The paved Root River State Trail meanders 42 miles alongside the Root River from Fountain to Houston. Constructed on an abandoned railroad, the trail is generally level and wheelchair accessible except for a steep half-mile segment between Vinegar Ridge and Houston that may be challenging for some visitors.
Part of the Blufflands Trail System, the trail provides outstanding views of the soaring limestone bluffs of the Root River Valley. 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.
Wildlife is abundant, 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.
Historical buildings and rural communities along the trail provide sites of interest as well as many services. Campgrounds, bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, museums, outfitters and unique stores can be found in many of the trail towns.
- Virtual tours
- Trail uses
Accessible Outdoors (electric wheelchairs allowed)
- Trail events
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There are currently no event listings.
You will need a Ski Pass for cross-country skiing. 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:
- Fountain: From Highway 52 take County Road 8 about one mile to the parking lot near the city park/softball field.
- Lanesboro: Parking is available in the lot next to the Bass Pond off of County Road 8. Additional parking is available along the streets and at the parking lot by the Community Center/Sylvan Park.
- Whalan: Street parking.
- Peterson: From Highway 16, turn into Peterson on Mill Street, go 1/2 mile to Fillmore Street, and turn left to the city campground/softball field. Parking is also available along the streets.
- Rushford: From Highway 16, turn north on Elm Street and go one block. The parking lot is at the restored railroad depot.
- Houston: Turn west on Plum street of of Highway 76 and go one block to the Nature Center.
Restroom facilities are available along the trail at these points:
- at the parking lots in Fountain and Peterson
- at the trail centers in Lanesboro, Rushford and Houston
Cross-country skiing is popular on this trail in the winter. Most of the trail is groomed in the winter. There are 30 miles of set track from the Isinours Forest Recreation Area in Preston to the bridge outside of Houston. A Minnesota Ski Pass is required to ski on this trail.
There is no snowmobiling on the trail, although the trail does briefly intersect with the Fillmore and Houston county Grants-in-Aid (GIA) trail system, which provides many miles of groomed snowmobile trails in the area.