Ever since Moto Mania (yes, a huge write up and many photos are coming soon...), I have been wanting to get my 883 out on more gravel and dirt roads to go adventure riding. The trick has been finding places to ride near the Twin Cities but thanks to some recommendations and gravelmap.com, I found some good spots over the last two weekends. If you have additional recommendations, please send them to me!!!
The first place I found was the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area near Ham Lake and East Bethel, MN. I visited the park two weeks ago and it was beautiful! While I know snowmobiles and ATVs are clearly banned, I didn't see any reason I couldn't ride a motorcycle through it so I did.
After that experience, I wanted more and planned a full day down in the Red Wing, MN area this past Friday. Here are a few sunrise photos along the St. Croix Trail between I-94 and Prescott (which is now freshly re-paved by the way - go check it out). I crossed into Wisconsin at Prescott and back into Minnesota at Red Wing.
The "Minimum Maintenance Road" sign is my new favorite sign. I want to find more roads with this sign. This is Collischan Rd. in Red Wing, MN and it was a lot of fun to ride.
At the end of the road is a little boat launch...
...and next to the boat launch is the entrance to a trail. I was hesitant at first and then decided to go for it. On my first ride down the trail, there were a few spots where I got off the bike and inspected the terrain to ensure it wasn't too soft or muddy. I was traveling solo and didn't want to get stuck. That said, I was so glad I took a chance. I didn't go far but the little bit of the trail I rode was SO FUN!
I rode that road and the trail back and forth a few times before heading out (see video below). The next Minimum Maintenance Road was 305th St in Hay Creek, MN between County 1 Blvd and MN-58. Hay Creek Trail is a good ride too.
Of course, I couldn't get that close to Welch and Vasa without riding the road between them. If you haven't, I HIGHLY recommend it (do it multiple times back-and-forth).
Halfway between Welch and Vasa, I tried crossing the little bridge on the side of the road to check out the trail on the other side.
However, the trail was so overgrown, I wasn't comfortable riding over terrain I couldn't read at all. There could be stumps or rocks or mud and I felt that I pushed my luck enough already. That said, riding even a little bit down the trail was pretty cool since you were quickly engulfed in nature. It was just tricky to turn around.
I found a few more gravel roads nearby before heading back into Wisconsin.
My last stop before crossing back into Minnesota again was the Nauti Hawg. The high temp was over 90 degrees and I was in full gear due to the kind of riding I was doing. It was really hot.
Overall, I covered 275 miles that day and it was awesome. I modified this bike to make it perform well both on- and off-road and it does. I know trackers and scramblers are kind of trendy right now but I just hope people who build them get out and actually ride them the way they are intended to be ridden because it's a blast!
Here is some GoPro footage (chest mounted) of Collischan Rd in Red Wing and that little trail next to the boat ramp. If you only watch one, watch Part 2 (the trail through the woods). If your computer and Internet connection supports it, check it out in HD (1080p 60fps).