There are so many trails of length in Minnesota that I have decided to make this a multi-part installment of trail listings. I have broken these trails down by region and will highlight eight trails each installment. They all have significant mileage of paved surface providing a smooth riding experience unless otherwise stated.
Twin Cities Area
- The Dakota Rail Trail is an old railroad grade that provides 44 miles of scenic trail past Lake Minnetonka and Lake Waconia to St. Bonifacious and on to Mayer. Parking for this trail is available in Wayzata, Orono, Mound, St. Bonifacious and Mayer allowing you to pick the length of your ride.
- The 30 mile Eastern portion of the Luce Line State Trail connects Plymouth to Winstead. This trail was a former railroad grade that was purchased by the Minnesota DNR in 1976 and made into a rail trail. Unlike the other trails mentioned in this article, it is not paved and has a crushed limestone surface. Luce Line State Trail map.
- The Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail is 18 miles long and connects with the 42 mile long Root River State Trail providing great views of the bluffs of the Root River Valley. The northern section of the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail is built on an old railroad grade providing a level surface. The southern section is not and gives riders a little more challenge as the terrain contains more hills leading you on a climb out of the river valley. The Root River State Trail is also built on a railroad grade that is level except for a segment of the eastern section of the trail that can be a little more challenging, containing a steep half-mile climb. Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail/Root River State Trail map
- The Central Lakes State Trail is a 55 mile long, 14 foot wide former railroad grade that is pretty level most of it's length. It runs from Fergus Falls to Osakis passing through many communities along the way. The trail doesn't end there, but continues on from Osakis to St. Joseph as the 46 mile long, 10 foot wide Lake Wobegon Regional Trail. This trail has many trailheads along it's route to park allowing you to custom create the length of your ride. Central Lakes State Trail map / Lake Wobegon Regional Trail map
- The Heartland State Trail is a 49 mile trail stretching from Park Rapids to Cass Lake. It is a former railroad grade that was transformed into a rail trail making it one of the first in the country to do so. Trailheads in Park Rapid and Walker provide ample parking for this 27 mile section of paved trail and has a second tread of grassy surface for all of you mountain bikers. The 20 mile section of trail north of Walker is also paved and connects to the 19 mile loop of the Migizi Trail in Cass Lake. Heartland State Trail map / Migizi Trail map