With summer gone and free time to mountain bike less and less frequent, I took advantage of the good weather until it really starts to get cold. Over and over again I read and hear that Lebanon Hills is the trail of choice in the region if not the state. The MORC trail review for Lebanon hills says “Plain and simple: This trail has developed into one of the “must ride” trails in Minnesota“, and I’d have to agree. Not only is there enough mileage here to keep you busy for a good chunk of your day, but there’s something for everyone here.
I’m on record that I’m a bit more of a novice trail rider. The intermediate trails – especially “Dream II” – are fantastic trails that are equal parts good climbs and fast descents. These trails gave me enough technical challenges but also made it fun to fly around curves after a climb. One thing that quickly stood out to me was rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. Even on the intermediate trails, Lebanon Hills loves to test your ability to navigate large and small boulders and your ability to pick a clean line and stay with it, both uphill and down. Good challenge.
If intermediate trails are too, well, intermediate, Lebanon Hills also offers a lot of technical riding in their “Expert Loop”. I tried it, and at times it was a ton of fun, but I wouldn’t say that I really excelled at it. Huge log piles, tons of rocks, drop offs, you name it. Numerous times there were large rock fields that kicked my A and I came to a grinding halt. Had I known what I was getting myself into I would’ve approached the trails differently, but when you’re flying around corners essentially blind not knowing what to predict, it’s different. My favorite sections on these trails were the massive log piles. I had never hit logs stacked so high, so it was a good test. My least favorite had to have been climbing up hill with at least 7 good-sized logs spaced about 10 feet apart from each other. I’m not too embarrassed to say I probably only made it over 4 out of the 7 cleanly. Better luck next time.
There’s a lot to like at Lebanon Hills, and when there seems to be a constant movement to continually make it better and more of a destination, which isn’t the case for a lot of trails around the metro area. I’d have to agree, it’s a must ride.
Check out my ride here (although the time’s a little off since I forgot to start my watch after a break, like an idiot).