May 16, 2013
As time passes roads are improved or fall into disrepair, paths are created, conditions become more or less favorable for bicycle travel. In response, we adjust our routes to accommodate these changes. Sometimes route changes happen due to safety issues such as the reroute we implemented across North Dakota in 2012. Often they are minor adjustments. Happily, route changes also occur because opportunities arise to incorporate new developments.
Donn Olson, who manages a Northern Tier Cyclist Only Lodging and Camping location in Dalbo, Minnesota on his property, contacted us in 2010 to let us know he had been directing cyclists passing through his bunkhouse to use the Minnesota rail-trail system and was hearing rave reviews as a result. We were intrigued. Coincidentally, later that year we also received a packet of research from a group of cyclists in Minnesota containing suggestions that mirrored Donn's.
Unfortunately, timing is everything and these suggestions arrived while we were in the middle of converting the two effected map sections — Northern Tier sections 5 and 6 — to our new Geographic Information Systems (GIS) process. There simply wasn't time to implement such an extensive reroute. We were forced to settle for including information and weblinks in the Riding Conditions area of the map.
When these two sections came up for reprint recently, Routes & Mapping Director Carla Majernik built in some extra time to bring the changes to the maps. GIS Specialist/Cartographer Nathan Taylor was asked to take on this updating task.
We are happy to announce these maps have been received from the printer and are now available for purchase!
All, or parts of, five different paved rail-trails — Central Lakes, Lake Wobegon, Soo Line, Paul Bunyan and Heartland — now make up about a third of those two map sections on the main route and alternates.
While working on the maps, Nathan got to know the area pretty well, at least from an in-the-office map point of view and says the area is pretty interesting, "The Central Lakes Trail traverses an area heavily influenced by its Norwegian settlement history and an archaeological object of interest — the Alexandria Runestone. Garrison Keillor dedicated the grand opening of Lake Wobegon Trail, rode through several communities along the new route, and even wrote a song about the trail and performed it on Prairie Home Companion. The Paul Bunyan Trail visits many small towns that have erected various statues and monuments to Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox, his wife Lucette, even a water tower shaped like his fishing bobber." What's not to love about points of interest like these?
You will have to choose one set of rail-trails over another if you're riding these sections as part of a cross-country journey. If you're looking for a tour of 500 miles or less, the two sections when purchased together create a great loop route.
There are services available at regular intervals and plenty of camping opportunities in national forests, city parks, and state campgrounds. A bonus of traveling by bicycle in Minnesota is their Department of Natural Resources' statewide No Turn Away Policy. Cyclists and hikers arriving at a full state park campground will always be accommodated.
We look forward to hearing your reports of this new routing.
Photo 1 Enjoying a break on the Lake Wobegone State trail from Steve Ferree's Flickr photostream
Map Graphic by Adventure Cycling Routes & Mapping Department
Photo 1 Biking on the Paul Bunyon State Trail from ken ratcliff's Flickr photostream
Photo 3 On a bike trail outside of Osakis, Minnesota from all the suns are blue tonight's Flickr photostream
GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.