My first ride at Salem Hills: ideal beginner-intermediate trails

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Since all Twin Cities area mountain bike parks remained closed yesterday (except the MN River Bottoms), I decided to make the trip (35 miles, 35 minutes from Northfield) to the Salem Hills Mountain Bike Trails in Harmon Park Reserve in Inver Grove Heights for my first-ever ride there. It’s a gorgeous area, even this time of year when everything’s brown. The Salem Hills MORC review by James Ford says it well:

The park is about 70 acres, laid out in a long north/south direction with gently rolling hills, a small pond and wet land area.  A major portion of the park is reclaimed farm land that has been seeded with natural prairie grasses and wildflowers.  The city also has sections seeded with hardwoods along with a few small sections of pine forest and a few sections of hardwood forest.

A couple of weeks ago, I agreed to be the mountain bike ride coordinator (singletrack) for the Cannon Valley Velo Club based here in Northfield. So I’ve been thinking about the places nearby that I would take beginners besides the double track at the River Bend Nature Center or the new single track beginners loop at Lebanon Hills.  Salem Hills fits the bill perfectly. Again, from the Salem Hills MORC review by James Ford:

When the city of Inver Grove Heights came to MORC asking if we could help them develop a trail system in an underutilized park in the city we were all for it. After getting a chance to walk through the park and see what we had to work with, we found that this park would be perfectly suited to building a beautiful piece of singletrack for first time riders, yet interesting enough that even experienced riders could enjoy the ride.

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There’s one uphill that would pose a challenge for most beginners (center photo above). But it’s short and I would warn them ahead of time that they’ll probably need to push their bikes up it. The rock in the right photo above provides the park’s only technical obstacle, optional, of course.