The Paul Bunyan Trial in Pine River, MN

The trail planning that started in Pine River in 1983 has finally come to fruition! You can now ride from Crow Wing State Park to Bemidji State Park on the Paul Bunyan Trail!
Be sure to make a stop in Pine River, “The Birthplace of the Paul Bunyan Trail”! Pine River is where it all started!

Check Out Minnesota Trails Magazine Website Below For Updated Trail Information.  Click Here for the Minnesota Trail Magazine.

Pine River Depot, Pine River MN
The newly renovated Pine River station located along the Paul Bunyan trail.

Why is Pine River called the “Birthplace of the Paul Bunyan Trail”?

In the year 1983, Burlington Northern Railroad made a decision to vacate the existing rail line from Brainerd to Bemidji. Terry McGaughey, then President of the Pine River Chamber of Commerce and avid bicycle rider, received this information and requested a resolution from the Pine River Chamber of Commerce requesting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources obtain the line, in its entirety, and develop the right-of-way into a recreational trail. The Pine River Chamber made and passed such a resolution in the basement of the United Methodist Church in Pine River during one of its monthly meetings. They then forwarded the resolution to the City of Pine River and the council likewise adopted a resolution and forwarded both resolutions to the State of Minnesota. Pine River was the first community along the trail to make a resolution to create the trail and after fifteen years of effort, the Paul Bunyan Trail became reality. That is the reason we refer to Pine River as “The Birthplace of the Paul Bunyan Trail”.

This 100 mile long multiple use trail runs right through downtown Pine River. Parking is available all seasons next to the trail. The trail runs between Brainerd and Bemidji; passing through several smaller towns on the way. The trail was constructed using the Burlington Northern Railroad grade over one hundred miles of the trail is paved from Baxter to Bemidji. The trail is mostly level and wheelchair accessible.
The paved portions of the trail can be used for hiking, biking, in-line skating and skate boarding. Users can expect to travel about ten miles between towns and stops with services. The undeveloped sections are ideal for snowmobiling and mountain biking. Studded snowmobile tracks are prohibited on the paved portion of the trail.

This area is rich with history, with the Dakota and Ojibwe Indians living in this area for centuries. There are thirteen prehistoric sites near the trail. Logging and Railroad were were dominant in the late 1800’s and into this century. Most towns along the way were built due to these two industries. When completed, the Paul Bunyan State Trail will connect with the Blue Ox and Heartland Trails to form one of the largest rail-trail systems in the North America. Pine River is in a unique position on the Trail, being in the middle of the Trail depending on which way you are heading. The large parking area provides the perfect starting or ending location to your bike trip. Within a block of the trail you’ll find several places to eat and many gift shops unique to the area. Gas stations and grocery stores provide all that’s needed for you trip. Pine River has all you need for a great time no matter how you use the Paul Bunyan Trail.

State Trail Rules

  • Stay on the trail
  • Keep to the right of the trail so others can pass you
  • All pets must be on a leash
  • Obey all traffic signs
  • Pack out all refuse and liter
  • Respect all landowner signs and property
  • Signal other trail users when passing
  • When passing horses, signal them well in advance to give them warning
  • Camp or have camp fires in designated areas only
  • Do not leave camp fires unattended
  • Do not disturb wild plants. Look don’t touch
  • Trail users are legally responsible to follow state rules as described in Minnesota Regulations bulletin NR-20