Stunning bluff country, meandering rivers and open prairies give southern Minnesota a wide variety of natural terrain for mountain bikers to enjoy. This region starts along the Mississippi River following the Minnesota border to the South Dakota border. Most of the most popular locations are within an hour's drive of the metro areas yet some of the best kept mountain biking secrets can be found farther away.
Camden State Park, Lynd 5.25 miles
Beginner to advanced: Mixture of fire roads and singletrack rolls through hard-wood forests and prairie with a 1-mile section of rake-and-ride trail on top of the river valley. Hosts Camden Classic in August.
Caron Park, Faribault 3 miles
Intermediate singletrack trail with a dirt surface through a completely wooded area. Runs by Prairie Creek and features a natural waterfall. Trail is bi-directional. Maintained by Cannon River Offroad Cycling and Trails (CROCT).
Eastwood Park, Rochester 5 miles
Three easy and two intermediate trails by Eastwood Golf Course. Trail is mostly wooded with many tight twists and turns along the Zumbro River. Maintained by Rochester Area Active Sports Club (RASC).
Ft. LeHillier Skills Trail, Mankato 1.5 miles
A short skills building area south of Mankato on the Blue Earth River with rollers and berms winding through the wooded riverbottom contours. This is a perfect trail to get new riders acquainted with their bike. Trails are bi-directional. Maintained by Mankato Area Mountain Bikers (MAMB)
Gamehaven Reservoir, Rochester 12 miles
Five easy and two intermediate singletrack loops with scenic overlooks on Gamehaven Lake. Groomed for fat bikes in the winter. Maintained by Rochester Area Active Sports Club (RASC).
Holzinger Lodge Trail, Winona 12 miles
Advanced: Some fire road, mostly singletrack. Steep periodically. Comparable to Colorado trails with less altitude. Excellent views of the Mississippi. Some winter trails. One of the areas best. Trails are maintained by Winona Area Mountain Bikers (WAMB)
Kaplan's Woods, Owatonna 6 miles
Moderately difficult single track through woods. Some log jumps add challenges.
Kiwanis Mountain Bike Trail, Mankato 6.8 miles
Two single-direction loops on the Minnesota River: A 5.7 mile intermediate loop and a 1.1-mile beginner loop. The short loop consists of rolling, berm filled singletrack in the riverbottom land with no obstacles or challenging climbs for the novice rider. More advanced features and options like log piles, jumps and drops can be found on "B" lines with ride-arounds on the intermediate loop. A kids' loop and skill park are accessible from the trailhead. Note: woodchip-covered trails in the park are off limits for bikes. . Maintained by Mankato Area Mountain Bikers (MAMB)
Memorial Trail, Redwing 7 miles
Beginner to advanced: Trail has many options from which to choose-long climbs, challenging obstacles, outstanding views, twisting singletrack. Select a ride that matches your skills. Highly recommended. Trails are maintained by Red Wing Area Mountain Bike Organization (RAMBO)
Mount Kato Ski Area, Mankato 7 miles
Mount Kato has roughly seven miles of cross country singletrack winding through the wooded hills of their ski area for novice to expert riders. Riders who like a climbing challenge will enjoy the steep climbs and descents.
Myre Big Island State Park, Albert Lea 7 miles
Intermediate: Well-marked trail shared with hikers. Runs through forested hills, by a lake. Lots of trails to choose from. Limited access when wet.
Ney Nature Center Trail, Henderson 1.5 miles
The Henderson trail system is new as of 2016 with roughly a mile and a half of trails located in the Ney Nature Center just off Hwy 19 near Henderson Minnesota and has two single-direction trails: Trail one is rated intermediate and trail two is rated difficult with berms, drops and a rock garden.
River Bend Nature Trails, Faribault 10 miles
Multi-use, dirt and grass trail is shared with hikers and travels through hardwoods along the Straight River and has scenic bluff views. Bring your camera.
Sechler Park, Northfield 1.75 miles
Trail is designed to introduce beginners to mountain biking. It runs along the woods on the shore of the Cannon River and features some obstacles like logs and skinnies. Maintained by Cannon River Offroad Cycling and Trails (CROCT).
Seven Mile Creek, Mankato 8 miles
Seven Mile Creek's multi-use bi-directional trails feature little technical challenge but some climbs and descents are steep and very challenging. The forests are home to whitetail deer, turkeys, nesting and migratory bird species. The area transitions from the Minnesota River to grasslands in the valley, to deciduous forests on either side and up the bluffs of 7-Mile Creek. Trails are gravel lined and are considered open in any weather.
Traverse des Sioux Park St. Peter 10 miles
This system consists of rolling and winding trail through the Minnesota River bottoms weaving through the trees and over the undulating flood plain The trails are bi-directional with trail difficulty rated easy and beginner friendly. These trails have some of the area's best views of the Minnesota River. Maintained by Mankato Area Mountain Bikers (MAMB)
Sources: MNDNR, RAMBO, WAMB, MAMB, RASC, CROCT, Winona Visitors Bureau, Red Wing Visitors Bureau