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Map of Paul Bunyan State Trail

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Paul Bunyan State Trail

Map area for the Paul Bunyon State Trail

Paul Bunyan State Trail

LENGTH:

115 miles

SURFACE:

paved

COMMUNITIES:

Bemidji, Laporte, Walker, Hackensack, Backus, Pine River, Jenkins, Pequot Lakes, Nisswa, Merrifield, Brainerd

HIGHLIGHTS:

Minnesota countryside, lakes, farmland, natural areas, woodlands, creeks, rural communities

NEARBY TRAILS:

Heartland State Trail

RELATED LINKS:

Regional Trails

The Paul Bunyan State Trail is a 115-mile long paved trail and is the longest paved state trail in Minnesota. It is also the longest continuously paved Rails-to-Trails trail in the U.S.and was inducted into the 2011 Rail-Trail Hall of Fame.

The Paul Bunyan State Trail is located in Central Minnesota, with the southern end about a 2-hour drive north from Downtown Minneapolis. The trail extends from Lake Bemidji State Park in the north to Crow Wing State Park in the south. The route of the trail goes across the heart of Minnesota, past farms and lakes, over creeks and rivers and through miles of beautiful forests. Much of the trail was built along abandoned railroad beds and the grades are gentle. There are some portions where the trail is steeper and windier. The trail is open for bike riding, rollerblading, rollerskating, walking and running. Snowmobiles are allowed on some portions during winter. This is a beautiful trail to ride when the fall colors arrive.

Conditions

The Paul Bunyan State Trail is paved the entire route. In summer months, the trail is open for non-motorized use such as bike riding and walking. snowmobiles are allowed during the winter.

There are long stretches of this trail that are quite remote and have no services. Be sure to bring plenty of water and any other necessary supplies.

Communities

The Paul Bunyan State Trail goes through several local communities: Bemidji, Laporte, Walker, Hackensack, Backus, Pine River, Jenkins, Pequot Lakes, Nisswa, Merrifield, and Brainerd.

Nearby Trails

Heartland State Trail: the two trails meet and conjoin near the community of Walker.

End Points and Trail Description

The north end of the Paul Bunyan State Trail is located at Birchmont Beach Road on the northeast side of Lake Bemidji. There is also an access path from State Park Road from the west. The trail heads south along the shores of the lake and wraps around to go through Nymore Beach Park on the north side of the City of Bemidji. In this area, there are several local paved trails that head off to other areas of the city. The trail goes over Highway 197 and stops at Shevin Avenue SW. There is a short stretch where you will need to take surface streets to reach the next portion of the trail.

The paved path starts up again at Rako Street SE, just west of Washington Avenue. The trail goes south for a bit then west to cross over Highway 197 and then again over Highway 2. The Paul Bunyan State Trail then travels through farmland and adjacent to Union Road for about 7 miles to Nary. There is a small trailhead located off of County Road 36 with an access path to get to the main trail. The trail continues south for another 5 miles through farmland and forested stretches to the small community of Guthrie. There is a trailhead with parking and a restroom adjacent to the trail in Guthrie off of Front Street.

The next 6 miles of the Paul Bunyan State Trail takes you through pretty and remote wooded areas then crosses County Road 39, goes past Garfield Lake to the community of Laporte. There is a trailhead with parking and a restroom in Laporte north of 5th Avenue. Heading south of Laporte, the Paul Bunyan State Trail follows alongside Highway 200 for another 5 miles to the community of Benedict. South of Benedict the trail goes for another 7 miles, wrapping around the south end of Kabekona Bay and next to Waker Bay to reach the community of Walker.

Just north of Walker, the Heartland State Trail conjoins with the Paul Bunyan State Trail. The two trails have the same route for about 8 miles. Closer to town, there is a 0.6 mile long access path heading east to take you to the center of town, where there are parking, restaurants and shops. The main trail continues heading south past Lake May and Long Lake. Just after passing Hidden Road, south of Walker, the Heartland State Trail splits with the Paul Bunyan Trail and heads west toward Park Rapids.

The Paul Bunyan State Trail heads south from this junction to cross Highway 34. There is a trailhead with parking at County Road 26 and Highway 34. For the next 10 miles of the trail, the route becomes steeper and has more turns and curves. This is a remote and heavily forested area with pretty meadows scattered about. Eventually the trail pops out of the forest and meets up with Highway 371. It roughly follows the highway heading south into the town of Hackensack. There is a trailhead with parking and a restroom in Hackensack.

The Paul Bunyan State Trail continues heading south for 8 miles to go through Backus and the 9 miles to get to Pine River. There is a trailhead with parking and a restroom in Pine River. From Pine River the trail runs adjacent to Highway 371 for 9.5 miles to get to Pequot Lakes. There is a trailhead with parking in Pequot Lakes right next to the trail. The trail then travels another 6.5 miles alongside Highway 371 and past several small lakes to the City of Nisswa. There is a small trailhead with parking in Nisswa near the intersection of Highway 371 and County Road 18.

After Nisswa, the trail heads away from the highway and travels 6.7 miles southeast to the community of Merrifield. There is a parking area on Train Bell Road on the north end of Merrifield. The trail then heads south for 9.5 miles to the City of Brainerd. Brainerd is located on the Mississippi River and is one of the larger cities on the route and has more services. There is parking available at the Northland Arboretum a bit northeast of the intersection of Highway 201 and Highway 371. The Paul Bunyan State Trail takes a few jogs to get through the city then goes west on College Road and then heads south along Highway 371. It takes a few more jogs adjacent to local streets then uses the Highway 371 bridge to cross the Mississippi River.

There is a new stretch of trail that then heads west, going cross country on the south banks of the river, to Crow Wing State Park.


Resources

Following are links to official off-site resources to find out more details about the Paul Bunyan State Trail in Minnesota.

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