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Levis and Trow Mounds (referred to as “Levis Mounds” or simply “Levis” by locals) could quite possibly be one of the first trail systems in the world built by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers.
While most other historic trail networks began life as hiking trails that cyclists began to explore on improvised offroad bicycles, the first singletrack at Levis Mounds was constructed by mountain bikers in the mid ‘80s shortly after the Specialized Rockhopper was released.
Since those early beginnings, the singletrack network at Levis has continued to grow and change, developing into a roughly 25-mile trail system that not only functions as a local hotspot, but also as one of the premiere mountain biking destinations in the Midwestern USA.
Perusing the Levis parking lot will reveal license plates from all over the nation.
Whether it’s mountain bikers making the pilgrimage from the nearby population centers of the Twin Cities in Minnesota or Chicago in Illinois, or riders from far-flung corners of the nation stopping through in the middle of a road trip, the name “Levis” is well-established in the mountain biking lexicon. This loop around the base of the front mounds is a great beginner-friendly loop with as close to zero climbing as you’ll ever find in a mountain bike ride.
The singletrack dips and rolls through the trees and traverses wide wooden bridges over boggy areas.
Altogether, it offers a great sampler of Midwestern singletrack riding. While some beginner riders may be used to machine-built flow trails, don’t expect to find those same type of trails at Levis.
While these beginner trails do offer good swoop and flow and are relatively non-technical, they’ve all been built by hand and so they are punctuated by roots crossing the trail, which can make for a rough ride for the uninitiated.
Snodgrass particularly is slightly more technical than even the other trails in this loop, with larger roots and a few interesting bridges, but this singletrack stretch can easily be bypassed by riding the smooth cross country ski trail.