Dakota County — Rosemount, MN
When I think of riding some weird gravel I think of UMore Park. There’s some real history here, but much of what makes it cool (and weird) could have made it even more cool and possible even a bit weirder.
Dating back into, and likely before, the early 1800’s the land that makes up UMore Park was a domain for the Mdewakanton Band of the Dakota Indians. Later, in the 1870’s, most of the land was being used to grow crops and was inhabited by the local farming community. Here’s where it begins to get a little weird. Of all the land and areas in Minnesota, or the country for that matter, the US Government chose this land to start an ordinance for the US Military to begin production of a facility that would produce “smokeless powder”.
The facility and the smokeless powder were meant to aid in the World War II fight. Then something happened, the war ended…just before the new facility would gain any real traction. So, now it sits. Worn and torn, but not from war just from time. Old concrete buildings, rundown housing foundations, other bomb testing oddities and just plain weird stuff that can’t be explained without knowing the past.
So when we talk about weird gravel, this is weird…and totally worth the ride.
There is no particular route to follow. Maybe one of the best parts is the adventure within the park and leading to the outskirts of the park and through other parts of Dakota County. A great place to begin your adventure would be near the baseball fields of the Dakota County Technical College just south of County Road 42 on Akron. Unless it’s game day, there is plenty of parking and when you continue on Akron southbound you will get into some gravel options quite quickly.
The important, and best, part about riding in and around UMore Park is the sights and the smells. Remembering the history and understanding it’s present state makes it a special and odd mixture of riding freedom and emotion. Don’t be scared to take the road less traveled, or take a detour around a gated area (meant to keep automobile traffic out)…you will find more fun and solitude by testing out various roads.
We urge you to hurry up, though, as UMore is becoming a home to new parks and facilities and likely will not be a gravel haven in the years to come. It will always be a great memory, though, if you can get out and take it in as it was meant to be…whatever that is exactly, but for us it is on a bicycle.