Friday, August 27, 2021

Eastern Metro Twin Cities: St Croix and Mississippi Rivers


83 miles - leaves from Lake Phalen (Clockwise direction)

It's missing a 13 mile segment that Google doesn't know about, that map is below a few variations not his ride. I'll update this post with comments after it's done. (This is a improvement from an earlier version, I substituted Stagecoach Trail for 95 south of Stillwater and added Selma's Ice Cream. I'm continuing to tweak the Google Map but will update the image below.)

Some points of interest on route
  • Bruce Vento Nature Center
  • Selma's Ice Cream Parlor - 44°53'56.9"N 92°46'59.7"W
  • Velo du Nord  in Afton (Bike/Coffee shop. Also - French!)
  • St Croix Bluffs Regional Park - 44°48'03.6"N 92°47'34.4"W
  • Carpenter Nature Center (just south of the St Croix Bluffs Regional Park)
  • The park just west of Prescott is a great water refill station
  • Stillwater and Hastings
  • Afton Inn
  • St Paul & Spiral Brewing
  • Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter (Stillwater)
  • Rock Island Swing Bridge
  • Hmong Village
Tricky turns
  • Transition to Stagecoach Road after Highway 36. Run into Kings Plant Road and need to turn right onto 56th Street N that runs into Stagecoach Trail N then turn left.
Update after doing the tour
  • After crossing over 36 we didn't directly do Stagecoach, we took a park trail system that meets-up with Stagecoach, they aren't shown on Google Maps but I think they run through Valley View park
  • Stagecoach to Afton isn't bad though in places the speed limit is 55. There's often a wide shoulder and drivers are used to cyclists.
  • After Selma's in Afton instead of slowly climbing out on St Croix Trail S we took River Road S which is flat and pretty until it ends with a long steep climb. I prefer River Road S.
  • After Afton Alps St Croix Trail S is two lanes, no shoulder, 55 mph and pretty popular. 47/50 drivers were excellent but 3 were mediocre. (Motorbikes were all great.)
  • The Carpenter Nature Center is a great place to stop to eat what you are carrying, refill water bottles, and use the rest room. (Leave a donation.)
  • St Croix runs smack into Highway 10 which is a friggin highway with up to 4 lanes going 65-80 mph. The bike trail across the road is inaccessible from the intersection. The only way to cross Highway 10 is to wait for a break in traffic and run.
    • If you run across you can take the broad shoulder about 400 meters left (east) and you'll see the trail and can walk across some grass to it. OR (I think) you can walk 25 meters right (west) and there's a short dirt path that leads to the trail.
Misc advice

(this one isn't as optimized as the first version)

The gap at the bottom of both maps is a Google error -- there's actually a trail there. The gap is 13 miles, which takes the entire ride to 88-89 miles. A bit longer than my 80-85 mile target so I'm going to trim a few miles. It is mostly bicycle trail with a segment of 4 miles of road that may have industrial traffic during the week but is very quiet on weekends. Of those 4 miles about 2 miles are packed dirt and gravel but it is doable on any bicycle tire.

Variation from Charles S is very similar to first version, it shows the climbs and drops (not as bad as it looks). It's 83 miles.