Fill up your tires, strap on a helmet and get ready to hit the trail this summer! St Paul is a very friendly city to explore by bike, filled with parks, lakes, and a vibrant riverfront. Planning to bring the kids along? Perfect. Biking is a fun and healthy way for families to spend time together outdoors. We’ve sketched out five of our favorite St Paul bike trails that pair a day on wheels with fun family attractions.
St Paul bike trails along the Mississippi River
Mississippi River Blvd Bike Trail
Start: Town & Country Club (near the Lake Street-Marshall Avenue bridge)
End: Hidden Falls Regional Park
Distance: This St Paul bike trail is about 4 miles one-way.
The bike ride
Pushing off from Marshall Avenue, the paved bike trail follows Mississippi River Boulevard as it sneaks its way upward towards Summit Avenue, affording better views of the lovely Mississippi than you’ll spy on the Minneapolis side. It takes a little leg work to pedal around Shadow Falls Park (where Summit dead-ends into the river bluff) but is then a flat, smooth ride all the way down to Hidden Falls Regional Park. In order to reach the falls and the river’s edge, you will diverge from the Mississippi River Boulevard bike trail down a long drop to Hidden Falls Drive. If you care to extend your ride, this trail continues to run with the river east to downtown St Paul and beyond.
Points of interest
Families will be tempted to jump off bikes at many points along Mississippi River Boulevard to get a closer gaze at the water. We rave about the monument point at Shadow Falls Park (end of Summit Avenue) for good reason – just keep little ones in tow as you enjoy the view. If you can spare some time, try hiking into the park for a glimpse of the elusive waterfall. If not, save energy to explore Hidden Falls Regional Park which has its own trickle plus a sandy boat ramp right on the river and lots of grassy picnic space.
Harriet Island to Lilydale Regional Park
Start: Harriet Island Regional Park, St Paul
End: Sibley House Historic Site, city of Mendota
Distance: This St Paul bike trail is 5 miles one-way.
The bike ride
The pedaling along this route is flat, quiet, scenic and soaked with history. Travel any stretch of the Mississippi between Minneapolis and St Paul and it’s easy to picture the river’s role in protecting, settling and industrializing the area. Park in the Harriet Island Regional Park lot and jump directly onto the dedicated bike trail. At the trail’s intersection with Lilydale Road, the bike path becomes known as the Big Rivers Regional Trail. Continue on this route into the settlement of Mendota to reach the historic site and round out your 5-mile bike trip.
Points of interest
Plan to spend some time at both the start and the halfway mark of your bike trip. Harriet Island Regional Park has unbeatable views of the St Paul downtown skyline and pretty paddle-wheel river boats. There’s also a sandy playground for kids. If your legs can pedal to the little community of Mendota, stop to stretch them out at the Sibley Historic Site. You can choose to take a one-hour guided tour of the site, an important post during the fur-trade era, or explore the grounds at your own pace.
St Paul bike trails along the lakes
Como Regional Park & Phalen Regional Park
While St Paul can’t lay claim to a scenic chain the way its twin city Minneapolis can, the two major lakes in the Capital City are circled by lovely bike loops.
Como Lake, one of the jewels of the sprawling Como Regional Park features a bike path just over 1.5 miles around the shore. This is a quick, easy bike trail for any age. We suggest choosing it with a full afternoon in mind; bike trails branch off the lake to a host of family attractions including the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, Cafesjian’s Carousel, Como Town Amusement Park, Como Regional Park Pool, and Como Park Mini Golf. All this family fun at the push of a pedal.
Over on St Paul’s East Side, Phalen Regional Park contains a namesake lake looped by a 3-mile paved bike trail. Save this path for summer when you can celebrate your ride with a dip at Lake Phalen’s beach or a run through the splash pad. Paddle boards, canoes and kayaks are available to rent.
- Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Spring Checklist
- Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Summer Checklist
- Cafesjian’s Carousel: Free Rides in Como Park
- 20 Twin Cities Beaches, Parks & Playgrounds to Try This Summer
St Paul bike trails through the parks
Battle Creek Regional Park
Start: Battle Creek Regional Park Trails & Picnic Area. This is the park’s east entrance parking lot on Point Douglas Road South.
End: McKnight Road, border of St Paul & Maplewood
Distance: This St Paul bike trail is about 2.5 miles round trip.
The bike ride
This entry focuses on the St Paul stretch of the Battle Creek bike trail. The bike and walking path, nestled in a ravine below the Battle Creek neighborhood, follows the park’s namesake creek from Point Douglas Road (west end) to McKnight Road (east end). Once the trail has crossed McKnight, you’re in the Maplewood portion of Battle Creek Regional Park.
We’d label the St Paul stretch a moderate bike trail due to the winding, very gradual rise of path when running west to east. On two occasions it’s necessary to push up out of the ravine and cross a major street. Other than the city street crossings, the trail is very scenic with small rapids and bridges and has a surprisingly secluded feel to it. I chided myself the entire bike ride for ignoring this beautiful park all of the 26 years I’ve been a resident of St Paul.
Please note that this bike path is separate from the many mountain biking trails that thread through Battle Creek Park. The hilly topography makes for excellent, challenging trails recommended for experienced bikers, not young children.
Points of interest
Pack a picnic to enjoy before or after your bike ride through Battle Creek Park. There are many tables scattered along the creek at the west end near the parking lot. Or consider exploring the eastern (Maplewood) portion of the park. After the bike trail crosses McKnight Road it’s only about a city block’s length to Battle Creek Waterworks Family Aquatic Center. This pool is geared toward families with children 10 and under and features interactive water play equipment and a three-story waterslide.