The southwest metro isn’t just for cars.
There are miles upon miles of trails, perfect for stretching those cramped winter legs on earth-friendly, two-wheeled vehicles — bikes.
Some trails are well-known and attract hundreds of users, while others are off the beaten path. Residents living in Plymouth, Chaska, Minnetonka, Shakopee or any other neighboring community can take advantage of the Luce Line Trail, Dakota Regional Trail, Lake Minnetonka LRT Trail, Chaska Ravine Trail, the Arboretum’s Three Mile Drive, Purgatory Creek Park and the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail.
So what are you waiting for?
Take on a new adventure right in your own backyard.
Oh, and don’t forget a helmet!
1. Luce Line Trail: Beginner’s trail.
This beauty stretches 38 miles from Plymouth to Watertown and 45 miles from Plymouth to Hutchinson, taking users from their suburban homes to rural America. Much of it is flat, making it family-friendly and easy for beginner riders.
The trailhead in Plymouth is located at Vicksburg Lane and 10th Avenue North. Park in the nearby shopping strip and the trail will lead you 38 miles west to Watertown, 43 miles to Hutchinson and 63 miles to Winsted.
2. Dakota Regional Trail: Fun ride
This trail stretches 25.5 miles bringing riders through Mayer, Waconia, St. Bonifacius, Minnetrista, Mound, Spring Park, Minnetonka Beach, Orono and the Wayzata Dakota Rail Regional Trail. While you soak in the views, you can also stop by a number of businesses along the way, including Back Channel Brewing.
Access to this trail is at Wayzata, 175 Grove Lane; Mound, 5515 Lynwood Blvd.; Minnetrista, Gale Woods Farm, 7210 County Rd. 110 W.; St. Bonifacius, 4150 Bell St.; Mayer, State Highway 25 and First Street Northwest.
LRT Trail: Picture perfect trail
Bring your camera on this scenic route, which includes some of the most picturesque neighborhoods in the west metro. It stretches 15 miles between Hopkins and Carver Park Reserve, with the best views of Lake Minnetonka along the way.
The path, made up of crushed limestone, passes through the communities of Minnetonka, Deephaven, Greenwood, Excelsior, Shorewood and Victoria.
The trailhead begins at Eighth Avenue North just south of First Street North in Hopkins and ends at 81st Street, west of Highway 5/Arboretum Boulevard in Victoria.
4. Chaska Ravine Trail: Out in the wild
Pack your bug spray and binoculars for this one! The Chaska Ravine Trail is a hidden gem few have ridden on. You’ll be able to spot egrets, fish and much more.
It follows the the East Chaska Creek watershed through Chaska and the north and south portion are dissected by a railroad track.
From the north, it loops McKnight Lake. South of McKnight, it flows through Chaska’s Jonathan neighborhood toward the Minnesota River.
Access is directly south of 105 W. 82nd St., Chanhassen (near the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Spring Peeper Meadow) and at the SouthWest Transit, East Creek Station, 2120 Chestnut Street N., Chaska.
5. Minnesota River
Bluffs LRT Regional Trail: Take in the Minnesota River Valley.
This trail is busy for a reason, it gives users great views of lakes and forested areas in the Minnesota River Valley. The trees provide shade along the paths and shelter from the winds. Along the way you may spot some animals alongside fellow bikers and walkers.
Access to the Hopkins trailhead is at 9451 Excelsior Boulevard; Chaska trailhead is at Bluff Creek Drive (a quarter mile north of Flying Cloud Drive).
6. Arboretum’s Three Mile Drive: Find true inspiration
Take it slow over at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and look for true inspiration. The pathway is frequented by dozens of people daily looking to spruce up their own gardens.
Visitors can drive their car, walk, bike, or even ride the Arboretum’s Bee-Line shuttle through the path. Access is at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (admission fee applies) 3675 Arboretum Dr., Chanhassen.
7. Purgatory Creek Park trail: Take a break from the city in the city
Wild animals are a common sight on this trail, even though it is located in the center of Eden Prairie. The trail is only 3.1 miles, but can easily be extended by following the trail to Staring Lake. Purgatory Creek Recreation Area Trail can be accessed at 13001 Technology Drive.
The trailhead starts at the Veterans Memorial and along the way you’ll find the Mayor Jean Harris Memorial Gathering Bridge. Foodies will also take pleasure that R Taco, Chipotle, Culvers, Cafe Zupas and Caribou Coffee are just across the street from the main parking lot.