Saturday, May 26, 2018

Lake Elmo Park Reserve: Big Bluestem and Eagle Point Mountain Biking Trails

This post was written for a group outing so it’s not a typical trail review.

Introduction

Lake Elmo Park Reserve has two multi-use trails suitable for novice trail biking (trail maps.pdf). The trails can also be used in winter for skijoring. Both trails have some horse traffic (see below) and can be ridden in both directions. They resemble old country roads.

The Big Bluestem trail is 2.5 miles. It is pretty flat and quite pleasant with some shade (blue trail below)

The Eagle Point Lake trail is a 3.8 mile loop (red trail below). It has a bit hillier and less shaded than Bluestem and has more horse traffic.  There are areas where rainwater can collect.

In addition to these two trails there are unnamed side trails (purple dashes on trail maps) that can significantly extend rides and connect loops. Grass is longer on these trails.

LakeElmoParkReserve

Location and Fees

When you enter the reserve from the south park at the first lot on the left. You can use copy/paste these coordinates in your phone for the parking lot:

There is a $7 vehicle fee ($30 a season).

Here’s the trailhead, we will take the blue trail to the right

LakeElmoParkReserve1

Things to bring

  • Helmet. Every rider needs a helmet including ride leaders, aides, etc.
  • Bike: A mountain bikes best. A gravel, “cross” or “city” bike would work for a more expert rider who could manage bumpiness.
  • Cell phone for aides, ride leaders
  • Good ideas: water, sunscreen, tic repellent spray for legs

Meet-up procedure

  • Everybody text john with their name and rider info
  • Mechanical bike check: ABCD
  • Gear: set to low gear
  • Skills check: braking
  • Ride guide: 1-2 groups, wait at trail branch (can ride back to trailing group)
  • Pedestrians and Horses have right of way
  • Horse orientation
    • Pass from behind: call out in friendly voice from a distance, rider will provide passing room
    • Pass from in front: I think is best to stop pull over to the side and let horses pass. 

Plan

  • Ride the “Big Bluetstem” (it’s not very big!): 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 25, 24, 23, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
  • If everyone wants to do more we can repeat or do Eagle Point
  • If need to cancel (Rain, Temp over 95F) will send to MNSH Group and will update Facebook Event.

Notes

  • There is some horse poop but it’s not minor at this time in season. 
  • There are minimal horse flies that a rider can run into
  • Some of the trails are not well shaded, so wear sunscreen and drink water
  • The Eagle Point Lake trail can have standing water after a downpour
  • The trails we are on are not overgrown, but there are ticks in the taller grass. Consider spraying lower legs.

Some trail photos

The bicycling is generally easy but novices may need to walk up a few steeper hills

LakeElmoParkReserve5

When we come up on horses call ‘hello’ in a friendly voice, let rider move horse to the side. If approaching from the front pull over and let pass unless rider says otherwise.

LakeElmoParkReserve4

It’s pretty …

LakeElmoParkReserve3

LakeElmoParkReserve2

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Mountain bike skills training in the Minneapolis St Paul (MSP) region

(Not a trail review, but close enough)

Recently I asked the MN HS League Coaches about local programs for adult Mountain Bike skills development. We have great programs for school kids of course, including summer camps, but adult programs are harder to find. The ones I know of are based in Colorado.

Happily this group knew of a few. Here’s the list from the FB group and some Google searching:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Found between MSPs LRT Trail South and North: Brandondale and the mysterious East Creek trail

My buddy Scott and I went for a well known local ride west of Minneapolis. Along the way we found a short but novel trail.  This post is about that.

goo.gl/maps/JnaUFyeaHcp was the original plan for today, but goo.gl/maps/y75kHLRozQU2 is what we more or less did:

Screen Shot 2017 08 12 at 9 47 37 PM 

As is often true with a bike trip of this length construction and detours and trail closures (2014 flood and 3 years of court battles have knocked out part of the LRT South trail) and my funky Google waypoint-generated maps sometimes took us off route. One of those diversions was to an undiscovered country.

Google sent us on an obscure journey starting at Brandondale Mobile Home Park (Rule generated web site). The entrance to the large park is marked by a covered bridge:

Screen Shot 2017 08 12 at 9 10 57 PM

(There must be stories behind this, but I couldn’t find them online. Who, for example, was Brandon?)

The mobile home community is pretty large. It’s also unusually attractive. We visited briefly, some permanent homes were being built. I think it’s going to go upscale — which won’t always go well for the current residents.

Google sent us along a creek trail that goes up the right (east) side of Brandondale …

Screen Shot 2017 08 12 at 9 29 01 PM

If you look at the covered bridge entrance to Brandondale (see above) the small hidden trail (44°48’23.7”N 93°35’00.4”W) to the left goes down to the East Creek Hiking Trail in Chaska, a broad multi-use trail that’s mostly paved with short stretches of dirt or gravel. A trail that appears to be completely undocumented online.

Panoramio, which will close shortly, had some trail photos uploaded by Steven Pfeiffer. I assume he lives nearby …

Eastcreek1

The East Creek trail may be undocumented online, but Google knows of it. When I asked the way to Steiger Lake Ln in Victoria MN it started out by sending us along the East Creek Trail. The Creek is a pretty stream. Here is the 3.1 mile trail from 44°48’23.7”N 93°35’00.4”W to 44°49’39.9"N 93°36'55.1"W:

Screen Shot 2017 08 12 at 9 40 01 PM

From there we went west and north to Victoria, then back the conventional way. Which was lovely and fun, but not as mysterious.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Duluth Traverse Mountain Biking Trail: A guide based on REI's MTB Project and COGGS commentary

In July of 2017 I took my family to the Duluth Traverse. We’re a diverse group, so this took some planning.

I studied the superb work done by the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) and REI’s MTB Project (Duluth) [1]. And by study I mean a LOT of study. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the relationships of road, trails, interesting sites, places to eat, emergency exit options and the like. So I assembled two booklets about the Duluth Traverse.

By assembled I mean I didn’t write these booklets. I compiled screenshots and text from the MTB Project and Google Maps into booklet form. One covers the enter trail, the other the portion I tackled with my wife and children:

Click the link to download the Word doc. I could distribute as PDF or HTML, but in 2017 every platform seems to be able to render a Word document. And this way you can go the MTB Project site and update it as you wish. The trails are under constant development so you will want to do an updated version.
 
I expect someone is going to write a real book about this amazing trail system, so do take a look around if you come across this page.
 
How did the trail go? Well, I didn’t do any harm to my reputation for excess. Maybe if I hadn’t made a wrong turn on the 7 bridges part of Skyline road between Lester Park and Snively we might have done the whole thing, but instead we cut off about 1/4 of our plan and road downhill to the Portland Malt Shoppe. The next day we drove along the route — even the reduced bit we did was an impressive bit of work for a flatlander family. (My wife was heroic.)
 
I loved Lester Park and I’m hoping I get to do more of the trail system. The Duluth Traverse is a spectacular project. I do have one caveat though. If you are a flatlander you need to make some trail rating adjustments. Basically “dirt road” means “novice”, “novice” means “intermediate”, “intermediate” means “expert” and “expert” means … I don’t know. I wouldn’t go there. 

- fn-

[1] If you try this you will discover Duluth’s weather is as severe as its landscape. It was sunny when my weather app said it was raining, and raining when it was supposed to be dry. You need to review the Coggs trail updates to know what’s rideable. They do allow some trails to be used when they aren’t completely dry.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Minneapolis Grand Rounds - 35 mile bike loop

There are many maps of the Minneapolis Grand Rounds trail, but I don’t like any of them.

I created one using Google bicycle map route finding between way points, based on a published map: https://goo.gl/maps/sS59eym5QvR2. Since it’s a Google map it’s easy to print or send to one’s phone.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Battle Creek Park: Pavement alternatives when the mountain biking is closed

Normally I’d put this on our Highland Park Mountain Biking wiki, but wikispaces image upload is failing today. So sharing it here.

Our team routinely meets at a scenic overlook with an almost-hidden mountain bike trail that descends into the park system (from the far top left of the map below). But what if the trails are wet?

Battle Creek Alt Trails

As show above there are good alternative routes.

From the scenic overlook go to Burns Avenue then Upper Afton Road to Battle Creek and follow the paved trails. The baseline 7.7 mile route is captured in this Google Map: goo.gl/maps/6yVgkxtFEJM2:

Screen Shot 2016 08 21 at 1 22 30 PM'

There are many options to take here to make the loops shorter or longer. If you compare these two images you see turf trails that may be open when mountain bike trails are closed, opportunities to do multiple loops and so on. If leading a group you it’s good to have some meetup areas.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Lebanon Hills - a mixed green/blue mountain biking option

I like this Lebanon Hills combination when you need more than green but the full blue is a bit long (click or download for full size).

Leb Restricted

The trick is there’s a short connector between Green 223 and blue 220. It’s a walk/multi-use connector, not part of mountain bike trail. From blue 220 there’s a nice run to 235, then blue/black options to 244. Go to 243 and repeat loop or exit via 238.

For a non-racer mountain bike club practice:

  • Practice at skills park for 20-30 minutes.
  • Green loop with meetup at 238, 223, 222 (review berms), and star at base of the downhill runs. Do those runs 2-3 times.
  • Go to 223, take 220 connector, then blue to 243. Option to repeat depending on rider condition.