The Best Twin Cities Northeast Metro Bike Trails
Rice Creek West Regional Trail
The ride: The Rice Creek Trail out of the Long Lake Park picnic shelter and a long stretch along a railroad bed are mostly flat and smooth. It’s when you hit the twisty trails along the namesake creek that it’s time to use caution. At least one (clearly marked) thrilling dive into the creek bed may be best left to older kids or, at the very least, kids who are confident using their brakes. But the trails are lovely, tranquil and feel completely removed from urban life, so don’t miss this scenic stretch.
Points of interest: Start and finish your ride in Long Lake Regional Park so you can reward the kids with a refreshing dip at Long Lake Park Beach, one of our featured top picks for beaches in the Twin Cities. The park is also home to the New Brighton Area Historical Society, operating out of a sweet restored train depot. Visit the depot and clamber aboard the caboose weekends starting early June.
Rice Creek North Regional Trail
Start: North Regional Trail access at I-35 & County Road I, Shoreview.
Park in the trail access lot on the north side of County Rd I, the first left turn away from the interstate. From this rough mid-point of the trail, you can choose to bike north along the namesake Rice Creek in a linear fashion OR, what we recommend when biking with kids, you can pick a simple southern loop from the parking lot.
The ride: Younger bikers, this southern loop is an ideal way to practice your pedaling. We recommend this stretch because there’s very little elevation change. It’s nice and smooth, too. For scenery, the trail meanders along cheerful Rice Creek. And for a touch of mystery, the trail also passes close to remnants of an WW2-era munitions plant. We actually chose to hike the loop in order to get a better look at the buildings (just a look, mind you, no trespassing).
Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve Trail
Start: Peltier Lake fishing pier parking lot, left turn off Main Street, Centerville, MN 55038
Choose: The bike ride could be a loop or not. Both directions from the pier can circle Centerville Lake.
Distance: A full loop around the lake is about 5 miles.
The ride: However you choose to ride around the lake, the trail is smooth and easy to bike. If you complete the loop you’ll pass through Centerville proper (watch the trail most carefully to connect between Main Street and LAMOTTE MEMORIAL PARK). The smooth trail does not hug the lakeshore, rather passes through quiet, pretty parkland until you reach Centerville Lake Beach. We rate this sandy rec area one of the BEST BEACHES IN THE TWIN CITIES. We chose to extend the ride. The trail branches at the Centerville Lake boat launch and we biked to Chomonix Golf Course and back before completing the loop.
Points of interest: Besides the Centerville beach and playground, the WARGO NATURE CENTER is worth a stop. It’s not directly on the bike trail, but only a 5 minute drive from the Peltier Lake boat launch. Kids will enjoy the Maple Hollow Nature Play Area.
Elmer L. Andersen Memorial Trail
Start: County Rd D & Cleveland Ave, Arden Hills
End: Venus Avenue, Arden Hills
Distance: 2 miles one-way
The ride: The first half of this bike trail is a straight, easy stretch through green, suburban backyards fragrant with wildflowers. Bikers must leave the exclusive bike & foot trail briefly to descend a short segment of County Road E rather steeply to TONY SCHMIDT REGIONAL PARK. Here, the trail picks up again and winds its way north through leafy paths to terminate in a quiet, residential district of Arden Hills.
Points of interest: The halfway point of the peaceful trail is lovely LAKE JOHANNA BEACH, a gem that makes our list of the TOP 20 BEACHES IN THE TWIN CITIES for families. The bike trail coasts down to a sandy stretch of shoreline within Tony Schmidt Regional Park. Bring your swimsuits and pack a picnic lunch to eat in the park, then hop back on your bikes to pedal through the windy trails. Be prepared for most of the people out on the trails to be on foot.
Brown’s Creek State Trail
The ride: When one imagines biking in, out and around the river valley town of Stillwater, the steep topography of the city might intimidate all but the most fit of cyclists. Until I set my wheels spinning on Brown’s Creek State Trail I didn’t realize there is a very gently graded path that sneaks into the back door of the city. I parked at a little bump-out lot along the Gateway State Trail (plug Jamaca Ave Trailhead into your phone – in a short distance it forks at the Brown’s Creek Trail) and enjoyed a smooth and pretty ride all the way to the end of the line in Stillwater’s lovely Lowell Park on the St Croix. Kids should have no trouble with the easy grade.
Points of interest: There aren’t many attractions along the stretch of trail per se (you could take a playground break at BROWN’S CREEK PARK) but once you get into Stillwater proper there is plenty within walking distance of LOWELL PARK. Boat-watch on the river, cross the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge, grab an ice cream cone at LEO’S MALT SHOP and maybe catch some live music or a free movie in the park if you time it right.