Pipestone’s Bike Trails Are Worth a Spin
The Trails team just visited the city of Pipestone in the far southwestern corner of Minnesota to check out two wonderful bike trails. Combining both, an out and back on the Casey Jones State Trail and a spin on the Indian Lake Trail, we were able to get in a good thirty-mile ride. The two trails don’t connect, but are less than a one-mile ride apart.
The Casey Jones Trail is the first rails to trails conversion in Minnesota, authorized in 1967. It consists of three main sections totaling about 19 miles. but not yet connected to one another: Eight paved miles and two gravel miles between Pipestone and Woodstock, followed by two miles of natural surface trail. 1.5 miles of natural surface west of Lake Wilson and a 5.5-mile mile paved loop between Lake Shetek State Park and Currie. The out and back ride from the Pipestone trailhead gives riders a close up look at farm fields and wind turbines and makes for an easy afternoon outing. The so-called Currie Loop does not have a designated trailhead, but parking is available at Forman Acres County Park just outside Lake Shetek State Park or End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum. Another option is to park at the picnic area inside the state park, ride the park road and access the trail at the park office. Traveling counter-clockwise from there, you’ll first pass the Lake Shetek State Monument and ride between Smith and Shetek Lakes. At a dam at the very southern tip of Lake Shetek, the Des Moines River emerges. After another mile, the trail takes a sharp left turn at End-O-Line and makes its way back to the park. Eventually, the Casey Jones Trail will span over 100 miles from Luverne through Pipestone to Redwood Falls.
When complete, the Indian Lake Trail will make a loop of about four miles on the northern end of town. Currently, it travels north from the city campground, then heads west to round the northern edge of the wildlife refuge adjacent to Pipestone National Monument. This section has great views of restored prairie and its namesake lake with spots to pull over and take in the scenery. The paved route ends at 9th St NW after about 2.5 miles, but the next phase of construction will have it extend through Hiawatha Pageant Park to complete the loop at the campground. A later phase will have a leg extend south into downtown Pipestone.