In our last post, we asked what people have planned for spring/summer, by way of fatbike adventure. If you live in or near Minnesota, we’d suggest that Cuyuna State Park (Cuyuna Lakes State Trail info here) would be an excellent place to spend some time riding.
Set in the beautiful former mining area of the Crosby/Ironton area of Minnesota (near Brainerd), the Cuyuna State Park area provides an extraordinarily scenic area for riding. Cuyuna features red dirt, plenty of hill climbs (particularly for Minnesota), seemingly endless miles of trail, crushed rock, tall trees, crystal clear lakes, bridges and other trail features, and much more. A trail map can be found here.
On my recent trip to the area this last week, I was fortunate to have a couple hours to ride the trail. While that’s not nearly enough time to enjoy the whole trail system, it’s enough time to take some great photos, to enjoy the spectacular scenery, and have just enough taste of the amazing riding to know that it’s well worth planning a trip back again. On my recent ride, I exchanged email with Aaron H., president of the CLMTBC (Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew) and race director of the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout. He gave me some directions and tips. He suggested that I start by parking at the trailhead/boat launch at the Pennington Mine Lake, in the Mahnomen unit (you’ll notice the trail map above identifies the various areas as “units”.
When I arrived at the trailhead, I was immediately greeted by two friendly riders (Ty and Nick, I believe) who were more than happy to tell me about the trail. As it turns out, one of them was a trail director or has some significant involvement in the Cuyuna Trail, and he was even riding a Mukluk fatbike, so I felt right at home on my Mukluk. Then, once my fatbike and I were ready to roll, I ran into another rider, Josh, who came up from the Twin Cities to ride the trail. He was a good rider and knew the trail well, so he was a great trail guide. Eventually we parted ways as I wanted to enjoy the trail at a slower pace, taking time for photos along the way.
So, long story short, I’d encourage everyone who likes mountain biking, fat biking, or enjoying spectacular scenery in northern Minnesota by bike to put the Cuyuna Lakes Trail at the top of their “must ride” list. For now, maybe the pictures below will serve as some encouragement. If you won’t have a chance to ride the trail soon, perhaps the pictures below will serve as a way for you to “see” the trail without being there.
In the photos below, you can click any of them to see a larger version. Then, just click on the photo again to advance from one to the next in the expanded view.