My wife and I are looking to do a 4-5 day mini-tour in Wisconsin/Minnesota next moth. I was fairly familiar with most of the route 25 years ago, but I'm sure some things have changed. The section that I am not familiar with is from the end of the Root River Trail in Fountain, MN to Wabasha, MN. We would like to stay on mostly paved but quiet and scenic roads, preferably with at least a little shoulder. A little gravel is OK, but we'd rather not be on gravel for miles and miles. It is my wife's first fully loaded tour so I want to make it an enjoyable experience for her. I'm also curious about campgrounds. Are most campgrounds open in mid-May or do they usually open closer to Memorial Day? Any advice is appreciated.
I can't comment on that trail. Sorry on that one. I've motorcycled that area pretty extensively. Most of the roads you'll want to be on on are the state highway map. The roads in that area are generally: pretty, well paved, curvaceous, no shoulders, rolling to hilly. This area is popular with the motorcycle set for those reasons. Avoid State Highway 60 west of Wabasha! Actually, I'd suggest sticking to county roads. Millville on CTY RD 11 along the river is flat and idyllic. There is a private--no services--campground on the river. Never stayed there, but it seems peaceful during the day. Campgrounds abound through the area by my observation. Lanesboro is rife with B&B's. What else?
Thanks for the replies. Castiron, why should I avoid 60 into Wabasha? Traffic? No shoulders? That's the reason I'm trying to get local input. Halfspeed, thanks for the map. I'd been consulting it and looking at the different routes, but was looking for personal favorites and/or recommendations, I guess. Also, I'm still wondering about campgrounds and if they're mostly open at that time of the year. I know it is mostly private property in that area and stealth camping would be difficult. I'm just trying to make it as enjoyable and stress free for the wife as I can. I want her to enjoy the touring experience so she'll want to go on more tours. Thanks again and keep the suggestions coming.
HWY 60 from Zumbro Falls to Wabasha/US 61 is winding, hilly, two-lane, no shoulder, and in places guard rails on the fog line. Lovely road, but loaded on a bicycle? No freakin' way. In general, the county roads are well maintained and sparsely traveled in that area. Whitewater State Park has a good reputation and would be high on my list for camping in that area. State campgrounds should generally be open. Also, this area has most of our trout streams, so you may wish to consider catching dinner. Just don't forget the special trout stamp (and regulations) to go with your license. What else?
The biggest problem with riding near the river is that tourist traffic can get heavy on the weekends. I haven't camped in whitewater state park but it is very pretty and well-maintained. Plus, they have a swimming hole with a sandy beach which might be nice after a hot day's ride. Most campgrounds in Minnesota state parks are nice. I think if you try to stick mostly to the green roads on the state bike map, you'll be OK.