Aug 10, 2008

Get out of Town - Bluff Creek Inn Visit

My wife suggested a quick B&B visit this weekend as a change of pace. Coincidentally, I had suggested a local B&B (The Bluff Creek Inn in Chaska) to a BikeLover that was looking for a local place that he and his wife could ride to. We had stayed there years before and it appears to be close to a bike trail. So with that momentum, Molly got on-line and booked a room for us last night. I tossed a bike on the roof of the car with the plan to ride home so I could figure out the route.

The inn was nice; it's an old house by Minnesota standards (built in 1859 or so). The breakfast was great - coffee, fruit and yogurt, an egg dish (a B&B staple), and little muffins a-plenty. The ride back was great as well. I did not realize it until after I started back, but this is right off the Southwest LRT trail (in fact, the Inn is only 0.15 miles from the trail crossing of Bluff Creek Drive).

I documented the ride back to help out the BikeLover, so here are a few photos of the route:

This is an example of the trail maps that are located along the LRT trail. It's a Three Rivers Park District trail, so it is well marked and has maps like these, and trail signs like the one above at major road crossings. The trail is an old rail grade, so it is not hilly, and made up mostly of crushed limestone.

About halfway between Chaska and South Minneapolis is the Depot Coffee Shop. The Depot is a very popular stop because it's right on the trail and a good distance from Minneapolis, so a lot of riders head out to the Depot, take rest stop and then return to MPLS. Group rides also leave from the Depot due to ample parking and the fact that anybody who rides a bike probably knows where this is.

The Southwest LRT trail somehow magically becomes the Midtown Greenway west of Lake Harriet. At Lake Harriet, I ducked south and followed the Lakes around to Minnehaha Parkway and took that the rest of the way home.

All told, it was an easy 24.5 miles or so, and about 95% of that was on designated trails. I had ridden this trail at least once before, but I did not realize where I was - I parked at the Depot and rode west to the end of the trail but did not pay much attention to the maps. I find the rail grade trails to be a little boring at times, but this one was as good as any I have been on and learning the route was well worth the effort.


  1. That looks great. How is it riding on the crushed limestone? This is something the wife and I could do.

  2. Crushed limestone is not too bad. The name "crushed limestone" is a little misleading. It sounds like riding on the rocks they top-dress parking lots at the state fair with. It's actually smaller material than that and it feels a lot like a gravel road. I don't enjoy crushed limestone as much as pavement, but it is very rideable. The only bad time I ever had with it was on the Red Cedar trail in Wisconsin some time in mid-March. It was transitioning from frozen to thawed, so the top couple of inches was wet and loose, and it was like riding in quick sand. Very difficult and slow going.

    I rode this on my road bike, with 700 x 25c tires at 105 psi. Not the preferred option, but it worked just fine. If I was going to do this again, I would attach it with the Cross Check, which runs 700 x 32 or 700 x 36 tires. A hybrid or mountain bike with semi-slicks or light knobbies would be perfect,