Minneapolis, MN: Red Wing-Lake City Loop
Minneapolis, MN: Red Wing-Lake City Loop

Climb 300-plus feet in southeastern Minnesota's bluff country on this 42-mile lollipop loop. Cruise country roads and opt-in to an out-and-back challenge to picnic-perfect Lake City.

Author: Bicycling Magazine
Activity: Bicycling
State: Minnesota (MN)
Distance: 42.7 mi 
Difficulty: 4 / 10
Rating:   1 rating(s)

This 42-mile loop starts on the ridge above the river town of Red Wing and descends immediately into postcard-worthy scenery on Flower Valley Road where a wide shoulder and low-traffic road provides a great warm-up. You'll head south on US 61 where traffic increases, but the 6-foot shoulder offers a comfy cushion—as does the scenery. High, rounded bluffs and sheer limestone cliffs line both sides of the 5-mile ride to a flat roll heading southeast on County 2 Boulevard.

At the junction with County 5 Boulevard at mile 14.7, this route turns east for a 21-mile out-and-back that adds some serious hills. The out-bound ride toward Lake City kicks up more than 300 feet in nearly 2 miles and traces the ridgetop toward a speedy 3-mile descent and an easy roll through a pastoral valley en route to the lake. The return trip climbs the 450-foot ridge in 3-miles heading west and cruising another beautiful valley in the 2-million acre Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest before the final steep climb to Highway 58. A right turn follows the wide shoulder back to loop-end at Red Wing High School.

-Mapped by Steve Johnson

TO TRAILHEAD: From Red Wing, MN, turn south off Main St. onto Plumb St. and drive 0.6 mile bearing left onto Bush St. (MN 58) for 2.3 miles. Turn left on County 21 Blvd. and drive 0.2 mile. Take the first left onto Eagle Ridge Drive and proceed 0.2 mile to the High School parking lot at 2451 Eagle Ridge Dr.

Position Format: Datum:
Tracks

Red Wing-Lake City

Distance: 42.70 mi Points: 472
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
# Distance Instruction Distance to next
1 0.15 mi Turn left at County 21 Blvd/Flower Valley Rd Then go 4.44 mi
2 4.60 mi Turn right at US-61 S/US-63 S Then go 5.37 mi
3 9.97 mi Take the 2nd right onto County 2 Blvd/Italia Ave Continue to follow County 2 Blv Then go 4.68 mi
4 14.65 mi Take the 1st left onto County 5 Blvd Then go 8.33 mi
5 22.99 mi Continue onto County 5 Blvd Then go 1.18 mi
6 24.17 mi Take the 1st right onto N Lakeshore Dr Then go 0.63 mi
7 24.79 mi Turn left at Park St Then go 0.35 mi
8 25.14 mi Take the 1st left onto Chestnut St Then go 0.23 mi
9 25.37 mi Continue onto Lake St NW Then go 0.01 mi
10 25.38 mi U-Turn - Then go 0.01 mi
11 25.39 mi Lake St NW turns slightly left and becomes Chestnut St Then go 0.23 mi
12 25.62 mi Turn right at Park St Then go 0.35 mi
13 25.97 mi Continue onto W Jewell Ave Then go 0.02 mi
14 25.99 mi Take the 1st left onto N Lakeshore Dr Then go 0.62 mi
15 26.61 mi Make a U-turn at County 5 Blvd/W Grant St Then go 0.07 mi
16 26.68 mi Take the 1st left onto County 5 Blvd/W Grant St Then go 1.12 mi
17 27.80 mi Continue onto County Road 5 Then go 0.69 mi
18 28.50 mi Continue onto County 5 Blvd Then go 12.34 mi
19 40.84 mi Turn right at MN-58 N Then go 1.51 mi
20 42.35 mi Turn right at County 21 Blvd/Flower Valley Rd Then go 0.20 mi
21 42.55 mi Take the 1st left onto Eagle Ridge Dr

Points of Interest

RWL001

Location: 44.535059, -92.516652
Begin by heading south from the Red Wing High School parking lot and joining County 21 Boulevard (Flower Valley Road) headed east.

RWL002

Location: 44.544312, -92.428493
Traffic increases along US 61, but should still be relatively light. Enjoy the close-up of Grotes Pond before tracing the southern boundary of Frontenac State Park.

RWL003

Location: 44.501893, -92.393646
Though the 4.5-mile stretch on County 2 Boulevard is entirely within the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest, much of the land alongside the road is farmland. Don't be surprised to see neatly plowed fields along the bases of the forested bluffs.

RWL004

Location: 44.487761, -92.441545
At this 4-way junction where County 2 Boulevard meets County 5 Boulevard, this route turns east for an out-and back hill climb toward Lake City. The 10.7-mile one-way cruise on this stretch of rural road climbs (then descends) a 400-foot bluff and ends at a lakeside park. You can adjust the distance of your ride by opting for just the first hill climb (a 3-mile out-and-back), or by stopping short of Lake City at the base of the ridge's east side (a 12-mile out-and-back).

RWL005

Location: 44.475594, -92.361068
At the very top of the ridge, you'll be more than 400 feet above the valley below. Prepare for the steep descent, it's a long, downhill toward Lake City's shoreline on the Mississippi's Lake Pepin.

RWL006

Location: 44.459251, -92.281337
Watch for fast-moving traffic as you merge onto Lakeshore Drive for a pleasant spin along the Mississippi River's Lake Pepin.

RWL007

Location: 44.452945, -92.261585
Hop off your bike and stretch your legs at the end of the Lake City Marina. The beach in Ohuta Park is also a great place to stop for a picnic lunch before braving the climb back to the top of the ridge.

RWL008

Location: 44.495786, -92.480764
After cruising straight through the junction with County 2 Boulevard, you're on the home-stretch of this 42-mile ride. You'll cruise the flat valley before the final big climb that rises more than 200 feet in just under a mile.

RWL009

Location: 44.509864, -92.509435
From the top of the last climb, it's an easy 2.5-mile descent back to Red Wing High School. Use caution alongside US 58 up ahead. Though traffic is light, it's not as rural as many of this ride's county roads.

Flower Valley

Location: 44.530610, -92.514091
There is a wide shoulder (and smooth bike path) almost the entire length of the valley. © Steve Johnson

Bluffs

Location: 44.527751, -92.470036
The bluffs in Flower Valley tower 200 feet above the valley floor. © Steve Johnson

Flower Valley

Location: 44.537204, -92.448664
A small hill near the east end of the valley shows off this great western view of its fields and bluffs. © Steve Johnson

Scenic Roads

Location: 44.458474, -92.322149
It's tough focusing on the road with scenic bluffs in all directions, but note the small shoulder: it's a good reason to pay attention. © Steve Johnson

Fields and Bluffs

Location: 44.453879, -92.305498
Dramatic scenery unfolds west of Lake City, with high bluffs and gently rolling farmland. © Steve Johnson

Climbing

Location: 44.469439, -92.347426
Riding westbound from Lake City, this huge, 400-foot climb looms in the distance.

Long Descent

Location: 44.478534, -92.423215
Riding west on this out-and-back segment, the long descent drops away from the ridge into yet another wooded valley. © Steve Johnson

Farm

Location: 44.489219, -92.456818
This spic-and-span farm is nestled against a high bluff along County 5 Boulevard. © Steve Johnson

Last Climb

Location: 44.502229, -92.484713
The last, long climb out of the valley on County 5 Boulevard. © Steve Johnson