The Small River Town of Lanesboro, Minnesota
The small river town of Lanesboro, Minnesota has been known for its bike culture for years as well as its placement in the middle of miles of paved rail trail that can take riders up and down the mighty Root River. In addition to the paved trails, the town is also known for its cute bed n’ breakfasts, historic hotels, an ice cream shop, the perfect bike themed cafe, pastry shop, a five star wine bar, and the best craft brewery around. One thing that it hasn’t been known for (until recently) are its ancient limestone gravel roads.
Gravel Guide Created by Trenton Raygor @trigunw0lf
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The Filthy 50 moved to Lanesboro in 2019 and has since introduced thousands of people to the area. The area features some of the best gravel roads in North America. Combine the thousands of miles of primo gravel roads with the accommodations, cuisine, and culture that Lanesboro provides makes this the ideal gravel adventure destination. We will give you a few routes to get you started, however, you’re going to want to explore. There are so many amazing gravel roads that the routes we share below don’t highlight.
Where to Bike Gravel From Lanesboro, Minnesota
The area of the Driftless Region that surrounds Lanesboro is colloquially referred to as “bluff country”. Yes, you guessed it, that means elevation! Bring your climbing legs. When you’re in Lanesboro, stop, stand in one place, and look around in all directions. The only way out (that doesn’t directly follow the river) involves going up. Note: there are purposefully very few miles of pavement included in our routes both for enjoyment and safety. Here are several of our favorites.
Gravel Bike Routes
The Pretty Filthy 25 [23.6 miles]
This route takes you south out of downtown Lanesboro. You will follow the creek as you climb Grosbeak and Gentle eventually descending on Easy Street and then will turn south, following Gribben Creek out of the valley. It’s a bit of up and down before an epic return featuring Grit Road and hitting the finish line in the middle of downtown Lanesboro. This route features minimum maintenance roads, 1900+ feet of climbing, no towns to refuel, but some of the prettiest scenery you ever did see. LINK TO MAP.
The Filthy 50 [50.9 miles]
This takes you south out of downtown Lanesboro. You will follow the creek as you climb Grosbeak and Gentle eventually descending on Easy Street. You will then climb the infamous Dew Drop and turn south towards “The Big Woods” and Amish country. Riders will want to keep their wits about them when they hit the Amish maintained MMR just west of Henrytown. After making your way down Grit Road, crossing the finish line in downtown Lanesboro is gonna feel good. This route features several minimum maintenance roads (MMRs) and 3200+ feet of climbing. There are no towns for refueling. It ain’t easy, folks. LINK TO MAP.
The North 50 [49.5 miles]
The North 50 takes you east out of downtown Lanesboro. You immediately get into some heavy climbing, but then get to enjoy a swift descent into the small river town of Whalen. From there you grind scenic Deep River Road until you’re shot north up the 105 along Big Springs Creek. You’ll get far enough north to hear the sounds of Interstate 90, but then jog west and begin your trek south toward Pilot Mound. After that, soak in the vibes of Harrow Rd and get your last bit of climbing done before you bomb Gaelic and roll some smooth pavement back into Lanesboro. This route features some eagle nests along the Root River, a pie shop, and 3200+ feet of climbing. LINK TO MAP.
The Extra Filthy 100 [100.6 miles]
This takes you north out of downtown Lanesboro, then west and north toward Pilot Mound, then north and east toward The Village of Rushford. Riders will then adventure south through the small river town of Peterson (mile 50 and your only refueling stop) and will meet up with the 50 mile route further south in Amish country. This route features several MMRs and 7000+ feet of climbing. It’s packed with valleys and vistas, and is as tough as it is beautiful. This beast is bound to push your limits. Plan accordingly. LINK TO MAP.
Lanesboro Paved Trail System
The Root River State Trail provides a paved option that starts in Fountain and takes you 42.3 miles to Houston, with Lanesboro, Whalen, Peterson, and Rushford as towns along the way. A fun and short one to do with the kids is the 4.6 miles from Lanesboro to Whalen, eat a piece of pie, and ride the 4.6 miles back.
The Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail provides a 17.8 mile paved option between Harmony and where it connects with The Root River State Trail just several miles west of Lanesboro. Preston is your only town along the way. You might want your climbing legs for this stretch, especially if you’re planning on venturing all the way to Harmony.
Take a look at the Root River & Harmony-Preston Valley State Trails Map if you’re looking to take advantage of these scenic paved options.
Video: A Love Letter to the Driftless Region by Filthy Founder, Trenton Raygor
Where to Eat
Another Time Ice Cream Parlor
If a post ride ice cream treat is your thing (it’s definitely mine), here is your goto. These folks are super kind and located at the Filthy start and finish lines. Pst…they also serve up a mean espresso.
Lanesboro Pastry Shoppe
This is a favorite of ours for that pre-ride breakfast or mid-ride cinnamon roll. The chef will literally make you anything you ask for on or off the menu. Bring cash.
Pedal Pushers Cafe
This is probably our favorite restaurant anywhere. Hands down. Scott and Angie make the best post-ride meals and if you’re riding a Filthy route, they are conveniently located quite literally at the finish line.
Where to Stay
City of Lanesboro Sylvan Park Campground: is an economical option and a convenient place for tent camping. Sites are limited to 35. A bathhouse is available with coin operated showers, which are handy after a long ride.
Highway 250 Campground: is the closest option to downtown Lanesboro for parking your camper overnight. It’s also on our 100 mile route making your start and finish super convenient.
We are big fans of Stone Mill Hotel and Suites, Cottage House Inn, Iron Horse, and Root River Inn and Suites due to their proximity to downtown. Check the Lanesboro website for more options and availability. There are some historic bed and breakfasts in town that we’ve been meaning to try out as well.
Where to Drink
Parkway Market & CoffeeHouse: the perfect quick stop to load up on provisions and get caffeinated before your ride.
Sylvan Brewing: Andy and Karen make the best beer around and even make a special Filthy beer each year for the finishers. Ask them about it. A great post-ride destination.
Root River 102: where you need to be for that post ride cocktail or glass of wine. They have an incredible bar and also serve really good food.
Your Lanesboro option: Little River General Store