In the lake area, outdoor activities aren’t hard come by—especially activities on the water. But sometimes, lost in all the boating, swimming and lounging on the beach, it’s easy to forget there are great land activities as well. And wouldn’t you know it, the Lake Minnetonka area is home to some of the best bike trails in the Twin Cities.
Haven’t tested out the plethora of biking opportunities? Well, we’ve put together a handy guide that not only offers a few of our favorite trails, but also showcases our favorite stops along the way. Here’s to a summer of staycations and exploring everything the lake area has to offer.
With 16 miles of scenic pathway, there’s plenty to see on the Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail. We’ve got stops on both ends, but if you’re feeling especially bold, the trail meets up with the Cedar Lake Trail in Hopkins, which takes you into downtown Minneapolis and beyond.
With its trailhead in Wayzata, you can take the Dakota Rail way out west through small towns like Mayer, New Germany and Lester Prairie. That’s a 30-mile trek, so we recommend calling it a day at Lake Waconia Regional Park—it’s a 17-mile ride on its own.
City of Minnetonka Bike Trails
You don’t have to venture too far to spend a day exploring. The City of Minnetonka offers 40 miles of bike paths that take you all over the city. There are plenty of loops within the larger trail so you can bike the entire city one day, or break up your travels into countless mini-trips.
Destination: Charles H. Burwell House
Trail: City of Minnetonka
As a parent, what’s your greatest summer fear? That your kids will rot their brains staring at screens of all shapes and sizes? If that’s the case, a family outing to the Charles H. Burwell House may be just what you need.
The City of Minnetonka trail runs right past the historic site, which means the only transportation you’ll need is a bike. The house itself is a snapshot of Minnetonka history and offers a glimpse into the life as a 1890s millworker, and the grounds host a museum that features a variety of equipment used in millwork. The mansion houses original furnishings and the entire 5-acre property is on the National Register of Historic Places.
A hidden local treasure, you’ll probably learn something new, along with your kids, and the whole family will get some good exercise at the same time.
Grab a Beer
Destination: LTD Brewing
Trail: Minnetonka Regional Trail
It’s entirely possible that there’s something more motivating than an ice-cold beer waiting at the end of a bike ride, but we’re not sure what it could be. The craft beer scene is exploding across the country, and we’ve seen the joys of it right here. The lake area is home turf for Twin Cities’ favorites Excelsior Brewing Co., Lucid Brewing and Tonka Beer Co.
If you’ve already made the rounds to the local joints a time or two, you’ll be happy to know that LTD Brewing in Hopkins sits right on the Minnetonka Regional Trail. Hop on the trail at Maynard’s right in the heart of Excelsior and it’s only a 9-mile ride. Or jump on at your convenience in Minnetonka and you’ll be looking at about 10-mile round trip.
You’ll explore new territory, try a new brew and burn off those liquid calories on the way back. It’ll be the most guilt-free drink you’ll have this summer.
A Day at the (Other) Lake
Destination: Lake Waconia
Trail: Dakota Rail
Minnetonka is already home to the largest lake in the Twin Cities metro area (Lake Minnetonka, of course), and it offers plenty of bike trails. In fact, all of these trails offer easy access to the lake. Yes, you could spend the day biking the same trails (and we recommend you do) but few things beat a new adventure.
If you start in Wayzata, Lake Waconia is a 17-mile ride. There’s no blame coming from us if you aren’t up for a 34-mile round trip, but more experienced bikers will not only find the route scenic, but will also bask in what awaits them at the lake. After that ride, you may just want to relax at the Lake Waconia Regional Park beach, but if you aren’t too pooped from your ride there’s also disc golf, hiking, archery and a whole host of other activities to enjoy.
If you’re really up for an all-day event, bring along a tent and spend the night at one of the campsites.
Head to the Farm
Destination: Gale Woods Farm
Trail: Dakota Rail
Whether it’s your first time at the farm or you’ve visited many times before, biking to Gale Woods will give you a whole new experience. Biking up to the grounds brings you along the east pasture, where you’ll see grazing animals and the garden.
Once there, park your bike and enjoy everything the grounds have to offer. There are more than four miles of hiking trails you can take advantage of, or you can head over to see the animals and learn more about what life is like on the farm. If you’re feeling bold and are ready to plan a completely full day, Gale Woods is a little more than halfway between Wayzata and Lake Waconia, making it a perfect resting spot on a much longer journey.
Get in Touch With Nature
Destination: Carver Park Reserve
Trail: Lake Minnetonka Regional
Everything we’ve suggested would qualify as “getting in touch with nature.” Biking, in general, tends to get you out into the elements. Because this guide is all about exploring new places, a bike outing is the perfect excuse to head a little further west and explore the Carver Park Reserve.
The Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail will take you right up to the park but, like Lake Waconia, it’s a haul. The 20-mile round trip gets even longer depending on where you start. And for the sake of perspective, it’s a 20-mile trek from LTD Brewing alone.
Fear not! It’s definitely worth the trip. As home to the Lowry Nature Center, the Grimm Farm Historic Site and the King Waterbird Sanctuary, there’s more than enough to see in one day. That doesn’t include the hiking, additional bike trails (if somehow you aren’t biked out), archery, paddleboats, horseback riding and almost anything else you can imagine.
The good news is, like Lake Waconia Regional Park, Carver Park Reserve offers camping. Bring along the tent and give yourself plenty of time to explore everything.