Itasca State Park is the oldest state park in Minnesota, and it also happens to be where the mighty Mississippi River begins its journey all the way south towards the Gulf of Mexico.
We have visited Itasca many times over the years, but this summer was the first time that we enjoyed the park by bike. When we received our Raleigh Bicycles earlier this summer, we knew that we had to plan a trip up north to explore one of our favorite state parks in Minnesota, especially since it has such a great bike trail.
There is a 16 mile bike trail that winds its way throughout the park. The first six or so miles of the trail are a dedicated biking/hiking path, and the last 10 miles are along the Wilderness Drive Loop, which is shared by bikes and cars. The six mile path connects the Douglas Lodge and the Mississippi headwaters and this is the portion of the path that we biked along. We didn’t have enough time to do the entire 16 miles, but we really enjoyed the section of the path that we were able to explore. The trail ran through the woods and near lakes, which created a gorgeous, serene setting. Also, since we visited on a weekday morning, we pretty much had the trails to ourselves!
The bike trail is paved and in great condition—both of our bikes sped along the trail with ease. We are still getting used to riding our new bikes and learning about them, and we were once again surprised how great the bikes felt and performed. The shifting, the seats and the handlebars all remained comfortable, even after the distance we rode.
I’m super happy that I picked a hybrid bike because it’s been performing great on city trails, state park paths and even gravel roads. And I still can’t get over how light the Alyssa i8 is—it is so easy to load and unload from our bike rack.
Since we’ve mainly taken our bikes out in the city thus far, Micah really enjoyed the change of riding on a nature focused trail. Even though his bike, the Kodiak 1, rides great in the city, he felt even more at home with his mountain bike in a state park.
One of the most unique features of Itasca State Park is that it is home to the Mississippi headwaters. Lake Itasca feeds into a river and this is where the Mississippi River is born. At the headwaters, you can cross the mouth of the river on either a small log bridge or by hopping across several stones. I can never resist crossing the river—it always amazes me that such a huge river starts from such a tiny stream!
If you decide to continue on the loop bike trail, some of the stops you will find along the way are an old fire tower that you can climb, lakes, hiking trails and even one of the largest white pine trees in Minnesota. In addition to the loop trail, Itasca State park offers camping, kayaking, hiking, swimming and lake activities, as well as winter adventures such as cross country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. There are over 32,000 acres of land and over 100 lakes to explore.
We had a fantastic morning on the bike trails in Itasca State Park—with so much to still explore, we hope to take our bikes back again next summer for even more fun!
Special thanks to Raleigh Bicycles for providing us with complimentary bikes! As always, all opinions are our own.
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