Heartland State Trail
Check out the Heartland and Paul Bunyan State Trail Virtual Tour!
The Heartland State Trail was one of the first rail-to-trail projects in the country. It is a 49 mile multiple use trail between Park Rapids and Cass Lake. The trail is located entirely on a level abandoned railroad grade except for a four mile segment north of Walker, on sharply rolling terrain. The 27 mile segment between Park Rapids and Walker has a paved surface. This segment also has a second grassy treadway for horseback riding and mountain biking. The 20 mile segment from Walker to Cass Lake is also paved, with a partial dual treadway for snowmobiles with studded tracks.
The entire trail is groomed in the winter for snowmobiling; however, studded tracks are prohibited on the asphalt. The Heartland also provides connections to many miles of groomed snowmobile trails in the Hubbard County Grant-in-Aid system.
Views of lakes, rivers and streams are numerous, and many are accessible from the trail. The trail passes through northern hardwood forests and stands of jack, red, and white pine, as well as the spruce fir forest community. The occasional majestic white pine can be seen towering over the trail. Common mammals noticed along the trail include whitetail deer, raccoon, red fox, porcupine, beaver and muskrat. The observant trail user may spot coyote, weasel, mink, bobcat or black bear. Many varieties of birds can be seen along the trail including the bald eagle, which has a large population in the Chippewa National Forest and surrounding area.
The trailheads for the paved section of the Heartland State Trail are located in Park Rapids and Walker. Parking for the trail is available in Park Rapids at Heartland County Park, Dorset, Nevis, Akeley, Walker, and Erickson's Landing north of Walker. Do not leave valuables in your car.