When the spring rains finally stop and the summer sun takes over, it’s the perfect opportunity to get in some family biking adventures. Whether you and your family are novice riders or seasoned professionals, there are plenty of family bike trails for you to hit up this summer.
Here, we’ve rounded up three biking adventures near to home and farther away to choose from. Read up on their details below. Then, grab your ride and head out for a day of family summer fun.
Close to Home: Detroit’s Dequindre Cut Greenway
Make a day of cycling through the city by plotting out fun mini adventures along your route. Detroit’s Dequindre Cut Greenway threads a straight path right through town – you can park near Eastern Market (bonus: you can grab picnic fare) or right along the riverfront (convenient if you don’t want to haul your bikes downtown; rent from Wheelhouse Detroit at Cullen Plaza instead).
Either way, the Dequindre Cut provides a leisurely, flat two-mile roadway to or from the waterfront area. Todd Scott, the executive director of the Detroit Greenways Coalition, recommends including Cullen Plaza on your list.
“There’s a great little play area there and the carousel,” Scott says. “You could even do a boat tour.”
Make your way along Detroit International RiverWalk to more interesting pit stops like the Outdoor Adventure Center and the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor. Farther east, Scott has another suggestion: “I think a park that a lot of folks don’t know about is Mt. Elliott Park, which is perfect on a hot day since they have a splash park there.”
Asked whether he has a favorite spot to bike along the Dequindre Cut or the riverfront, Scott is quick to say, “I love it all.” But he’s looking forward to a new addition this summer.
“It’s under construction right now but it’s at Atwater Beach. It’s not going to be a beach where you can go into the water, but there’ll be a sandbox and a beach-like setting with places for kids to play.”
Learn more about the Dequindre Cut Greenway at detroitriverfront.org.
A Day Trip: The Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail
The Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail slices into Cleveland and then down into Akron, Ohio and through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, following an old canal boat path built between 1825 and 1832.
At the time the most effective way to transport goods (at the speedy pace of 4 miles an hour!), the towpath trail follows alongside a man-made waterway where mules or horses attached by rope once helped pull the boats.
These well-worn paths now make up the towpath. And for families, that means these historic paths are perfect for biking – since they’re flat and smooth.
There are plenty of places along the path to stop for a picnic, but the feature your kids will probably be most excited about is the Bike Aboard! program, where you ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad one direction and then bike back.
“You don’t need to reserve your seat on the train ahead of time,” says Pamela Barnes, community engagement supervisor for CNVP. “Just check the train schedule.”
As far as places to stop, Barnes advises spending time at the Boston Store Visitor Center or the Canal Exploration Center. “At the exploration center there are two floors of interactive exhibits.”
Even Farther Away: Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area
A little over two hours north of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area includes 30 miles of bike trails, marked like ski slopes for their level of difficulty – green for easy, blue for intermediate and black for expert riders.
Try out your prowess first at the Miners Mountain Rally Center, which opened a skills course just last year; here, you can test out the trail difficulty levels before you go.
The welcome center also offers maps and other info – but you’ll need to rent bikes in town (no rentals in the recreation area).
For more information, visit dnr.state.mn.us.
Looking for even more biking fun? Check out the Metro Parent roundup of biking events happening in the summer of 2019.