Minnesota’s Paul Bunyan State Trail, named for the legendary large logger, is arguably the state’s favorite paved trail for hiking, biking, inline skating, snowmobiling, and is now destined to be a geocaching mecca.
Geocaching is a free outdoor treasure hunt where players try to locate hidden containers called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online. This rapidly growing sport is for those who love technology, nature and adventure. Participants of all ages navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
The 110-mile paved Paul Bunyan State Trail originally connected the towns along its length by the train that traveled the distance regularly. About 1993, the rail-to-trail conversion resulted in a multi-use recreational trail which has been predominately used by snowmobilers and bicyclists. With the recent addition of nearly 900 geocaches by members of the NorthStar GeoSeekers Club, the area is destined to host new adventures for visitors and locals alike.
Geocaching, the creators of the geocaching sport, Geoaching apps and the web site www.geocaching.com, has as its mission: to inspire outdoor play using location-based technology that supports outdoor recreational areas and brings online communities together in physical locations. The GeoTourism concept provided a great opportunity for the trail town tourism organizations of Visit Bemidji, Leech Lake Chamber-Walker, Pine River Chamber, Brainerd Lakes Chamber-Pequout Lakes, Nisswa Chamber and Visit Brainerd, with support from Explore Minnesota Tourism, to unite in marketing the area to visitors from around the globe to Minnesota’s Northwest Central Region.
The MN Paul Bunyan GeoTour stretches the length of the 110-mile rail-to-trail Paul Bunyan State Trail. Local geocachers have placed so many geocaches along it that it is known in the geocaching community as a ‘power trail’. So whether you are new to the sport, or an experienced geocacher, the opportunity to experience adventure and fun in Paul Bunyan’s backyard is as legendary as he is.
While geocaching can be an all season sport, the best seasons for this GeoTour are spring, summer and fall. Due to the length of the trail and the plethora of activities to enjoy in the trail towns and along the trail, many plan to spend several days exploring the area. Discovering the Paul Bunyan Trail geocaches is often done by bicycle. Information on lodging, bike rental, shuttle and other services in the area is available at www.paulbunyantrail.org.
Including geocaching in your vacation plans provides an opportunity to explore the area beyond the typical ‘tourist’ perspective. For more information go to: www.geocaching.com/adventures/geotours/paul-bunyan