A little bit of everything can be a good thing. If ever there were a town that encompasses that phrase, it’s Spring Valley, Minnesota.
Perched along the Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway, as well as in Minnesota’s farm heartland, Spring Valley has the best of both worlds: a quaint hometown feel, peaceful farm scenes, and picturesque river bluffs. In short, a little bit of everything.
The trails are the real draw in this area, especially for cyclists. Spring Valley hosts one of the first self-supported gravel road races in the country, the Almanzo 100. The race starts and finishes in Spring Valley, twisting and turning through the bluffs of Fillmore County. It’s not uncommon for more than 1,000 cyclists to take part in the race.
If you want to combine a little history with your bike ride, check out the walking/biking trail right in and around the town. It winds around numerous historic buildings, including the Spring Valley Methodist Church. Built in 1876, the church counted the James Wilder family as members—as in Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the “Little House” series. There are many museums where you can park your bike and take a tour.
The king of this area’s trails, the Root River State Trail, is a 42-mile, fully paved trail that descends from Fountain into the Root River Valley. Along the way, limestone bluffs provide postcard-perfect views from the trail bridges. While peddling, cyclists can watch fly fishermen searching for trout in the sparkling river and folks floating along in their canoes or kayaks. Even though the trail is popular, there are many stretches that you won’t see another bike at all.
Taking a break from the river trails, and combing the farm roads on bicycles outside Spring Valley, proves rewarding. Like an oasis in the middle of farmland, there sits a picture-perfect vineyard. The Four Daughters Vineyard’s story is as charming as the area itself: Mother and father open up a vineyard on their farm, in the hopes of getting their daughters to move home and help with the family business.
The result? Great wine, and a family business that’s booming. In their second season, they have hit $1.2 million in revenue, so this family understands farming—and the grapes.
Peddling away amidst the farm fields, and looking back at the vineyard, you tend to think this area has, well, a little bit of everything. And that’s a good thing.
Article and photos courtesy of Explore Minnesota Tourism.