10 Top-Rated Mountain Bike Trails in Minnesota

Written by Brad Lane
Updated Apr 13, 2023

Author Brad Lane enjoyed a lengthy reporting trip throughout Minnesota with his mountain bike.

Minnesota offers fantastic mountain biking trails and is a top destination for the sport. With plenty of glaciated ridges, lush forests, and scenic lakeshores, mountain biking trails in Minnesota traverse the state's many varied terrains. These trail networks range from the adventure-rich region of Duluth to the numerous trail systems surrounding the Twin Cities and include just about every corner of the state.

Different nonprofit and volunteer organizations, such as Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists and the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores, help support the trail systems and effectively create a voice for the community. Through these public interest groups and agency partnerships, places like Lebanon Hills and Elm Creek Park offer miles of singletrack and unique features to explore.

Whether you are looking for downhill, cross-country, or a leisurely ride after work, the state's many trails cater to riders of all skill levels. Plan your outdoor adventures with our list of the top mountain bike trails in Minnesota.

1. Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Lebanon Hills Regional Park
Lebanon Hills Regional Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Lebanon Hills Regional Park is split between East and West sections and comprises more than 2,000 acres catering to several recreational activities. On the east end, visitors rent canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards to explore O'Brian Lake or many of the other named bodies of water that dot Lebanon Hills.

If you are looking for mountain biking, though, and some of the best mountain biking in Minnesota, it's the west side that's worth a visit.

Built and maintained by the nonprofit Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC), Lebanon Hills features 12 miles of well-manicured singletrack. Routes range from beginner-friendly to black diamond sections full of logs, drops, and rock gardens.

Whatever your skill level, a recommended route is the Lake Loop, which follows the hilly contour of the land on a well-engineered trail, all the while touring a lakeside landscape that's worth stopping to appreciate.

The trails at Lebanon Hills are well-marked. This makes for easy navigation of the one-way routes and many intersections that make up the trail system, even if it's your first time visiting.

With a newly built shelter and restroom near the parking area, Lebanon Hills also provides the perfect place to relax and refuel during a full day of riding.

Address: 860 Cliff Road, Eagan, Minnesota

2. Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Biking Trail

Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Biking Trail
Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Biking Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Riders who visit the Cuyuna Lakes are encouraged to Shred the Red on the first-class mountain biking trails found throughout the area. Created on the grounds of an abandoned iron mine, the mineral-rich soil of Cuyuna Lakes leaves a notorious red tinge on any tire that ventures onto the 25-plus miles of trail. The red tread marks aren't the only color on the Cuyuna Lakes pallet.

The mountain bike trails at Cuyuna Lakes are lined with overlooks of turquoise mining lakes and interspersed plots of aspen and birch trees. The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Biking Trail is part of the larger and newly adopted Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, which provides abundant opportunities for other activities. The area is also popular for fat biking during the winter.

The State Recreation Area oversees two campgrounds within Cuyuna Country: the Clint Converse Campground and Greer Lake Campground. These popular first-come, first-served campgrounds are in the adjacent Land O'Lakes and Crow Wing State Forests, respectively.

Address: 307 3rd Street, Ironton, Minnesota

3. Piedmont Bike Trails

Mountain biker on the Piedmont Bike Trails
Mountain biker on the Piedmont Bike Trails

Duluth is the recreational capital of Minnesota in the northern part of the state and a launching point for Minnesota's rugged North Shore. This outdoorsy city is known for cross-country hikes, agate hunting, Grandma's Marathons, skiing, sailing, and dog-sled races. But with all the things to do in Duluth, mountain biking is still one of the most popular. And thanks to the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS), there are plenty of trails to explore.

COGGS serves the Twin Ports area, including Duluth, Minnesota; and Superior, Wisconsin. It has generated seven-plus trail systems in the Duluth area. The Piedmont Bike Trails is one of their crowning trail systems with the best views. It's accessible by the Skyline Parkway above Zenith City (Duluth).

The Piedmont Trail system winds for nine miles with changing views of Lake Superior and the St. Louis River. The trails range in difficulty from easy-riding intermediate loops to handlebar-jostling descents.

The trails connect to the adjacent Brewer Park across Haines Road, and this extra extension to the trail adds some flow to the ride. Brewer Park also contains a heart-pounding section known as the "kissing booth," which features rock drops, switchbacks, and plenty of possible crash landings.

For those looking to make the long haul, the Duluth Traverse spans 40 miles and is the central artery of the entire trail system. This cross-country trail connects the Piedmont & Brewer Park bike trail system with many others in the area, creating a non-stop bike trek to really test the legs.

Address: 2588 Haines Road, Duluth, Minnesota

4. Elm Creek Park Reserve

Elm Creek Park Reserve
Elm Creek Park Reserve | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

At 4,000 acres, the Elm Creek Park Reserve is the largest unit within the Three Rivers Park District of the northwest Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. While there are many things to do in this sprawling space within the Twin Cities metro, the mountain biking trails always draw a crowd, especially on the weekends.

With 12 miles of singletrack to explore, ranging from beginner berms to technical features, there is plenty of space to share. The mountain bike trails at Elm Creek Park Reserve follow a woody path before touring a vast, open prairie field complete with a lake. Several scenic views of woodlands and prairie grass are encountered along the way.

The trailhead for mountain biking is in the northeast section of the park, and with its popularity among bikers, hikers, and trail runners, the lot can be crowded. It's about a 30-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis to reach the trailhead or an hour-long bus ride. Carpooling is encouraged.

The trails are maintained through a partnership with Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC).

Address: 951 W. Hayden Lake Road, Champlin, Minnesota

5. Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve
Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve | Photo Copyright: Three Rivers Park District

The Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve is 20 miles south of the Twin Cities and offers a quick escape within city limits. The reserve is also a popular mountain biking destination for all types of riders, thanks to the range of trails available. The Murphy-Hanrehan Singletrack Trail features 6.9 miles of advanced trails and over two miles of easy and intermediate trails.

The cumulative 10 miles of trails at Murphy-Hanrehan test the legs of even the most experienced riders with long, steady uphill climbs. Feel the burn, though, and be rewarded with the lush forest, scenic prairies, and many fun obstacles for practicing your mountain biking skills. All trails at Murphy-Hanrehan follow a single direction, and signs on the trails should lead you the right way.

Under the umbrella of the Three Rivers Park District, this path is a local favorite, and the trailhead on the weekends proves it. Hit the trail in the early morning or throughout the week, though, and you can enjoy nature in solitude.

Besides the maintained mountain biking singletrack and winter cross-country skiing trails, Murphy-Hanrehan remains undeveloped, making it also a popular place for bird-watchers, hikers, and nature lovers to explore.

Address: 15501 Murphy Lake Blvd, Savage, Minnesota

6. Spirit Mountain

Spirit Mountain
Spirit Mountain | Randen Pederson / photo modified

Spirit Mountain operates as a ski resort for four months of the year and encompasses 175 acres of skiable terrain. The ski hill provides chairlift-enabled downhill mountain biking outside of the ski season that keeps riders on the edge of their seats.

Propelled by gravity, visitors with a lift pass can cruise down a wide variety of trails here, some of which stretch for more than 4,700 feet of downhill fun.

Ranging from easier trails, like the Happy Camper, to the brake-line testing Wrecking Ball route, the mountain caters to all types of riders. Regardless of skill level, helmets are always required.

With rentals available and workshops and season passes offered, Spirit Mountain is a top destination for downhill mountain biking in Minnesota. Spirit Mountain offers a mountain bike season pass for riding the chairlifts, as well as daily lift tickets.

Address: 9500 Spirit Mountain Pl, Duluth, Minnesota

7. Memorial Park

Memorial Park
Memorial Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The city of Red Wing's Memorial Park sits atop Sorin's Bluff in the southeastern corner of Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River. This high vantage point provides many avenues for adventure and a great view as well.

You can partake in nature walks, a nine-hole frisbee golf course, and picnics after parking a vehicle at the top of Sorin's Bluff. But what really draws a crowd to the scenic space above the city is the sprawling mountain bike trails found throughout the area.

The one-way singletrack trails of Memorial Park weave in and out of the forest and adjacent prairie spaces, split between intermediate and advanced routes. This provides a roller-coaster feeling of a good time as you complete the various loops. The mountain bike trail system at Memorial Park is created and maintained entirely by volunteers.

Address: 315 W 4th Street, Red Wing, Minnesota

8. Hillside City Park

Mountain biking in late summer
Mountain biking in late summer

Hillside City Park provides visitors with a pure mountain biking experience just a half-hour from downtown Minneapolis, with six miles of winding, curving singletrack. This popular mountain biking trail has been around for the better part of two decades. Renewed management interests by the nonprofit Minnesota Off-Road Cyclist (MORC) have improved trail conditions and signage for this serpentine trail system.

Lacking extraneous spur trails and misleading junctions, Hillside City Park begins its flow at the parking lot and doesn't finish until the loop is done. Along the way, riders encounter a variety of optional and not-optional obstacles, including log bridges, rock gardens, and banked turns. These obstacles provide plenty of challenges for seasoned mountain bike riders or dismount locations for those new to the sport.

Address: 10801 181st Ave NW, Elk River, Minnesota

9. Theodore Wirth Regional Park

Theodore Wirth Regional Park
Theodore Wirth Regional Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Located just two miles west of Target Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins, Theodore Wirth Regional Park is the largest open space in the Minneapolis park system. Amid its 750 acres, popular activities include teeing off on the 18-hole golf course, swimming on the shore of Wirth Lake, and mountain biking the sprawling trail system.

In conjunction with Minneapolis Park and Recreation and Minnesota Off-Road Cyclist (MORC), five different mountain biking loops are available within Theodore Wirth Regional Park. Each provides a different degree of difficulty and scenery to enjoy.

A recommended route for your first time, or the umpteenth time, is the Back 40 Loop. This 3.5-mile loop is accessible near the Wirth Par 3 Club House and provides flowy and fast riding in the heart of Minneapolis.

The most challenging mountain bike trail at Theodore Wirth, the 1.5-mile Brownie Lake Loop, features technical elements like logs, drops, and plenty of rocks. The trail system at Theodore Wirth is subject to closures when the trails are wet.

Address: 1301 Theodore Wirth Pkwy, Golden Valley, Minneapolis, Minnesota

10. Hartley Park

Deer at Hartley Nature Center
Deer at Hartley Nature Center

Hartley Park is another popular mountain biking option in Duluth, now operated by the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS). The network at Hartley Park comprises some of the oldest developed mountain biking trails in town, and today, a well-marked 10 miles still encourages riders throughout the area.

Park at the Hartley Nature Center to start exploring Hartley Park. This northwest section of the park has the densest collection of trails and leads right to the network's core. The routes vary in difficulty, catering to most ability levels, though riders must pick a good line with different rocks and logs to navigate.

The eye-catching Rock Knob sits at the center of the park. Other notable landscapes include wetlands and mature hardwood forests. Though the network is pretty well-signed, it helps to bring some sort of map the first few times visiting.

Address: 3001 Woodland Avenue, Duluth, Minnesota

Map of Mountain Bike Trails in Minnesota

More Outdoor Opportunities in Minnesota


If you are looking for more adventure in Minnesota, the state also hosts a wide array of other outdoor activities to enjoy. For information on some of the best hikes in the state, be sure to check out our article on the Best Hiking Trails in Minnesota and for overnight options, our Best Campgrounds in Minnesota article includes some great places to pitch a tent.

Much of the outdoor fun in the state can be found throughout Minnesota's extensive state and national park system. See our Best National and State Parks in Minnesota article for details. For the perfect base camp on a Minnesota mountain biking adventure, both Minneapolis and Duluth provide quick access to many different trails in the area.