Root River State Trail

Root River State Trail

Root River Trail bluffs
The trail follows an old railway that was carved into sandstone bluffs.


North Church Street Peterson,MN
United States
43° 47' 20.8032" N, 91° 50' 49.4736" W


The scenic Root River Trail in the heart of southeastern Minnesota's Bluff Country runs from Fountain all the way through Lanesboro, Whalan, Peterson, Rushford and Houston for a total of 42 miles. The former rail bed follows the meandering Root River through spectacular limestone bluffs, picturesque farms, and small towns. It is generally flat and level, except for short stretches on its eastern segment.

At Isinours Junction, the Root River Trail connects with the 18-mile long Harmony-Preston Valley Trail. The northern two-thirds of this trail are built on abandoned railroad grade and are fairly flat.  The southern segment leaves the constraints of the railroad bed and climbs to the rim of the valley with great views of the countryside. Stop and see a large sinkhole at the Karst Interpretive Site one-half of a mile from Harmony. A similar site is about a mile from Fountain on the Root River Trail.

Historic buildings and rural communities along both trails have points of interest to trail users. They also provide many services. Campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, museums, outfitters, and unique stores are found in many of the trail towns.

Summer uses on both trails include hiking, biking, and inline skating. Trails are groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter.



Fountain: From Highway 52 take County Road 8 about one mile to parking lot by city park/softball field.

Preston: Highway 52 to Fillmore St. (Co. Road 12), approximately 1/2 mile to the parking lot.

Lanesboro: Parking along streets, at the parking lot by the Community Center and Sylvan Park.

Whalan: On the street.

Peterson: From Highway 16, turn west onto Highway 25 (Mill St.) into town; turn south on Fillmore St. to city park/campground.

Rushford: From Highway 16, turn north on Elm Street (State Hwy. 43), go one block west. Parking lot is by old depot

Houston: Houston Nature Center, turn west on Plum Street off of Hwy 76, go one block.

Harmony: Hwy 52, to 4th Street NW, approximately ½ mile west to the parking lot.

Other DNR facilities include Forestville State Park, Beaver Creek Valley State Park, Root River Water Trail, R.J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest and Rushford Sand Barrens S.N.A.




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