We have known this for a long time and now it is official.
Minnesota was named the “Best Trails State” in the nation by American Trails, a national trails group.
Mark Holsten, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said this is the result of hard work of many different trail groups.
"Active partnerships with all trail users and support groups are the cornerstone of this successful trails system," Holsten said in prepared remarks. "The DNR would like to thank all of our partners - including all trail providers, trail advisory groups, and trail users - for supporting Minnesota trails."
American Trails recognized two Minnesotans with individual awards:
• Ron Potter, recreation manager for the DNR, received a State Trail Advocacy Award for his work amid budget restrictions.
• David Halsey, president of the Woodtick Wheelers ATV/OHM Club, received a State Trail Worker Award. He organized the club to reopen ATV areas in the Chippewa National Forest, and became a volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service to help the two groups cooperate.
The Minnesota DNR manages more than 600 miles of paved trails for biking, 1,000 miles of equestrian trails, 1,300 miles of cross-country skiing trails, 1,000 miles of off-highway vehicle trails, 4,400 miles of water trails, 1,000 miles of snowmobile trails, and several thousand miles of hiking trails.
Trails managed through a grant-in-aid system by local units of government and local clubs include more than 21,000 miles of snowmobile trails, 700 miles of cross-country ski trails, and 1,300 miles of off-highway vehicle trails.
Walking and hiking are the most popular activities on Minnesota trails, followed by biking, running, inline skating, ATV riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.
“Minnesota’s extensive, scenic trails are a major draw for travelers and a significant asset to the tourism business in our state,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism.
“These trails make your heart beat faster,” added Chuck Laszewski, communications director for the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota. “These trails eliminate your stress levels. You cannot be on a horse in southwestern Minnesota and be grumpy. You cannot be bicycling the Gitchi-Gami trail, with Lake Superior over your shoulder, and not smile.”
A University of Minnesota economic impact study found that spending at Minnesota trails totaled more than $2.4 billion in 2008 and that some 30,900 full-time and part-time jobs were supported by trail spending. Walking and hiking are the most popular activities on Minnesota trails, followed by biking, running, inline skating, ATV riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.
The Best Trails State award is presented every two years by American 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.
American Trails cited Minnesota for passing the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Act, which will provide 14.25 percent of the new sales tax money to parks and trails.
Founded in 1988 and based in Redding, Calif., American Trails has been working toward creating a national infrastructure of trails and greenways. Its members include parks departments, municipalities, contractors, recreation associations and others involved in the construction, maintenance and promotion of parks and trails.
More about American Trails can be found at www.americantrails.org.