Biking and Kayaking in Lanesboro, MN

We had a trip to Decorah, IA in late December of 2016. During that trip, out AirBnB hosts Norma Jean and Daryl invited us to join them for some wine and hors d’oeuvres. They told us their story of moving to Decorah, and how they originally wanted to move to Lanesboro, MN.

So, we kept this town in the back of our minds to possibly visit someday.

Since it was only 35 miles from Decorah, and it had both bike trails and a river running through it, we thought we would check it out on a day during our vacation up there June 29-July 4. Because of weather, we pushed it to Tuesday, July 3, our last full day up there.

We started our bicycle ride here

Our first stop in Lanesboro was at the Pedal Pushers Cafe for some lunch. They had a great menu and excellent craft beer options. We will most likely return and recommend this place for any meal.

Since we had options of biking from Lanesboro to either Peterson, Preston, or Fountain, we asked our server what he recommended. His first choice was Fountain, but he admitted that was the one in which there was a long climb uphill. The trail was an old railroad route, so we knew the climb would be gradual.


Although our server at Pedal Pushers Cafe warned us that Fountain would not have much to offer when we got there, he probably did not realize that the Beaver Bottoms Saloon was brand new and had not even had their grand opening yet. We checked the place out and they had just what the doctor had prescribed us: Bloody Marys, Surly Furious, fried cheese curds, and some french fries.


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We barely had to pedal for 4-5 miles going back to Lanesboro from Fountain, and clocked a 22 mile ride for the day. Or so we thought!

Upon our return to Lanesboro, we found ourselves in quite the dilemma. It was not yet 5pm, and we were not hungry for dinner yet. We had brought the kayaks up and they had not been used (let’s be honest here, though, as we were not about to go through the process of taking them off in Decorah just to put them back on when we got back down there).

I came up with this wonderful 5 step plan:

  1. Drive over to Mill Pond (where there was a scenic spillway on the Root River) and drop off our kayaks.
  2. Drive 4-5 miles to Whalen and park near an access to the Root River and Root River State Trail.
  3. Bike along the Root River State Trail back to our kayaks in Lanesboro and lock up the bikes.
  4. Kayak down the Root River to our vehicle in Whalen.  Secure kayaks to vehicle.
  5. Drive back to Lanesboro to retrieve bikes and have dinner.
The waterfall that flows into Mill Pond.

This was an awesome adventure! We traveled by road, trail, and river between the beautiful river towns of Lanesboro and Whalen, MN. I calculated that we would be finished a little after 8. There were only a few hiccups that made that time to be a little before 9, instead.

First, it took us a little longer to finally commit to the plan than I anticipated. Next, it took us a little while to figure out how to drive to the spillway where we would eventually set in the kayaks. Although we had biked right by it, we had not seen it from the road.  Finally, when we arrived in Whalen, we did not know the location of an access point to the Root River, and so we eventually found someone walking about and asked them. We finally found access down Deep River Road beyond the Cedar Valley Resort.

The Root River access point wasn’t obvious, as it was up the Root River State Trail a little ways and not directly off the parking lot. That took time figuring out as well.

Everything else went wonderfully! Erin would beg to differ about the kayak experience. She thought it was much too fast and rough for her tastes. There were a few points at which we could not avoid water coming into the kayak.

Erin is checking out the bluffs in this gorgeous Driftless region of the country near sunset.

Anyone else wanting to take this adventure would probably not encounter the faster and rougher Root River. We were encountering it only 3 days after the Decorah Storm of June 30, 2018, and that storm hit Lanesboro even harder.

Since it was right at 9pm when we had everything loaded on our vehicle, we missed dinner at Riverside on the Root, which we will want to return to someday. We found the High Court Pub another block north on Parkway Ave which was still open and serving pub grub which was good enough for us! The High Court Pub has Two Hearted Ale on tap (at that time, and at the time of this post), which is an immediate sign that a place knows what it is doing.

Flatbread pizzas were on the menu and we asked if we should order two of them. The server told us how big they were and we probably would not need two. So, we ordered the Hawaiian. As soon as he placed it on the bar and we got a look, we ordered another immediately. This time, a Chicken Bacon Ranch.

Both of them were delicious, and after finishing both off, we considered a third one for a moment (because we could have easily smashed it), but were able to defeat our gluttony and call it a night. Update: 27 miles of biking, and 4.5 miles of kayaking.



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