BEST BIKE TRAIL - 2003
With all due respect to the marvelous expansion of the Midtown Greenway and other improvements for bikers west of the river, we retain a special spot in our hearts for the easy access to rural splendor (not to mention the relatively flat terrain) offered by the 18-mile Gateway Trail. Beginning in St. Paul, just north of the capitol, the Gateway grows progressively more bucolic as it winds over and around more than a dozen lakes on its way to Pine Point Park five miles north of Stillwater. Rather than a narrow green line through an urban landscape, the trail cuts through Washington County's vast farm and woodland areas that have not yet been drawn and quartered by construction crews. Connections to many local and regional trails offer diverting side trips (we like the Lake Phalen loop and a detour for a dip at spring-fed Square Lake), but if you choose to stay on a round-trip course, the Gateway can provide a fairly strenuous 36-mile trek, with time enough to pull over for a picnic at noon and still make it home in time for dinner. Or you can keep heading north on the Willard Munger Trail and have a friend meet you near Duluth.