Minnesota is a biking enthusiast’s paradise, offering cyclists some of the best biking trails across the country. Not only is biking great exercise, hitting one of the many trails that cover the landscape is one of the best ways to experience the rustic beauty of Minnesota. With so many great trails available, the difficult part is deciding where to go. Joan Hummel, avid biking enthusiast and promoter via PedalMN, a partnership dedicated to spreading the word about biking in Minnesota, has a few suggestions. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride or a challenging jaunt, Joan offers her picks on some of the best trails for biking in Minnesota.

Grand Rounds
Minneapolis Parks and Recreation
2117 W. River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411
(612) 230-6400

Minneapolis may be a bustling metropolis, but it also possesses a natural beauty that can be experienced on a ride of the Grand Rounds which features a scenic loop of trails around Lake Calhoun, Nokomis and Harriet and alongside the Mississippi River. Hop on for a few miles or follow the trail in its entirety, then loop back across the Midtown Greenway across town from the river and back to Lake Calhoun for an impressive 16-mile ride. Looking for an even longer ride? Extend your trip by taking the river trail and skirt the northern edge of downtown Minneapolis. Along the way, you’ll enjoy views of downtown Minneapolis and the historic riverfront, including the Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Falls dam. The longer trek is worth a trip as it showcases the best of Minneapolis, from its city skyline to its scenic parks and greenways.

Root River State Trail
P.O. Box 145
Minneapolis, MN 55949

The Root River trail offers cyclists 42 miles of scenic terrain in southeast Minnesota, and runs through several charming towns including Fountain, Lanesboro, Whalan, Peterson, Rushford and Houston. The mostly level paved trail offers bikers a peaceful, leisurely ride. Highlights include amazing views of limestone bluffs, winding streams and wildlife including wild turkeys, deer, raccoons and birds of prey like eagles. A connecting trail, the Harmony-Preston Valley trail, runs for 18 miles between Harmony and the Root River Trail and passes through farmlands and wooded areas. In combination, both trails offer bikers over 60 miles of trail, but shorter trips can be easily planned. Make a day of it by stopping at one of the many towns along the way and exploring the fun shops.Related: Best Sporting Good Stores In The Twin Cities

Paul Bunyan State Trail
DNR Information Center
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4040
(651) 296-6157www.paulbunyantrail.com

The Paul Bunyan State Trail is the longest trail Minnesota has to offer, clocking in at 112 miles of paved terrain. The trail runs from Brainerd to Bemidji, and provides excellent views of northern lakes and beautiful wooded forests. Shorter trips can be planned by using trailheads in one of several towns along the route. A majority of the trail is fairly level for easy cycling, but if you’re looking for a challenging ride, check out the trail north of Hackensack in the Chippewa National Forest for rolling hills. If you’re planning to take on the entire jaunt, amenities are available in many of the nearby towns and campsites are plentiful. Bring along a swimsuit and take a dip in one of the many lakes near the trail for a refreshing break.

Mesabi Trail
Mesabi Trail
111 Station 44 Road
Eveleth, MN 55734

Crossing the “Iron Range” of northeastern Minnesota between the cities of Ely and Grand Rapids lies the Mesabi Trail, which, when completed, will traverse 132 miles, connect more than 25 communities and will be one of the longest paved trails in the United States. Currently, the longest paved portion of the trail spans 75 miles and connects Grand Rapids to McKinley, with several towns including Hibbing, Chisholm and Virginia along the way. The Iron Range is known for its mining associations, and former mines reclaimed by nature can be viewed along the way. The trail includes a combination of flat and hilly terrain, making it a unique ride. Plan a weekend stay in a nearby town or campsite and take the time to explore the beauty that the Mesabi Trail has to offer biking enthusiasts.

Dakota Rail Trail
Carver County
11360 Highway 212 W., Suite 2
Cologne, MN 55322
(952) 466- 5250

If you’re looking for a scenic town and country ride, check out the Dakota Rail Trail, which offers a spectacular view of Lake Minnetonka and the surrounding community and traverses into the outskirts of the metro. Pause on the Arcola Bridge for a gorgeous view of the legendary lake and ride on as the city grows distant at your back. The full trail currently spans 26 miles from Wayzata to New Germany, but shorter jaunts can be planned along this flat, leisurely trail. The Dakota Rail Trail is a great way to escape from the city without actually leaving.

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A Minnesota native that was born and raised Up North, Minneapolis is where Christina Kalinowski currently calls home. Christina appreciates irony, loves bacon, enjoys a hearty libation (drink responsibly, folks), and is an avid proponent of the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.