The Roads of Washington County (By
Ride and Glide Bike and Ski Club)
Ride and Glide Bike and Ski Club has been holding
planned Tuesday night rides starting from Ramsey Beach in White Bear Lake for 10
years and informal rides for well over 15 years. Every Tuesday we take a
different route of varying distances depending on the available day light.
Over the years we've hit just about every bike friendly road in the county, and
that's a lot of roads because Washington County roads are almost all bike
friendly due to wide shoulders and minimal traffic. After riding in all
parts of the county we've come up with a list of featured roads and trips that
take in those roads. These roads are all paved and intended for road
bikes. These are by no means the only roads to ride on. There just
the best of what is highlighted on the "Bike Friendly Road Map" Below you
will also find a list of rides, all starting and finishing at
Ramsey Beach. Each ride is rated for distance and terrain and which of the
"featured" roads it takes in. Rides are listed in lengths of
20-30, 30-40, or 40-50 miles and in types like flat, rolling or hilly.
Each ride has it own map with the route highlighted. There is also a
general map of all the rideable roads in the county with the
"featured" roads highlighted so you can make up your own
routes. Feel free to print these maps and distribute them as long as they
contain the credits of where they came from. If you know of a road that we
missed please drop us an e-mail. We'd love to know about it. I'm
sure there are roads in the far southern parts of the county that we've missed
as we tend to concentrate on the northern parts and the Afton area. If you
don't see a route you like drop me an e-mail
and tell me were you want to go and I'll make you a route map.
Washington County Bike Friendly Road Map :
All highlighted roads on this map are very suitable for cycling. They are
paved and either have wide shoulders or are very quiet. Hwy 96 is the
exception. Over the years it has become a lot busier. Ride single file and be watchful. It's
included here because it's a more direct route to access some of the areas on
the map. It's definitely rideable if you're careful. In the northern
part of the county if the road isn't highlighted, it's probably gravel. South of
Hwy 36 if you see a route that'd not marked let me know.
Map of all rideable roads in the area: (Use in conjunction with
Roads north of Scandia
"Featured" roads of Washington
County (Check the map above while reading
- North end Big Marine Lake : Until
recently there was only one connecting route from Hwy 15 to Hwy 3 north of
Big Marine Lake other than the major highway 97. About 2 miles north
of the intersection of hwy 4 and 15 you'll find Mayberry heading east
towards Scandia. Mayberry is a nice quiet road that winds past several
farms before it passes the north end public access of Big Marine Lake.
From there it climbs a little hill and intersects with Lofton.
Mayberry heads south and eventually intersects with 205th street that heads
over to Hwy 3 just south of Scandia. The Mayberry section is very
heavily wooded and shady and even has a nice twisting hill to climb before
it intersects with 205th. This route has always been one of my
favorite roads to ride. But now things are even better. Roads
that had previously been gravel have been paved. You can head south on
Maxwell about a 1/4 mile past the Lofton intersection it runs into
195th. Turn left and head out to Hwy 3 or turn right in about a mile
and climb a nice hill and winding stretch of road that hugs the shore of Big
Marine Lake until it hits 185th where it heads out to hwy
3. Or, instead of turning on 205th you can stay on Mayberry
heading south and run into 195th just like from Maxwell. All of these roads
are great to ride on and the pavement is perfect and there's rarely
any traffic. If it's windy it's always nice and sheltered
in here because the woods are so thick. If you're in this area make it
a point to hit these roads to connect between hwy 15 and 3. Check them
out on the map.
- Oneka Lake Road : This road and a
few connecting roads are a great way to get from downtown Hugo to hwy 4
without just going up busy hwy 61. A flat and winding road the passes
through a housing development and heavy woods until it comes to Harrow
St. Head north until you come to 165th and then east over to Ingersol and
then north up to hwy 4. Very quiet roads and nice countryside.
- Nason Hill : This is
a shorter steeper version of the Coulee but in a much more secluded
place. This is the gem of the northern part of the county. A
twisting road that climbs out of the St. Croix river valley from Marine on
the St. Croix. This road is actually hwy 7, the same road that goes
through the Square Lake Saddle. The road is cut into the hill in a
very narrow gully. Rock walls rise up immediately from the side of the
road. There are enough turns in the climb that you can't see the top
until you are almost there. It's about .7 miles long with a max
gradient of 11%. It also a blast going down it, just make sure you're
on your brakes by the left hand curve near the bottom because there's a stop
sign just around the next corner as the road dumps out on hwy 95.
- Hippo Hill : Otherwise known as
199th. I call it Hippo Hill because there's a propane tank farm at the
bottom where 199th meets hwy 95 in Copas. Right where the Crabtree
Corner restaurant used to be. Now it's a bird food store. Hippo
Hill is very similar to Nason Hill. Very winding and narrow, but not
quite as steep. Going down it you can really let it run, but be
careful because there are railroad tracks at the bottom of the hill just
before you come out on to hwy 95. At the top of the hill you intersect
with hwy 58 which gives a gradual climb into Scandia. Stop at the
grocery store for refreshments. They have no problem with cyclists
clomping through their store. You can fill up with water. Be
sure to buy something to show your appreciation for being bike
friendly. They have wrapped sandwiches, sports drinks and
Powerbars. A very popular cycling stop.
- The Tunnel : The other downhill
route into Marine on the St. Croix is hwy 4. A mile and a half before
you reach town the road goes through a tunnel under a railroad track.
If you're heading east on hwy 4 the lead in to the tunnel is downhill for a
good mile before the tunnel so you can get up a good head of steam.
But be careful because there's a tight right turn just after the
tunnel. I've seen people negotiate it at 20+ mph but I wouldn't want
to hit any sand or meet a car coming the other way. Better to slow
down a bit before entering the tunnel. Going into Marine via this
route you come to a stop sign. Take a left and head down a gradual
hill and then a quite steep one with a stop sign at the bottom. This
is hwy 95. Go across the street into town and take a break at the
General Store. Water isn't conveniently available here. There's
also an ice cream shop and a cafe in town. Try riding here early on
Saturday for breakfast at the cafe. A popular place for cyclists.
- North of Hwy97 (Scandia) : The
area north of Hwy 97 (Scandia) has some nice roads. Co 3 continues
north from Scandia and goes all the way to Lindstrom. Or you can turn
right on Co 86 and head over to hwy95 and on up to Osceola. This is a
good alternative to riding on hwy95 all the way to Osceola. Co 52 goes
northwest out of Scandia and head up to Bone Lake. There are
some nice winding rolling hills out here. You eventually pop out on Lofton
and can head back south and hit the Big Marine Lake Area mentioned
above. This area of off the main map. Check out the other map
for area north of Scandia.
- Co 57/58 (Withrow) : Finally the
section of Co 57, between the two lakes, that washed out about 5 years ago
is paved again. Besides being a good connecting route up to Hwy 4 or Hwy 15
via Co 58, these two road are great to ride on. Especially Co.
58. They're very quiet and interesting. Basically flat with
little rollers, turns and lots of small lakes.
- Co 68/Mendel (Withrow) : Home of
the Withrow Ballroom, Withrow also now has a restaurant. It's the only
commercial property in the area. It's a sit down place so plan
accordingly. Hwy 68 south out of Withrow is a real treat.
The road zigzags back and forth all the way to the intersection with hwy 15
and the Gateway Trail. It's well sheltered and a good bet when it's
windy. Once at the hwy 15 intersection, Mendel heads southeast just
past the Gateway crossing down to hwy 96. This road is another of those
quiet winding treats. Check out the Texas Longhorn cattle on the east
side of the road about halfway between 15 and 96.
- Square Lake Saddle : Square Lake sits
at the bottom of a saddle where Co 7 (Sq. Lake Trail) and CO 51 (Partridge)
intersect. There are 3 climbs that start at this intersection.
Co 7 going north is a short medium steep climb that takes you to the
entrance to the park. Co 7 going west is a longer easier climb that
can be taken in quite a large gear. The climb levels out and then
drops again and then starts in again. This makes a good long hill to
ride up. Co 7 is nice because it has a 10 foot wide
shoulder. Co 7 heading east is the standard way to get to Square
Lake. Partridge heads south from the intersection is the
steepest. It's got a long easy approach and a steep middle and at the
top it never seems to level out . You think you're at the top but it's still
a bit uphill for a quarter mile or so. Keep heading south and you'll find
some more rolling climbs and come out on Hwy 95 north of Stillwater .This
saddle is a good area if you're looking to do hill repeats. Or pack
your swim suit, ride out and take a swim in Square Lake. This is a
very popular destination for cyclists.
- Norell : Otherwise known as hwy
55. The portion described here is that part north of hwy 7 (Square
Lake Trail). and south of hwy 4. This road is a roller coaster. A quite road
with rolling hills past farm land and several lakes. This road is one
of my favorites to ride in a pack and really hammer. All the hills are
short so you can just stand up and power over them. Or just cruise
along and enjoy the scenery. This is the standard way of getting to
Hwy 3 (Olinda Trail) from hwy 7.
- Hwy 3 (Olinda Trail) : A recently
reconstructed road that was designed with input from cyclists. The
result was a wide shoulder instead of an off road trail. It's a
straight shot up to Scandia with a 10 foot wide shoulder. A good place
to practice your double pacelines or just ride side by side and talk.
One of the best and safest cruising roads around. This road is a
good way to access the north side of Big Marine area. Via 185th,
195th, and 205th.
- Co 11 Hill : The climb up from the
river at the intersection of hwy 96 and hwy 95 on Co 11 is the steepest in
the county. Usually accessed by going down the big hill on 96 heading
east towards the river. Be ready to hit the brakes as you fly down 96
because Co 11 turns left just before you reach hwy 95 and the river.
Take that left and keep up your momentum because the climb starts right
around the corner and gets steep very fast. It levels out for a while
and then takes a dive down into a valley and then climbs up again not as
steep but a lot longer. It almost harder than the first climb
especially with dead legs from the first. Very quiet in here and
hardly any traffic.
- Nolan : This road is a more
interesting route to take when returning from Afton via Neal. When you
hit 10th street, instead of angling over to 20th street and over to Lake
Elmo, take a right and in about a quarter mile turn left on Nolan.
This is a nice quiet road with a curved climb at the start and then a long
straightaway, a left turn and another little climb and then a right turn and
a smooth straight cruise on Neal again up to 30th street. From there
take a left and take 30th into Lake Elmo.
- 30th street : 30th street is a
mile long gradual climb from Neal to past Oakgreen. Once you crest
the hill past Oakgreen there's a long downhill with a sprinters climb at the
bottom. Get up a good head of steam and stand up and hammer over the
little climb and then hold on for a twisting tree lined downhill out to hwy
21 (Stagecoach). This is one of my favorite ride segments.
- Afton Area : The Afton area is all
about hills. There are plenty of gently rolling roads, but the big
attraction is the long hills. While not necessarily the steepest they
are some of the longest hills around. There are four major hills in
the Afton area. Indian trail, 15th street, Valley Creek Road and The
Coulee. This is a destination area. There are only a few access routes
to get here so we'll just describe the area and then in the ride section
we'll just have this area as a destination where you can pick the hills you
want and then return to Ramsey Beach. The hills climb out of the St.
Croix River Valley, off of Stagecoach Rd (Co21), to Neal St. on the top of
the ridge. You can access Afton from Stagecoach Road at the
bottom of all the climbs or from Neal at the top and begin your adventure
with a downhill before climbing back out. The easiest way to tour
Afton (i.e. avoid the hills) is to enter from Neal and go down any of the hills listed and then
leave Afton via Stagecoach which is a fairly easy climb up to the Highway 94
overpass. Indian Trail contains some of the steepest sections of any
of the climbs. One nice thing about it however is that has several
downhills in it as well so you get a chance to recover before you start the
next climb. Indian Trail comes out
halfway between Stagecoach and Neal on the south side of I94 on the frontage
road. When heading
south into Afton on Stagecoach, Indian Trail is the first intersection you come to. The next intersection, about a quarter
mile down the road is 15th Street. 15th Street is a good steady
moderate climb. It starts to level off at the top and than has a final
little bump before it intersects Neal St. Valley Creek Rd is the next
intersection after 15th Street and is the last climb before entering the
town of Afton. Valley Creek is a very gentle continuous climb all the
way to Neal. If you skip this intersection you continue on into Afton
over some nice rolling hills until you come into town. The Coulee is
at the far end of town on Hwy95. There's a great coffee/ice cream shop
on your left just before the climb starts. A bike friendly store
that's very popular with riders. The Coulee is a highway but
it's has a reasonable shoulder and usually isn't too busy. The climb
is longer than any of the other climbs (.8 miles). It starts out about
the same as 15th street, it levels out a little in the middle and then gets
steeper at the end. Once at the top keep going about another half mile
and turn right onto another steep short climb, 50th, that takes you over to Trading
Post Rd. Take a right and head back north towards Old Hwy 95.
Left on Old 95 for another short steep climb. Now you're up on
top. Take a right on Oakgreen and go through the housing development
until you come to 30th. Take a left, do a few rollers and you arrive
at Neal. Neal to the north takes you back home, or you can go back
down Valley Creek and climb back out on Indian Trail on the way home. This is
the best route to get back to Neal if you want to climb the Coulee.
Check out the map and pick your route through this Mecca of Twin Cities
- The Gateway Trail : This off road
rail-trail starts in St. Paul and runs northeast through the northern part
of Washington County and ends at Pine Point Park.. You can always use
it as a shortcut in getting from one road to another. It's also a good
access route to the County. Locate it on the map and use it if you need a
shortcut. It's marked in blue on
the All Roads Map.
Access roads to Washington County
If you'd like to ride your bike to the start of
these routes there are a few good routes to use to get from St. Paul and
it's first tier of suburbs like Roseville, Maplewood, Oakdale and Shoreview to
Washington County. Since you basically have to go east and cross 35E
or 694 to get to the county you only have a few options in getting to these
rides. In the north there is County 14 from Centerville to Hugo.
Centrally there is Goose Lake Road that comes in to White Bear Lake from the
southwest and Co Rd I and Otter Lake Road that enters White Bear Lake from the
northwest. From the south you can access the areas south of highway 36
down towards Afton via Co 5 from Oakdale. And there's always the Gateway
Trail that goes all the way from downtown St. Paul through north St. Paul right
into the center of the northern half of the county. All these routes can
be seen on the Bike Friendly Road Map marked in "green".
Routes in the maps below that use the featured roads described
above. Terrain description, chances for water and maps. Each map has
the featured roads in red,
featured areas in purple and the
rest of the route in blue. Black
dots indicate water available. Black triangles indicate water and food.
Try one of these routes or make your own from the All Roads Map above.
Note: There are only a few ways to get out of the
Ramsey Beach area and into Washington County:
- The most popular route is to head east on
Hwy96 and turn north on Portland and go up to Co 7 which is the most popular
- Another way is to turn left off of Hwy96 a block before Portland and angle
back over to Buffalo and out to Hwy 61 and then north up to Hugo where you
can then head east into the area on Oneka Lake Rd
- The last way is to stay on Hwy 96 going east until you come to some of the
roads that head south towards Afton or north towards Withrow like Co 9 or go
further to Co 55 where you go south towards Stillwater or north towards
Square Lake Hwy 96 is busy, but rideable, so be careful and be
sure to ride single file.
- Detailed list of
turns to get to Hwy 12 from Ramsey Beach via Quail St. : Head out
on 96 to Quail. Turn south. Continue about a mile and turn left on
Briarwood. Continue east to Hallum and turn right. South on
Hallum to Juniper and turn left. East on Juniper to East St. Turn
right. South all the way to Hwy 12. Gas station on right.
Miles : Oneka Lk Road, 57, and 58 - A flat ride on nice quiet
roads. Take the first left off of 96 on Northwest, not Portland. and
angle back to Buffalo and out to Hwy 61. Take the wide shoulder on 61
all the way to Hugo. Go through the lights and turn right on Oneka Lk
Rd. Turn left off Oneka onto Harrow when you see gravel ahead (about 2
miles.) North on Harrow to 165th, then right to Ingersol. Left
on Ingersol up to Co 4. Head east to Co 57 and take a right.
Rolling hills and flats all the way down to Co 7. Once at 7 turn right
and head back towards White Bear Lake. Turn south when you hit
Portland which will take you back to Hwy 96 and the lake. Food and
water in Hugo at Nadeau's on your right south of town or the gas stations in
- Warning: As of the Summer of 2003 there are
construction spots on 61 near Hugo and small patches of gravel on Oneka/Harrow/165th.
But still rideable
Miles : Withrow, 68, Mendel, 58, and 57 - Another flat ride out Co 7
to the town of Withrow. One of my favorite roads, south out of Withrow,
is Co 68. It zigzags it way down to Hwy 15 where it meets the Gateway
trail. Go south on 15 just past the Gateway and turn left on Mendel.
More winding quiet roads all the way to Hwy 96. Out onto 96 for a
short jaunt head east to the stop sign. Turn left on 55. Nice rolling
hills until you come to Co 61. Turn left onto brand new pavement.
Angle northwest crossing the Gateway again. Eventually the road turns
west and heads out to 15. Take 15 north about a quarter mile and turn
left on 7. Take 7 back towards White Bear Lake. Turn south when you
hit Portland which will take you back to Hwy 96 and the lake. Possible
food stop in Withrow at sit down restaurant.
- 38 Miles : Norel,
Big Marine Lake, and Oneka Lk road - This route heads out Co 7 past
Co 15 to Norel. Then goes north on the roller coaster hills of
Norel (55) and continues north towards Scandia on Olinda trail (Co 3).
Then it enters the North end of Big Marine Lake where you can choose several
routes to get you over to Co 15. Pick 185th, 195th, or 205th.
From there it goes south to Co 4 and then west over to Ingersol. Then
it angles over to Hugo via Harrow and Oneka Lk Rd. Once in Hugo you
head south on the busy, but wide shouldered Hwy61. Take a left at the
lights on Buffalo and the a quick right on an angle road back down to Hwy 96
and home. Water available in Scandia if you take a short half mile
side trip on Co 3. Also water available in Hugo at gas stations or
food at Nadeau's market just south of town. Rolling hills on Norel and
Big Marine area otherwise flat.
- 35 Miles : Norel,
The Tunnel, Nason Hill, and Square Lake - This route heads out Co 7
past Co 15 to Norel. Then goes north on the roller coaster like Norel until
it hits Co 4. Turn right and head east towards Marine on St
Croix. Go through The Tunnel and continue on to a stop sign above
town. Turn left and go down the hill to Marine. Cross Hwy 95 and
go into town, stop at the General Store if needed. Continue through
town to the south and cross over Hwy 95 and begin the climb up Nason Hill,
which is also Co 7. Co 7 turns left at a stop sign about a mile after
you finish the climb and heads south
towards Square Lake. Stay on 7 when you intersect with Co 56 by turning
right. The park is on your right. Water is available during the
summer. Continue on Co 7, passing by Withrow on your left and
all the way back to Portland and then south to Hwy 96 and home. There
is a restaurant in Withrow but it's a sit down type. Rolling hills on
Norel, big climbs on Nason Hill and the Square Lake area.
Miles : Square Lk, Nason Hill, Hippo Hill and Big Marine Lk -
route goes out 7 all the way to Square Lake. Cruise down into the
saddle and climb out past the park entrance. Keep going north on 7 and
you come to a stop sign. Co 7 goes to the right and plunges down Nason
Hill into Marine on St-Croix. Watch the stop sign at the bottom of the
hill. Cross over Hwy 95 and go into town. Food available at the
general store. Go through town and back out on to Hwy 95. Wide
shoulder all the way up to Copas, though it's pretty broken up in
places. Go past William O'Brian park entrance and about another 1/2
mile were Hwy 95 veers left. Take a hard left on to 199th (Hippo
Hill). Nice long twisting climb that brings you out to Co 52 that
heads into Scandia. The route turns left on Oxbow before getting to
Scandia. If you like you can head into Scandia for a break at
the grocery store and then rejoin the route by heading south on Co 3 and
connecting up with 205th. Otherwise head south on Oxbow 1to 95th and
then right over to the Big Marine Lake Area. Look at the map and pick
a route off of 195th, either Mayberry or Maxwell Turn right for
Mayberry or stay straight to hit Maxwell going north. Eventually you
pop out on Co 15 (Manning Trail). Take 15 down to 4 and the right over
to 57 and south down to Co 7 and the way home. You can take a little
side trip on 58 if you like and come out on 15 just north of Co 7.
Miles : Destination Afton - This route heads out on Hwy 96.
This road can be busy. There is a narrow shoulder but it's in bad
shape in places. Be careful. This is definitely a single file
road, but don't let that keep you from using it. Head east all the way
to were the Gateway crosses 96. Just after the Gateway take a right
and surprise, A twisting hill climb right were you wouldn't expect it.
Once up on top it's rolling downhills down to Hwy 12. Take a left on
12 and go over to Co 17. Take Co 17 all the way to Lake Elmo. You'll
cross major Hwy 36 on the way down. Once in Lake Elmo jog left
and then right again and keep going south. The gas station at this
intersection is a good rest stop. South of town take a left on 30th
street. A long straight road that will get you over to
Stagecoach. The last 2 miles of 30th are talked about in the
featured roads section. Stagecoach will take you into the Afton
area. Once there you have many options. The full route
through Afton and up the Coulee and back north and out to Neal is the 50
mile loop. Check out the description in the featured roads section and
pick your route. You can't go wrong. Once you get to Neal you're
on your way back. Neal does not have a shoulder and is quite rough,
but the traffic is usually light. Take Neal north all the way,
crossing over Hwy 94, to 10th street. Cross 10th and veer left and
follow the road up the Co 15. You'll come to a stop sign on 15.
Take a right and then a quick left. The major road you cross in this maneuver
isn't on the map. It's a new portion of 15. Get back on the map
with the quick left and keep going north to 20th st. There's a sign
for Tartan Park. Take a left and head over to Co17 and Lake Elmo (the
lake). Take a right and ride along the lake until you get back into
the town of Lake Elmo. Here we head back on 17, the way we came
out. Once back up to Co 12. Take it over to Co 9 and take that
north to Hwy 96 and then a left and back towards the beach. Water and
food stops in Lake Elmo and Afton and lots of hills.