We heard through the bicycling grapevine that the Willard Munger Bike Trail was all repaired (from the storm damage a few years ago) and open now in its entirety. So my friend Russ and I headed to Carlton, Minnesota, to catch the trail there and bike to our hearts’ content.
The only problem was, the bicycling grapevine was WRONG. When we got to the Munger Trail parking lot in Carlton and started biking toward the trailhead, we found a large sign that said the trail was closed!
Another trail is accessible from the same area, named the Alex Leveau Memorial Trail if you head southeast across the railroad tracks. I had biked it a few years ago, and remembered it was there.
Somewhat disconsolate, we biked that instead. But our mood soon lifted because the trail is just so gosh darn nice. It features views of wetlands and farmlands, barns and raspberries. Without huge hills, it’s an easy ride, and would be a good trail for children to try. But it’s not too monotonous either.
The segment we travelled is 6.5 miles long. Most of it is a paved trail, but when you get near Wrenshall, you have to follow the highway for a while. At the 6.5-mile milepost, the trail seems to dead end at a highway. We weren’t sure where to go from there, so we just turned around and went back to Carlton, although I think there might be other parts of it farther on.
The trail was named in memory of a former county commissioner and dairy farmer who was an advocate for using abandoned railways as public trails.
As we biked back to the parking lot, a series of “pop-up” rainstorms popped up. We thought they would miss us until the wind changed and one caught us. The rain spatters were cold, but we kept warm by biking.
If this had been a romance novel, getting caught in the rain could have led to a passionate embrace in rain-slicked bike clothes. But it’s kind of hard to kiss when you’re both wearing bike helmets and you’re trying to go fast enough to ward off the chill.
So we opted for just being thankful to arrive back to our vehicle wet, but no worse for wear – no road rash from slippery pavement, no lightning strikes nearby. Sometimes, in your elder years, that’s as good as it gets.