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Outside Chance: Ready to Shred Those Mountain Bike Trails?

We may not have mountains in Minnesota, but that doesn't stop thousands of mountain bikers from riding loose on a slew of trail systems.

By Luke Heikkila and Ryan Klabunde

Article by Kelsey Derby

Five Places Near the Twin Cities that Offer Trails for Mountain Biking 

We hope you enjoyed armchair experiencing Chance's latest adventure in mountain biking. Calculated risks, burning legs and beautiful views all figured into Chance's first foray on the winding trails of Cuyuna State Park, alongside expert Gunnar Carlson.

But naturally, an armchair experience of mountain biking hardly compares to the real thing - so we've gathered a list of places a bit closer to the Twin Towns where you, too, can hit the trails. While we're beyond lucky to have so many spots to shred close to home, our great state is home to incredible mountain biking destinations in just about every corner. Check out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources site for a full list of state parks that offer bike paths. 

Lebanon Hills Regional Park 

Boasting the title of "Largest Park" in Dakota County, Lebanon Hills Regional Park has miles of trails at a variety of skill levels, making it a great place to experiment with your new mountain biking hobby. Stop by the visitor center to get maps and learn more about where to start. With over 1,100 acres of land, you're sure to find a spot that makes you feel a solid burn. 

Elm Creek Park Reserve 

A spot known for beautiful Minnesota wildlife, Elm Creek Park Reserve is a great place to experience mountain biking - and it's only a stone's throw away from the Twin Cities. If your timing is right, you'll have the opportunity to see eagles, cranes, deer, beavers, swans and more. There are resources for mountain biking, as well as a swim pond and pastoral places to hike.

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve 

If you make it to Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, keep your eyes and ears peeled for song birds. This peaceful park has been designated an "Important Bird Area" by the National Audobon Society. Except for a few trails, the park is relatively under-developed, which makes for a unique mountain biking experience.

Hillside Park 

With trails recently renovated in 2018, Hillside Park is one of the newer places to mountain bike. The park has 6.6 miles of single-track trails, similar to what Gunnar and Chance do in the video - and it's a great place to try biking in nature. 

Theodore Wirth Regional Park 

A lovely city park with lots of options for activities, Theodore Wirth Regional Park is an ideal spot to test your mountain biking skills once you've developed some confidence. With trails that bend around tree trucks and some steep inclines and declines, you can learn to take your mountain biking abilities to the next level.

If you've felt the tug of a hidden adventurous spirit, then mountain biking is a sure source of thrills - and it's an activity that takes you off the pavement and directly into the stunning natural landscapes. If you're not ready ready to commit to all the gear that's required, there are a slew of bike shops around town that rent mountain bikes. Happy exploring! 

Need more outdoor adventure inspiration? Watch other episodes of Outside Chance. 

Special Thanks: Minnesota State Parks

Production Team: Adam Geiger, Ezra Gold, Terry Gray, Luke Heikkila, Ryan Klabunde, Jon Van Amber, Chance York

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