Mississippi River Trail Bikeway

 Minnesota River Trail Bikeway log

The Mississippi River Trail is an on-road bikeway extending 3,000 miles from Itasca State Park to the Gulf of Mexico.

This guide covers the 600 miles of valleys, bluffs, prairies and woodlands through Minnesota. The MRT Bikeway links with many of Minnesota’s popular off-road bike trails, state parks and cities.


Mississippi Headwaters

Tiptoe across the mighty river's humble source in Itasca State Park. Hear the call of the loon and watch Bald eagles soar above the majestic virgin pines. You can bike the 18-mile Wilderness Drive loop through the tall white pines of Itasca State Park.

Visit Bemidji — first city on the Mississippi — and make sure to capture a photo memory with legendary lumberjack, Paul Bunyan and his faithful pal, Babe.

Lake Bemidji State Park is on the north side of Lake Bemidji and at the start of the Paul Bunyan & Heartland State Trails. These trails provide a paved, off-road alternative to the MRT between Bemidji and Brainerd.

At Cass Lake you’ll find the 18-mile Migizi Trail loop through the tall red pine forest in the Chipewa National Park.



Mississippi Northwoods

Experience nature in the whisper of the pines and the crisp northwoods air. Follow the river through the George Washington State Forest along some of Minnesota’s best fishing lakes of Bemidji, Cass, Winnibigoshish, and Pokegama. Discover the stories of the Ojibwe and the history of the lumberjacks.

Visit Grand Rapids to tour the paper mill, Forest History Center and Judy Garland's birthplace. You will also intersect the North Country National Scenic Trail.


Mississippi Crossings

Heading sourth of Grand Rapids you will bike through the Savanna State Forest and not far from the historic Savanna Portage State Park. By river, by rail, by road, people of this region have traveled the Mississippi for centuries. Today the area plays host to thousands of vacationers each year who bike, golf, fish, bird or simply relax. The Cuyuna Country Recreation Area offers a 23-mile mountain bike trail carved out of the mining hills. You will also pass Crow Wing State Park and Fort Ripley south of Brainerd

Communities along this section are Grand Rapids, Aitkin, Deerwood, Crosby, Ironton, Brainerd and Little Falls.


 Scenic Mississippi

Wild and Scenic River is the designation given to this pristine section of Minnesota's Mississippi. The river here is ideal for canoeing, picnicking, and fishing. Remarkable main street architecture, historic museums, the boyhood home of aviator Charles Lindbergh, lovely parks, magnificent gardens and scenic rural farm-scapes provide a backdrop for a relaxing river experience.

You will cross the Soo Line Trail neaer Royalton that leads to the Lake Wobegon/Central Lakes Trail which crosses the state from St. Cloud and to Fergus Falls.

Lake Maria State Park and Elm Creek Regional Park offer both camping and recreation.

You will be riding through Little Falls, Royalton, Rice, St. Stephen, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, St. Cloud St. Augusta, Clearwater, Monticello, Otsego, Dayton, Anoka, Champlin and Coon Rapids.


Metro Mississippi


The 72 miles along the Mississippi River through from the Coon Rapids Bridge to Hastings is part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area hosting a wide variety of natural activities as well as cultural and historic sites. You can visit the Stone Arch Bridge and tour a flour mill, experience Historic Fort Snelling and Fort Snelling State Park where the Mississippi and Minnesota’s meet.

Abundant parkland and trails invite you to the riverfront renaissance taking place in both Minneapolis and St. Paul and throughout the Metro region. The Grand Rounds Bike Trail System connects the river corridor with Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. St. Paul’s Trail system will take you to Summit Avenue, the state capitol and Stillwater.

Theater, major sports venues, museums, concerts, fine dining, and shopping headline some of your entertainment, while thoughtfully preserved riverfront parks, historic sites, the falls of St. Anthony, and the first of the Upper Mississippi's working lock and dams inspire the essence of nature on the fringe of commerce.


Mississippi Bluffs

Bring binoculars to bluff country because the river vistas are remarkable and the wildlife viewing - especially birding – is some of the best in the country.

         From Hastings you can ride the bikeway on either side of the river. Historic Red Wing’s river boat charm is one of Minnesota’s most popular tourist destinations and where you can take a side trip along the 18-mile Cannon Valley Trail.

There are many great views of the river from this bikeway especially at Frontnac State Park south of Red Wing. Lake Pepin is famous as the birthplace of water skiing. You’ll want to tour the National Eagle Centre at Wabasha.

Tiffany Bottoms State National Area on the Wisconsin is one of the largest floodplain forests in the United States.

Back on the Minnesota side, John A Latsch State Park near Winona is a small park with a big view of the river. hosts one of the most photographed views along the river. Great River Bluffs State Park also has great views as well as camping.

The Apple Blossom Scenic Byway near La Crescent offers a challenging 560-foot climb and an incredible view of the river valley.

Minnesota towns along the way include Hastings, Red Wing, Lake City, Wabasha, Kellogg, Winona and La Crescent while your find Bay City, Maiden, Pepin, Nelson, Buffalo City, Onalaska, French Island and La Crosse on the Wisconsin side.






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