Bike-Friendly Lodging in Minnesota Has You (and Your Bike) Covered

By Brian Fanelli

True North Basecamp Interior
Each cabin at True North Basecamp features a unique mural, like this Adam Turman mural in cabin two.


Whether you’re in the middle of a cross-country bike tour or simply stretching your legs after a long day of riding, one thing is certain: Bike-centric vacations have distinct lodging needs. In addition to standard lodging amenities, you’re also looking for secure bike storage, tools, pumps and maps (and we wouldn’t say no to a shuttle service or bike rental, either). Fortunately, these Minnesota lodging facilities are embracing their cycling guests by committing to bike-friendly policies and perks that are sure to get any bike tourist pumped.

Campgrounds

True North Basecamp Relaxing
Relaxing after a long day of fat biking. Photo courtesy of True North Basecamp

Located in Crosby, about two hours north of Minneapolis, True North Basecamp is exactly what the name implies. Recently built in the heart of Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, a landscape once dominated by mining pits and rock deposits, the 33 campsites and six 275-square-foot “north woods industrial” cabins are a place to store your gear and rest your weary head after a day of outdoor adventure. The cabins, with modern conveniences of heat and air conditioning, are just feet from Cuyuna’s world-famous mountain bike trails. Recognized by the International Mountain Bicycling Association as one of the country's best trail systems, the park’s 20 miles of groomed fat bike trails beckon in the winter, and in the summer you can shred the red dirt on more than 25 miles of singletrack. Each cabin has a table, four beds, access to high-speed Wi-Fi and charging ports, and is a short walk to the shower house/bathroom. Prepaid reservations are required. Bike rentals are available at Cycle Path Paddle in Crosby.

If you’re searching for a peaceful, wooded, family-friendly campground near a bike trail, the 840-acre Sakatah Lake State Park fits the bill. The 39-mile paved Sakatah Singing Hills Trail, running between Mankato and Faribault, bisects the park along the shoreline, the perfect trail for those interested in a flat and easy ride through hardwood forest. Sakatah Lake State Park keeps five campsites permanently on reserve for visitors who bike into the park without motorized vehicles, which makes it a great choice for your next impromptu overnight bike camping trip. Bike rentals are available at Nicollet Bike Shop in Mankato.

Mississippi Great River Bluffs
Imagine waking up to this view at Great River Bluffs State Park

Treat yourself to a stay at Great River Bluffs State Park, the southernmost state park on the Minnesota segment of the Mississippi River Trail (MRT). Great River Bluffs keeps five campsites permanently on reserve for bicyclists on Hwy 61 at mile marker 12 (off Fern Glen Road), outside of the main park area in beautiful bluff country. About 20 miles south of Winona and 10 miles north of La Crescent, it’s easy to restock your supplies before setting up camp. Take some time to explore the King's Bluff Trail, which offers a breathtaking view of the Mississippi River Valley, and don’t forget your binoculars: The river valley is a major flyway for waterfowl, eagles and hawks. Bike rentals are available at Adventure Cycle and Ski in Winona.

With 124 campsites, four group camps and four camper cabins, William O’Brien State Park, on the St. Croix River, is the ideal bike escape just north of Marine on St. Croix. The campground is a short distance from the 18-mile Gateway State Trail, which connects St. Paul to Stillwater (an extension of the trail from the Stillwater area directly to the state park is proposed for future development). Well known as a popular destination for bike-tour-curious bicyclists in the Twin Cities, William O’Brien offers that rare blend of metro-area proximity and natural beauty.

Resorts

Fat Tire Biking
Ready to ride the groomed fat bike trails at Giants Ridge

It's no surprise this Minnesota ski resort's famously varied terrain—with steep, punchy climbs, fast descents and scenic cross-country trails—also makes for ideal mountain bike conditions. At Giants Ridge in Biwabik, there are nearly 25 miles of maintained singletrack and connections to the 115-mile paved Mesabi Trail, going past open-pit mines and through 25 communities in Minnesota’s Iron Range. In the winter, Giants Ridge trails are groomed for fat biking—one of the first ski resorts in the state to open its trails to the sport. Fat bike rentals are available at the on-site rental shop. Stay at Giants Ridge during your biking adventure, and enjoy a heated indoor pool and hot tub, game room, outdoor lounge and bonfire area, and condos with whirlpool tubs, fireplaces and full kitchens.

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Hotels

Stay where the celebrities stay at the Grand Hotel Minneapolis. Originally built in 1912 as the Minneapolis Athletic Club, the Grand Hotel Minneapolis is elegant, classy and convenient. Drop by the front desk in the morning for your complimentary city bike rental, spend your day exploring the city, and then head back to the hotel at night for the complimentary hosted wine hour. The Grand Hotel is also home to an Aveda spa and massive 58,000-square-foot on-site fitness facility where guests can do yoga, swim or run laps.

le meridien exterior
Le Méridien in the Theatre District of downtown Minneapolis

While Le Méridien Chambers Minneapolis may be located in the heart of the famous Minneapolis theater district, its complimentary Bicycle Programme is no stage prop. Le Méridien keeps summer- and winter-specific bikes on hand to keep you pedaling all year-round. The free bike rentals aren’t the only perk to staying at Le Méridien, though: Your artist-designed room key will also unlock free admission to the prestigious, nearby Walker Art Center.

Both hotels are located in beautiful downtown Minneapolis, just a short ride away from the Mississippi River Trail, Cedar Lake Regional Trail and Loring Greenway. Connect from those trails to the Chain of Lakes, Mill Ruins Park, the historic Stone Arch Bridge, Minnehaha Falls and Theodore Wirth Park via the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway trail system. Bike tours can be arranged through Minneapolis By Bike, with themed tours to farmers markets, taprooms, historic landmarks or iconic sights along a "City Loop." 

Bed & Breakfasts

embracing pines exterior
Embracing Pines' bicycle shuttle serves the entire Paul Bunyan and Heartland trails

In real estate, location is everything. That philosophy rings true at Embracing Pines Bed & Breakfast, owned by Charlyne and Dennis LaVoie. Embracing Pines is only 10 miles from downtown Walker, and less than 5 miles from Leech Lake—the third-largest lake in the state. Set amongst northwest Minnesota’s great white pines, with the Kabekona River out back, the Paul Bunyan State Trail across the street, and just a few minutes from the junction of the Heartland and Paul Bunyan trails, the location has made the B&B a popular spot for bikers. In addition to its bike-friendly location, indoor bike storage and shuttle service to the Paul Bunyan and Heartland trails make Embracing Pines a particularly attractive choice for bicyclists.


We’re always looking for new additions to our list of bike-friendly lodgings. Send us your favorite bike-friendly lodging recommendations by email or by messaging us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.