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  1. #1
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    North of Minneapolis

    I've been in the job market awhile hunting hard. I recently came across a job in Forest Lake, MN that looks like it could fit the bill.

    I'm trying to figure out what I can about the general northern suburbs of Minneapolis, and Forest Lake itself.

    I currently live in Indianapolis, and it looks like Forest Lake is situated in a similar fashion to Minneapolis as Greenfield, IN (where my wife works) is to Indy. The commute is longish, but reasonable (especially if you're driving opposite of rush hour traffic). I took a look at the MORC website to see what info they had on trails. It looks like most of the trails in the Mpls area are located along the Mississippi River, mostly on the bluffs, I suppose, eh? Didn't look like much north of the city.

    I'm very familiar with the weather in the area. I have friends and family who live in Minneapolis currently...and my mother's side of the family largely comes from SW MN (Mankato, New Ulm areas).

    What can y'all tell me aside from the fact that I'll have plenty of ice biking opportunities on frozen lakes in the winter (if I have studded tires)?

  2. #2
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    Hello!

    Indiana (Martinsville) to Minnesota transplant here!

    Yes, most of the MORC trails are in a crescent shape on the W,S & E sides of the metro area. However, Hillside (Elk River) and Elm Creek are north of I-94, though not what I would consider close to Forest Lake.

    However, Forest Lake puts you in target for 3 biggies if you don't mind a hour+ drive: CAMBA, Duluth and Cuyuna. Those three right there are 230 miles of amazing trail. There are some smaller trails across the river in Hodagastan, near St. Croix Falls too.

    Minnesota mountain biking tends to be very flowy, short and punchy and pretty fun. Winter fat tire riding is a thing. And no, I don't mean ice biking. Groomed singletrack. There also tends to be a few awesome bike races and rides for all types of riding.

  3. #3
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    There are 80 miles of great single track around the Twin Cities area. The MORC site is your best bet for trail information. Look at the Friends of MORC section under the community pull down for other trail clubs in the state. There are not many organized trail in the Forest Lake area. There are some across the river in Wisconsin (Woolly Trails) that are not too far. Also look at Duluth Area Cycling Guide | Brought to you by the friendly folks at the Ski Hut ·www.theskihut.com· 218-724-8525 and Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails | Shred the Red for trail north of the cities.

  4. #4
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    Check out MTB project, they have a pretty comprehensive map with all the trails in the state. The cool thing about Forest Lake is that you'd be right near the Interstate on your way to Duluth, which has some great riding. The twin cities metro has some good riding too but it doesn't really compare to Duluth or Cuyuna

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  5. #5
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    pretty small town, plenty of snow..commuting to Minneapolis sucks.

  6. #6
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    An hour or so of driving isn't bad at all. I do that often enough already, but it's nice to have something closer by for those times I don't want to pack up and spend a ton of time driving.

    I know snow biking and groomed trails are a thing. I ride a fatbike now year-round. I was just referring to the apparent lack of actual trails particularly close to Forest Lake, and to the fact that riding on the lakes themselves during wintertime would probably be an option whether there are trails or not.

  7. #7
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    I happen to live on the NE side of the cities in Shoreview which just south of Forest Lake. Most of the trails we frequent require a drive unless we go to the unofficial trails a couple miles from the house. The closest from FL might be the Wooly Trails in St. Croix Falls, Wi. Look at Woolly Bike Club - St. Croix Falls, WI - An IMBA Chapter. Closest trails to us are Battle Creek, Carver, Salem Hills, Lebanon Hills, and River Falls. On the west side Elm Creek is probably the closest, or at least the easiest to get to. A few years ago there was a movement to build a trail somewhere on the NE side but no luck yet. Maybe its time to try again.

  8. #8
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    My 2 cents too. Lived in Indy 2003-2006. Remember riding Town Run Trail or something named like that quite a bit. I drove down to Bloomington and Brown County to ride, though I understand Brown County is a lot better now than it was then.

    The Twin Cities has great trails. They are just all spread out over the metro, but there are more of them and I would say they are better than anything I had ridden in Indy. Looks like you got some good info from other posters on the ones close to where you might be.

    And if you will be living in Forest Lake, you are situated nicely for runs up to Duluth, Cuyuna and CAMBA, just like Cyclekrieg said. But I would expound on that by saying what you will find in those 3 places is fantastic. Add in Copper Harbor (which is a haul from Forest Lake) and you have arguably the best riding in the Midwest close to you.

    Duluth is adding more and more miles of trail each year. Trails have plenty of flow just like Cyclekrieg said but also has loops that are older school, medium to heavy gnar style. Plenty of freeride options and even legit (but short) downhill runs. If they get some all-weather trail options down, Duluth will be hard to beat. Add in that you can ride all winter long on the same trails any of these places. I think you will like the move from a biking standpoint, and personally I think the Twin Cities beat out Indy as a Metro too. Not ragging on Indy, just like Twin Cities better.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Hawkeye View Post
    I think you will like the move from a biking standpoint, and personally I think the Twin Cities beat out Indy as a Metro too. Not ragging on Indy, just like Twin Cities better.
    That is true, though I ride the Indiana trails when I visit family and Indianapolis is getting better. Southwestway Park trails are pretty fun and I would like to try the Fort Benjamin Harrison trails, I hear those are fun also.

    It's all the surrounding communities that beat Indy. Whereas most of "metro" towns like Bloomington or Maple Grove have trails, in the Indianapolis metro area mountain bike trails are pretty non-existent. Southwestway is literally on edge of Indianapolis.

    The one thing I would say to Harold is that if you are willing to go through the process for building on public land, MN is pretty open mountain bike trail construction in parks and greenways. This year in two different towns (Austin & Stillwater) that high school MTB teams got permission and built 2 different trails systems.

  10. #10
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    So I looked up locations for the biggies mentioned here, along with drive times. Looks like cuyuna, duluth, and camba run just over 2hrs drive time according to teh Googles. It's not terrible for good trails. Especially if there are goods a little closer.

    I'm somewhat familiar with copper harbor. It's an even bigger haul from where I live now. :-) But at just over 6hrs, it's closer than 3 of the places I drove to earlier this year on mtb trips (Brevard, NC twice and Elijay, GA once). Those places appear to be a similar drive time to the Maah Daah Hey in ND, FWIW.

    Amyway, no guarantee I'll even get an interview for this job. I haven't even submitted my resume just yet (still perfecting the cover letter), and they may have even found someone by the time I submit my stuff. I'm just trying to get some local intel on the area from people who ride. I have good friends and some family in the Twin Cities that are giving me some other assistance. Thanks, everybody.

  11. #11
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    I think there are 275 miles of trail between CAMBA, Duluth, and Cuyuna. It's very cross country around here expect for Spirit Mountain and Mont Du Lac which are the DH parks nearby. The DH is good, just short.

    Copper Harbor is over-rated IMO. Michigan Tech Trails is the real "destination center". 50 miles of very diverse and changing trail. Check it out if you haven't been!

    North Minneapolis is a nice place to live. Just make sure you don't live west of 94. That's the ghetto. You want to live on the east side of 94. They call Minneapolis a 1 or 2 best cycling city because of the road biking around here. It really is a fantastic city to commute or sight see. So much paved trail - you can do 100 miles of riding between St Paul and Minneapolis on just paved trail, never riding on the road.

  12. #12
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    What's the DH like? Anything that really warrants a real DH bike? Elevation change? I did some DH years ago in Utah at Brian Head and had tons of fun sticking to the more beginner-oriented runs on my FS XC bike.

    A friend of mine who lives up there just dug up a few more job openings in the Twin Cities. A couple of them look reasonably good so I'm going to apply there, too.

    Doing some background reading, it looks like MN is a better state for my field (wildlife and environmental biology/conservation) because there is some state-level guaranteed funding for the work. As I plug into the different job boards used up there, I'm seeing that there are simply more jobs available, also.

    Indiana has none such thing. A recent job opening here was looking for a pretty high level nongame biologist (endangered species and such) who would be involved in publishing research and making management decisions. Desired qualifications included a PhD. The state is only offering $34k/yr for that position. Frankly, the pay for that job is downright insulting. I can make that much money working at a bike shop, or earn more as a high school teacher. You know the pay is bad when becoming a teacher would involve a raise.

  13. #13
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    The downhill at Duluth has a picture in this article: Mountain Bike In The City: Duluth?s New Trail Of Dreams | Gear Junkie

    Here is the offical listing: Trails Ski/Snowboard, Downhill, Cross Country - Spirit MountainSpirit Mt

    There might be more downhill coming down the pike, several ski resorts, including Buck Hill in the TC are talking about expanding summer bike offerings. Though it's not going to be Utah level stuff. The highest elevation in MN is about a 2300'.

  14. #14
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    Check out YouTube for a taste of spirit Mtn. Some of the easier runs can be done on a hardtail, I've done it before. I've never done the "expert" runs but from vids I've seen I'm guessing you'd at least want a 6" bike. It can get pretty rocky in the Duluth area

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  15. #15
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    Okay, looks like some fun stuff is available.

  16. #16
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    I've done all the runs on a 6" bike and most of them on a hardtail. With the exception of a few rocky section on Blaster and Calculated Risk, a 6" bike will be faster through most of the DH runs. Not enough chunk to really warrant a DH bike.

    I actually like Spirit Mountain better then some of the stuff out west i've rode (Stevens Pass, Silver Mountain) The trails are pretty well done.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by AC/BC View Post
    I've done all the runs on a 6" bike and most of them on a hardtail. With the exception of a few rocky section on Blaster and Calculated Risk, a 6" bike will be faster through most of the DH runs. Not enough chunk to really warrant a DH bike.

    I actually like Spirit Mountain better then some of the stuff out west i've rode (Stevens Pass, Silver Mountain) The trails are pretty well done.
    I agree with this. I have ridden all the runs as well with a 6" bike. You don't need a dedicated downhill bike but I also wouldn't ride it on a hardtail give the choice.

    For downhill I have ridden mostly at Whistler and Spirit. Spirit is fun, just short. Whistler breaks things down into Flow trails and Technical Trails. There are flow sections at Spirit. Candyland is a good example but it is nothing like B-line or Crank It Up at Whistler if you wanted to Youtube those. The technical lines are pretty comparable with rock gardens and rooty lines.

    That said, trails like Candyland are a blast. So other than your lift ride (or your bike or hike back up the hill when the lifts aren't running) being longer than your run, Spirit is pretty fun and has great features.

    Piedmont and Brewer in Duluth also have Freeride/DH sections. They are really just features or a few features strung together and are typically loops off main trails but are really fun too.

  18. #18
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    Good day Harold, Norsk here. I used to live in Wyoming(town just north of Forest Lake) They are not really bike trails but Carlos Avery wildlife management area is pretty fun. It is really just minimum maintenance roads. There are a couple of hunting trails (for birds and what not) I used to bring my dog and bike and ride the roads. Like I said, they are not mountain bike trails but it is a nice area close to Flake (Forest Lake) that gets your out into nature. Once the lakes all freeze over they are fun snow-shoeing and fat biking. Just watch out near the shores because they do trapping around there too. Hope this helps. Buy the way I 2nd the trails in St. Croix. Not to many but they are fun. Takk

  19. #19
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    The best trail in town is Lebanon Hills in Eagan, which is a southeastern suburb. It would be up to an hour drive from Forest Lake. It is as good as any trail that I have ridden in MI, WI, and CO. The other trails in the Minneapolis area pale by comparison however Elm Creek, Murphy-Hanrehan, and Theodore Wirth are decent. Duluth has Piedmont and Spirit Mountain - both kick ass. Wisconsin has Wasau 9-Mile and Niellsville. Cuyuna is just a dirt path. Virtually no tech, so if that's okay with you, okay. The UP has Copper Harbor, awesome, Adventure Mine trail near Maas City, and Houghton - all good. Oh, and Hillside in Elk River would be about an hour and is a great tech trail.

  20. #20
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    I like a little bit of everything. Some days, fast with very little tech is fun. Other days, slow and chunky is fun.

    Some days, a low-key cruise on flat forest roads is enjoyable, too.

  21. #21
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    Duluth, where I am originally from, is building 100 miles of connected trails within city limits.

    I know that Buck Hill in the Twin Cities is heading for summer DH biking. The former Director of Ski School at Spirit Mountain, who was very instrumental in getting lift served biking at Spirit, is now at Buck Hill. From what I have heard, is for partially for that reason.

  22. #22
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    So I've got two resumes out in the Twin Cities area. Should find out if I make it to the interview stage this week for one of them, and late next week possibly for the other. Crossing my fingers on them.

    Looks like the mtb opportunities in the area aren't too shabby. And with lift-accessed opportunities accessible, having something DIFFERENT is attractive. My mtb is a Salsa Bucksaw FS fatbike, which looks like it'll be able to take advantage of most of what's available. While I could say that where I live now, a dedicated winter bike isn't practical, I'd probably come to a different conclusion up there.

    Not sure yet how the bike commuting scene fares compared to what I'm used to. I hear great things about the Twin Cities in that regard, but from what I understand, it's a little more difficult to compare than mtb opportunities. One of the jobs I've applied for is in downtown St. Paul, so that would be a vastly different scenario than the job that's well north.

  23. #23
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    A bucksaw would be just fine. My most frequent riding partner has one as his main ride. I will admit last night's slog/ride would have been far worse without bud/lou. So if you like going out in tough conditions, a big tire hardtail backup fatbike wouldn't be horrible to have laying around.

    The NE side of the Twin Cities is the worst area to be in if you want trails close and convenient. As mentioned, it does put you closer to some other destinations like camba or Duluth. If you want to move based on trail locations, the south/SE metro (close to Lebanon, Murphy, Carver, Salem, Battle Creek, MN River Bottoms) would be good, or the west/NW metro (close to Theo Wirth, Elm Creek, Hillside, Bertram, Rebecca). There's not much in the SW corner besides Mammoth (an unofficial trail).

    Listing of trails and locations:

    South/SE:

    Carver Lake Park, Woodbury
    Battle Creek, St. Paul
    Salem Hills, Inver Grove Heights
    Lebanon Hills, Eagan
    Terrace Oaks, Eagan
    Murphy-Hanrehan, Savage
    Minnesota River Bottoms, Bloomington (**endangered trail**)

    West/NW:
    Theodore Wirth Park, Golden Valley/Minneapolis
    Elm Creek Park, Maple Grove
    Hillside Park, Elk River
    Bertram Chain of Lakes, Monticello
    Lake Rebecca Park, Rockford (**being constructed in 2016**)

    Hope this helps.

  24. #24
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    Harold - You have a lot of great information provided already on the trails.

    You originally asked about Forest Lake, but then commented on a reverse commute - meaning you would be living in the metro (e.g. St. Paul area) and driving north to FL? Most of commuters would be driving south INTO the city and therefore making the northerly direction a breeze. That also decreases your time to trails from home.

    I live in the East metro. Feel free to message me about towns, neighborhoods, schools, etc. I will provide any input I can.

  25. #25
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    It all depends. I was trying to get intel on the area.

    I haven't been called about any interviews at this point, so this whole discussion may wind up being moot (there's still a little time for any telephone interviews to happen before I consider myself passed over for the position). Still looking in the area, but it is what it is. Not really any different from how my search has gone in any other city, either.

    I found the Forest Lake job on a national job board, so I'm sure they got a lot of resumes that they get to sort through. Tis the story of my job search.

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