Our Favorite Biking Trails in ERIK’S Markets

A man and woman ride fat-tire bikes down a paved trail.

In honor of National Bike Month this May, our team members throughout ERIK’S markets—which stretch all the way from Minnesota (where we started) to South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, the Kansas City area, all the way down to Scottsdale, Arizona—have offered their suggestions for the best biking trails in their location.

For each of the markets below, we provide at least one mountain-biking path and one paved trail to explore, no matter what kind of cycling you prefer. So hop on your road bike, MTB, hybrid, electric bike, or whichever ride is your favorite to enjoy the summer weather and make the most of your hometown. If you have a fondness for selfies, take some pics of you zipping around these trails and tag ERIK’S on Facebook (@eriksbikeshop) or Instagram (@eriksbikeboardski) and we’ll share the cycling love!

Note: This is the third and final of our blog posts in honor of National Bike Month. If you haven’t already, check out our first two on the history of National Bike Month and bike commuting to work and/or school.

Someone rides a bike down a lakeside path with the Chicago skyline in the background.

Credit: Choose Chicago

Chicago, IL

Best Mountain Biking Trail: Palos Trail System

With over 42 miles of trails (about 25 miles of singletrack and 20 miles of multi-track) rolling through hills and deep ravines, Palos is the grandaddy of all trail systems in the Chicago area. Stewarded by Chicago Area Mountain Bikers (CAMBR), Palos’s singletrack trails vary in difficulty from beginner to extreme, and the twists and turns, rigorous climbs, and fast descents keep things interesting no matter what trail you’re on.

Best Paved Trail: Lakefront Trail

Running 18 miles from Ardmore Ave. on the north to 71st St. on the south, the Lakefront Trail makes it easy to hit the lake for a fun summer afternoon or get to wherever you need to go in Chicago as a bike commuter. Passing by stunning lakefront neighborhoods, cultural institutions like Navy Pier, and some of Chicago’s best restaurants, there’s simply no better way to enjoy this incredible city while getting a heart-pumping workout.

Four mountain bikers ride down a wooded path.

Credit: Central Iowa Trail Association (CITA)

Des Moines, IA

Best Mountain Biking Trail: Center Trails

The Central Iowa Trail Association describes Center Trails as “fast, flowing singletrack through the urban forest, smack in the middle of Des Moines.” There are 13 miles of trail segments ranging from easy to moderate, with the Hillside segment providing some nifty climbs and descents. The Ashworth Pool, Des Moines Art Center, and Denman’s Woods (to name just a few local destinations) are all connected by this network of trails, making it an ideal way to spend a sunny summer day.

Best Paved Trails: Chichaqua Valley Trail and Clive Greenbelt Trail

The scenic Chichaqua Valley Trail extends 26 miles from Berwick to Baxter, with canopied foliage that makes for a pleasant bike ride, jog, or rollerblading excursion. A fun tidbit: the trail also crosses stone bridges dating from the Wisconsin, Iowa & Nebraska Railroad that built this rail line in 1885.

The Clive Greenbelt Trail, meanwhile, is an eight-mile paved path that runs through the suburb of Clive. This trail is enlivened by a series of parks right along the path as it sidewinds along Walnut Creek. The trail also connects to several other popular cycling routes (like the Raccoon River Valley Trail), making for a bountiful number of route options.

Low-angle shot of a mountain biker jumping off a ramp.

Credit: Visit Eau Claire/OutdoorMore, Inc.

Eau Claire, WI

Best Mountain Biking Trail: Pinehurst Park

With progressive mountain bike trails, dirt jumps, a hockey rink, a sledding hill, and cross-country ski trails, Pinehurst Park is a one-stop shop for all-season recreation. It’s a standalone nonprofit (where ERIK’S holds the Mega Demo Tour) trying to revive and build downhill ski/snowboard and singletrack trails. Constructed in 2013, expansions and renovations continue to add even more features. For more info about mountain biking trails in Eau Claire, check out the Chippewa Off Road Bike Association (CORBA).

Best Paved Trail: Chippewa River Trail

There’s no better way to experience the beauty of central Wisconsin than this 30-mile trail, which starts in downtown Eau Claire at Phoenix Park and travels south along the Chippewa River through prairies, sandstone bluffs, and wetlands before terminating in the town of Durand. Near the end, it meets up with the Red Cedar State Trail, allowing for an entire day of cycling adventures. With a mix of pavement and asphalt emulsion and a width of 10 feet, the Chippewa River Trail offers a comfortable ride no longer how long your journey is.

Yellow flowers in the foreground, a wooden biking trail in the background.

Credit: Rails to Trails Conservancy/Cindy Barks

Kansas City

Best Mountain Biking Trail: Swope Park Trails

This relatively long trail system (about 20 miles, with a plan to increase that to 50 miles with ongoing project phases) is nestled within one of Kansas City’s premiere parks, featuring gently rolling contours on its north side and limestone bluffs to the south. Built by Heartland Outside in partnership with Urban Trail Co., the Swope Park Trails feature singletrack mountain bike paths that range from flowy to extremely rocky and technical, with some drops, tree rides, and gap jumps. In other words, there’s something here for all skill levels to enjoy!

Best Paved Trail: Riverfront Heritage Trail

Starting on the banks of the Missouri River and winding its way through the most historic parts of bi-state Kansas City, the Riverfront Heritage Trail is a 15-mile bike and pedestrian pathway that is the first of its kind in downtown Kansas City. Whether you just want to go out for a ride or have a specific destination in mind, the trail links communities, parks, and public artworks, with historical markers along the way. There’s no better way to see the city with its waterfront views and expansive green spaces.

A decorative "M" sign in the foreground, two bicycle riders on a lakeside trail in the background.

Credit: Destination Madison

Madison, WI

Best Mountain Biking Trail: Quarry Ridge

The Quarry Ridge Recreation Area in Fitchburg, built and maintained by Capitol Off Road Pathfinders (CORP), features about five miles of singletrack trails for beginner to expert riders. Over the last few years, a number of jumps, berms, and wooden features have been added. The six trails that make up the Quarry Ridge network range from flat and straight to twisty uphill climbs to bermed downhills, offering enjoyment for any level of mountain biker.

Best Paved Trail: Lake Monona Loop

Thirteen paved miles of Lake Monona views, the Madison skyline, and lakeside neighborhoods—what more could you ask for? If you’re looking for a serious workout, you can ride laps around the loop, tackling some minor hills that provide a challenge; or you can head out with the family or a few friends for a leisurely ride (and stop at local eateries or the Olbrich Botanical Gardens along the way!).

Aerial shot of a paved bike trail with several riders.

Credit: Eddee Daniel/Preserve Our Parks

Milwaukee, WI

Best Mountain Biking Trail: Heritage Trails Park

Wisconsin’s kettle moraine forest and hills—a byproduct of the Ice Age—make for ideal mountain biking terrain in Heritage Trails Park, the newest trails maintained by Metro Mountain Bikers. The trail’s different segments range in difficulty from newcomers to experts only; the latter will likely appreciate the trail’s 3.5 miles of singletrack and some daunting jumps and drops. Even better: the park is set to expand over the next few years, with more than 10 additional miles of trailways to be constructed along with a dedicated jump line and bike park.

Best Paved Trail: Oak Leaf Trail

With over 135 miles of trails running all throughout Milwaukee County, the Oak Leaf Trail—or “Route of the Badger”—is a dream come true for urban cyclists. Nearly a quarter of the trail abuts gorgeous Lake Michigan, offering unbeatable waterside views. With a number of connecting lines stretching from out-of-the-way hideouts to bustling city centers, you could roam the Oak Leaf Trail all summer and still not discover everything it has to offer.

A mountain biker rides through a twisting forest path.

Credit: Rochester Active Sports Club (RASC)

Rochester, MN

Best Mountain Biking Trail: Gamehaven

The newest trail around Rochester offers 8.6 miles of fairly wide singletrack, which gets progressively harder as you ride further into the system. Deep into the trail, expect some short, steep climbs and fast, undulating descents to keep you on your toes. The bucolic terrain (some of which is on land owned by the Boy Scouts) includes prairies, wooden bridges, and some moderately difficult switchbacks.

Best Paved Trail: Zumbro River Trail

This is a relatively easy route—only 8.4 miles and about two and a half hours to complete—but the green and hilly scenery make it a pleasure on a bright summer day. While its location in the heart of Rochester makes it easy to reach sites like the Mayo Civic Center and Rochester Art Center, the trail is also nestled between a handful of lakes, making it an ideal blend of rural and city riding.

Several mountain bikers ride down a wooded path.

Credit: Minnesota Trails

Saint Cloud, MN

Best Mountain Biking Trail: Jail Trail

Located on the outskirts of Saint Cloud, the singletrack Jail Trail features small drops, some short climbs, tight turns, rock gardens, and narrow tree-lined sections. It’s only 2.7 miles, but with its narrow, twisty corners, it still provides an invigorating challenge. During winter months, this well-maintained trail is a fun getaway for fat biking and cross-country skiing.

Best Paved Trail: Beaver Island Trail

Said to be named after the abundance of beavers that early explorers spotted on the islands of the Mississippi River, the Beaver Island Trail extends for five miles along the river from St. Cloud State University to River Bluffs Regional Park. It even connects to the St. Cloud Riverwalk, allowing you to both enjoy the city and escape it for a few carefree hours.

A mountain biker rides down a rocky desert embankment with a cactus in the background.

Credit: Two Wheeled Wanderer

Scottsdale, AZ

Best Mountain Biking Trail: South Mountain Park Trails

With more than 16,000 acres, South Mountain Park outside of Phoenix is one of the largest municipally managed parks in the nation, boasting three mountain ranges: the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila, and Guadalupe. There are numerous mountain bike trails that are part of this system—118 of them, to be exact—offering a wide range of difficulty levels, terrain, and scenery. Of particular note are the National Trail to Mormon Loop, with its breathtaking views and distinct rock formations, and the challenging Marcos de Niza, Midlife Crisis, and National Trail Loop, with its significant elevation gain and stunning panorama of Phoenix.

Best Paved Trail: Tempe Town Lake Trail

This 7.4-mile trail near Tempe is relatively easy—it only takes about two hours to complete—but it’s a pleasant, paved route that runs along Tempe Town Lake and the Salt River. Two bridges connect the north and south sides of the lake, and public art installations provide plenty of viewing material during your ride. On the north side of the trail, you can even connect to the Crosscut Canal multi-use path (to the west) or the Tempe Greenbelt (to the east) to ride all the way up to Scottsdale for a lengthier (but still pleasant) ride.

A mountain biker rides down a gravel path surrounded by green foliage.

Credit: Falls Area Singletrack (FAST)

Sioux Falls, SD

Best Mountain Biking Trail: Tuthill Park

Tuthill Park, maintained by Falls Area Singletrack, offers four miles of machine-built, multi-use singletrack twisting through pristine terrain. Ranging from intermediate to difficult, the Tuthill trail ranges in width from 24–36” and follows the natural river bluff topography, with average grades of approximately 8–10%. Before or after your ride, you can also enjoy the park’s disc golf course, skating rink, and formal gardens!

Best Paved Trail: Greenway Recreation Main Trail Loop

With 19.13 miles of paved trail that follows the Big Sioux River, the Greenway Recreation Main Trail Loop offers diverse views of the city, its parks, and its downtown areas. At only about six hours to complete, this is a relatively easy ride at any time of the year.

Two bicyclists ride down a paved trail as people paddleboard in the distance, with the Twin Cities skyline in the background.

Credit: Explore Minnesota/Meet Minneapolis

Twin Cities, MN

Best Mountain Biking Trails: Lebanon Hills and Theodore Wirth Park

Located in Eagan, Lebanon Hills Regional Park—built and maintained by Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC)—is the largest park in Dakota County, containing almost 2,000 acres. The west trailhead in particular allows access to miles of rolling, wooded, singletrack trails that are on the more challenging side, even for experienced mountain bikers. The park features over 12 miles of mountain bike trails total, along with a mountain bike skills park that will delight mountain bikers both young and old.

On the western side of the Twin Cities area is Theodore Wirth Park, a haven for outdoor adventurers of all kinds. For mountain biking, Theodore Wirth offers over 12 miles of singletrack trails with snug tree clearance and frequent switchbacks. Skill levels on the trails range from beginner to advanced, with tough uphill climbs, downhill switchbacks, and even a quarter-mile long optional gravity-fed jump line trail called “The Tube”!

Best Paved Trails: Midtown Greenway and Minneapolis Chain of Lakes

If you live near the Twin Cities, chances are you’ve already biked, strolled, or roller-bladed the Midtown Greenway, which is a local institution. This 5.5-mile thoroughfare is a former railroad corridor in south Minneapolis. For most of its length, the Greenway is grade-separated from city streets, allowing you to avoid car traffic by passing under or over it. The Greenway also connects with the Chain of Lakes to the west and the Mississippi River to the east, allowing you to navigate the Twin Cities area with ease.

Similarly, the Chain of Lakes Trail accounts for 13.3 miles of the 51-mile Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, which is as close to a full Minneapolis bike tour as you can find. As the name suggests, the Chain of Lakes skirts several of the most beautiful lakes in the Twin Cities area: Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska, and Lake Harriet. With the Minneapolis skyline visible in the distance, this sprawling trail still feels tucked away, offering some of the most gorgeous scenery in the cities. 

Get Out and Ride!

Wherever you live in ERIK’S markets, from the Midwest all the way down to Arizona, there are incredible mountain bike and paved trails for you to enjoy. Whether you’ve ridden these routes hundreds of times or have never experienced them before, we encourage you to take your favorite bike out on the town and savor the best that your neck of the woods has to offer.

As always, if you need to get your bike tuned up, visit an ERIK’S location near you or contact us using one of the methods below for same-day service. Need any new cycling apparel, helmets, locks, or even a brand-new ride? We have what you’re looking for! And for those out-of-the-way mountain biking locations, we also offer a wide range of car racks so you can bring your bike(s) to distant destinations.  

Last but not least, if you have your own favorite trails near you that aren’t covered on the list above, please let us know by tagging us on Facebook (@eriksbikeshop) or Instagram (@eriksbikeboardski)! There’s nothing better than discovering awesome new cycling routes—and sharing the love with others in the cycling community.

Whether it’s National Bike Month, the dog days of summer, or the frigid depths of winter, the important thing is to get out there and enjoy the ride. We’ll see you on the trails!

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