Only a 5-minute car ride (or 15-minute bike ride) from Minneapolis’ downtown is the best bike loop in the city. The Chain of Lakes is a 12-mile loop that encompasses three lakes and offers riders flat, paved trails. Along the trail, there are several beaches that offer respite for the weary cyclist. The best one is Cedar Lake's Hidden Beach.
What Makes It Great
Most locals have ridden the Chain of Lakes loop at least once while living in the Twin Cities, but something not many locals have done is gone swimming at Cedar Lake’s Hidden Beach. With the beach only a 5-minute ride off the main Chain of Lakes loop, connected via the Kenilworth Trail, this ride is a fun summer activity, especially on a hot, humid day.
A great place to start is from Lake Calhoun’s Tin Fish. It’s a central meeting place and if you happen to need a pre-ride refreshment or bathroom break, then Tin Fish can definitely fill that order. From the entrance, find the bike lane (a one way heading south) and enjoy the flat trail along the lakeshore. The trail can be crowded, so be mindful of other trail users.
When you reach the south side, take William Berry Parkway trail to the Lake Harriet Bandshell. On weekends, you’ll often find families picnicking and people waiting in line for ice cream. Lake Harriet is much quieter than Lake Calhoun and features shaded forest paths and slight changes in elevation. Overall, still a relatively flat ride.
Once you loop back, follow William Berry back to Lake Calhoun to finish the last stretch. Within the first few minutes, you’ll pass by volleyball courts and grass fields populated with Frisbee players. Near the northwest corner of the lake, you’ll pass by a beach, which is usually crowded with locals tanning and children wading in the water. If you’re feeling tired, this is a good alternative to Cedar’s Hidden Beach, but power through and continue onto Lake of the Isles!
When you cross under Lake Street and enter the Lake of the Isles loop, you will notice the large islets in the lake. These islets house small populations of birds, so while cycling, keep a keen eye for glints of green from a green heron or elegant wood ducks.
From Lake of the Isles, you have a choice. Either you can finish your Chain of Lakes loop here and cut across Kenilworth Place to Kenilworth Trail, which will take you to Hidden Beach or you can add 5 more miles and work your calves while cycling Cedar Lake Trail around to the north side of the lake to the northern Kenilworth Trail entrance.
Either way, find your way to Cedar Lake’s Hidden Beach, take off your shoes and helmet, and relax on the warm sand. If you planned accordingly, take a dip into Cedar Lake’s cool waters and cool off after your relaxing afternoon workout.
Who is Going to Love It
For those cyclists looking to spice up their normal Chain of Lakes Loop ride will enjoy the change in scenery at Cedar Lake’s Hidden Beach.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
If you’re driving to the lakes, there is free parking on the road bordering Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. There is also ample parking in the nearby neighborhoods. If you don’t mind a parking fee, there are also several available parking lots adjacent to the lakes.
If you have your own bike, then anyplace is a good place to start. If you need to rent a bike, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet host Wheel Fun Rentals, which offer cruiser, mountain, and tandem bike styles for hourly or daily rates.
From dawn till dusk, the lakes are full of people running, biking, and paddling. The paths are not well lit at night, so make sure to bring bike lights if you plan on night cycling.