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Discussion Starter #1
This spring I plan to take a long weekend ride up the east side of the Mississippi River from Dubuque, IA, all the way up to the headwaters at Itasca State Park, then back down the west side.

Does anyone have any must-ride routes or must-see attractions in the area?

Thanks
 

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So...when do you think you'll be up here? Supporting doesn't come to early to Northern Minnesota.

I live in Grand Rapids MN not far from the mighty Mississippi. I'll post some roads from McGregor upstream. In our area there is little distinguishing of roads E or W of the river.

If you have some spare time up here I can recommend a few nice rides.

Autocorrect is my new enema.
Relax and have a homebrew.
 

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Have you looked at the MRT maps from MN DOT?
They routed it for bicycles, but up here a lot of it is along paved roads.

Give a shout out when the date gets closer. I live along the route in Itasca County.

Relax and have a homebrew

Autocorrect is my new enema
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So I started mapping out some routes (using some of the suggestions above already). My original plan was:
  • Day 1, West Bank, Dubuque-to-Twin Cities
  • Day 2, West Bank, TC-to-Itasca
  • Day 3, East Bank, Itasca-to-TC
  • Day 4, East Bank, TC-to-Dubuqe
I did my best to choose roads that ran as close to the river as possible. However, I never realized how much the river meanders once it gets north of the TC. Before long, my Day 2 route was up to 12 hours and I still was a fair distance from the Headwaters. A revision was in order.

In the spirit of this ride's theme (Wisconsin's Western Waters), I started looking at sticking to the WI border. That border shifts from the Mississippi River to the St. Croix River about 20 miiles east of the TC. The river isn't nearly as winding and takes a pretty direct route north, with its headwaters not far from the Lake Superior shore. The distance appears short enough for an enjoyable ride with time for a few side excursions, should the desire arise.
 

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A friend if mine, around the 1st half of May 2 years ago, attempted to find the headwaters of the St. Croix. That was only a few weeks after a mid-April 16+ inch snowfall (in the TC's, presuming similar, or more, in NW WI). He was stopped by unsafe snow conditions remaining on the very last stretches of road to the headwaters, parked and hiked in (ill-prepared) on roads signed off as closed, still covered in snow suited for a snowmobile or ATV. The next year, we had a similar storm with similar snow at the same time.

So... plan accordingly and watch the WI/MN DOT sites, maybe contact those northern county highway dept's for road conditions. The late winters have been quite unusual in the upper Mississippi region for the last several years. I always plan(?) to be on clear, salt free roads by April 1 or so, it has been several years since that last happened.

My fingers are crossed for at least a normal spring arrival, if not early.

Lastly, I'd research spring flooding forecasts for these rivers. I know NW MN & E. ND are forecasting problems with the Red River, knowing that you may want to see how the Miss. and St. Croix regions may do ahead of time. Different terrain 250 miles east of ND, but still lots of draining water that could detour you.

Steve.
 

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If you want to make it to the Mississippi Headwaters, and still stay within the spirit of the River trail, consider this route:

  • North on MN 95 to Taylor's Falls then
  • West on MN 95 to Princeton then
  • North on US169 to Aitkin County 10 ( about 11 miles N of Aitkin) then
  • Rt. Turn East/North on 10 to MN 200, then
  • West on 200 to Itasca State Park.
You have arrived


Relax and have a homebrew

Autocorrect is my new enema
 

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That's a good route, but if you only have a long weekend, (hopefully 4 days) try this route out:
Dubuque,IA
Hudson, WI
Taylor Falls, MN
Princeton MN
Brainerd, MN
Itasca, SP
Either way, enjoy!
It's over 500 miles each way, and you do want to stop and smell the roses, right?
 
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