Phase one of the development of central Minnesota’s Dairyland Trail was completed in April 2013, allowing trail users to hike, bike, or ride a horse for more than 6 miles between the small towns of Elrosa and Greenwald. The trail, named in recognition of Stearns County’s status as the top dairy producer in Minnesota, occupies a Soo Line Railroad corridor developed as a railroad in the early 1900s and rendered inactive in 1996. The trail will eventually stretch for 26 miles between Albany and Brooten.
The open portion of the trail passes through a landscape of cornfields, prairie remnants, and dairy farms. Small game and upland bird hunting is allowed on the trail, with specific restrictions determined by local ordinances.
When completed, the trail will link directly with the paved Lake Wobegon Trail in Albany, which offers several other connections to trails throughout the heart of Minnesota. It will also become part of a regional snowmobile trail network; all-terrain vehicles will not be allowed on this trail.
Currently, all services and facilities (that is, parking, restaurants, restrooms, drinking water, and equestrian areas) are available only in the trailhead communities of Elrosa and Greenwald. Drinking water at the baseball field in Elrosa is available only during summer.
Parking is available year-round in Elrosa (the current southern terminus of the trail) at the parking lot for the baseball field and trail on Second Ave. From I-94, take Exit 135. Head south on Second Ave. E./County Road 13, and drive 4.9 miles. Turn left onto MN 4, and in 2 miles, turn right onto W. Railroad Ave./CR 13. In 6.7 miles turn left onto Main St. Take the first right onto Second Ave., which dead-ends in 0.2 mile at the baseball field.
To reach the trail parking lot across from the Greenwald Pub in Greenwald, from I-94, take Exit 135. Head south on Second Ave. E./CR 13, and drive 4.9 miles. Turn left onto MN 4, and in 2 miles, turn right onto W. Railroad Ave. In 0.1 mile the parking lot will be on your left at S. Third St.