If you're looking for some of the best trails in the Minneapolis area to take your fat bike, give these 5 parks and trails a try. Even if you don't have a fat bike, these are great places for walks and hikes. If you need to get outfitted for the cold weather and snowy conditions, be sure to check out our new store in Eagan, Minnesota. The Grand Opening is October 20th, just in time to help you gear up for winter!
1. Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul
Fort Snelling State Park is probably the best place to ride within 10 minutes from Sierra Trading Post store in Eagan. The park offers five miles of paved trails and 10 miles of mountain bike trails, as well as great views of the lakes. You can access the 53-mile long Grand Rounds Scenic Bikeway, the Dakota County Big Rivers Regional Trail and the Minnesota River Bottoms trail from Fort Snelling State Park, too. See number 3 for more details on the River Bottoms trail!
2. Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Eagan
Lebanon Hills is the perfect place for all skill levels. People new to the park will appreciate all of the signage; location posts and trail use posts keep hikers and bikers informed on the trail they are on and other trail options around them. The park features beginner, intermediate, more difficult, very difficult and "xx", or extremely difficult, trails. Difficulty levels are made evident on the aforementioned signs. Plus, there's a mountain bike skill park right next to the parking lot at the West Trailhead. Lebanon Hills is only a 15 minute drive from the Sierra Trading Post retail store.
3. Minnesota River Bottoms, Bloomington
Minnesota River Bottoms is an unofficial, handmade trail that mountain bikers adore. Lately, it's also a point of contention between government officials, who want to pave the trail and connect it to the regional bike trail system, and locals, who want to keep the trail unpaved and preserved as a natural-surface, multi-use trail. All politics aside, it's a great trail to take your fat bike after a fresh snow, with beautiful surroundings and mostly smooth singletrack. Keep in mind that it is subject to flooding, due to the riverside location. Speaking of location, this ride is only an 18 minute drive from the store.
4. Gateway State Trail, St. Paul to Stillwater
Gateway State Trail is a great option for people who are just getting started with their fat bike and want to get some practice in. Gateway State Trail is an 18-mile-long, paved trail that runs from St. Paul to Pine Point Park in Stillwater. The relatively flat trail is great for beginners, because the huge snow tires on fat bikes can be hard to maneuver and slow-going. Plus, you can access it pretty easily from a variety of places.
5. Elm Creek Park Reserve, Maple Grove
By far the farthest away from the Sierra Trading Post store, Elm Creek is most definitely worth the 45 minute drive. It's another favorite for mountain bikers, thanks to its groomed singletrack and huge variety of trails. There's even a Winter Recreation Area where you can hang out with the kids after your snowy shred sesh. Elm Creek Park Reserve is home to the Frozen 40, a 40-mile winter bike race held in February.
Are you ready to get on a fat bike and ride? Go for it! And if you're just starting out, remember that the huge tires on fat bikes offer added friction, which is good for snow and ice, but bad for speed. Even if you're used to riding your mountain bike on steep grades and technical trails, you may want to start with relatively flat trails when you've got fat bike tires beneath you. As always, stay safe out there; be sure to travel slowly on ice, stay visible, wear a helmet, cover extremities and dress in layers.
Mark your calendars for our Eagan, Minnesota grand opening! We'll be opening our doors on Thursday, October 20th. Hope to see you there!