The paved Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail is a beautiful 18-mile multiple use trail that connects the communities of Harmony and Preston with the Root River State Trail in southeastern Minnesota's Blufflands region. In the summer the trail is used mainly for hiking, biking and in-line skating. The trail is groomed for cross-country skiing in winter.
The trail rises and falls with the bluffs, winding through historic towns tucked into hillsides, past rolling farm fields, milling districts, and relics of the railroad's heyday. Lush and verdant stretches offer views of the area's natural beauty.
The northern two-thirds of this trail is constructed on a former railroad and is generally level and wheelchair accessible. This section of the trail follows or crosses Watson Creek, the South Branch of the Root River, and Camp Creek, passing through a variety of wooded areas and farmland. Three fishing platforms provide access to trout fishing in Camp Creek, just outside Preston.
The southern segment between County Road 16 and Harmony was not constructed on an abandoned railroad, and is comparatively more challenging. This portion of the trail climbs out of the river valley and travels along the ridge line between the valleys, including one rather strenuous incline that may not be suitable for all users.
Although Harmony and Preston were both settled in the 1850's, the cities are quite different in appearance. Harmony was developed upon the agricultural uplands above the Root River Valley and is home to both traditional Amish communities and green industries. Preston is located within the south branch of the Root River Valley and had an active milling community when it was settled in 1853; today the town is the county seat of Fillmore County. Each community speaks to a very different time in Minnesota's history, with several historical buildings and interpretive opportunities.
Wildlife is abundant along the trail, and sightings of wild turkey, deer, hawks and turkey vultures are common. Rattlesnakes can occasionally be found on rock outcrops, along the river bottoms, or sunning themselves on the trail. They are a state threatened and protected species, and should be left alone.
- Virtual tours
- Trail uses
Accessible Outdoors (electric wheelchairs allowed)
- Trail events
Events calendarScroll table right to see more »
There are currently no event listings.
- You will need a Ski Pass for cross-country skiing on a groomed trail. Ungroomed trails do not require a pass.
- No other fees or passes are required to use the trail.
Do not leave valuables in your vehicle!
Parking is available at the following trail accesses:
- Harmony: From Highway 52 take 4th Street NW approximately 1/2 mile west to the parking lot.
- Preston: From Highway 52 take Fillmore Street (also known as County Road 12) approximately 1/2 mile to the parking lot.
Restroom facilities are available along the trail at these points:
- At the trailhead in Preston
- At the Community Center in Harmony
Cross-country skiing is popular on this trail in the winter. The trail is partially groomed with 12 miles of set tracks. The tracks begin at the Root River and Harmony-Preston Valley trail junction and follow the trail south just past Co Rd 16. A Minnesota Ski Pass is required to ski on this trail.
There is no snowmobiling on the trail.