The Paul Bunyan Trail

The total 123 mile length of the Paul Bunyan Trail is hard surfaced.  It passes through the communities of Brainerd, Merrifield, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Jenkins, Pine River, Backus, Hackensack, Walker, LaPort and Bemidji.  There are plenty of rest stops, info centers,  parking lots, eateries and rooms available along the route.  Camping areas are also located close to the trail.  

The grade is level except for a portion of the trail that winds through the Chippewa National Forest, just south of Walker, Minnesota.  There the trail takes a nine mile westerly course through the hills of the Chippewa Forest.  There is some 8%-9% grade in this area.  A slightly shorter alternate route has been established south of Walker called the Shingobee Connection Trail.  There are still a few hills in that portion, but not as many as the Chippewa route.  
 The Paul Bunyan Trail passes through what was once considered the largest concentration of white and red pine in the upper Midwest!  The trail wears the name Paul Bunyan in honor of the colorful logging history of this part of Minnesota.  The Paul Bunyan Trail passes by thousands of lakes that dot this part of Minnesota.   

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Latitude: 46.272764 Longitude: -94.335636 Elevation: 1184 ft

Route Directions

Starting on the south end at Crow Wing State Park, the Paul Bunyan Trail winds north along the Mississippi River to Brainerd, Minnesota.  It then meanders slightly northeast to the small community of Merrifield.  From Brainerd the trail leaves the banks of the Mississippi and heads in a north/northwesterly direction.  From Merrifield, the trail heads slightly northwest to Nisswa.  It then turns north and travels through Pequot Lakes, Jenkins, Pine River, Backus, Hackensack and Walker.  The trail then heads northwest to Laporte and on north to Bemidji where it ends at Bemidji State Park.  

Route Length

123 miles

Route Difficulty

Easy with Some Moderately Strenous Sections

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