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Touring in Minnesota-Paul Bunyan Trail question

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Touring in Minnesota-Paul Bunyan Trail question

Old 11-17-19, 04:05 PM
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robow
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Touring in Minnesota-Paul Bunyan Trail question

Has anyone spent some time touring north central Minnesota along the Paul Bunyan and Heartland State trails ? Thinking about trying to put together a 1-2 week loop up there next year and wondered if anyone had any routes or information that they would like to pass along.
As always, thank you for your input.
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Old 11-18-19, 12:30 AM
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My wife and I used the Mississipi River Trail (MRT) on a tour from Fargo ND to Detroit Michigan. We rode from Fargo to Bemidgi and then south to Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. From the state park we rode mostly on the MRT to Minneapolis. We turned east from there towardGreen Bay Wisconsin. Minnesota is a great state to ride in, and there are a lot of options for routes. I'm not sure how you would make a loop out of it, but Itasca State Park is a place worth exploring, and it is also neat to stand in the headwaters of the Mississippi River I don't think you can go wrong.



Crossing the MIssissippi River



Last edited by Doug64; 11-18-19 at 12:34 AM.
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Old 11-18-19, 06:16 AM
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Search ACA's website. You can use a couple of their Northern Tier maps (Sections 5 and 6) to make a loop from Fargo or one with a tail to and from Minneapolis. There is a blog post about from several years ago. It uses several trails, including, I believe the Paul Bunyon Trail. One thing the narrative mentioned is that some of the campgrounds are seasonal "resorts" that don't allow one-night camping.

Itasca, which is on the above-described loop, is definitely worth a visit. Stayed in the HI Hostel there for two days crossing the country. Walked across the river as picture above and took a boat tour of the lake. Saw a family of loons. A ranger told us that ice moves around the rocks at the headwaters so every spring they re-arrange them so visitors can walk across the water instead of using the plank.
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Old 11-18-19, 09:03 AM
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Pretty cool, crossing the mighty Miss like that. 👍 I've only crossed it a few times, but it always seemed a LOT wider than that. 😉
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Old 11-18-19, 11:34 AM
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Routes & Maps- Bicycling - MnDOT

I would suggest ordering the print copy of the official Minnesota Bicycle map, contains lots of good information.
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Old 11-18-19, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by stardognine View Post
Pretty cool, crossing the mighty Miss like that. 👍 I've only crossed it a few times, but it always seemed a LOT wider than that. 😉
After leaving Itasca we experienced the river numerous other times. One night we camped along side (and bathed) in it Palisade, MN. It was cool to see it get bigger and bigger each time. Finally said goodbye when we headed east from Davenport, IA into IL.
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Old 11-18-19, 02:31 PM
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What time of year are you planning to do this ride? The fall is really colorful.

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Old 11-18-19, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
The fall is really colorful.
And likely a lot less buggy. There were some bad places in MT, but over all, MN had the most consistent mosquitoes. We entered the state during the second week in July. The first night we camped at place that had a large lake. At night I could see them settled on my tent mesh just waiting for me to have to get up to pee. The next morning I nearly ingested a few with my bowl of cereal. Never packed up so quickly in my entire life. I even had to kill several in my room at the Itasca hostel.
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Old 11-18-19, 03:34 PM
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It has been a while but that is a neat area and I've been meaning to go back and cycle it again. The ACA maps along with the MN state bike map will make it easy to plan out a route. I bike in MN every year in August and the riding is great there. Mosquitos can be a problem and early fall would be better.
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Old 11-18-19, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
What time of year are you planning to do this ride? The fall is really colorful.
Early fall is sounding better all the time as I have an aversion to cold and bugs. I appreciate all the input and yea it seems we'll have to take in Itasca State Park. A friend has suggested staying a few days in Walker, MN which would enable a few day rides on those trails without having to move ( sounds like a nice change up)
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Old 11-18-19, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Early fall is sounding better all the time as I have an aversion to cold and bugs. I appreciate all the input and yea it seems we'll have to take in Itasca State Park. A friend has suggested staying a few days in Walker, MN which would enable a few day rides on those trails without having to move ( sounds like a nice change up)
There are also rental cabins in the Park. We were there in early October, and the weather was starting to get chilly. We tent camped the first night and got a cabin the second night.
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Old 11-19-19, 06:13 AM
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Walker is a great little town to stay in. There are three hotels, two of them right on the trail and the third within a quarter mile. There's a campground right on the trail just north of town. There are great opportunities for day rides out of Walker. You could also do a nice loop by riding the Heartland Trail west from Walker to Park Rapids. Then riding roads north to Itasca State Park, spend a day in the park, then ride roads to Bemidji. Spend a day or two in the Bemidji area before returning to Walker via the Paul Bunyan trail.
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Old 11-19-19, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
A friend has suggested staying a few days in Walker, MN which would enable a few day rides on those trails without having to move ( sounds like a nice change up)
The ACA route I mentioned above goes through Walker. And one option goes through Bemidji.

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Old 11-19-19, 06:37 AM
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Early fall is beautiful but the weather can be cold even in summer. I did a tour through that area in summer one year and the high on July 3 was in the low 40s. I really liked Lake Itasca and Bemidji. It's a fine area to tour in.
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Old 11-19-19, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Early fall is beautiful but the weather can be cold even in summer.
True. The day we rode into Itasca it was chilly and rainy. Probably in the 40s. That was in mid-July. Somewhere at home I have a photo of myself wearing a light, wool sweater and wool cap during our day off there, and those who took the boat tour all had outerwear on.
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Old 11-19-19, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
True. The day we rode into Itasca it was chilly and rainy. Probably in the 40s. That was in mid-July. Somewhere at home I have a photo of myself wearing a light, wool sweater and wool cap during our day off there, and those who took the boat tour all had outerwear on.
Yeah I remember going to a store in that area to look for gloves and other cold weather gear in July. The neat thing about northern MN is that cold weather gear is sold year around!
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Old 11-19-19, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Itasca, which is on the above-described loop, is definitely worth a visit. Stayed in the HI Hostel there for two days crossing the country. Walked across the river as picture above and took a boat tour of the lake. Saw a family of loons. A ranger told us that ice moves around the rocks at the headwaters so every spring they re-arrange them so visitors can walk across the water instead of using the plank.
Alas, the Mississippi Headwaters Hostel in Itasca State Park just closed for good:
https://www.parkrapidsenterprise.com...losing-Oct.-31

I stayed there on my big tour in 2011. It was a nice place.


I also crossed the Mississippi here. Since the air and water was nice, why not just wade across the Mississippi?

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Old 11-20-19, 02:45 PM
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I was on the Northern Tier from Havre to Walker but actually stayed on Rt. 2 from Wolf Pt., MT to Bemidji, Followed the P.B.T. from there to Walker. It was a pleasant morning ride. Met a couple from SoCal who stayed at a local B&B which had a policy of shuttling bicyclists to various points on the trail network so that they could work their way back over the course of the day. They seemed very pleased with the arrangement. I never learned the name but this could be the place. You could also look at this site: https://www.exploreminnesota.com/ped...ing-minnesota/

I will say you probably want to stay on the paths and off the streets in Bemidji, at least the old Rt. 2 heading into town from the west. Got flipped off and cursed at by one driver for not choosing to ride on the sidewalk (at least that was what I was told I should be doing.)
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