The Minnesota DNR reported, “Minnesota is the "Best Trails State" in the entire country, and has been awarded the official title by the American Trails group.” The Best Trails State award is presented every two years by Americal Trails, the only national nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail types, including bicycling, hiking, cross-country skiing, equestrian, snowmobile, off-highway vehicle, and water trails.
In addition, Minnesota was ranked the fourth most "bicycle friendly" state in the country by the League of American Cyclists.
State trails offer something for everyone, in every season of the year. These trails are perfect for a close-to-home workout in an outdoor setting, for a fun day trip, or for an adventurous weekend getaway exploring Minnesota's Bluff Country.
Southeast Minnesota's Bluff Lands Trail System offers two unique trails. The Root River State Trail is a 43-mile, fully-paved multiple use trail that descends from Fountain into the Root River Valley through Lanesboro, Whalan, Peterson, Rushford and into Houston.
The trail provides outstanding views of the soaring limestone bluffs of the Root River Valley. Wildlife is abundant and sightings of wild turkey, deer, hawks and turkey vultures are common. Rattlesnakes are occasionally found on rock outcrops and in the river bottoms.
Historic sites, parks, forests, creeks, and charming small towns are waiting to be discovered. Enjoy the limestone cliffs and caves, sparkling trout streams, delicate spring wildflowers, and flashy fall colors of Minnesota's Southeastern bluff lands.
Connect to the Mississippi River Trail via newly re-surfaced Scenic Byway Hwy 16 from Houston to La Crescent. (Note: Some short stretches have narrow shoulders.)
The Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail is a 19-mile, fully-paved, multiple-use trail connecting the communities of Harmony and Preston with the Root River State Trail at Isinours Junction. The section from Isinours Junction to Preston is a very scenic valley with abundant foliage and wildlife, and follows the Root River.
From Preston, the trail follows and crosses Watson Creek, the South Branch of the Root River and Camp Creek, passing through wooded areas and farmland eventually climbing out of the river valley and then cross country into Harmony. The trail is rich in scenery, with rolling hills, farmland, and abundant wildlife.
The Shooting Star State Trail begins in the city of LeRoy in Mower County and travels north through Lake Louise State Park, then west towards Taopi, completing its stretch in the county park at Adams. Along the way, the trail offers several interpretive and recreational opportunities--Mower County Natural and Scenic Area, Rustic Retreat Wildlife Management Area, and Shooting Star Prairie Scientific and Natural Area. The native wildflowers and grasses are a highlight of this byway and trail.
Small towns along the trails have put out the welcome mat for visitors to their restaurants, bed-and-breakfast inns, campgrounds, outfitters, museums and unique stores. Special events are held on the trails year-round, including candle-lit cross-country ski outings, charitable benefit activities, marathons, bike tours,and trail festivals.