2017 Jim Schmid bicycles Rail-Trail Hall of Fame 123-mile Paul Bunyan State Trail – MN

The 15th member of the Rail-Trail Hall of FamePaul Bunyan State Trail.

rail-trail hall of fame logoAt 123 miles the Paul Bunyan State Trail has the distinction  of being the longest paved rail-trail in the country. Five days in May – biking 250 miles on my Bacchetta Giro recumbent – what could be better. It was a bit early in the season for most riders – I saw very few. Was pretty neat to be out in the Minnesota north country and have the trail to myself.

Day 1 – May 10, 2017

Got in to Crow Wing State Park about 5 pm. Was able to bike 10 miles out to Baxter and 10 miles back to Crow Wing. This is a connector trail so very curvy. I’ll start from Baxter tomorrow and should be on the old rail line.

Day 2 – May 11, 2017

Bike through Baxter today. Really nice bridges and tunnels to separate trail from traffic. Today I started riding on the old rail bed just north of town. The closer I was to town the more people out on the trail. Ended up biking 51 miles out to Pequot Lakes and back.

Day 3 – May 12, 2017

This was a 54 mile day from Pequot Lakes to Hackensack and back. I’m always glad that the corridor is wider than the paved trail. Usually means there will be a few trees along the trail. Lots of farm land up here and they plow right up to the old railroad right-of-way. Was able to get a picture of my Giro next to a statue of Paul Bunyan.

Day 4 – May 13, 2017

Today I biked 32 miles from Hackensack to Laporte and then turned around and biked 32 miles back for a total of 64 miles. That’s the thing about rail-trails. You go out you gotta come back. I don’t mind even a straight flat trail looks different when you turn around and head back. Sometimes these rail-trails can fool you, like today when the trail leaves the old railbed in the Chippewa National Forest to join the Heartland State Trail for 6.2 miles. Lots of up and down and twists and turns on the 7.5-mile connector that gets you to Heartland State Trail. I took a selfie next to mile post 65. I’m 65. The mile post markers stopped at MP 77 and never picked up again which I thought strange. You still have 50 miles to the northern end.

Day 5 – May 14, 2017

Biked 31 miles from Laporte to end of trail at Bemidji State Park. As much as I enjoy biking on rail-trails (haven’t found a bad one yet) I was really disappointed in the beginning and end of this trail. No sign letting you know you’ve begun or made it. People who hike the Appalachian Trail all make sure they get a photo at the sign on Springer Mountain in Georgia and especially the sign on top of Mount Kathadin in Maine that signals the end of your journey. What was even more disappointing was no Rail-Trail Hall of Fame sign. Time to head south to Iowa and the Wabash Trace Nature Trail.


Paul-Bunyan-State-Trail-MN-map-May 10 to 14, 2017