The gold finches have turned yellow, the buds on the trees are turning to leaves and a paving machine has laid new asphalt on a major portion of the Paul Bunyan Trail between Guthrie to Walker.
Now, the Paul Bunyan State Trail will be approximately 120 miles long and extend from Crow Wing State Park, south of Brainerd/Baxter, to Lake Bemidji State Park, north of Bemidji,. The completed trail will run through Brainerd/Baxter, Walker and Bemidji. With the completion of the Guthrie to Walker section, approximately 112 miles of the trail will be paved.
The only remaining undeveloped sections will be between Crow Wing State Park, to be completed in 2011, and Brainerd/Baxter; and through the City of Bemidji. The Crow Wing State Park connection is in the route-planning stage and the connection through the City of Bemidji is on-road at this time. Plans for making both of these off-road connections are underway.
The region is rich in history, having been inhabited for centuries before French explorers came to the area. Thirteen recorded prehistoric sites have been identified near the Paul Bunyan State Trail alone. The Ojibwe and Dakota were present in the area until explorers entered the region and the logging and railroad industry took over. Most towns along the trails have a rich railroad and logging history. Now they are popular vacation destinations and provide trail access points, rest areas and services. They also provide a major part of the regional identity and sites of historic interest.
Main summer uses of developed portions of the Paul Bunyan State Trail include hiking, bicycling, and in-line skating. Snowmobiling is the primary winter use along both the paved and undeveloped sections of the trail, however studded tracks are prohibited on the paved surface. The trail provides connections to many miles of groomed snowmobile trails in the county Grants-in-Aid trail system. When completed, the Paul Bunyan State Trail will also connect with the Blue Ox Trail forming one of the longest rail to trail conversions in North America - 210 miles.