My husband and I love riding our electric bikes on trails all across the Midwest. We have found several trails that we enjoy, with several incredible things to see along our route. In case you don’t know, an e-bike is a fun way to ride your bicycle further and longer than you would without the pedal assistance that an e-bike has to offer.
When we hop on our Lectric eBikes or the Propella Electric Bike that we own, we find ourselves planning our next biking trip. Before, we could not wait to end our bike ride and place them on the bike rack to head for home. Here are some of the places we love riding our e-bikes in the Midwest.
1. High Trestle Trail
The High Trestle Trail runs through five towns in four counties with different scenery along the route. In less than 30 minutes, you can be on this bike trail from anywhere in the Des Moines Metro area. We like to hop on the trail in Madrid, as it is a short 2.5-mile ride to a highlight of the trail, the High Trestle Trail Bridge. The trail is relatively smooth and flat, making it popular for bicyclists of all abilities. A large parking area with restrooms and a bicycle repair station is alongside the trail in Madrid. The Flat Tire Lounge is a destination bar that sits on the trail across from the parking lot in Madrid. Your reward for riding this trail can be live music and food at the Flat Tire Lounge at the end of your ride.
Summer and fall offer incredible views along this route. The lush, green color of the landscape makes for a beautiful evening summer bike ride. The blue lights begin to glow on the High Trestle Bridge as the sun sets. By starting your ride later in the day, you can get an incredible view of dark skies on the High Trestle Bridge. Fall offers orange, yellow, and beautiful shades of brown foliage as you bike the High Trestle Bike Trail. If you are riding near sunset, be sure you have reflectors and working light on the front of your bike. We can easily spend an entire day riding this trail and exploring the little towns along the way.
2. Root River Trail
The Root River biking trail is ideal for people that ride e-bikes. With 60 miles of biking trails, you will enjoy all of the 10 quaint towns that make up this popular route in southeast Minnesota. The winding, mostly shaded route offers river views and the occasional wooden bridge. As you ride your e-bike through the charming towns, you will find something new around every bend. We enjoy camping at Eagle Cliff Campground near Lanesboro, Minnesota. This beautiful campground offers level campsites with full hook-ups, and you can hop on the Root River Trail directly from the campground. There are several public restrooms along this trail.
Each community offers something different. Lanesboro is a fantastic hub for your bike ride as there is a variety of restaurants to choose from. If you prefer to pack a picnic lunch, the town of Whalan offers a nice picnic area that sits right along the trail. With free, easy access to street parking, this is also a good place to start your e-bike ride on the Root River Trail. Lanesboro is 4 miles to the west with beautiful river views as you ride from Whalan to Lanesboro.
No matter where you begin your e-bike ride on the Root River Trail, you will see eagles, flowers, incredible river views, and bluffs that you will only find in Minnesota’s Bluff Country. I would recommend a minimum of 2 days riding the Root River Trail. With numerous shops, outdoor experiences, and majestic views along this trail, you will want to take in as much of the beauty as time allows.
3. Kelleys Island
Kelleys Island, Ohio, is a beautiful island in Northern Ohio where you can explore on your electric bike. In order to get to Kelleys Island, you will need to board a ferry with your e-bike or transport it by car on the ferry. For a fun day exploring, I’d highly recommend boarding the ferry with your e-bike in tow and enjoying your time on the island. Where else can you experience the vibe of a tropical island in the Midwest and ride your e-bike?
This charming island offers the feel of the Caribbean along Lake Erie. The streets are paved and traffic moves at a snail’s pace on the island, making this a fantastic place to ride your e-bike. You will want to park your e-bike at the Glacial Grooves and explore them on foot. These incredible grooves are 400 feet long, 35 feet wide, and up to 15 feet deep. These grooves were created by the slow movement of the glacier that created the Great Lakes and Lake Erie Islands.
After you visit the Glacial Grooves, explore Kelleys Island State Park. The beach area offers swimming and kayaking along with beautiful water views. Wherever you ride on Kelleys Island, you will be reminded that you can slow down and lead a slower-paced life. End your day at a winery, brewery, ice cream shop, or one of the restaurants in town.
4. Wapsi-Great Western Line
The first trail that we took our e-bikes out on was the Wapsi-Great Western Line trail in Riceville, Iowa. Depending on how far you ride, you may find yourself in Minnesota when riding north on the trail. The trailhead in Riceville offers a small parking area. If the parking lot is full, there is free street parking nearby.
Some of the trail is wide open and does not offer shade, but it does give you great views of the countryside in Iowa. We enjoy the variety of bridges that you cross while riding the Wapsi-Great Western Line biking trail. The trail is smooth and flat for the most part, with a hill here and there. There is a short stretch that is a shared roadway, with minimal traffic.
We have also started this ride on the southern end of the route at Elma, Iowa. There are more parking spaces at this trailhead than there are at the trailhead in Riceville. I’d encourage you to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it in one of the picnic areas along the trail or at one of the trailheads. With 23.5 miles of trail riding available, you can easily enjoy your day riding the Wapsi-Great Western Line.
5. Trout Run Trail
The Trout Run Trail in Decorah is a scenic, 10.7-mile paved loop trail that winds through the picturesque town of Decorah, Iowa. Birding, limestone bluffs, cornfields, cows, and streams make up this trail that we have grown to love riding our e-bikes on. The Decorah Fish Hatchery is a good place to park and hop on the Trout Run Trail. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy your meal at one of the picnic shelters along the trail.
For a different view, I’d suggest riding the trail and then riding it the other way, doubling your miles while riding your e-bike. Anytime you change directions while riding a biking trail, the scenery always looks different. With this trail being a loop trail, I can guarantee you that you will see things from a different angle. If you are an avid fisherman, you will want to purchase your Iowa Fishing license and bring your fishing pole. The streams in the Decorah area are well known for their trout. Who knows, you may catch the next big one that got away!
We have been riding electric bikes for 9 months now, give or take a few with winter tossed into the mix. Before you hop on any bike trail with your e-bike, make sure you understand the rules of the trail, as they are constantly changing as e-biking becomes more popular. If a trail states that it is a mountain biking trail, I would not recommend riding that rugged trail with your e-bike. The trails that are made with crushed limestone or paved are the best trails for you and your e-bike.
It’s vital that we all ride our e-bikes responsibly. The electric-assist feature makes it easier to go faster than we realize when riding them. You will want to ride with the flow of bike traffic and be mindful of how fast you are going.
We have found that over time we love our e-bikes more and more. They have allowed us to ride longer and see many more miles of biking trails. We have also learned some things about transporting e-bikes. Our Lectric eBikes fold up, making them easy to transport in the back of our Subaru Outback. Our Propella e-bike is lighter weight and does not fold up but fits fine in the bike rack that we have in the truck bed of our Ram truck. When you choose your e-bike, you will want to think about where you will be riding your e-bike and how you will transport it to the trailheads.
Most importantly, take the time to ride your e-bike and enjoy exploring the trails you choose to ride them on.