Things To Do Along The Root River Trail in Southern MN | Besides Bike

Last updated on August 18th, 2019

The best southern Minnesota bike trail has to be the Root River Trail. Thousands of people visit the path each season because of its flat terrain that winds around the Root River Valley. It passes through several small resort towns you don’t want to miss. During the summer, my family will make special camping trips just to go biking on this path. There is so much more to do there than bike. There are tons of amazing things to do along the Root River Trail besides bike. Here are some of the best you need to check out!

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The best southern Minnesota bike trail has to be the Root River Trail. Thousands of people visit the path each season because of its flat terrain that winds around the Root River Valley. It passes through several small resort towns you don’t want to miss. During the summer, my family will make special camping trips just to go biking on this path. There is so much more to do there than bike. There are tons of amazing things to do along the Root River Trail besides bike. Here are some of the best you need to check out!

Things To Do Along the Root River Trail

Niagara Cave & Mystery Cave

Cave Sign

The first stop has to be one of the Cave in MN. Down there it is consistently 48. Bring your coats, because you definitely needed them. I don’t care if it’s 98 degrees on the surface. It will be nice at first but after the first 10 minutes down there, you’ll thank me for it. There are actually two caves in southern MN, Mystery Cave and Niagra Cave. Both are a few minutes apart but have very different features.

Mystery Cave

Mystery Cave is run by Minnesota State Parks. It is a lot less commercial and has a lake inside. They do have bats that inhabit the cave. I found out later at Crystal Cave that the bats are nothing to worry about. But if it’s a deal-breaker, you might want to skip it. On a summer day, visitors need to make a reservation on their website. During the week or on non-peak times you may be able to walk right in. They are handicap accessible.

Niagra Cave

Niagara Cave in Harmony MN has a giant waterfall running through it, which my daughter loved. They also don’t have any bats, which made me happy. The cave has a bunch of fossils along the cave walls. The place has plenty of railing on all stairs. Even though there was water dripping down or ‘Cave Kisses’ as they call it, I never felt unsafe. There were great formations they have lit up for you. They didn’t have as many of the classic stalactites/stalagmite I expected but still was pretty cool.

Cave2Expect to pay $14 for adults and $8 for 4+ to enter. Tours leave every 15 mins. Or on hot days during the summer they may leave every 10 mins but you could wait up to an hour to get in. Remember that every step you go down; you have to go back up. So if you are caring say, a 20lb toddler with you, you will probably be out of breath by the time you get to the surface again depending on what shape you are in.

They have miniature golf out front as well as a place that kids can pan for gems and fossils. It costs anywhere from $5 – $10 for a bag of sediment they can pan though. These MN Caves are both amazing, so have fun. If you are looking for more information about caves in the area, I highly recomend you pickup a copy of Minnesota Caves History and Lore by Greg Brick

Panning

Float Down The Root River

Another favorite for people to do is float down the Root River. There are so many different entry points, depending on what you want to do, you can go on inner tubes, kayak or canoe. You can take a short trip or long trip. There are trips that take off from campgrounds or some that leave from town. The sky is the limit to what you want to do

Amish Tours

Want to get the Amish experience? Take a guided tours by Bluffscape Amish Tours of the region. You don’t need to take an official tour though. You can do your own thanks to this Self-Guided map of the farms in the community; you can do your own. Each business listed on the map included the different goods that they sell, so you can pick and choose what you are looking for. They make some of the best furniture you will ever find.

Just some quick etiquette before you go. Don’t take photos of the Amish. Only visit the farms with business signs next to their driveway. They are open every day but Sunday and Holidays. They are also a patriotically society so it’s polite to talk to the man first.If you are uncomfortable shopping in their shops on their home, there is also an Amish Furniture Store along Highway 52 just north of Chatfield.The Top MN Destinations You need to visit next

The Top MN Destinations You need to visit next

Shopping in Lanesboro MN

Lanesboro

Lanesboro is the traditional American downtown experience. Complete with bed and breakfasts, ice-cream shops, farmer’s markets, and antique stores. It’s not gimmicky, or anything that you would expect from a tourist town. Lanesboro doubles or triples in size during the peak bike times during the weekends due to the Root River Trail running right down the center of town. Make sure to keep an eye out for them as you are driving because it can get a little crazy. This is also where a bulk of the outfitters are in town.

CoboyCadillac

Best Playground for Kids

Chatfield is another small town in the area. The thing that makes this town stand out is its great playground. It was so fun to stop with my kids. The Tot Town was by far my favorite. Great way to let your kids get out some road trip energy without having to go off the batten path.

Park

TotTown

Sink Holes

Watch where you walk because Fountain is the Sink Hole capital of the USA. They have more than 10,000 around the county. At the base of the Bike Trail, in Fountain is one just a half-mile out on the trail. They have a viewing bridge for those wanting to get a better look at it’s opening safely.

Aroma Pie Shop

This pie shop is a favorite amongst many of the riders of the Root River Bike Trail. But you don’t have to be on a bike to eat there. The town of Whalan is accessible by car and just a few minutes away from Lanesboro. The ownership changed hands a few time but the recipes have always stayed the same. Stop in for a treat.

Stand Still Parade

Speaking of Whalan, have you heard they like to do their parades a little differently? The town is so small, instead of having their parade march through, the parade just lines up along Main Street and the visitors do all the walking. It a festival you won’t see elsewhere. For more information, check out https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/areas/fisheries/lanesboro/opportunities/fillmore.htmlmy visit to the Stand Still Parade.

Fish

Fishing and Fish Hatchery

There are 19 different Creeks and Streams in Fillmore County that visitors can catch trout in. They have all kinds of different varieties including Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Stickleback and more.

The MN DNR runs Minnesota’s largest cold-water production hatchery in Lanesboro. They can hatch 2.4 million trout eggs, and 100,000 pounds of trout are produced each year at this location for stocking our lakes. The hatchery is reopening from a remodel in November of 2019, you’ll be able to stop in and get a tour.

What Else Can You Do?

I’ve barely scratched the surface of fun things to do along the Root River Trail. If you get bored, yes, you can still Bike the Root River Trail. But with everything available, including all the caves in southern MN, it’s hard to know what to do on your weekend first!

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