The Munger Trail has been our family’s outdoor nemeses. Our adversarial relationship with “one of the great recreational resources in the state of Minnesota,” according to a trail brochure, began last year when we set out for a leisurely Sunday bike ride along the paved trail. We ended up lost and on the wrong side of this caution tape on our Munger Trail Mishap.
The Best Laid Plans
Once the trail opened up again, I thought it would be fun to bike from the access point behind the Munger Trail Inn to the Buffalo House restaurant (you may know it from the gigantic buffalo statue on the side of I-35 south of town). This route is just over 8 miles.
The kids and I concocted a surprise for their dad who was on his way home that afternoon from the Cities. We knew he would be driving past the restaurant around 5 o’clock. Why not meet him there for a dinner out?
But how could we get him to stop there without him knowing we would be there? We called to tell him that I had won a $50 gift certificate to the Buffalo House at an event I had attended earlier that week. The hitch was that the certificate needed to be picked up.
He bought it. He responded, “No problem. I’ll be driving by there later this afternoon and can pick it up.”
Perfect. The kids and I packed our bikes in the car and set off for the trailhead, thinking it would take less than 2 hours to bike 8 miles (with the requisite potty, leg, and snack breaks).
But it didn’t unfold as expected.
First problem: traffic was backed up due to construction in the I-35 tunnels, putting us behind schedule.
Second problem: the chain on Finley’s tag-along fell off as we unloaded the bikes. It actually required a tool to put back on, and thankfully, a pair of avid bikers had one in their trunk. Again, behind schedule.
Third (and most significant) problem: the trail had a deceiving incline. We had to pedal the entire time. No coasting. Ever. It didn’t dawn on me that we were working against a subtle slope until I noticed that everybody coming the opposite direction was flying on the path. They didn’t even seem to be peddling.
Because I hadn’t taken into consideration an incline, it took us much longer than expected.
I also hadn’t considered the effect of the 90+ degree heat.
We got really tired. Yet, we had to power on as Tim was now waiting for us at the restaurant — we finally called to tell him of our surprise meeting.
These pictures show just how tired and hot everyone was.
In the end, the tall cold glasses of lemonade and reuniting with their daddy made it all worth it!
The funny part: When our server gave us the bill, Tim still thought I had won a gift certificate.
Despite being 0 for 2, we set out on the Munger Trail once again. This time, we learned from our mistakes and started at the Buffalo House. After enjoying a delicious breakfast, we biked DOWNHILL to Duluth.
We now like the Munger Trail much better.
What experiences have you had on the Munger Trail? Share your tips in the comment box below. Thanks!