The Drive: The 100-mile run from Faribault to New Ulm.
The Overview: This ride—bordered by the Minnesota River to the west and I-35 in the east—carves through the Southern Minnesota Lakes Region, previously known as the Big Woods. Your route will take you between farmland, across the meandering Cannon River, and past numerous lakes, parks, and wildlife management areas.
Get There: From Rochester (for the quick route), take 52 north to 60 west to Faribault. Then head west on MN-60 to 13 north to 11 west to 5 west to New Ulm.
Lunch Stop: We’re partial to the Smoqehouse in Faribault. The “fast casual eatery” features hand-crafted sandwiches, salads, soups, and whatever else they might feel like making that day. And just hope to god they’re making the brisket sandwich (which they do, every day). smoqehouse.com.
Tour A Brewery (And Sample Root Beer): Michael Jackson—the famous beer critic, not the one-gloved singer—called the August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm the “prettiest brewery in the country.” Worthy praise. The grounds of the Schell brewery—especially the renowned Schell Gardens—are a stand-alone destination, even for visitors who don’t drink beer. Tours of the brewery are also available (and end with samples of both beer and 1919 root beer). schellsbrewery.com.
Follow The Way Of The Cross: New Ulm’s Way of the Cross, built in 1903, runs up Loretto Hill to a small chapel with a view of the Minnesota River. Each of the 14 stations contains a scene and is marked by a small brick structure topped with a Celtic cross. The park also features a pergola, benches, and kiosks spread throughout. www.newulm.com.
Visit A Store Frozen In Time: In the late 1800s, riverboat travelers along the Minnesota River would stop in a small hamlet known as West Newton, home to a hotel, sawmill, brewery, livery and general store. Today, all that remains of West Newton is the Harkin Store, the store that seems to have been frozen in time along County Rd. 21 just outside New Ulm.
Find The Hidden Falls: Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park, on MN-60 just east of Faribault, may be one of the region’s best-kept secrets. The heavily forested park just south of Northfield is great for hiking and watching wildlife. But what you really want to do is get off your bike (or out of your car) and find the Hidden Falls. (And you can find the Hidden Falls.) Sure, it’s only 10 feet high with a 30-foot crest, but trust us: It’s worth the half-mile hike.
Ride submitted by Guido Ebert