After a miserable hot and humid Friday and Saturday, it rained Sunday morning and the weather cooled. The sun came out and it was a beautiful afternoon. I was inspired to go for a ride. Looking at a map, I picked Excelsior, on the southern shore of Lake Minnetonka.
I took the Cedar Lake Trail/North Cedar Lake Trail to Hopkins, and missed my turn to pick up the Minnetonka LRT trail, which I realized when I stopped to admire Shady Oak Lake and discovered I was on the wrong trail. Note to self: turn north just past Luther Hopkins Honda.
Ride a block or two through downtown Hopkins, catch sight of a giant raspberry statue, and then catch the Minnetonka trail. It's a crushed limestone trail, but is a smoother ride than many of the asphalt trails. There are frequent stops while you are in town, crossing mostly quiet residential streets. There's a Lunds & Byerlys supermarket right off the trail between Hopkins and Minnetonka if you need to refuel.
Somewhere along the way I saw a sign that said "Carver Park Reserve, 16.1 miles." I've been contemplating an overnight bike camping trip there for some time, so I adjusted my destination accordingly. Excelsior was still en route.
Passing Carson Bay you get the sense that people might be into boating around here, but once you get a half mile or so down the trail it really opens up onto Lake Minnetonka. It looked perfect: clear blue water and a couple sailboats out in the distance. Crossing over Excelsior Bay you start to see yachts and other pricey toys.
A few miles more (6 maybe?) and I arrived at Carver Park Reserve. A sign pointed me to an adjacent trail: "Bicycle Camping, 2.5 miles." (The Star Tribune recently ran an article about the new dedicated bike camping site.) I decided I didn't need to ride all the way to the campsite, so I turned around and headed back.
Wildlife that tried to kill itself under my tires: 4 rabbits, 1 chipmunk, 1 squirrel, a couple close encounters with birds. And I saw many, many dead frogs that had gone under the wheels of previous cyclists. (Not to worry, from the racket they were making, the frog population is in no danger.)
It's about 25 miles from downtown Minneapolis to Carver Park Reserve. With my extra detour to Shady Oak Lake, it was a 53 mile round-trip. A one-way trip would be workable even on a Friday night after work, thanks to 9 o'clock sunsets. Now I just need to make sure I know how I'm going to strap my sleeping bag and tent to my bike rack, and whatever other provisions I might need.