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Best Bike Path in the Cities?

From the Mailbag:
This question comes from my friend Don, who writes along with his wife at The Wortley Pad.  Here’s his question:

Hey Reuben- My parents are coming to town near the end of the month and I want to take them on a bike ride on one of the paths here in town. What is your favorite 5-10 mile stretch of Minneapolis/St. Paul bike paths?

Don and his wife purchased a couple of bicycles at the beginning of the summer and they’ve been hitting the trails pretty hard.  I don’t think I have any magical trails that Don hasn’t seen yet, but I’ll list some of my favorites:
First Runner Up: Midtown Greenway

winter.Grnwy.cyclist.2006.02.03 005 (2)


The Midtown Greenway between Hennepin Avenue and Cedar Avenue is arguably the nation’s premier bicycle freeway.  From an engineering and planning perspective, it is quite a marvel – definitely the most unique bike trail in town.  However, it’s utilitarian nature might not impress your parents the same way it impresses me,  so it can’t take the top spot.
Second Runner Up: Minnehaha Parkway

project365m_101107 / #303m

Minnehaha Parkway is another one of my favorite bike trails in the city.  I love being next to the creek & the trees, and I think the parkway does a great job balancing the needs of recreational and commuting cyclists.  It’s a great example of an urban park corridor.  Plus it’s super-easy to get to Minnehaha Falls, which is also a must-see for out-of-town visitors.  But it’s under construction right now, so it can’t get the top spot, either.
Third Runner Up: Cedar Lake Trail / Kenilworth Trail

Kenilworth Trail

These pieces of the Cedar Lake and Kenilworth Trails are probably my favorite trails in the metro.  I love how they split apart into separated bike and pedestrian trails, and the area north and east of Cedar Lake has a sort of no-man’s land that I find endearing.  I don’t know if these trails are good destinations on their own, however, so they can’t take the top spot.
So the Winner is…..
West River Parkway

West River Road, Bike Path, and Sidewalk, Minneapolis

If I could show out of town visitors only one trail in the cities, it would definitely be West River Parkway.  The trail allows you to check out everything downtown, including the stone arch bridge, the Guthrie Theater, and the historic riverfront mills & stuff.  Bridge 9 is a pretty awesome bridge to check out along the way.  The views of the Mississippi River and the University of Minnesota are pretty neat, and the new pavement means smooth riding the whole way.  The south end of the trail also allows easy connection to Minnehaha Falls.  Plus, if that’s not long enough for you, you can just keep going on Minnehaha Parkway, or south towards Fort Snelling.

Honorable Mentions:
East River Parkway
Bruce Vento Trail
Gateway State Trail
Theodore Wirth Parkway
Victory Memorial Parkway
SW LRT Trail

Readers, what trail would you recommend for Don and his parents?

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