Theodore Wirth Park

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Trail Name: Theodore Wirth Park
Trail Maps: MOCA Brochure
Forum Link: Forum
Facebook Page: {{{FACEBOOK_PAGE}}}
Land Manager: Minneapolis Park & Recreation
Length: 3.4 miles singletrack, 4.36 miles total to ride both loops
Lap: 20-40 min
Singlespeed Gear:2:1
Toilet: Yes (3 locations)
Water: Yes (3 locations)
Physically: Intermediate
Technically Intermediate

Getting There

TheoSingletrack2.jpg
Theodore Wirth Park is located on the border of Minneapolis and Golden Valley. The park straddles Theo Wirth Parkway and stretches from Highway 394 in the south to Golden Valley Road in the north. A true gem of the Minneapolis Parks System.

The mountain bike trails are located just west of Theo Wirth Parkway and north of Highway 55 (a.k.a. Olson Memorial Highway). Don’t bike on any trails that are posted closed to bikes - dirt trails south of Hwy 55 are not official mountain bike trails!!

Getting to the Theo Wirth trails is easy for those living in the Minneapolis area, just bike there!! The paved trail that runs adjacent to Theo Wirth Parkway connects to the paved trails around Cedar Lake, Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet and the rest of the paved Minneapolis bike trail system.

But if you drive to Wirth, the official parking lot for bikers is off Glenwood Ave on the south side of Wirth Lake. The MTB trails are just a short ride away; from the parking lot simply ride west on Glenwood Ave, and take a right (go north) onto the paved bike trail that runs along Theo Wirth Parkway. This paved trail will bring you to the intersection of Hwy 55 and Theo Wirth Parkway - the best place to start your ride.

Access and Parking

The trail has three access points:

  • From Hidden Lakes Parkway at the north end of the trail.
  • From the road just south of the Par 3 Clubhouse.
  • Near the Highway 55 and Theodore Wirth Parkway intersection at the southeast end of the trail.

It is anticipated that most riders will reach the area by bicycle. If needed, parking is available at Wirth Lake Beach. From the lake parking lot, trails can be accessed by riding north (there is a bike path on the west side of Wirth Parkway) for 0.5 miles to the intersection of Wirth Parkway and Olson Memorial Highway (55). The trail is on the northwest corner of this intersection.

History

The off-road cycling trail in Theodore Wirth Park opened in 2005 and is an officially sanctioned facility in the Minneapolis Park System.

Originally a demonstration project, the Wirth trail demonstrates that a sustainable, safe, and low-maintenance off-road cycling trail can protect natural resources, challenge off-road cyclists, and be compatible with other park uses. The trail was developed according to best sustainable practices in partnership with Minneapolis Off-Road Cycling Advocates (MOCA) and Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC). These partnerships continue maintenance and development of the trail.

The Details

TheoBridge.jpg
The trails are broken into 2 main areas; the loop of trails south of the railroad tracks and the loop of trails north of the railroad tracks. The trails run clockwise and are one-way, except for a few short two-way connector trails.

Near the intersection of Highway 55 and Theo Wirth Parkway, just past the kiosk on the northwest corner, you will see dirt singletrack go into the woods on your left. This is the beginning of the MTB trails. About 30 feet down the trail you will see the trail split, GO LEFT. The trail to your right is where you will come out at the end of your ride. The trail starts with a traversing climb until it turns right and begins twisting through the woods between Highway 55 and the railroad tracks to the north. This trail will eventually bring you back to the paved bike path via a short section of two-way trail; take a left onto the bike path.

Follow the paved path north, across the bridge over the railroad tracks, and you will see a gated service road on your left. Take this service road. You will eventually hit a "Y" in the service road; again GO LEFT - and watch for singletrack immediately on your left. This is another short section of 2-way trail that brings you to a "Y" in the singletrack. Once again… GO LEFT. This trail winds through the trees near the train tracks and eventually turns deeper into the woods to the north.

TheoRocks.jpg
Throughout the singletrack you will cross the wide, woodchip ski/walking trail; as a general rule, the singletrack continues directly across the ski/walking trail.

About 2/3 of your way through the north loop, you will hit another "Y" in the singletrack - it is marked A20 - take a right (this is the only "Y" at which you will take a right). The singletrack to the left is a short trail that connects to neighborhoods in Golden Valley.

Eventually you will find yourself back at the "Y" where you started riding the north loop. You now have the choice of either riding this area again, or heading back down to the area south of the tracks.

To get back to the trails south of the tracks, go out to the service road and follow it to the gate and the paved bike path. Take a right onto the paved path - this will take you back across the bridge over the railroad tracks. Keep an eye out for the two-way connector trail on your right. Follow the two-way trail until it splits, and again, GO LEFT.

TheoSingletrack1.jpg
This final section of trail brings you back to where you started, and ends in a winding downhill with three fast in-slope turns. A great ending to a great trail!

The Theo Wirth trails have many short ups, downs, and quick turns. There aren't any long climbs or downhills at Theo, but it definitely isn't flat! Simply put, they are tight, curvy, rolling trails. There are also a few 'trail features' scattered throughout the trails, including small log piles, manmade rock gardens, in-slope turns, small jumps, and a short section of elevated trail ending with a small drop (made from old, abandoned curbs). Fun stuff!

The Theo Wirth trails are multi-use trails, so you may see trail runners, dog walkers, and hikers along the gravel road, ski trail, and the singletrack. Ride responsibly, be friendly and courteous to other trail users, and don't ride on trails posted closed to bikes. Theo hasn't always been legal for mountain bikes - we need your help to KEEP THEO LEGAL!

Here is a brochure and map of the Theo Wirth Off-Road Cycling Trails: Brochure

For more details about the Theo Wirth Off-Road Cycling Demonstration Project, go to MOCA

Land Manager

The MPRB (Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board) is the land manager for the Theodore Wirth Park trail system. They are great to work with. Since the opening of the trail they have been working on a master plan to allow for more trail. A plan to put trail in places where there are currently "No Biking" signs is in place. This is a very exciting development since this was the original goal the MOCA board had when forming. Along with that, the MPRB has seen the need for more advanced trail and trail features. They are in the process of approving an advanced loop in the trail system and currently the plans will allow for jumps, rock obstacles, and some wooden structures. The MPRB has already approved a pump track to be built in the trail system. Complete pump track should be done by early 2008.

Overall Impression

The trails flow. If you are a newbie or Intermediate rider, you can adjust your speed and have fun on the trail without much difficulty. But if you want the trail to become difficult, start picking up speed and soon you will think you are in a scene from Return of The Jedi with trees wizzing by your handlebars on the right and left. You will be moving your body and leaning your bike to avoid hitting a tree. As you pick up speed those easy corners become very hard to carve. It's a trail for all skill levels.

Trail Maps

Orthophoto Map.jpg

Pictures & Multimedia

Check out the Theo Wirth Gallery here.



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