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 70 miles have been paved; the total trail
length is currently 120 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. The Paul Bunyan 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
Paul Bunyan Trail
showcases area pine forests, sparkling lakes, colorful wildflowers and wildlife. The user
will pass along the shorelines of countless 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.
Completed paving projects 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.
recently, the final phases of the Paul Buyan Trail that have been
completed include a 6-mile paved stretch from Baxter south to the Crow
Wing State Park and the addition of the Steamboat River Bridge over Bemidji Avenue in
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
Numerous projects along the trail are on-going and improvements are being made every
Thank you to Terry McGaughey for all photographs