With its 16-mile paved trail leading to some of the Twin Cities’ best biking trails in Elm Creek Park Reserve, Medicine Lake Regional Trail is just another reason why Minneapolis is one of America’s top bicycling cities.
In 2010, Bicycling Magazine rated Minneapolis as "America’s Best Bike City". Since then, Minneapolis has been at the top of the charts and continues to expand its expansive network of biking trails. Medicine Lake Regional Trail is a prime example of how Minneapolis is making the city even more bicycle-friendly.
A smooth 16-mile paved trail that highlights the natural beauty of Maple Groove, Medicine Lake Regional Trail is perfect for the cyclist wanting to get out of the maze-like trails of urban Minneapolis. Not as well known as the other suburban trails, this trail tends to be quieter as well.
What Makes It Great
While on the trail, it is hard to believe that you are in the heart of a first-tier Minneapolis suburb. The trail weaves through marshes that have cattails swaying in the wind, ponds that host a wide variety of chirps and croaks from their inhabitants, and wispy willows wave hello as you bike by. There are also a plethora of hardwoods that offer some respite from the hot sun on a summer’s day. During the spring and midsummer, native wildflowers are in full bloom and add a healthy amount of color to Medicine Lake Regional Trail. There are only a few portions where you can hear the rumbling of a car engine, which reminds you that civilization is only a rock’s throw away.
After passing under I-94, veer left and follow the Rice Lake's western shores. There is a scenic bike loop that encompasses the lake and offers some great cycling. Save it for another day and continue north and follow the signs for the regional trail. When you cross over highway 610, you enter Elm Creek Park Reserve, which hosts a myriad of exciting cycling routes and stunning scenery. If after the long ride you want to cool off, there is a swimming pond only a few miles northeast.
If you think your legs and lungs didn’t get enough of a workout, then Elm Creek offers 30-miles of dynamic trails. All of which include some lung-bursting climbs, tight-twisty turns, and exhilarating declines. There are also flatter trails for bikers wanting to crank up their gears and glide.
Who is Going to Love It
Cyclists wanting to spend a day on the trails, while not needing a car, will enjoy the scenic Medicine Lake Regional Trail.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are bike trails that connect you from downtown Minneapolis all the way to Elm Creek Park Reserve. The trail is connected to downtown by the Luce Line Regional Trail, take a sharp right when you can see signs directing you to the Medicine Lake Regional Trail. The trail follows the eastern side of Medicine Lake and then crosses through Clifton E. French Regional Park. There are several benches and picnic tables to take a short rest and appreciate the beautiful views of Medicine Lake.
There is parking available on the west side of Medicine Lake.
Not as developed as the Luce Line or Dakota Regional Trails, there are a few times when the Medicine Lake Regional trail uses wide on-street bike lanes. There are maps all along the trail, which help cyclists who have lost their way. Weave north via Northwest Boulevard and cross under I-494 using Schmidt Lake Road. The trail continues north and prepare for some hefty hills. Once you’re past those, the rest of the ride is smooth sailing all the way to Elm Creek Park Reserve.