Monday, September 30, 2013

Biking Minnesota's Root River Trail: A Road Scholar Program

This Road Scholar (Elderhostel) program is an active, outdoor program based out of Lanesboro, Minnesota, a quaint town of 754 people with a charming downtown, a thriving professional theatre company, a number of very fine restaurants, and easy access to the Root River State Trail which passes right through the downtown.  Renowned for its numerous comfortable B&Bs, Lanesboro also has several campgrounds, including one at the top of the town's 130 year old dam.

Our accommodations were in the lovely and modern Cottage Inn on the main street seen below, and the providers of the program are Terry and Joyce Grier, former owners of a sporting goods store who led and supported the four bike rides that used their Specialized brand hybrid bikes, support van, and trailer.

Breakfasts were in the Inn each morning, lunches were provided by Terry and Joyce, either outdoors along the trail or in the Inn's conference room, and wonderful suppers were held at four different restaurants in town.  We biked about 115 miles in total, including all of the 42 mile Root River State Trail between Fountain and Houston, as well as the connecting 18 mile Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail which runs between the Root River Trail and Harmony.

The lovely Root River State Trail is paved and predominantly flat, passes through the small towns of Whalen, Peterson, and Rushford before ending in Houston as you head east.  Heading west from Lanesboro, you pass the trail junction that takes you to Preston and Harmony before ending in Fountain.  The trail often provides views of the river as seen below...

...and often crosses old railroad trestles, both short and long in length...

We also hiked one morning at the nearby Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center...

...and had sessions on the history of the local Commonweal Theatre professional theatre company and a tour of its 3.5 million dollar facility across the street from Inn led by Scott, as well as a presentation by Doug, the artistic director of The Great River Shakespeare Festival.  Finally, Hal, the artistic director of the Commonweal Theatre, talked to us about drama, preparing us for seeing the current Commonweal production, "The Memory of Water" on Thursday evening, followed by a "talk-back" with the cast and director afterwards.

We also got to meet "Alice the Owl" at the Houston Nature Center, as its founder, Karla Bloem, spoke to us about the center and also The International Owl Center which is housed in this small Minnesota town of 1000 people which even hosts an international owl conference.


Here is a video showing highlights of our week's activities...

Photos for download are available here


1 comment:

bryceviewlodge said...
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