In North America/ Outdoors

Hiking, Cycling and Paddling the Twin Cities

ColdwaterMinnehaha 22

About a year ago I pitched the idea of a new series to the fine folks at Falcon Guides — the very same publisher that allowed me to write my first solo book project, Best Hikes Near Cleveland. (Coincidentally that books still exists and you can still buy it.) The new series being one that takes a combination of outdoor activities and mixes them into one guide. We’re talking hiking (both urban and parkland), cycling (road and mountain), paddling, and a few honorable mentions, like cross-country skiing and rock climbing.

Another key ingredient, personally anyway, was the ability to reach a number of these activities without a car. Anyone who has followed my work — God help you — knows that I generally view automobiles to be nightmarish murder sleds farting poison.* Unfortunately they are and will be necessary to reach a number of activities in any outdoor guide covering an American city. Still, I wanted to show the viability of utilizing cleaner, less murdery forms of transportation, which meant finding an American city where the infrastructure is such that you can get your fix of the outdoors by transit, bike, or those things swaying beneath your hips.

The answer? Minneapolis and Saint Paul. This is a region frequently ranked at the top for best cycling cities in the United States. After several visits, beginning with my 21st birthday back in 2007, I can testify that it’s one of the online rankings that actually holds water. Not to mention a new rail line — appropriately named the Green Line — recently opened to connect the respective downtowns of the Twin Cities, running alongside the Mississippi River and its parks.

Falcon dug the idea and did me one better. While up there, they asked that I also write Best Hikes Near Minneapolis and Saint Paul. I was thrilled to be entrusted with the task of covering two of my favorite cities in the country in a job that would require me to basically be outside all day and write about it. Sold.

Problem is, I don’t live in the Twin Cities and I’m still playing catchup with life after 10 months in Costa Rica. I’m not ashamed to admit that I needed some help to get this done well and on time. Luckily it didn’t take long for me to come up with a solution.

David Baur.

This picture of David as Ralphie in his Easter Bunny costume was taken in February. He really likes A Christmas Story.

This picture of David as Ralphie in his Easter Bunny costume was taken in February. He really likes A Christmas Story.

Yep. My brother who also writes words and actually lives in the Twin Cities will be co-authoring Best Hikes Near Minneapolis and Saint Paul. He traditionally writes over at Lost Caws and also authored a guide on the Twin Cities’ culture and music scene, which was available exclusively at the 2014 Baur family Christmas.**

And that’s that! I’ll be heading out tomorrow morning for a whirlwind month of covering the Twin Cities and returning to Cleveland with a couple of co-authored manuscripts. Shortly after returning I’ll be covering a two-week cycling trip through Colombia with Exodus Travels before attempting to turn my notes on living in Central America into a travelogue. You can follow the fun at our respective social media pages (Joe, David, Joe and David again!) and leave comments telling us how great you think we are.

*I know what you’re thinking. “Hyperbolic millennial hipster!” But considering they kill at least 30,000 Americans annually on a good year, is it really all that hyperbolic? Apology accepted.

**Knowing I had this guide coming up, I asked for a homemade guide to the Twin Cities that would help make me at least feel like a local while writing a book that will inevitably end up in the local section of Twin Cities bookstores.

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