Join the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway Challenge
Have you ever run the entirety of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway trail system in Minneapolis? If you live in the area, you’ve probably run part of it, but did you know there are over 50 miles of pathways running through Minneapolis?
With seven distinct “districts” each trail offers you a variety of ways to see the various aspects of the city.
My personal favorite is the area along the river. There is such diversity of terrain – flat, hills, some grass – and enough bridges that allow for several different distance. Then again, I also love the chain of lakes for its flatness – a great place to do speed work (assuming there’s no wind).
Whatever your favorite place is along the Grand Rounds, we’d like to challenge you to run the entire thing!
The Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway July Challenge
Most of our challenges this year have been focused on building some aspect of your running fitness – more miles, stronger core, overall strength, etc. For the July challenge, we thought we would do something different – an exploratory challenge.
One blog reader, Mike, reached out and suggested hosting a Grand Rounds “ultra race“. While that would be awesome, the logistics are not. Instead, we came up with a multi-stage challenge.
Here’s how it will work…
How to Join the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway Challenge
Run each segment of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway in 31 days (or less). Run two a week, or all at once.
To document this feat, we’re asking you to send us a running selfie from various point along the byway. We’ll compile all the pics into a virtual running tour of the Grand Rounds trail system. Simply tag exactly where you were on the byway, and we’ll do the rest.Join Grand Rounds Challenge
What is the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway?
If you’re not from the Twin Cities, or simply haven’t heard of it before The Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway is the name of the series of trails that link the various lakes and major parks running through Minneapolis. It’s sort of a big loop around the city.
The byway includes roads, as well as running and biking paths. There are 50.1 total miles, much of which was constructed in the 30’s as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps projects. The area was designated a National Scenic Byway in 1998. It’s unlike anything, anywhere. Yeah Minneapolis!
The Seven Districts
Here is a brief description of the seven areas, taken in part from the Minneapolis Park Board web site.
1. Downtown Riverfront: 1.2 Miles
- Explore the historic West Side Milling District, Nicollet and Boom Islands.
- Find out how St. Anthony Falls has moved up the Mississippi River.
- From the Stone Arch Bridge, take in an amazing view of the skyline, as well as the river and old mill ruins.
2. Mississippi River: 9.2 Miles
- Dramatic river views from bluff tops and river flats on both sides.
- Search for the Winchell Trail, an ancient Native American path.
3. Minnehaha: 12.6 Miles
- Wind your way along Minnehaha Creek (assuming it’s not overflowing).
- Tour the historic Steven’s and Longfellow House.
- Stop by Sandcastle for some ice cream at Lake Nakomis.
4. Chain of Lakes: 13.3 Miles
- Enjoy lakeside paths for exercise and relaxation.
- Go for an evening run and listen to live music at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.
- Swing by the Bird Sanctuary, Rose Gardens and Peace Gardens near Lake Harriet.
5. Theodore Wirth: 4.0 Miles
- Minneapolis’ largest regional park in Minneapolis.
- Jump on the Theo Wirth trails and run for miles and miles and miles!
- Cool off at a sandy, guarded beach on Wirth Lake.
6. Victory Memorial: 3.8 Miles
- Tour the historic rows of trees and markers that commemorate the Hennepin County servicemen of World War I/
- Reflect on world history at the memorials that line the Victory Memorial Parkway.
- Explore the curvy Webber Parkway.
7. Northeast: 6.0 Miles
- Stop for a dramatic downtown skyline view from Deming Heights.
- See where barges, trains and trucks deliver the raw materials and finished products that make the Twin Cities a world class work place
- Navigate through Northeast neighborhoods back to the river!
If you don’t live near the Grand Rounds, but would like to participate, send us a running selfie from your favorite place to run and we’ll find a way to work it into the compilation.
What is your favorite area on the Grand Rounds? Share why in the comments below.