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Lake Wobegon Regional Trail

The Lake Wobegon Trail is a 65-mile long, 10-foot wide, bituminous surfaced hike-and-bike pathway. The trail extends through the Central Minnesota counties of Stearns and Todd from the city of Waite Park to the city of Osakis. The trail also has an extension from  Albany heading northeast to Holdingford and the Stearns/Morrison County line.

Read more …Lake Wobegon Trail MapDownload map

Covered bridge on the northern spur in Holdingford on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Covered bridge on the northern spur in Holdingford

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Along the Trail

Church steeples, colleges, cows, lakes and the mythical city of Lake Wobegon greet you on the 65 miles of the Lake Wobegon Trail from Waite Park to Osakis, and a 9.4 mile spur north from Albany to Holdingford .

The paved trail crosses the state’s leading dairy county along eight communities, three lakes, two colleges, two monasteries and the boyhood home of Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis.

Lake Wobegon Country is Dairy Country

Lake Wobegon Country is Dairy Country

Starting at Rivers Edge Park in Waite Park, you’ll cross the Sauk River on this newest section of the Lake Wobegon Trail. En route to St. Joseph you ride along natural areas and farm fields.

Bridge over the Sauk River at Rivers Edge Park in Waite Park on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Bridge over the Sauk River at Rivers Edge Park in Waite Park

Between Saint Joseph and Avon on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Between Saint Joseph and Avon

A few miles outside of St. Joseph, see the old town of Collegeville, which now consists of only a few homes, but once had a popular train depot, boarding house, post office and store. You can turn left at Collegeville for a 2.5-mile side trip to Saint John’s University.

Remnant tracks and a historic marker tell the story of what was once Collegeville Station on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Remnant tracks and a historic marker tell the story of what was once Collegeville Station

At Avon, you’ll find shelters, bathrooms, a water fountain and a two-storied lookout tower/shelter that gives you a bird’s eye view of the surrounding region. The next 5.5 miles is perhaps the most beautiful along this stretch of trail, with deeper woods, prairies and lakes. Keep an eye out for Lady’s Slipper orchids in May and June.

View of the Avon trail head from the observation tower on the Lake Wobegon Trail

View of the Avon trail head from the observation tower

Taking a break near Avon on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Taking a break near Avon

Reelin' in the Big One on Lower Spunk Lake on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Reelin’ in the Big One on Lower Spunk Lake

Just east of Albany, a spur of the Lake Wobegon Trail goes north nine miles to Holdingford, home of Minnesota’s longest covered bridge. This spur connects with the paved Soo Line Trail at the county line and offers pastoral views of a natural landscape. The Soo Line trail goes through Bowlus, crosses the Mississippi River at Blanchard Dam and ends at a trailhead on Highway 10. West of Albany, you’ll find Freeport, the birthplace of Lake Wobegon.

Volunteers tend the flowers at the Holdingford trail head on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Volunteers tend the flowers at the Holdingford trail head

Freeport's water tower smiles on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Freeport’s water tower smiles on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Garrison Keillor is said to have had the inspiration for some of his fictional places here. Head west for 5.7 miles to Melrose, home of the historic St. Mary’s Church and Rectory and the Melrose Area Museum. The official Melrose Trailhead is across the road near the Melrose Feed Mill.

Art along the trail in West Union on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Art along the trail in West Union

Fall scenery near Albany on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Fall scenery near Albany

When you arrive in Sauk Centre, take a detour to see the Original Main Street made famous by Sinclair Lewis in his novel, “Main Street.” Farther up, you will find a city trail dropping back to Sinclair Lewis Park where you can find camping, bathrooms and parking. The 12-mile stretch between Sauk Centre and Osakis veers off into the country through the tiny town of West Union before entering Osakis.

Built on an abandoned railroad grade, the Lake Wobegon Trail has gentle elevation changes

Built on an abandoned railroad grade, the Lake Wobegon Trail has gentle elevation changes

Connections

Just outside of Osakis, continue on to the Central Lakes State Trail, a 55-mile paved trail to Fergus Falls. At the Stearns/Morrison county line north of Albany, the Wobegon connects to the paved Soo Line Trail. A link from Sauk Centre north to Browerville is being explored.

History

The Lake Wobegon and Central Lakes Trail are built on the rail corridor formerly owned by Burlington Northern Railroad Company. As the profitability of the railroad line declined, Burlington Northern leased use of the tracks to smaller short line railroads. One of the last such companies was the Otter Tail Valley Railroad, which ran trains between Moorhead, MN and Avon, MN, from 1986 until1991, when the line was officially abandoned. The Lake Wobegon Regional Trail opened in 1998 and the Central Lakes State Trail was dedicated in 2005. The two trails officially joined near Osakis, MN in 2007.

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