Minneapolis to Lake Minnetonka
Tired of the cities? Why not purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?
Heading this way west out of Minneapolis is well worth the trip. Initially you have to deal with getting through mundane suburbia, but cruising around Excelsior and the surrounding area is wonderful on a sunny summer's day. A few miles further and you're out in lovely rural Minnesota.
Getting Out of the Inner 'Burbs
The only big obstacles are getting across the major highways - 35W, 100, 169, and 494 - to get out of the inner suburbs..
35W is the easiest - Lake Street takes you right under it. In fact, follow Lake Street all the way past Lake Calhoun. Uptown is a fun cruise and I've seen more than one other 'ped along the way. Right after Lake Calhoun, make sure to take the left side of the split onto Excelsior Blvd.
Excelsior Blvd. will take you through St. Louis Park. You'll come up to Highway 100 pretty quickly. Here you have a choice depending on how you're feeling and what traffic's like. You can either stay on Excelsior Blvd. and cross 100 or take a little detour on Monterey Drive. This will take you north a few blocks to another, less busy overpass. It then loops back down south to meet up with Excelsior Blvd once more.
Excelsior Blvd. will take you most of the way now. It's two lanes for all the busy parts and low-speed (I think sub-45 the whole way) , so you won't have to worry about bringing traffic to a crawl. The crossing at 169 may look a little hairy on a map, but I don't recall having too many problems there. Getting over 494 is extremely uneventful, and from there on it's pretty much a neighborhood road to Minnetonka. You'll cross County Road 101, experience a few road name-changes (Delton Ave. to Broms Blvd.), pass Minnetonka High School, and join up parallel with Highway 7.
Highway 7 was built to eat moped riders for lunch and you shouldn't even think about getting on it. Instead, cross at Vine Hill Road. Then, take a quick left on (who would have guessed it?) Excelsior Blvd. again.
Excelsior and Beyond
This part of Excelsior Blvd will get you almost to downtown Excelsior. You can make a right on Lake Street (Oh, the circularity!) and cruise along the waterfront and beach. You'll experience the worst intersection this side of Boston as you make this turn, so be careful. Spend some time downtown, grab an ice cream cone, take a break. At this point, you've made it to Lake Minnetonka, so maybe you feel that you've reached your destination. Maybe so, but I would advise you explore a little further.
You'll get out of downtown Excelsior via Water Street. This is pretty much the "Main Street" and you'll see lots of nice little shops along the way. Take a right on Oak Street which turns into Smithtown Road. Smithtown is a nice cruise in itself and will take you all the way to Highway 7 in between Chaska and Chanhassen, but that's another trip. If you want to see some more small Lake Minnetonka towns and big Lake Minnetonka boats and houses, take a right on Manitou Road as you enter Shorewood.
Manitou Road is mostly low-speed and will lead you through some pretty cool areas and across some fun small bridges. I won't get more specific about where to go from here because a lot of the fun with this ride comes from exploring! Make sure to turn into neighborhoods that look intriguing. Most of the roads up here are moped-friendly and filled with nice curves. Unfortunately, there isn't really a good loop here without going another 30 or so miles out and you'll probably have to end up going back on Manitou, but it's a nice ride, so who cares?
Things to See
Famous people live on Lake Minnetonka and have big houses there. I couldn't tell you who they are or which ones are theirs, but there are people who know these things. But better than that, in my opinion, is the feeling of riding through this area filled with old neighborhoods shaded by big oak trees along the lake.
- Lake Calhoun to Excelsior - 15 Miles
- Excelsior up Manitou Road to Shoreline Drive - 5 Miles
- Round trip with some exploration - 50 miles
This is a great way to get out of the cities if you're heading anywhere west. Head up through Mound and you're quickly into rural Minnesota where it's county roads land - and county roads mean nice, straight, deserted stretches of wide open pavement. Then, your only limit is your ambition. Want to add another 300 miles round trip? Why not hit up the South Dakota border?
This route also works perfectly in reverse. In fact, I rode it first coming from the southwest suburbs to get into the city and eventually over to Stillwater and the Wisconsin border.
Any questions or rendezvous requests can be sent to this article's primary author, Cptkronick