Picture the whispering pines swaying in the breeze as you dip your bike tire into the Mississippi's headwater in preparation for this breathtaking journey from Itasca State Park back to the Twin Cities. Imagine for six days, riding a bike route made popular by the internationally recognized Mississippi River Trail (MRT) system. There is still time to sign-up today for this journey of a lifetime. This Mississippi River Ride covers the first 375 miles of the river's journey on its way to the Gulf of Mexico; hugging the riverís banks so you can enjoy the forests, lakes, historic town and wildflowers along its way. A ride you will want to enjoy with your friends!
This prime springtime bus/bike excursion offers those bicyclists who are looking for an adventure a chance to explore some of the Mississippi Riverís past, present and future. Along the way enjoy both the unique and picturesque as you ride along many parts of Minnesota's Great River Road. Over the six days, starting Wednesday, May 22 through Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, this amazing bicycle adventure encompasses much of the unmatched beauty of the "North Star" State, in the springtime.
From the Headwaters back to the Twin Cities, the daily average is 62 mile of scenic river riding. With no major hills to climb, expect perfect spring riding temperatures in the mid-60's. However, the nighttime temp's are still in the 40's making this all inclusive lodging package an added comfort. Meals include breakfasts, lunches and dinners. With the International popularity of the Great River Road and Mississippi River Trail this tours is filling quickly, with less than 40 spaces still available. See full details at: Mississippi-River-Ride.pdf.
The Ride Narrative... In the following description, picture yourself on your bike, riding with old and new friends on the first leg of the Mississippi's journey, back to the Twin Cities. As you read through, please stop and visit the embedded links offering short video clips of the areas you will be traveling through. Recently released, these informative videos were made possible by: the MN DNR, the MN Historical Society, Explore Minnesota Tourism and the National Park Service.
The Mississippi River Ride begins with motorcoach transportation for you and your bike from the Twin Cities you up to Itasca State Park. After a peaceful nights' rest and a hearty lumberjack breakfast at one of Minnesota's fine lodges, it is time to prepare for your first day on the Mississippi River Trail. To get a better feel for what you will see leaving from Itasca State Park, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zJ1V5UP2Ns&list=PL35CD54BFD9C865AD&index=2&feature=plcp
day one... At the River's headwaters you will want dip your bike's tires into the river to celebrate the beginning of your journey as the call of the Loons welcome you. Leaving the park and following the river on the internationally recognized Mississippi River Trail, the route first takes you in a northwestern direction up to the first city on the Mississippi, Bemidji.
Arriving in this first Mississippi River city it is time for lunch, as the rivers current flows into Lake Bemidji. While stopping here, explore all this art filled community has to offer with sculptures, murals and historic architecture. As the river flows to the east, the ride enjoys the sites along the Great River Road into the Chippewa National Forest. To get a better feel for what you will see after leaving Bemidji click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwo17r5fL9U&feature=BFa&list=PL35CD54BFD9C865AD&lf=plcp
With an abundance of wildflowers along the road, pedal through this enchanted treasure. Along the way notice a huge population of bald eagles and hawks as the river moves from one lake to the next. When the river flows into a lake the Ojibwe and early settlers called Winnibigoshish (Lake Winnie), you will find your second nights lodging. Here on the lakes east shoreline, enjoy the all modern amenities and comforts in one of Minnesota's northwoods resort.
day two... With the dawn of a new day and the call of the Loon, it is time to ride along the southern shoreline of Winnie, up to where the lake spills back into the Mighty Mississippi. One of Lake Winnie's most unique features is that the dam that was created in 1884, makes this the largest reservoir on the Mississippi River system. After enjoying a northwoods shore lunch here, the ride meanders south and stops briefly at Schoolcraft State Park. This secluded park is the perfect place to take a break. Quiet and peaceful, the park offers a relaxing environment with a virgin pine forest that includes a white pine more than 300 years old. Take a panoramic virtual tour of the area here: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/destinations/state_parks/virtual_tours/schoolcraft/vt_schoolcraft.html, then it's on to Grand Rapids.
By mid-afternoon you will be rolling into the town where Judy Garland spent her childhood. Once in Grand Rapids, visit the Forest History Center and the local art scene. Not only is this area rich in forested beauty it also offers a number of art forms including many bronze sculptures and historic architectural sites. And don't forget to pamper yourself a bit in the lodges whirlpool and sauna before turning in. To get an idea of the river below Grand Rapids, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-8H1AL8KAI&feature=BFa&list=PL35CD54BFD9C865AD&lf=plcp
day three... Now as the river, pushed by the western slope of the St. Lawrence Divide turns, the tour rolls straight south. At the crossroad leading into the town of Jacobson, a side-trip might be in order? Here, discover some unusual lawn art while visiting the local convenience store.
The next stop is in an old riverboat town, at the confluence of the Mississippi River and Ripple River. Once a popular meeting point for both the Native American Indians and explorers, today Aitkin is a good place to stop for an afternoon break. As the river curves back to the west, you are soon rolling in Cuyuna Country. Here in Deerwood you will find the ride's lodging headquarters for the evening.
day four... As the river flows around the North side of the Cuyuna Iron Range, the bike route winds between a series of abandoned open mine pits that are now some of Minnesotaís newest lakes. Here is your chance to ride one of Minnesota's newest bike trails, the Cuyuna Recreational Trail. As the river continues to flow in a southwest direction you are soon in Brainerd for lunch.
Just imagine riding in an area sometimes referred to as Paul Bunyanís playground. Legend has it that Paul and his blue ox, Babe (remember the mythical figures you had your picture taken with in Bemidji?) were having fun, wrestling around after a long rain spell. Stomping and tromping the two made a lot of large holes that eventually filled with water to create the 464 lakes of the Brainerd Lakes Area.
Now, as the river bends to the left and flows straight south again, the Great River Road allows a rider the opportunity to roll along its east bank, past Crow Wing State Park. Further down river, at Camp Ripley you will cross the stream again to visit to the military museum and wildlife refuge here. Click here to gain some added highlights of Little Falls and the communities down the river at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWXo6twZEkk&feature=BFa&list=PL35CD54BFD9C865AD&lf=plcp.
For centuries Little Falls has been a place where native inhabitants, early settlers and recent visitors have used as a gathering place. Located where the Mississippi River parts, this river community is the childhood hometown of Charles Lindbergh. Here you will discover who helped financed the production of the "Wizard of Oz."
day five... After a peaceful nights rest in this charming river community, the tour rolls down the MRT on the west bank of the river, through the towns of Rice , then Sartell. With some major rapids, at the confluence of the Watab River, the community of Sartell was formed, prospering with paper milling. As the river current hits a few more rapids, the bike tour arrives in St. Cloud for lunch. While here, check out a few of the attractions, including the Munsinger-Clemens Botanical Gardens.
Back on the east side of the river, the Mississippi River Ride rolls to the southeast using county roads that border several irrigated potato fields and a few lakes. Soon you are in Clearwater and it is time for a break. Crossing the river once again notice the river is a bit wider here as you ride into Wright County. Soon you are in Monticello.
A beautiful river town, located on the Mississippi River and the I-94 corridor, this community still offers those who visit, a small "hometown" atmosphere. With many scenic parks along the river and Maria State Park close by. Enjoy the hospitality here on your last night of the tour.
day six... After breakfast the tour crosses the river once again and rolls through the river bottom farm fields to Elk River. Stopping in this river community, you will discover many outdoor activities to take in. To get a better feel for what you will see as you ride back into the Twin Cities, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTMBXPVnJdc&feature=BFa&list=PL35CD54BFD9C865AD&lf=plcp
As you head out of Elk River, on the Great River Road, you will cross over the Mississippi River once again. Soon you are passing through Dayton. As you leave this old river town you will soon be entering the northern edge of the Mississippi National River and Recreational Area. Passing many parks along this stretch the ride will stop along the way for a picnic lunch. Now with less than twenty-five miles back to where you boarded the bus for the River Ride, the route follows the MRT back through the Twin Cities for several more highlights.
Please sign-up soon to avoid missing out on this inaugural tour. Bus/Bike/Gear transportation included in the price along with lodging and meals. See full details at: http://www.havefunbiking.com/pdf/mississippi-river-ride.pdf.
Article Published: 01-28-2012