MMM’s first in a series of Rides and Routes
by Victor Wanchena
The Grand Rounds is an interconnected parkway system that runs through Minneapolis. Designated a Scenic Byway by the National Park Service, it is, in fact, the longest urban parkway system in the entire country. It is often a surprise to riders in the metro area that the Grand Rounds even exists or what a wonderful ride it is.
I discovered this route years ago when I lived in Northeast Minneapolis. I had gone out for a ride one day and just started following the parkways. It didn’t take long for me to realize they were all inter-connected. I have enjoyed showing it to other riders who are amazed such a scenic ride exists in an urban area. This continues to be my favorite ride through the metro area.
Our route starts in Northeast Minneapolis at Ridgway Parkway, but the beauty of this ride is that you can pick it up wherever it’s most convenient for you. On 35W exit at Industrial Blvd. On the north side of the freeway the first left is Ridgway Parkway. A short way up you’ll find an overlook of the Minneapolis skyline. Then it’s a left on Stinson Parkway.
Follow Stinson a couple miles north to St. Anthony Parkway. Take a left and follow St. Anthony for several miles as it winds through Northeast. When you reach 36th Ave NE, take a left and cross the river. At the bottom of the bridge, turn right on Lyndale Ave and then take your immediate left on to Webber Parkway. Webber runs along the parks in the Camden neighborhood and then becomes Victory Memorial Parkway. A tribute to soldiers of WWI, Victory Memorial runs past the tall flagpole monument and turns south. It eventually becomes Theodore Wirth Parkway. Named for the visionary head of the Minneapolis park board, Theodore Wirth takes you south to the chain of lakes.
First on the list is Cedar Lake Parkway. Skirting the western shore of Cedar Lake you end up at Dean Parkway and a choice. Go left and you can take a lap around Lake of the Isles. Or go right and make directly for Lake Calhoun. I chose left and did a lap of Lake of the Isles, and then took Dean Parkway back where it brings you to West Calhoun Parkway. This is often one of the busier stretches of the Grand Rounds. Avoid this section around rush hour.
Following West Calhoun Parkway to the south side of the lake, I opted to take William Berry Parkway down to Lake Harriet. Take a left on West Harriet Parkway, which rises and falls along the lakeshore.
On the Southeast corner of the lake, take a right on West Minnehaha Parkway. Following the creek of the same name, Minnehaha Parkway runs through the neighborhoods of south Minneapolis. Halfway across Minnehaha you can take a side trip around Lake Nokomis. Minnehaha continues until it becomes Godfrey Parkway. Watch out for the traffic circle, it’s fun, but can throw off uninitiated drivers. Godfrey then becomes West River Parkway. This stretch runs you along the Mississippi back towards downtown.
Here you have a couple of options. Either turn east on and cross the river on Franklin then follow East River Parkway, or continue into downtown along the river. I opted to run along the river in downtown, to the end of the Grand Rounds at 8th Ave NE. I had covered a total of 36 miles in a little less than two hours on very relaxing roads.
The Grand Rounds are easy to follow, even without directions as large signs pointing the way are located at each of the major intersections. For further information and detailed maps go to www.minneapolisparks.org/grandrounds/home.htm.
• From 35W Exit at Industrial Blvd
• Left on Ridgway Pkwy
• Right on Stinson Pkwy
• Left on St. Anthony Pkwy
• Left on 36th Ave NE
• Right on Lyndale Ave
• Left on Webber Pkwy
• Webber Pkwy becomes Victory Memorial Pkwy
• Victory Memorial becomes Theodore Wirth Pkwy
• Theodore Wirth Pkwy becomes Cedar Lake Pkwy
• Left on Dean Pkwy
• Right on Lake of the Isles Pkwy
• Right on Dean Pkwy
• Dean Pkwy becomes Calhoun Pkwy West
• Calhoun Pkwy West becomes Wm. Berry Pkwy
• Left on Harriet Pkwy West
• Right on Minnehaha Pkwy
• Minnehaha Pkwy becomes Godfrey Pkway
• Godfrey Pkwy becomes River Pkway West