Central Minnesota is home to some of the state’s best-known trails. The landscape can take you from trails lined with blooming prairie grass to scented pine forests. Whether you’re planning a day of riding or a week long adventure, the region is full of great places to explore. Many trails connect, allowing visitors to ride to a wide variety of communities. If you’re not into long-distance riding, there are many places to drive and park to enjoy a more leisurely ride.
Bike the Soo Line trail in the Mille Lacs area, a paved off-road trail in the old Soo Line railroad corridor between Isle and Onamia that extends 11 miles one way. Travel a distance of 18-22 miles from Father Hennepin State Park in Isle to Kathio State Park in Onamia, which involves riding on the paved trail and some low-volume highway travel.
One of the newest biking attractions is in the Cuyuna State Recreation Area. Mountain biking here is one of the fastest-growing attractions in the area and has been named a world-class mountain biking destination. Cycle Path and Paddle in Crosby can outfit you if you don’t already have the right equipment. You’ll find sales and rental of a variety of bikes, along with repairs, maintenance, clothing and more.
Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge is a great place to stay and offers a variety of cabins and condos. Located along the shore of Bay Lake, it’s a popular destination for those visiting the mountain bike area or the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail.
In the Brainerd/Baxter area, the Paul Bunyan Trail offers miles of scenic riding. The trail connects two state parks that anchor either end. Near the trailhead in Baxter, stop and enjoy nature at the Northland Arboretum. You’ll find great dining and lodging in the area, as well as other fun attractions to round out your trip.
Along the shore of Gull Lake, you’ll find Cragun’s Resort, one of the largest full-service resorts in the area. Cragun’s offers bike rentals for use on the East Gull Lake Trail, which meanders along beautiful golf courses and lakes, and around the expansive resort. There are other fun activities available for the whole family.
Continuing north along the Paul Bunyan Trail, you’ll find the fun town of Nisswa. The bike trail can be accessed right in the downtown area, and a visitors information center has maps and other resources. There’s a great retail and restaurant district, and don’t miss the weekly summer turtle races near the trail.
Grand View Lodge, close the town of Nisswa, is known for its historic charm coupled with modern lodging and amenities. The grounds are lined with beautiful flowers in the summer, and several restaurants and the Gull Lake Spa are great stops after a day of riding the trails.
The St. Cloud area, just north of the Twin Cities, is home to the famous Lake Wobegon Trail. The trail is part of the Stearns County recreation area. Dining, shopping and great lodging options can be found in St. Cloud. The 46-mile Lake Wobegon Trail connects to visitor-friendly trail towns with well-maintained trailhead facilities.
The city of Sauk Centre is also along the Lake Wobegon Trail. Sauk Centre has bike-friendly motels, eateries and campgrounds, beautiful lake scenery and many historic sites to visit. Don’t miss the bike-friendly events along the trail!
South of St. Cloud is the homey town of Hutchinson. Take some time to discover the scenic Luce Line State Trail as it meanders alongside the Crow River. The 63-mile trail is open year-round and is great for biking, hiking, snowmobiling and horseback riding.
The Central Lakes Trail connects with the Lake Wobegon Trail near the town of Osakis. The trail traverses through and past a scenic mixture of woodlands, grasslands, lakes, wetlands and farm country. The Alexandria area offers visitors not only great biking, but also shopping, dining and stargazing for those visiting the trail.
The Central Lakes Trails starts in Fergus Falls, where it extends for 130 miles of the Central Lakes and Lake Wobegon trails. It’s a bike-friendly town with nature areas, two state parks, arts and history. Base your travels here and explore all the area has to offer.
The Willmar Lakes area is home to the Glacial Lakes Trail. The trail begins at Willmar and passes through Spicer, New London and on through Hawick. The gently rolling topography was created by glaciers retracting 10,000 years ago. Located on a former Burlington Northern Railroad grade, the trail is generally level and wheelchair accessible.
North of Fergus Falls, Ottertail Lakes Country has many biking opportunities ranging from triathlons to quiet bike trails. The area is most known for its many lakes and great fishing. Family resorts make it a sought-after destination, but don’t miss the golf resorts, B&Bs and campgrounds.
The Wildflower Trail is accessible from the city of Perham, north of the Ottertail Lakes area. Bike rentals are available on your way to Glendalough State Park. When you want a break, sit back and enjoy a historical tour on the Perham Express. Run by volunteers, the street-worthy train has taken thousands of visitors throughout the Perham area.