United States


Minnesota River Bottoms

The “River Bottoms” is a network of official and un-official trails just south of Minneapolis along the Minnesota River flood plane. They're pretty flat, mostly straight, with plenty of sandy, and full of itch weed in the summer. What more could you ask for? How about flooding? They do that regularly as well.

Fortunately for me, the trails are positioned in a way that makes them part of my preferred commute to and from work. 6-10 miles of single track on the way to work, 365 days a year, is pretty rad, no matter what trail you are riding.

I am a berms, bumps, and jumps kind of guy. The River Bottoms has none of this. However, with all the time I have spent on this trail system, I have learned to appreciate it. If I want to make it more exciting, I ride my stripped down SS Karate Monkey and sprint through the woods wide open. If I don't have the legs to hammer, I ride the Moonlander and crawl the river banks looking for mud, sand, and snow.

Basically, I have learned that any trail is what you make of it and you don't need a bad ass trail to have a great time. If nothing else, you can always fall back on wheelies and no-handed offroad riding to keep things interesting.

Below is an assortment of pictures I have taken over the years while riding the river bottoms. If you get the chance, swing down and give them a try. It isn't the best trail system, but you will be on your bike, in the dirt, and that's all you need.

My usual route is between J and C.

SS Karate Monkey with Knard 29x3 front.

The service road always works well for wheelie practice.

Pulling the Bob trailer with my Krampus doing some trail work.

Barge traffic is always something to check out.

Foggy morning on the Krampus.

Surly product manager, Adam, riding one of the infrequent obstacles on the trail.

Surly brand manager, Peter, ripping between some monster trees.

Nearly every ride has a few deer sightings.

“The raft” is used to cross 9-mile creek. This picture was taken while the water height is just above average I would say.

When the water gets low, the raft is almost useless. However, those who have tried to ford the creek know that it is almost always a bad decision, ha. Inevitably, you loose 50 pounds of food, 2 wagon wheels, and somebody gets dysentery.

This is the highest water level I have managed to ride the trail during. This is no where near how high the water can get though.

When the raft isn't functional, the tree crossing gets the job done.

A little water over the trail doesn't stop us.

Tell me this doesn't look like a playground.

Gets a little tight through the buck thorn tunnel.

Here with Tanner checking out the Old Cedar bridge.

A little River Bottoms art work.

Taking a break under the “Swing Bridge” with my Moonlander.

Tire testing in the mud, BRAP!

Breaking trail after a fresh snow. Pure awesome.

Many areas of the trail have consistent traffic all year which makes them great for reliable winter single track.

More fresh snow on the Moonlander.

First tracks on the river bank with my SS Pugsley.

Say cheese.

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About ThorHammer

Thor designs frames, tires, and lots of other parts for Surly. He has trouble fitting into most hats, as his head is surprisingly rotund, and he wears flip-flops as soon as it’s warm enough. On a bike, Thor rides like normal people can’t, which he always does on platform pedals in Vans with no socks because, and I’m quoting here, “I like to feel everything.” In short, Thor gets rad on a regular basis.

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