part for the vast connection of trails to roadways for commuters, not just recreational bikers.

But that’s saying a lot for an urban area that’s in deep-freeze three or four months of the year!

The ones we highlight on Twin Cities Outdoors are those off the main roadways and in parks. There’s a vast networking of inter-connecting Regional Trails. We’ll give you info and links to find out more about those, too.

We also highlight mountain bike trails for those of you interested in a more adventurous ride. And don’t forget fat bikes. For those who want to keep biking off-road all winter, Minnesota is starting to maintain a few fat bike trails.

Let’s take a look bike trails in the Twin Cities:

Anoka County (North)

Anoka County has 10 Regional Trails and several dozen miles of trails in its park system. Many of those trails and parks connect to each other. That means you can bike all day if you want to, depending on the location you choose.

Take a look at Biking Trails in Anoka County

Carver County (Southwest)

Let’s face it—Carver County is not a biker’s Mecca! None of the Regional Parks have trails for bikes…But there are three Regional Trails here—or at least sections of Regional Trails planned or under construction.

Take a look at Biking Trails in Carver County

Dakota County (South-Southeast)

Dakota County has several parks and Regional Trails to choose from for your next bike ride. It also boasts some awesome mountain bike trails.

Take a look at Biking Trails in Dakota County

Hennepin County (West-Central—includes Minneapolis)

Hennepin County has mile up mile of bike trails—both on Regional Trails and in its many parks. This includes urban Minneapolis, nationally-known for being biker-friendly. Great mountain bike trails, too.

Take a look at Biking Trails in Hennepin County

Ramsey County (East-Central—includes St. Paul)

Ramsey County has 8 parks, most of which provide great biking. The County is also host to three Regional Trails if you’re looking for a longer ride.

Take a look at Biking Trails in Ramsey County

Scott County (South-Southwest)

Scott County has two regional parks with multi-use trails plus a park reserve. It also hosts part of the Minnesota Valley State Trail, which includes many miles of paved and unpaved trails.

Take a look at Biking Trails in Scott County

Washington County (East)

Washington County is home to eight Regional Parks, State Parks and reserves. Most of them have at least a few trails for biking. Lake Elmo Regional Park is your spot if you’re a mountain biker. The County also hosts two State Trails that are well worth your time.

Take a look at Biking Trails in Washington County


Other Resources

MNDOT’s Biking Page

Published by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT), you’ll find bike trail maps for every county in the state, including the Twin Cities.

Private Biking Websites

  • Metro Bike Trails Guide is run by Seamus Flynn. He offers a rating system based on  criteria like trail beauty, maintenance, traffic and difficulty. It’s quite detailed, with reviews for specific trails. He doesn’t cover trails in Scott or Carver Counties.
  • Have Fun Biking doesn’t have an About page, but the one who runs it is from Richfield. Lots of info about gear, events, shops and destinations…including blog posts covering specific trails.

US Bike Routes in Minnesota

There are two US Bicycle Routes (USBR) in Minnesota, totaling over 1,000 miles! Something worth training for if you’re a biking adventure lover:

  • USBR 41 is the North Star Route: Between the State Capitol in St. Paul to the Canadian border via the North Shore. 315 miles total.
  • USBR 45 is the Mississippi River Trail: The Minnesota section is between Itasca State Park and the Mississippi’s headwaters along the river to the Iowa border. (See below)

Minnesota River Companion

This guide lists the biking, hiking, boating and other rec opportunities along the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers in the metro area. The National Park Service offers this free PDF 31-page downloadable map of the trails.

A print book is also available that goes into detail about the history, trail suggestions and hints, and the best places to see wildlife. It appears to be unavailable online…if you can believe it! Visit the Visitor Center at the Science Museum to pick up a copy.

Mississippi River Trail (Twin Cities Metro section)

USBR 45, the Mississippi River Trail, is a national bike trail that extends from the river’s headwaters in Itasca all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Wouldn’t that be an adventure! 75 miles of it runs through the metro area. You can even ride on either side of the the River.

Riding the whole metro route would be a great goal for families, maybe taking one segment over many different weekends. Best for older children used to riding along roadways shared by cars, as much of the Trail is that.

Here’s the map of just the entire metro segment (page 37 of 75). That page is followed by individual maps of the subdivided metro. This great ride (or two) will take you through a wide variety of natural and developed areas.

Fat Tire Biking

There are fat bike trails groomed (or at least allowed) for winter use in some of the  counties covered in TCO: Hennepin, Savage, Dakota, Ramsey.

Here are fat bike-specific resources:

Mountain Biking

The correct term is singletrack. We’ll interchange that with mountain biking, since that’s what the general populous calls it.

There are several well-maintained mountain bike/singletrack parks in the metro area. We’ll cover many of those on the individual county pages.

More single-track or mountain bike resources:

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