City bike riding. City bike riding

City bike riding

The Minneapolis/Saint Paul metro area is absolutely loaded with bike trails. A few are along the roadways, but many are in parks and on regional and state bike trails through beautiful natural areas.

FREE: “Best Bike Trails in the Twin Cities” download listed Minneapolis/St. Paul as the Best Place to Bike-Commute Year-Round in 2017. This recognition is in part for the vast connection of trails to roadways for commuters, not just recreational bikers.

But that’s saying a lot for an urban area that’s in deep-freeze a few months of the year!

The ones we highlight on Twin Cities Outdoors are those off the main roadways and in parks. There’s a vast networking of inter-connecting Regional Trails. We’ll give you info and links to find out more about those, too.

We also highlight mountain bike trails for those of you interested in a more adventurous ride. And don’t forget fat bikes. For those who want to keep biking off-road all winter, Minnesota is starting to maintain a few fat bike trails.

Let’s take a look bike trails in the Twin Cities:

Anoka County (North)

Anoka County has 10 Regional Trails and several dozen miles of trails in its park system. Many of those trails and parks connect to each other. That means you can bike all day if you want to, depending on the location you choose.

Carver County (Southwest)

Let’s face it—Carver County is not a biker’s Mecca! None of the Regional Parks have trails for bikes…But there are three Regional Trails here—or at least sections of Regional Trails planned or under construction.

Dakota County (South-Southeast)

Dakota County has several parks and Regional Trails to choose from for your next bike ride. It also boasts some awesome mountain bike trails.

Hennepin County (West-Central—includes Minneapolis)

Hennepin County has mile up mile of bike trails—both on Regional Trails and in its many parks. This includes urban Minneapolis, nationally-known for being biker-friendly. Great mountain bike trails, too.

Ramsey County (East-Central—includes St. Paul)

Ramsey County has 8 parks, most of which provide great biking. The County is also host to three Regional Trails if you’re looking for a longer ride.

Scott County (South-Southwest)

Scott County has two regional parks with multi-use trails plus a park reserve. It also hosts part of the Minnesota Valley State Trail, which includes many miles of paved and unpaved trails.

Washington County (East)

Washington County is home to eight Regional Parks, State Parks and reserves. Most of them have at least a few trails for biking. Lake Elmo Regional Park is your spot if you’re a mountain biker. The County also hosts two State Trails that are well worth your time.

Twin Cities Biking Guide

Published in 2020, our 54-page digital Biking Guide is the easiest, most convenient way to find bike trails in all seven counties of the Twin Cities metro area.

Other Resources

Private Biking Websites

  • Metro Bike Trails Guide is run by Seamus Flynn. He offers a rating system based on criteria like trail beauty, maintenance, traffic and difficulty. It’s quite detailed, with reviews for specific trails. He doesn’t cover trails in Scott or Carver Counties.
  • Have Fun Biking: Lots of info about gear, local events, local shops and destinations…including blog posts covering specific trails.

US Bike Routes in Minnesota

There are two US Bicycle Routes (USBR) in Minnesota, totaling over 1,000 miles! Something worth training for if you’re a biking adventure lover. A portion of each runs through the Twin Cities:

  • USBR 41 is the North Star Route: Between the State Capitol in St. Paul to the Canadian border via the North Shore. 315 miles total.
  • USBR 45 is the Mississippi River Trail: The Minnesota section is between Itasca State Park and the Mississippi’s headwaters along the river to the Iowa border. (See below)

Mississippi River Companion

This guide lists the biking, hiking, boating and other rec opportunities along the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers in the metro area. The National Park Service offers a free map booklet of the trails at the Mississippi River Visitor Center at the Science Museum in Saint Paul.

A print book is also available that goes into detail about the history, trail suggestions and hints, and the best places to see wildlife. It appears to be unavailable online…if you can believe it! Visit the Visitor Center at the Science Museum to pick up a copy.

Mississippi River Trail (Twin Cities Metro section)

USBR 45, the Mississippi River Trail, is a national bike trail that extends from the river’s headwaters in Itasca all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Wouldn’t that be an adventure! 75 miles of it runs through the metro area. You can even ride on either side of the the River.

Riding the whole metro route would be a great goal for families, maybe taking one segment over many different weekends. Best for older children used to riding along roadways shared by cars, as much of the Trail is that.

Go to this page for maps of the individual sections in the Twin Cities.

Fat Tire Biking

There are fat bike trails groomed (or at least allowed) for winter use in some of the counties covered in TCO: Hennepin, Savage, Dakota, Ramsey.

Here are fat bike-specific resources:

Mountain Biking

The correct term is singletrack. We’ll interchange that with mountain biking, since that’s what the general populous calls it.

There are several well-maintained mountain bike/singletrack parks in the metro area. We’ll cover many of those on the individual county pages.

Here are other single-track or mountain bike resources:

  • lists their top Twin Cities mountain bike trails.
  • covers Twin Cities mountain bike trails.
  • Check mountain bike trail conditions in the metro area.

Where to Ride

This comfort-rated map of the whole Salt Lake Valley will help you select routes for commuting or recreational rides, or to connect to TRAX, mountain bike trails, or other community destinations. The map features safety information, riding tips, and resources that will help you keep spinning happily on your way.

Download the 2019 Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County Bikeways Map.

Special geographically-referenced PDF files (below) work on a smartphone with your built-in GPS to show you where you are on the map! Search in the App Store or Play Store for “Geo PDF” or “PDF map” to find applications that can perform this function.

Looking for bikeway data?

Here is the GIS data for the Salt Lake City bikeways. This data includes both facilities and comfort ratings. County data not yet available as the map view is cobbled together from several sources.

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Multi-Use Paved Trails

Jordan River Parkway Trail

Jordan River Parkway Trail

The Jordan River Parkway Trail is a 40 mile continuous, non-motorized, paved trail from the Jordan River’s headwaters at Utah Lake in Utah County north to a connection with the Legacy Trail in Davis County near the Great Salt Lake. Approximately 8.5 miles of the trail are in Salt Lake City. Other parts of the trail have been developed and are maintained by Salt Lake County. In total, the Jordan River Parkway Trail is the central piece of a network of trails known as the “Golden Spoke,” spanning over 100 miles between Ogden and Provo. Click here to view a trail map of the Jordan River Parkway Trail.

Liberty Park Trail

Liberty Park Trail

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Built in 1882, Liberty Park is a favorite within Salt Lake City. Each year thousands enjoy the park’s numerous activities and accommodations. Ringing the park is a 1.5-mile, paved multi-use trail, and a parallel wood chip jogging path. To prevent user conflicts, travel on the path is counter-clockwise around the park. Bicycle/pedestrian crossing signals at both ends of the park connect to the 600 East Neighborhood Byway.

City Creek Canyon / Memory Grove

City Creek Canyon / Memory Grove

City Creek Canyon is a wonderful resource so close to downtown Salt Lake, and a great respite from the summer heat. A 1.2 mile shared-use path through Memory Grove Park begins at State Street and Second Avenue, and extends north to Bonneville Boulevard. North of Bonneville Boulevard, the “path” in City Creek Canyon is a 5.8-mile paved canyon maintenance road that is closed to public automobiles on days that bikes are permitted (and vice versa).

Summer: Bicycles permitted on odd numbered days ONLY from Memorial Day weekend until Sept. 30. No bikes on Memorial Day or Labor Day regardless of date.

Winter: Bicycles permitted every day from Oct. 1 to Friday before Labor Day, except during the deer rifle hunt.

Service vehicles are allowed on all days and should always be expected when bicycling in the canyon. Speed limit of 15 mph also applies to bikes. SLC Public Utilities manages the canyon.

Parley’s Trail

Parley’s Trail

Parley’s Trail connects the Bonneville Shoreline Trail at the mouth of Parley’s Canyon to the Jordan River Parkway Trail. This trail has been constructed in segments over several years. Most sections of trail are now open with interim signs on a few remaining on-road portions. Trail map.

city, bike, riding

9 Line Trail

9 Line Trail

The 9 Line Trail, under development, will eventually traverse Salt Lake City east to west at approximately 800/900 South. Two longer segments of multi-use path are currently open in Glendale (Redwood Road to 700 W) and along Sunnyside Avenue (Guardsman to Foothill). New segments from 700 W to 1300 East will be constructed and opened by 2023.

Airport Trail

Airport Trail

This 2.8 mile trail provides a bicycle and pedestrian connection along the south side of the airport from North Temple at 2500 West to the International Center. Trail hours are restricted. If you plan to bicycle to the Airport, access to the Terminal is available by continuing north along 3700 West, a road that mostly serves local commercial traffic to air freight carriers. Bicycle access to the airport is also available by taking your bike on the UTA Green Line train. information including map.

McClelland Trail

McClelland Trail

This trail follows the route of the Jordan Salt Lake City Canal in Salt Lake City, from the 9th 9th Business District (900 S) to the Sugar House Business District (2100 S). Some sections use quiet streets; others are off-street trail. Eventually, the trail will extend south to Elgin Avenue (~3000 S) near the Brickyard Plaza, totaling about 4 miles in length. The Trail is about 1040 to 1200 East.

Mountain Bike Trails

Bonneville Shoreline Trail

Bonneville Shoreline Trail

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail provides unsurpassed close-to-home mountain biking right in our urban backyard. The Salt Lake City portion of this regional trail traverses the Wasatch foothills above the City, approximately following the shoreline bench of the ancient Lake Bonneville. Salt Lake City’s trail includes 17 miles of dirt mountain bike trail, with various spurs connecting to trailhead access points and the city street network. The dirt trail is linked in places by paved road or paved trail, in total adding another 5.7 miles to the route.

Foothills Trails Plan

Foothill Trails Plan

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SLC’s Trails Open Space Division will be adding approximately 65 miles of trails to the Foothills area, with the first phase of construction starting in 2020. The Foothill Trails Plan will result in a total of 85 miles of mountain bike accessible trails. View the Foothills Trail System Master Plan.

Bike Terrain Parks

900 South Bike Jumps and Pump Track

The new 9-Line Trail has been further improved by a bike park at its eastern end. This dirt jump includes easy, medium, and difficult jumps, as well as a pump track for beginners and those looking to polish their skills. The park is well situated in the middle of the city, and accessible by bike routes along 800 and 900 South.

Parley’s Historic Nature Park

One of the best off-leash parks in the city, Parley’s also offers unique insight and first-hand experiences with Salt Lake City’s history and natural environment. Parley’s is located on the southern edge of Salt Lake City, and in addition to vehicles can be accessed through Parley’s Trail by bikers and hikers. The park is enhanced by a daylighted portion of Parley’s Creek, a wildlife refuge area, and great views up Parley’s Canyon.

Skate BMX Parks

The following parks include concrete skate parks for skateboarders and BMX. Each park offers different features and bowls.

How to ride in the city

Riding a bike in the city or built-up, urban environments poses some unique challenges. Below are a few pointers so that you can navigate city streets with confidence.

Top 10 tips for riding in urban environments

Whether you’re riding to work in the city, or for work as a delivery rider or courier, there are some important things you should know.

We’ve summarised all the tips outlined below in an easy to download and printable fact sheet.

TIP #1

Scan further ahead on the road than what’s directly in front of you and slow down if you’re not sure whether someone has seen you, or if they will give way to you.

Communicate using your bell, your voice, hand signals and eye contact.

When riding close to moving traffic or parked cars, do so slowly so you have time to react to hazards.

TIP #2

Avoid doorings by riding outside of the door zone, which is about one-metre out from the side of parked or stopped cars.

Watch for people opening doors on the left side of cars stopped in the traffic lane, especially taxis.

If you can’t ride wide of the door zone, scan the parked cars ahead for people exiting, slow down, and be prepared to stop.

TIp #3

Most crashes occur at intersections, so look out for drivers turning left or tuning right across your path.

Scan for drivers indicating to turn, as well as those positioned to turn but not indicating.

Try to make eye contact with any drivers and if you can’t, slow, and be prepared to give way.

Don’t continue through a gap in stopped traffic without scanning for a car coming through in either direction.

TIp #4

Avoid swerving or popping out into traffic unexpectedly, and keep left when possible.

Hugging the gutter is not always safe. In certain situations this invites drivers to try to pass you when there isn’t actually enough room.

On narrow streets move further out from the curb to make yourself more visible, and if there is traffic behind, move to the left when you have an opportunity to do so.

Tip #5

Hook turns on a bike are a great risk reduction tool when you need to turn right.

You can keep left, you don’t have to cross multiple lanes of traffic and you avoid having to wait in the middle of an intersection for a gap in traffic.

Bike riders can make a hook turn at any intersection unless road signs specifically say no right turns can be made.

Tip #6

Bike riders can overtake on the left, but must give way to drivers turning left.

When a rider and driver arrive at an intersection side-by-side, the one in front has right of way and the one behind gives way. The same rules apply when changing lanes.

It’s important to remember that it can be difficult for drivers to see a bike on their left so assume that they might not have noticed you.

TIp #7

Never run a red light.

Obeying road rules and signals like red lights makes traffic more predictable and less stressful for everyone.

TIp #8

You must have a front white light and red rear light with you when riding. Make sure they’re turned on not only when it’s night, but on overcast days and in low light.

A good guide is to put your lights on when the streetlights are on.

TIp #9

Drivers often do the unexpected. On the road, ride with your hands on the brakes so that you can respond quickly.

Learn how to shift your body weight rearwards when making an emergency stop, use your gears properly, control the bike while looking over your shoulder and confidently ride with one hand.

TIp #10

Never ride up on the left or the inside of any large vehicle at an intersection or move into the space in front of a truck – even if it’s a bike box – the driver won’t be able to see you.

The major blind spots for a large vehicle are directly behind and to the side.

Always maintain enough distance behind or in front of any large vehicle so the driver can see you.

If you can’t see the mirrors, the driver probably can’t see you.

Ready to test your knowledge?

Take our quick 10 question quiz to test your knowledge and build your confidence.

Top 13 Cycling Cities in the US

When the chill of winter is gone and the days are finally longer, it can only mean one thing: It’s time to pump up the tires, strap on your helmet and hit the trails in America’s top cycling cities.

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Boulder, Colorado

This picturesque mountain town at the base of the Rockies is a cyclist’s paradise. Boulder boasts hundreds of miles of bike paths, nearby access to world-class mountain biking trails such as Walker Ranch and over 300 days of sunshine a year. The city’s bike share program, Boulder B-cycle, offers 24-hour bike access at any B-station; just swipe your card, grab a bike and take a ride through town; for mountain biking head to rental shops like Boulder Bikesmith. The only thing that might slow you down is the altitude, but you can easily remedy that by grabbing a post-ride beer at one of Boulder’s many microbreweries.

Portland, Oregon

Portland has long been the king of cycling in the US and has inspired cities all across the nation to follow in its footsteps. In fact, no other city in the United States has more cyclists per capita. or more coffee shops. Sip and go, exploring town on bike; shops like Clever Cycles, Veloce Bicycles and Fat Tire Farm (for mountain bikes) are just a few bike rental store options. (Portland launched its own bike share program in 2016.) There’s more than just city riding, too; take your fat tires for a jaunt into Forest Park, the nation’s largest urban preserve, and jump on the single-track mountain bike trails.

Chicago, Illinois

You ever wonder why people say summertime in Chicago is the greatest? There aren’t too many places around the country that you can literally be in a major US metropolis or sitting on the beach within 3 minutes of each other, if that. This makes biking in Chicago more unique then anywhere else on our list. For a direct line to your destination, trek through the bustling city. There is plenty of amazing architecture and a bevy of bike lanes. But if you’re looking for a more scenic ride with awesome views of Chicago’s breathtaking high-rise buildings and beaches packed with co-eds and families alike, cruise along the awe-inspiring shoreline.

New York City, New York

It may seem overwhelming to jump into the mayhem of NYC traffic, but the Big Apple has made it a priority to accommodate the two-wheeled traveler with hundreds of miles of bike lanes. On Memorial Day 2013, the city unveiled the country’s largest bike share program, with over 6,000 bikes and 330 stations. If you’re looking to avoid cars altogether, take a spin down the Hudson River Greenway, a protected pedestrian path that runs 11 miles from Battery Park to the southern tip of Manhattan; you can rent a bike in the park, too.

Washington, D.C.

If you want to eliminate frustrating traffic jams and horrible parking from your vacation, here’s the solution: Ride a bike! Cruising through D.C. on two wheels is the easiest and fastest way to experience all the impressive monuments and memorials. With the Capital Bikeshare program you have over 1,800 rentable bikes at your fingertips. (Be sure to brush up on the program’s bike safety tips, too.) If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, head to a bike rental shop like Big Wheel Bikes for a mountain bike, then jump on the beautiful 185-mile-long CO Canal trail, which follows the mighty Potomac River from D.C. into Cumberland, Maryland.

San Francisco, California

We know, the thought pushing your way past cruising cable cars, up the winding San Francisco streets doesn’t sound like the ideal biking situation. However, it’s truly a treat to take in the incredible views the City by the Bay has to offer. Take in the iconic Painted Ladies and Golden Gate Bridge as you slash through the famed San Francisco fog. Then, after seeing the picturesque views of the Pacific, explore The City’s notorious rolling hills. For a long trek, it’s always important to stay well nourished. Thankfully, San Francisco has one of the best food scenes in the entire U.S., so don’t forget to stop off for a quick bite before, during or after your bike ride.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis is known for its brutal winters, but that doesn’t stop the locals from pedaling year-round. The city has the second-highest number of bicycle commuters of the larger U.S. cities (right behind Portland). The bike culture here is big and proud, and includes an eclectic mix of roadies, messengers, BMXers and hipsters, who can enjoy 120 miles of bikeways, bike-pedestrian bridges like the Stone Arch Bridge and the city’s bike share program, Nice Ride Minnesota. The city is also very flat, which makes it a great place for beginners and those who don’t want to arrive at work dripping in sweat. So you’ve got no excuse not to bust out that bike.

Tucson, Arizona

Tucson is the sleeper on this list but not to be left out. This desert oasis has more bicycle infrastructure than any other city in the U.S., boasting more than 700 miles of designated bikeways. You can ride year-round without bundling up, and the mountain bike trails outside of town, as in the Santa Catalina Mountains, are top-notch.- just don’t crash into a cactus!

Austin, Texas

Any city that has a bike zoo has to be in the top 10. (Ever seen a pedal-powered 80-foot rattlesnake? You can at Austin Bike Zoo.) Texas’ quirky capital city is also home to the 6-mile-long Lance Armstrong Bikeway, which opened in 2009 and runs through the heart of town. And just outside of Austin is the famous Texas Hill Country, which provides endless riding through picturesque ranchland.

Seattle, Washington

Some of the best biking in the country can be found in the Pacific Northwest, and Seattle may even provide the best in the whole area. No matter what your biking preference is, Seattle can provide the terrain. Mountain views? Check. Beach biking? Check. Forests and parks? Check. City trails? Check. One of the most diverse cities for biking, any cycling trip in Seattle is sure to provide a boatload of bike lanes and a long list of unforgettable memories.

Missoula, Montana

You might think of Montana as cowboy country, but in this hip little city, bicycles, not horses, rule the road. Missoula is small enough for bicycles to reach just about any spot in the city, and there’s a wide range of mountain bike trails located just outside of town, such as Pattee Canyon, Rattlesnake Recreation Area and Blue Mountain. It’s also home to the Adventure Cycling Association, one of the nation’s premier bicycle travel organizations. Saddle up!

San Diego, California

San Diego is blessed with both amazing road and mountain riding. Add in pleasant year-round weather and you’ve got the perfect place to pedal. Take a ride to the pier in the beachfront neighborhood of Ocean Beach for a look at quintessential California surfers, bikinis, sandcastles and all sorts of colorful characters. Balboa Park is the gem of the city (and America’s largest urban cultural park), pedal your bike to the famous San Diego Zoo and enjoy a picnic in the grass. Don’t have a bike? San Diego’s bike share program to put 1,800 bikes in 180 stations around the city is still in the works, so head to outfitters like Stay Classy Bicycle Rentals in the meantime.

Louisville, Kentucky

This charming Southern city is quickly becoming a hub for cycling. The highlight is the 100-mile Louisville Loop, a trail system that will someday connect the entire city, linking parks and neighborhoods in one giant bicycle super highway. Louisville also has a groovy new pedestrian bridge if you feel like bopping across the Ohio River into Indiana. For short trips around town, pick up a bike through the city’s bike-sharing program, Louisville B-cycle.

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