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Something for everyone with 85+ miles of bike paths in Rochester, Minnesota!

By Renee Berg

When it comes to biking in Rochester, experts advise checking out the Mayowood trail along the South Zumbro River, especially during peak bluebell flower blooming season.

“It’s beautiful and refreshing,” said Nate Nordstrom of local cycle shop New Spin, “especially as the sun is setting. Cascade Lake is also beautiful at sunset.”

“I always enjoy the bluebells blooming along the South Zumbro Trail in late spring,” echoed Michael Nigbur, parks and forestry division head with Rochester Parks & Recreation.

With its array of more than 85 miles of bike paths, Rochester has something for everyone.

“Rochester’s trails are good and getting better all the time,” Nordstrom said, “thanks to city efforts and community volunteers such as We Bike Rochester.”

Nordstrom said he and his wife love their electric assist cargo bikes, with all five kids on board. 

“We sometimes take a picnic lunch or dinner along,” he said. “Our favorite routes are through West River Parkway, Quarry Hill, Silver Lake, Soldier’s Field to Mayowood and Cascade Lake.”

They sometimes make it over to Slatterly and Douglas trails too, Nordstrom added.

He urges bikers to be courteous to other folks who are using the paths, and to know where you can’t ride. Downtown sidewalks are off limits for safety reasons, he said.

Nordstrom said Downtown paths he does enjoy are the new lanes along Broadway, the Mayo Park riverfront area, and Soldiers Field. “And sometimes I ride through the Historic Southwest and Pill Hill neighborhoods for a change of scenery,” he said.

“My top tips?” he said. “Focus on safety and proper fit, then hit the trails! There is no substitute for exploring on your own two wheels.”

Nigbur said the city’s parks and public works teams continually review options for making the trail system better. “Trails can take you all across the city,” he said. “There are some really great areas and parks in our community to experience.”

“Our trails are for everyone so you will encounter people of all ages and abilities enjoying the space using different modes of travel,” he said.

New this year is Med City Meander on May 25, which will celebrate the great trail network that loops around Minnesota’s third largest city. Organizer Johannes Lorenz said his team is hoping to make this an annual favorite community event folks enjoy each spring.

The 30-mile route starting at Cascade Lake Park is designed with options for cutting it to your desired length, allowing you to “pick the right size bike adventure for each rider and family,” Lorenz said. “The whole route is to be taken at a leisurely pace. It’s not a race!”

Since Downtown is the heart of the community, it’s the final rest stop for the event.

Bikers will obviously encounter runners when they’re out. Emily Taylor is a new board member of the Rochester Running Club, and said she uses bike paths during group runs and for personal use. She said bikers can make themselves known with a simple “on your left.” This can keep other trail users safe, as well as help mitigate any unsettling interactions.