What makes a great motorcycle road? Over at Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly, our opinion is any road you can ride is good, just some are better than others. The best roads most always have a few common traits. First, it must be scenic. Second, a few corners are nice. And third, the less traffic the better. In the interest of motorcycling enjoyment, we called in sick and headed to our favorite riding area, Southeastern Minnesota, and using highly scientific methods complied this list. So, in no particular order here are our Top Ten Motorcycle Roads of Southeastern Minnesota.
Story by the staff of Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly
The Great River Road, Hwy 61. I know, I know, everybody knows about it. Sure, it can be busy, but how can you beat a road with “Great” in its name? Stunning scenery, quaint towns, and even a few curves. Be sure to follow it at least as far as the Iowa border. In the words of Bob Dylan, “And head that way down on Highway 61.” experiencemississippiriver.com
Hwy 60, from Zumbrota to Wabasha. Hwy 60 is unique because it’s the only state highway that runs continuously from one border to another, from Wisconsin to Iowa. The section we love is that 35-mile stretch on the eastern end. Along the route you’ll pass the Spring Creek Motocross Park, home to the legendary Spring Creek National Motocross race. For a fun side trip follow Wabasha Co. Rd. 11 along the Zumbro River valley which meets Hwy. 60 at the Spring Creek Motocross Park to Hwy 63 and loop back north to Hwy. 60.
MN Hwy. 16, “Bluff Country Byway” Preston to La Crescent. Here’s a veteran riding tip: If the word “byway” is in the name of a road, it’s probably pretty good. This historic road was once part of a network of national highways that connected the East Coast to the West Coast. Now a charming byway, this road brings you from the prairie to the driftless region of bluffs untouched by Ice Age glaciers. As a bonus, head across the river to the Wisconsin side, and take Hwy. 35 north. Or south. Either way. bluffcountry.com/byway16.html
US Hwy. 52, between I-90 and Preston. This is part of the Hwy 52 that returns to two-lane. As it heads south you are brought through the heart of Amish country in southeastern Minnesota. Watch for the black buggies. The charms of 52 lies in the relaxed feel of the countryside it literally rolls through. A fun side trip is to Niagara Cave and the underground waterfalls south of Harmony.
Welch Village Rd (Goodhue Co. Rd. 7), from US Hwy. 61 to MN Hwy. 19. This was once one of the semi-secret sportbike haunts of the south metro. A winding stretch of pavement that attracted a menagerie of riders on weekend nights. Quieter now, it still is one seriously fun road. A nice route includes heading either direction on Hwy. 19 toward Cannon Falls or Red Wing.
MN74, from St. Charles to Weaver. This highway is one of the oldest in the area. Some portions date back to earliest public roads in the territory. Passing through Whitewater State Park, MN Highway 74 is a mix of curving pavement in the southern section and winding gravel on the northern end.
US14 from Rochester to Winona. This U.S. highway runs all the way from Chicago to Yellowstone National Park. Most through traffic sticks to I-90, so we’ll let 14 be our little secret. Shhhh!
Trans Minnesota Adventure Trail. For the more adventurous crowd there’s the Trans Minnesota Adventure Trail, or TMAT for short. This collection of gravel roads and trails goes all the way from Iowa to Canada. Laid out by dedicated dual sport enthusiasts, the TMAT lets you explore some of Minnesota’s dirtier roads. (Not that kinda of dirty, we mean gravel and such.) Download the GPS tracks and learn more at minneadv.info/tmat/
Houston County Road 249 from Reno to Caledonia then MN Hwy 76 to I-90. These two roads are, in a word, bucolic. Yep, I had to look it up as well. Bucolic means “of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life.” Pretty much sums it up. 249 is gravel and 76 is paved. Enjoy.
Whatever road you’re riding on. We know, it’s a cliche that’s as cheesy as a 70’s era van with a wizard mural, but it’s true. Get out, ride, and enjoy it. Not every road can be postcard scenery and racetrack corners. The best road is ultimately the one you’re riding.