State trails

Paul Bunyan State Trail

Hiking Hiking

Biking Biking

Mountain Biking Mountain Biking

In-line Skating In-line skating

Snowmobiling Snowmobiling

Cross-country Skiing Wheelchair access

(electric wheelchairs allowed)

Trail features

Paul Bunyan Trail Location check boxRest area
check boxCamping
check boxFishing
Check boxBike rental nearby


Paul Bunyan State Trail

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.

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Trail notes

Bemidji bike route segment

A short half mile segment of the trail in Bemidji has not been developed. Trails users should travel along Clausen Avenue, which has been signed as a bike route, to connect to both ends of the paved trail. Construction is not expected for a couple years.

(Updated May 15, 2014)

Virtual tours

Take a virtual tour of the Paul Bunyan State Trail. It's a great tool to help you plan your next trip! Video


Events

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Landscape

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.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy inducted the Paul Bunyan State Trail into the 2011 Rail-Trail Hall of FameThis link leads to an external site.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!

Permits

For complete information on snowmobiling on state trails, visit the snowmobile website for opportunities, rules and regulations. No other fees or passes are required to use the trail, although parking in the state parks does require a daily or annual pass.

 

  • Parking
  • Restrooms
  • In the area
  • Etiquette
  • Winter

Parking

Do not leave valuables in your vehicle!

Parking is available for the following trail segments:

  • Akeley: A parking area is located southwest of Walker on State Highway 34 just south of the intersection of the Paul Bunyan and Heartland Trails, approximately 4 miles east of Akeley.
  • Backus: Parking is available in Backus.
  • Baxter: The southern trailhead of the Paul Bunyan State Trail is located on Excelsior Road. 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.
  • Bemidji:  Parking is located at the corner of Fifth and Gould by the Lincoln Elementary School, west on First Street 0.5 mile from Bemidji Avenue (Highway 197) to Gould, then north 0.2 mile.
  • Brainerd: (See "Baxter.")
  • Chippewa National Forest: The National Forest Service parking lot is located off of County Road 50 near the Shingobee Creek crossing. This lot is roughly at the mid-way point on the Chippewa section of trail.
  • Crow Wing State Park:  Parking available within the park.
  • Guthrie: Parking is available in Guthrie.
  • Hackensack: Parking is available in Hackensack.
  • Jenkins: Parking is available in Jenkins.
  • La Porte: Parking is available in La Porte.
  • Lake Bemidji State Park: The northern trailhead is located in the park. From Bemidji, go north on County Road 21 about 4 miles, then east on County Road 20, 2 miles to the park entrance.
  • Lake Bemidji State Park: Parking available within the state.
  • Lavinia: On east side of Lake Bemidji north on County Road 12 about 3.5 miles to Wild Plum Lane Northeast.
  • Merrifield: Parking is available in Merrifield.
  • Nary:  Parking is available in Nary.
  • Nisswa: Parking is available in Nisswa.
  • North Country Trail: Parking is located 5 miles west of Highway 371 on Cass County Road 50.
  • Pequot Lakes: Parking is available in Pequot Lakes.
  • Walker: A parking area is located southwest of Walker on State Highway 34 just south of the intersection of the Paul Bunyan and Heartland Trails, approximately 4 miles east of Akeley.

Restrooms

Most communities provide public restrooms nearby with some in local parks in proximity to the trail.  Organizations such as chambers of commerce or tourism agencies provide restroom facilities within some larger communities. Local businesses provide restroom facilities for customers. Portable toilet facilities are often provided in the larger and often used trail rest areas. See the trail map for these locations.

 

In the area

Nearby DNR recreational areas include:

State Trail

Off-Highway Vehicle Trails

State Park and State Recreation Areas

State Forests

State Water Trails

Other nearby recreational opportunities

The following links will take you off the DNR website.

Lake Country Scenic Byway This link leads to an external site.


Explore Minnesota Tourism This link leads to an external site.

This link leads to Explore Minnesota Tourism's website.

Trail etiquette

All users must yield to horses. Stop and dismount if requested.

  • Stay on the trail.
  • Keep to the right.
  • All pets must be on a leash.
  • Clean up all pet waste.
  • Obey traffic signs and rules.
  • Respect private property adjacent to the trail.
  • Camping and campfires are not permitted on the Paul Bunyan State Trail.
  • Enjoy the beauty of wild plants and animals, but leave them undisturbed for all to enjoy.
  • Minnesota Rules, 6100.3000 apply on the Paul Bunyan State Trail.

Winter use

Studded tracks are allowed on the Paul Bunyan State Trail from Hackensack north. The Heartland State Trail also provides connections to many miles of groomed snowmobile trails in the Hubbard County Grant-in-Aid trail system. For complete information on snowmobiling on state trails, visit the snowmobile website for opportunities, rules and regulations.