Need a way to enjoy some nice scenery and quiet roads while getting prepped for the season after a long winter? This 80-mile (129Km), moderately hilly cruise along both sides of the St. Croix River is a great leg loosener with good roads and scenery. The route starts at the Stillwater High School parking lot, just across from the Speedway at 5804 Neal Ave N, Stillwater, MN 55082.
Starting in Stillwater, the route heads north over some mild rollers and good pavement through Scandia then across the St. Croix River to the first checkpoint in Osceola, Wisconsin at mile 34. From Osceola the route gets more serious with fairly continuous rollers and dips into small valleys on very quiet country roads as it works south to the next checkpoint. You will pass numerous small streams, remote farmhouses and several forests. Roads are generally very good, but there are some bumpy parts.
The next control is the lunch stop at Bass Lake Cheese Factory at mile 58. A full bar, sandwich deli and a wide selection of cheeses are available along with an outdoor patio dining area. From there a fun, rolly section ending with a nice downhill on Trout Brook Road will get you into Hudson where there are services, if needed.
Just before turning right to leave Hudson at mile 68.3, going straight on Coulee Rd, crossing WI-35 is on an optional leg (<1 mile) that take you up a fairly steep little hill to the Birkmose Park overlook for a beautiful view of the St. Croix Valley, well worth the effort. Head back down the hill, turn left at WI-35 and hop on the sidewalk after the light at 2nd St & Buckeye Rd (rejoining the route) to cross the I-94 bridge on the way back to Minnesota and the finish a short 13 miles away. There are two blind corners on the bike trail getting onto the bridge so be careful.
This route is NOT Western Minnesota flat prairie, but it is also not the major hills encountered in the real driftless area of Wisconsin. There are a few grind it out, shorter hills, but nothing too serious. This is a really pleasant route and a great way to get the season underway.
Special thanks to Gary Bakke for creating and running this ride for several years.
|Elliot Dorow Hovland|