The Drive: Minnesota Hwy. 16, east from Preston to Hokah.
The Overview: This National Scenic Byway features lots of curves, hills and limestone bluffs and takes you through areas that look nothing like the rest of southern Minnesota. The 44-mile route runs alongside the Root River, and the scenery and colors are glorious to behold. Preston is the self-proclaimed Trout Capital of Minnesota and home to the National Trout Center. (There’s a large trout next to the visitors information booth to reinforce that idea.)
Get There: Take Hwy. 52 south from Rochester to Preston, then take Hwy. 16 east to Hokah.
Try A Different Kind Of Bike: Preston is also the place where the Root River Trail and the Harmony-Preston Valley State Bike Trail meet. Many towns along the route rent bicycles (including recumbents). The blacktopped bike trail gives you a more intimate look at the river valley.
Have Your Pie: And eat it, too, at the Aroma Pie Shoppe in Whalan. Re-opened this spring with a new owner, the shop also sells sandwiches. It’s open Thurs.-Mon., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Take a left off of Hwy. 16 to reach this quaint little town.
Fun Places To Stay: Lanesboro may be the bed-and-breakfast capital of Minnesota, but it also has a new hotel created for bikers by a biker. Pat Shanahan’s Iron Horse Outfitters & Inn, 100 Coffee St., welcomes small groups of bikers in a converted furniture store that salutes the railroad. In Preston, you can bed down in the sheriff’s quarters or the old drunk tank at the Jailhouse Inn, 109 Houston St. NW. The old Fillmore County jail is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Look Out For: Amish farmers. You’re most apt to see Old Order Amish between Preston and Lanesboro. Many resist placing the triangular orange slow-moving vehicle sign on their black horse-drawn carriages. They sometimes operate roadside stands near the Hwy. 52/Hwy. 16 intersection and at a pullout along 16 where you can buy Amish-made goods ranging from baskets and quilts to homemade jams and jellies.
Ride submitted by Cynthia Lueck Sowden