Before we dive into the good stuff, we should mention the wonderful signs that Dakota County has installed throughout Lebanon Hills. Understanding how the signs work will assure you will never get lost and can always navigate to the areas you wish to ride.
Intersection Posts are located at all trail crossings. These are not numbered consecutively as you ride, but are numbered from west to east covering the entire area of Lebanon Hills. (This allows the numbers to all be unique.) All Intersection Posts feature a map and a number to indicate where you are. The number of the post will also be indicated in red on the map. All Intersection Posts face north as you stand looking at them.
When you are standing in front of an Intersection Post you can look in each direction and see Trail Use Posts. These posts have numbers at the top indicating the number of the Intersection Post you will reach if you travel in that direction. For example, if you are standing in front of Intersection Post #238 and look west, you will see a post that says “To 233” indicating if you go that way you will continue riding the upper beginner loop. If you look NE you will see a sign saying “To 240” indicating if you head in that direction you will skip the upper beginner loop and either ride the rest of the trail, or return to the parking lot.
Trail Use Posts
Trail Use Posts contain both the number of the next Intersection Post if you travel in that direction, as well as trail use and difficulty level designations. For bikers, it is important to note the difficulty level signs and respective colors. Green = Easiest (Beginner), Blue = More Difficult (Intermediate), Black = Very Difficult (Expert) and Red = Extremely Difficult (Most Expert).
The Easiest Loop, or often called the Beginner Loop, is shown on the map as anything with a green colored line. There are actually two different beginner loops at Lebanon Hills which we call “upper” and “lower”. In total, there are 2.17 miles of beginner trail.
Beginner Loop Lower
You start your ride out of the trailhead on the lower beginner loop (#246 on the map). The Lower Beginner Loop was built back in 2000, with a few small re-alignment parts built in 2012 when the new parking lot was opened.
You will eventually get to #238 where you are presented with an option to go left into the upper beginner, or go right and stay on the lower beginner. The lower beginner by itself is about XX miles long and features wide bridges and easy corners and berms. This is a one way loop that leads back to the trailhead if you stay right at #240.
Beginner Loop Upper
The Upper Beginner Loop was built in 2011. This loop represents some of the newest building techniques at Lebanon Hills. In this area, you will find a number of berms, jumps, rollers, wide bridges, wide easy rock armoring, and some of the best flow on the entire trail. This area is approximately 1 mile in length, starting as a left turn at #238 and ending at #240 as you merge back into the lower beginner. If you ride anything at Lebanon Hills, you owe it to yourself to take this section of trail. Riders really love the berms, the “3 line” area, and the section from #231 to #240 can almost be ridden without pedaling.
The More Difficult, or often known as Intermediate Loop, is shown on the map as anything with a blue colored line. The bulk of the mountain bike trails is Intermediate, making up appx. 5.67 miles of the overall trail. One of the most important things about the Intermediate loop is that you have to ride part of the beginner trail to get there. (this wasn’t the case when the old parking lot still existed) The Intermediate now starts at #240, where you have the choice to go right and head back to the trail head on the beginner, or go left and start onto the Intermediate loop. Please make a note of this location before you ride, as we have had many miss this area and end back up at the parking lot.
The More Difficult trail circles near the outside of the 350 acres that make up the west section of Lebanon Hills. While there are a few shortcuts that were added recently, the trail is at a minimum XX miles in length. You start by riding west along the northern most edge of the park then turning south along the west side of the park. At #202 you are actually at the lesser known Galaxie entrance side of the trail system. The section before #202 has the unofficial name “Dream Trail” and the section that runs between #202 and #208 has been called the Joey Trail.
Stooges Run & Bypass Climb
This section of the Intermediate Loop begins at #208 and ends at #211. History is this section re-routed a gravel climb when bikers shared the ski trail in summer months. (thus the name bypass) You start on Stooges Run (named after the old Larry, Curly and Mo ski trails we used to ride in that same area) which is a bit of an uphill climb combined with a downhill that leads you almost to where you began. Now you will start a long gradual climb up toward #211. This is the longest sustained climb on the trail. (though not the steepest)
Rocky Top (Lower)
Rocky Top starts at #211 where the Intermediate Trail crosses the ski trail (use same map above). You will immediately know why it gets its name. This used to be all Intermediate, but in 2012 we added a small right hand shortcut that avoids the added expert area of trail at the very top. Take the expert section for some more rock riding and you will also reach the highest elevation of this section of the park. Ultimately you are sent on a downhill with a berm and some twists before you reach #212 where many trails come together in an area we call the Tea Party. (because riders tend to hang out and talk like they are having tea) It is in this area you can ride the black Very Difficult and red Extremely Difficult trails, or continue your ride on the blue More Difficult trail.
This section of the Intermediate Loop begins at #212 and is so named because its the easiest path to the trailhead. There are some slow rocky downhill turns and a couple rock gardens on this section of trail. When you get to #217 there is a split to the right that we call “Mama’s Callin'” because it is a way to short-cut part of the Intermediate trail without missing some of the fun of the “Lake Loop”.
Here is where it can get confusing. Mama’s Callin’ is no longer the absolute shortest route back to the parking lot. This designation goes to the very small section of trail at #220 that we call “Super Short”. This section puts you up near the top of the Upper Beginner with a nice mostly downhill to the trailhead. If you find yourself wanting the absolute shortest outer loop, you will want to skip Mama’s Callin’ and take Super Short.
Assuming you aren’t taking Super Short, this section of the Intermediate Loop begins by taking the right trail option at #220. Many think this is the best section of blue trail in the entire park. This trail features some really fast downhill trail with berms to help keep your speed. Be aware that this will add at least X miles to your ride. Rumor is a Gnome lives in the Lake Loop area of the park. If you see him, be sure to call out or ring your bike bell because its bad luck not too!
At #235 you are presented with two options: go left on a small section of expert trail, or go right on Rockin’ Sally. Rockin’ Sally was built in 2011 as another way for riders to exit the trail faster. This allowed us to re-label the trail to the left as Very Difficult (black). Rockin’ Sally won’t feel at all like the rest of the trail as it features shorter tighter corners and a series of berms and bridges that eventually leads to #243 where the blue Intermediate trail ends and you re-enter the Lower Beginner trail.
The Very Difficult trail, also known as “Expert” or “Black” trail, is primarily located in the middle of the park. To reach this area, you must ride the More Difficult loop. There are a couple other smaller sections of Very Difficult trail spread throughout the park. These areas are for more experienced riders and feature more logs, rocks, and other man-made obstacles (some unavoidable). In general if you cannot ride the “filter” (first obstacle at the entrance of the trail section) you should re-consider riding that section of trail. There are 2.14 miles of Very Difficult (Expert) level trail at Lebanon Hills.
The Most Difficult trail that starts at #212 has been known as the “X Loop” for many years. It is about a mile of trail that starts with a large log pile. This is to test your skills and readiness for what is to come. The rest of the X Loop has more logs, drops, rock rides, and some nice twisty trail sections. To get to the Extremely Difficult trail you must enter the X Loop. Many riders make a loop by combining the X Loop and XX Loops, going from #212 to #213 then back to #212. These are called “stacked loops” and can be ridden as many times as you want. Another available loop is taking a right at #213 (X-Out) and #216 (X-Return) on back to #212.
Just after #211 you will find a small section of Most Difficult trail in the area we call Rocky Top. You take the left section of trail, which climbs up to the highest part of Lebanon Hills and features a lot of rock riding. This section of trail is fairly short and returns back to join the More Difficult trail. This section can be especially fun in the winter!
The Last Climb
If you are up for a bit more climbing and some fun downhill riding, take a left at #235 and you won’t be disappointed. You start out with some downhill twists and turns before you take a sharp left turn and start climbing one of the more challenging hills in the park. This hill is more “raw” than others, often breaking apart due to how sandy it gets. Ultimately you will meet up with the Intermediate (blue) trail again at #244. Everyone should experience this section at least once.
The Extremely Difficult trail, also known as “XX” or “Red” trail, is also primarily located in the middle of the park. To reach this area, you must ride the More Difficult loop and much of the Most Difficult trail. There is one smaller sections of Extremely Difficult trail in the Most Difficult loop. These areas are for the most experienced riders and feature harder logs, unavoidable rock rides, log step ladders, and higher/thinner man-made obstacles (some unavoidable). In general if you cannot ride the “filter” (first obstacle at the entrance of the trail section) you should re-consider riding that section of trail. There are 1.99 miles of Extremely Difficult trails at Lebanon Hills.
The Extremely Difficult trail that starts at #213 has been known as the “XX Loop” for many years. It is just over a mile of trail that starts with a taller log pile followed by a very rocky section ending with a rock ledge drop. This is to test your skills and readiness for what is to come. The rest of the XX Loop has more logs, drops, rock rides, man-made features, and some signature log ladders. To get to the Extremely Difficult trail you must enter the X Loop. Many riders make a loop by combining the X Loop and XX Loops, going from #212 to #213 then back to #212. These are called “stacked loops” and can be ridden as many times as you want.
The other small Extremely Difficult section is located in the middle of the Most Difficult trail as an option that has become known as Tedman’s Curve. It is fairly short, but features quite a bit of rock riding and hopping up over rock ledges (and of course, Tedman’s Curve). Some consider this the most advanced section of trail in the park.
More Trail Photos
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This ends the review of the trails. Stay tuned for more photos, videos and edits that will hopefully make this page even more interesting as you scope out the areas you plan to ride. Always remember that signs are located throughout the park and are a great guide making it nearly impossible to get lost.
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