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MN: Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

We believe that taking care of your physical health, is taking care of your mental health.  During this challenging time, and always, taking care of yourself so that you can send your positive energy to others is SO, SO important.  It is our hope that through our äventyr you may find inspiration, motivation, and positive energy to navigate through your äventyr.  Perhaps some armchair travel during this time is just the thing you need, even if you are not a gravel cyclist.  Who knows where your äventyr may lead...

Stay Well.  Stay Positive.  Stay Engaged.  ~ DeAnn & Kurt

äventyr bicycle bags gravel bikes Forestville, MN

We first came to Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in May 2018 for the Almanzo 100 gravel race Kurt participated in, and we have been coming back ever since.

Scouting Notes:  Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park, MN

  • Travel Time:  From the Twin Cities approximately 2.5 hours.
  • Benefits:  Scenic Driftless Region, gravel roads for miles, great birding [this trip:  Green Heron, Scarlett Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Eastern Towhee, American Redstart (to name a few)] , excellent fly fishing, easy and accessible hiking for everyone (ideal for kids and dogs), Historic Forestville Farm is great for touring in non-pandemic years [with a chicken coop, tool shed, gift shop with modern restrooms, historic home and barn (undergoing renovation this year!)].

CAMPING:

äventyr bicycle bags campbiking at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

There are three main campground loops.

* 'Primitive' Lower Loop:  This is our preferred loop. 

We have camped in sites 10 & 11, but would also recommend other sites on the outside of the loop (particularly 12-15).  The campsites are roomy and spaced far apart so you can sit and look at the woods instead of your neighbors.

This is a woody loop, so not a lot of direct sun, but the shade on a hot day is wonderful, and the birding is amazing from your campsite (especially in May).  Due to the shade, on a wet year this could be a bit buggier than the upper loop.  BUT, *see our Skeeter Rating below.

Mostly tenters stay in this loop (bonus in our book - less likely to have generators and large campers running).

Vault toilets and water are the services in this loop.

äventyr bicycle bags campbiking at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park.  Campsite #11.

Site 11.  June 2020.

äventyr bicycle bags campbiking at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park.  Campsite #10.

Site 10.  May 2018.

 Non-Electric Upper Loop.

äventyr bicycle bags campbiking at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park.  Campsite #41.

Site 41.  July 2019.

This in our opinion is the better of the two upper loops.  No electricity, so mainly tenters in this loop also.  

More sunlight up here, but still some trees for shade.  This also equates to a drier/potentially less buggy experience depending on the time of year and rainfall totals during the year.

Campsites are closer together than the lower loop, but still spaced out ok.

Vault toilets throughout loop.  Bathhouse with showers in walking distance in loop.  Water.  No electrical hookup.

Generally the sites on the outer ring are good, our preference would be 44-50.

Electric Upper Loop.

We have never stayed in this loop.  It tends to be bigger RV's who want/need electricity.  Sites are close together.  These sites reserve far in advance.  Bonus would be electricity if you have air conditioning during a hot spell, but we have stayed here when it has been in the mid 90s and survived the heat just fine with all the shade provided in the other loops.

Additional Campground Info: 

  • Reservations recommended.
  • Firewood (DNR approved) available at the check-in office with great fire starters for purchase.
  • Drinking water stations.
  • Dump-Station.
  • Cell Signal?  No.  We love being off-the-grid, so consider this a bonus.  If you need cell coverage, you can get it by driving up to the main road where you turn off to come down to the campground.
  • Bath House for showering needs located at upper loops.

  • Skeeter Rating:  0-1 Star!!

    The Driftless Region in general is blessed to have less bugs, especially mosquitos!  Although we have had other pesky bugs buzzing our heads during visits here (this time small gnats and flies - both of which were thankfully not the biting kind and still nothing like you might experience in other areas of MN & WI).  We rarely see mosquitos here!  It is comfortable to sit outside and not get chewed up and not have to spray on repellant!  That said, we have a bug screen and used it this trip and were glad to have it.

    CYCLING:

    Kurt, äventyr bicycle bags owner, gravel cycling in the Driftless Region.  Forestville, MN. 

    Right outside your campsite lies an abundance of limestone gravel roads (the limestone is of the more coarse variety); any road you pick will be a winner.  This scenic area is a gravel cyclists' dream with rolling hills, spectacular views, and farm life tranquility.

    We went two routes on this trip, discussed below.  *Fun game:  see if you can find the farm on your visit with the Peacock's.

    Route 1:

    äventyr bicycle bags Forestville, MN Gravel Route 1.

    • Road 118 to 12.
    • Distance:  14.84 miles.  Out and back route.
    • Ascent:  1007 ft

    äventyr bicycle bags owners, DeAnn and Kurt, ride gravel in The Driftless Region.  Forestville, MN.

    äventyr bicycle bags owner, Kurt, rides gravel in The Driftless Region.  Forestville, MN.

    äventyr bicycle bags owner, DeAnn, rides gravel in The Driftless Region.  Forestville, MN.

    äventyr bicycle bags rides gravel in The Driftless Region.  Forestville, MN.

    Scenic views of small family farms, Driftless Hills, and animal life.  Ride through rolling hills with punchy climbs.  This route takes you through farm fields (i.e. no shade, so wear sunscreen!) with infrequent traffic.

    Route 2:

    äventyr bicycle bags Gravel Route 2 ~ Forestville, MN.

    • Road 118, left to 212th Street, right to 201st Avenue.
    • Distance:  12.17 miles.  Out and back route.
    • Ascent 653 feet

    äventyr bicycle bags owner, DeAnn, rides gravel in The Driftless Region.  Forestville, MN.

    äventyr bicycle bags owner, Kurt, rides gravel in The Driftless Region.  Forestville, MN.

    äventyr bicycle bags rides gravel in The Driftless Region.  Forestville, MN.

    Also a scenic route, but through a wooded valley (i.e. nice shade for the first part of the ride on a hot sunny day).  Gentle climb that ends with a bit more of a strenuous climb to the intersection where you go right (or left... we went right).  After the intersection you are out in the treeless farmland with great vistas and rolling hills.  We saw one car on a Monday morning, and a snapping turtle.

    THINGS TO DO & PLACES TO EAT:

    As discussed above, nature awaits: biking, birding, hiking, fishing.  Also, touring the historic farm and nearby Mystery Cave (non-pandemic years).

    • Dairy Queen.  If your route to Forestville takes you through Chatfield, stop by and say hello to the friendly high school crew who make generous twist cones!
    • Estelles.  We have not had a chance to eat here (yet), but want to try it.  Owned by a former Travalian, this seems like the place to be in this nice town a short drive from the campground.

     äventyr bicycle bags tours Luther College.  Decorah, IA.

    This trip we took a drive to our Alma Mater town - Decorah, IA, which is 38 miles from Forestville and a nice relaxing Sunday drive.  If you decide to check out Decorah, there are two good food related places:

    • Oneota Coop.  I had a good sandwich made here for a trip home once.  Also, YES - you can buy liquor here!
    • Mabe's Pizza.  We actually rarely ate here in college (too expensive), but we do now!  It's great old school style pizza.  Get one and take it to a local park or the nearby courthouse grounds for a picnic.

    äventyr GEAR USED:

    • **In Testing**  New Bag (you are the first to know).  This bag has passed our testing and will be going into production soon (stay tuned with our newsletter).
    • Seat Rollio's (4 left).
    • äventyr Purist Water Bottles (almost out of stock).
    • äventyr socks (2 pair left).  We have to say we love the footbed of these socks!
    • Kurt's custom äventyr Borah Teamwear Jersey.