Three separate segments make up the Casey Jones State Trail, which is one of the first state trails authorized by Minnesota state trail legislation in the 1960s. The rail-trail is named for the engineer immortalized in the “Ballad of Casey Jones.” In 1900 in Mississippi, the engineer “died at the throttle” when the train he was conducting collided with another train.
As for the trail itself, it courses through remnants of tallgrass prairie, providing glimpses of wind towers as it travels through woodland ravines amid a sea of agricultural land. The longest section, from Pipestone to just beyond Woodstock, occupies an inactive railroad corridor for 13 miles. This section is paved for 5 miles immediately east of Pipestone. The remaining 8 miles that continue to County Road 65 east of Woodstock are currently scheduled for grading and are being surfaced in aggregate.
Another section runs from CR 26 east for just 1.5 miles into the small town of Lake Wilson.
The third section, which is entirely paved, forms a 6-mile loop from the tiny city of Currie to Lake Shetek State Park. This portion of the Casey Jones State Trail is wheelchair accessible; horses are not allowed. Trail users who want a bit of history may be interested in nearby attractions, including the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Walnut Grove; museums in Currie and Tracy that feature displays of railroad artifacts; and Pipestone National Monument, located about 1.5 miles from the Pipestone trailhead, which highlights the history of local American Indian quarries. In the future, the three disparate segments will be linked through a coordinated effort between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the counties in which the segments are located, although there are no formal plans for construction at this time.
To reach the trailhead in Pipestone, from I-90, take Exit 1 in Minnesota. Follow MN 23 north 28.5 miles. Turn right onto 101st St., and in 0.2 mile turn left onto Eighth Ave. N.E. In 0.6 mile turn right just before the intersection with MN 23, and take the immediate next left on a side road to access parking for the trail.
In Woodstock, access the trail at the community park on East St. From I-90, take Exit 1 in Minnesota. Follow MN 23 north 28.5 miles. Turn right onto 101st St./MN 30, and go 10.4 miles. Turn left onto 180th Ave., and in 1.2 miles turn right onto Third Ave. In 0.2 mile turn left onto East St., and the park will be on your right. Alternatively, from I-90, take Exit 26. Follow MN 91 north 24.6 miles. Turn left onto MN 30/Center Ave., and in 7.9 miles, turn right onto 180th Ave. Follow the directions above beginning on 180th.
Access the trail in Lake Wilson at the community park on First St. E. From I-90, take Exit 26. Follow MN 91 north 24.6 miles. Turn left onto Center Ave., and in 0.3 mile turn right onto Broadway Ave. In 0.3 mile turn right onto First St. E., and the park will be on your right.
To access the paved loop, park in Currie at End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum off Mill St., just south of the trailhead. From I-90, take Exit 43. Follow US 59/N. Humiston Ave. 22.6 miles north. Turn right onto N.E. Second St., and take the first left onto Grand Ave., which becomes 210th Ave., then 121st St., and then 200th Ave. Follow it 9 miles, and turn left onto MN 30. In 0.1 mile turn right onto Mill St. In 0.6 mile the park will be on your right, and the trail is on your left.
You can also park at Lake Shetek State Park. To reach the state park, follow the directions above to Mill St. Follow Mill St. 2 miles, as it becomes 200th Ave. Turn left onto County Road 37/State Park Road, and go 1.7 miles to the state park.