Paul Bunyan State Trail
Check it out virtually!
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has inducted the Paul Bunyan State Trail into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, based on merits such as scenic value, trailside amenities, and excellence in management and maintenance. Come check out this Hall of Fame trail for yourself!
When complete, the Paul Bunyan State Trail will be approximately 120 miles long and extend from Crow Wing State Park (south of Brainerd/Baxter) to Lake Bemidji State Park (north of Bemidji). At 112 paved miles (from Brainerd to Bemidji), the Paul Bunyan State Trail is the longest continuously paved trail in the Minnesota State Trail system, and one of the longest in the United States.
The only remaining undeveloped sections will be between Crow Wing State Park and Brainerd/Baxter; and through the City of Bemidji. The Crow Wing State Park connection is in the route-planning stage and the connection through the City of Bemidji is on-road at this time. Plans for making both of these off-road connections are underway.
The region is rich in history, having been inhabited for centuries before French explorers came to the area. Thirteen recorded prehistoric sites have been identified near the Paul Bunyan State Trail alone. The Ojibwe and Dakota were present in the area until explorers entered the region and the logging and railroad industry took over. Most towns along the trails have a rich railroad and logging history. Now they are popular vacation destinations and provide trail access points, rest areas and services. They also provide a major part of the regional identity and sites of historic interest.
Main summer uses of developed portions of the Paul Bunyan State Trail include hiking, bicycling, and in-line skating. Snowmobiling is the primary winter use along both the paved and undeveloped sections of the trail, however studded tracks are prohibited on the paved surface. The trail provides connections to many miles of groomed snowmobile trails in the county Grants-in-Aid trail system. When completed, the Paul Bunyan State Trail will also connect with the Blue Ox Trail forming one of the longest rail to trail conversions in North America - 210 miles.
- The southern trailhead of the Paul Bunyan State Trail is located on Excelsior Road in Baxter. From the intersection of State Highway 210 and the State Highway 371 bypass in Baxter, go north 1 block to Excelsior Road, then go east 3/4 mile to Conservation Drive; the parking lot is on the left.
- The northern trailhead is located in Lake Bemidji State Park. From Bemidji, go north on Co. Rd. 21 about 4 miles, then east on Co. Rd. 20 two miles to the park entrance.
- in Merrifield, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Jenkins, Pine River, Backus, Hackensack, and Walker.
- North Country Trail parking 5 miles west of T.H. 371 on Cass County Road 50
- off T.H. 34, three miles east of Akeley.
Do not leaves valuables in your car.
Nearby DNR recreational areas
- Heartland State Trail
- Lake Bemidji State Park
- Crow Wing State Par
- Paul Bunyan State Forest
- Foot Hills State Forest
- Mississippi Headwaters State Forest
- Pillsbury State Forest
- Mississippi River Water Trail
- Crow Wing River Water Trail
- Pine River Water Trail
Other nearby recreational opportunities
Chippewa National Forest, Terry R. Johnson Rec Area.