Paul Bunyan Trail

Past -
Present -
Paving the Trail
How it was done.
Tunnel Connection
Making travel through Brainerd easy.
What's Ahead
Future plans and funding needs.
Trail History
From vision to reality.
Past - Present - Future

The opening of the Paul Bunyan Trail.In October 1992, the first 50 miles of the multi-use, recreational Paul Bunyan Trail (from Brainerd/Baxter to Hackensack, MN) was paved with asphalt and opened. Since its opening, an additional 30 miles have been paved; the total trail length is currently 110 miles. Creation of the Paul Bunyan Trail, named after the legendary logger, required a Bunyan-sized effort. Construction and paving of the trail is the longest paving project undertaken by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources under one contract.

The trail pathway follows the original railroad line built in 1893 by Burlington Northern and abandoned in 1983. It is now among the longest paved "Rails to Trails" in the nation. This new Trail now ultimately links 16 communities between its source in Brainerd/ Baxter and Lake Bemidji State Park on the north. It is non-motorized, except for snowmobiles. Uses of the Paul Bunyan Trail include bicycling, hiking, in-line skating, and it is fully accessible for persons with disabilities. The Trail showcases area pine forests, sparkling lakes, colorful wildflowers and wildlife. The user will pass along the shorelines of 21 lakes, through scenic wetlands, and cross bridges over streams and rivers. Trail users will find lodging, dining and support services available at convenient locations and in all price ranges. Vehicle parking is available in each community along the trail. In Baxter, where the Paul Bunyan Trail begins, a temporary parking lot is located at the trailhead. Other lots are located in Merrifield, Pequot Lakes, Pine River and Backus.

The most recently completed paving projects completed include the 2008 addition of the bridge over Excelsior Road crossing in Baxter, paving of the12 miles from Bemidji south to Guthrie, which was completed in the Spring of 2009. Paving continued in the Spring of 2010 on the stretch of trail from Guthrie south to Walker--yielding a continuously paved trail from Brainerd/Baxter north to Bemidji State Park.

The end of the Trail at Bemidji.The remaining phases of construction, from Baxter south to the Crow Wing State Park and the addition of a bridge over Bemidji Avenue in Bemidji, are being completed as funding from the legislature is secured. The Paul Bunyan Trail intersects at Walker, MN with the 47 mile Heartland State Trail. At Bemidji, the Paul Bunyan Trail continues on as the Blue Ox Trail, for another 110 miles to the Canadian border. With the Paul Bunyan Trail's connection to the Heartland State Trail, the Blue Ox Trail and other planned extensions, this system of trails in Minnesota will become one of Americas Longest Rails to Trails.

Numerous projects along the trail are on-going and improvements are being made every day.

Thank you to Terry McGaughey for all photographs


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