By Trent Jonas
In Minnesota, a state boasting some of the best trails in the country, there are plenty of amazing places to explore on a dirt bike. For enthusiasts looking to hit the dirt and go, Minnesota will offer a wealth of lush state forests and well-maintained OHV parks for a day of exhilaration. Here are our favorite trails in the state.
Located just north of the Twin Cities, the Chengwatana State Forest’s off-highway motorcycle trails offer a variety of terrain for OHM riders of most any experience level. The trails are located near the state’s border with Wisconsin and curve along the confluence of the Kettle and St. Croix Rivers. The wooded trails afford riders gorgeous views of these wild and scenic rivers as the mount rises and descended gradually through the forest. Some tight curves make the trails a little more challenging, but the whole system can be carefully ridden by a novice. A trail permit is required.
The trails in the Meeker County OHV Park wind through 40 acres of deciduous hardwoods west of the Twin Cities. In addition to a youth training area, the park also has restroom facilities and a shelter for picnicking or ducking out of inclement weather. Narrow trails with lots of curves that snake through elm, maple, ash, and oak trees make this OHV park particularly fun for off-highway motorcycles. Although the park is county-owned, it’s privately maintained by a riding club that recently completed a trail rehabilitation project in the park. Trail permits are required.
Voted “Best ATV Trail” in the state by viewers of Twin Cities CBS affiliate, WCCO, the Spider Lake Trails area is also an awesome spot for off-highway motorcycles. Almost 30 miles of trails trace ridgelines, and curve along the shorelines of lakes and ponds in the forests and wetlands near the Brainerd Lakes area. The combination of graded, sandy trails and rocky, hilly tracks makes Spider Lake Trails a great place for novice bikers to hone their skills, while keeping experienced riders riders on their toes. Hardier riders can enjoy the trails in any season, as the Spider Lake area is open year-round. A trail permit is required.
The 30-mile long Gandy Dancer Trail is by no means the most challenging off-highway motorcycle trail you’ll ride—it follows an abandoned railway grade—but it may well be the most beautiful. Starting in Danbury, Wisconsin, it crosses the St. Croix River and heads north into the Nemadji State Forest, skirting the Black Lake Bog Scientific and Natural Area. Pine forests and vast wetlands make this popular trail feel like it’s worlds away from civilization. Gray wolves, black bears, and bald eagles frequent the forests in the area. A permit is required to use this Minnesota DNR-maintained trail.
Out of its 53 total miles, 35 miles of the Straight Arrows Trail is dedicated single track for off-highway motorcycles. Open for year-round use, Straight Arrows combines some long straightaways with tight curves and sudden, steep hills that offer challenges for experienced OHM riders. The trails cut through deep stands of pine forests, track stream banks, and skirt the wetlands that make this part of the Minnesota unique. The trail is maintained by Pine County and the Straight Arrows Enduro Riders Motorcycle Club. A trail pass is required to ride Straight Arrows.