The Best Bike Trails in the Twin Cities Northeast Metro

Twin Cities Northeast Metro Bike Trails

Rice Creek Trail/Rice Creek West Regional Trail

Start: LONG LAKE REGIONAL PARK, 1500 Old Highway 8. New Brighton, MN 55112.
LOCKE COUNTY PARK, 840 71st Ave NE, Fridley, MN 55432.
Distance: 4 miles one way, 8 round trip.

The bike ride

The Rice Creek Trail out of the Long Lake Park picnic shelter and a long stretch of the bike trail 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. This is where the bike trail leaves New Brighton and crosses into Fridley. At least one (clearly marked) thrilling dive into the creek bed here may be best left to older kids or, at the very least, kids who are confident using their brakes. (And yeah, you’ll have to haul your bike back up out of the creek bed.) But the trails are lovely, tranquil and feel completely removed from urban life, so don’t miss this scenic stretch.

Safety first!

Aside from the aforementioned steep hill, the paved bike trail is very safe and mostly removed from busy city streets. My route includes a crosswalk at Central Avenue and a tunnel under Hwy 65. My biking buddy and I took to this trail on a sunny Saturday in May and went for relatively long stretches without having to share it.

Points of interest along the trail

This is not a loop trail, folks. We recommend you start and finish your ride in Long Lake Regional Park so you can reward the kids (if they’re along) 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 for free 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. This is the route my biking pal and I chose.
Distance: A little over 1.5 miles.

The bike 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 hop off our bikes and hike some of the trail in order to get a better look at the buildings (just a look, mind you, no trespassing). 

Saftey first!

No safety concerns at all here. The trail is flat and easy. There is a crosswalk across County Road I between where you’ll park your car and the start of the southern loop trail.

Points of interest near the trail

There are no family-friendly attractions along the bike trail. But if you’re looking to stretch out your time in the area with kids we recommend driving (not biking, though it is possible to do so) across I-35 to find a little splash pad and playground at MOUNDS VIEW CITY HALL PARK and a trampoline park with all the trimmings called ZERO GRAVITY.

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve Trail

Start: LAURIE LAMOTTE MEMORIAL PARK, 6970 Lamotte Dr, Centerville, MN 55038.
Distance: The bike ride could be a loop or not. Roughly halfway (2.5 miles) is the CENTERVILLE LAKE BEACH making a full loop around the lake about 5 miles. We recommend biking west (clockwise) from park to beach if you pick the half route. It’s quieter and more scenic, though you won’t see much of the lake until you reach the beach.

The bike ride

However you choose to ride around the lake, the bike trail is smooth, pretty flat and easy to pedal. For the majority of the loop, the bike trail does not hug the lakeshore, rather passes through quiet, pretty parkland until you reach Centerville Lake Beach. (Side note: we rate this sandy rec area one of the BEST BEACHES IN THE TWIN CITIES.) If you complete the loop as we designed the last quarter of the trail passes through Centerville proper. Watch the trail most carefully along this stretch to connect between Main Street and back to LaMotte Memorial Park. If you’re anything like my biking companion, consult the map here. (Fortunately for her, I’m a regular human GPS.) 

EXTEND IT: The bike trail branches at the Centerville Lake boat launch and we biked to Chomonix Golf Course and back before completing the loop so we could see a little more of the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve.

Safety first!

There is a designated multi-use paved trail for the entirety of the loop, including the sections that travel through the city of Centerville. The two street crossings have crosswalks and traffic is very light here.

Points of interest along the trail

Besides the Centerville beach and playground, the WARGO NATURE CENTER is worth a stop. It’s not directly on the bike trail, but only an 8 minute drive from LaMotte Memorial Park. Kids will enjoy a ramble in the Maple Hollow Nature Play Area.

Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Beach in Lino Lakes, Minnesota

Elmer L. Andersen Memorial Trail

Start: County Rd D & Cleveland Ave, Arden Hills
End: Venus Avenue, Arden Hills
Distance: 2 miles one-way

The bike ride

The first roughly half of this bike trail is a straight, easy diagonal stretch through green, suburban backyards fragrant with wildflowers. After a descent into TONY SCHMIDT REGIONAL PARK (more about that below), the trail picks up and winds its way north through leafy paths to terminate in a quiet, residential district of Arden Hills.

Safety first!

After the first section of the trail (about .75 mile), riders must leave the exclusive bike & foot path briefly to descend a short segment of County Road E. While gradual, the road here is steep and there is a shoulder but no true bike lane. It’s also a pretty taxing pedal back up again. If you’re with young kids or get winded easily we recommend skipping the first half of this trail and basing out of Tony Schmidt. Be prepared for quite a bit of foot traffic on these trails on a sunny summer day.

Points of interest along the trail

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. (Sensing our priorities by now, perhaps?). The bike trail coasts down County Road E 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. 

Brown’s Creek State Trail

Start: GATEWAY STATE TRAIL, Jamaca Avenue Trailhead, Stillwater
End: LOWELL PARK, 201 Water St N, Stillwater, MN 55082
Distance: 7.8 miles one-way, 15.6 miles round trip.

The bike 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 we set our 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. We 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.

Safety first!

This is a popular multi-use trail and you may have to share it on a nice day. There are a few instances where the state trail crosses a potentially busy street – a marked crosswalk is the exception, not the rule. Take extra care here with kids. A bridge aids bikers in crossing busy Manning Avenue.

Points of interest along the trail

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.

For more ideas, check out our list of the best things to do in Stillwater, Minnesota with kids!

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