The Douglas State Trail occupies the railbed of the former Chicago Great Western Railway corridor between the cities of Rochester and Pine Island. Several of the concrete obelisk railroad mile markers are still visible along parts of the route.
Along the trail, users are treated to a diverse, bucolic landscape of verdant agricultural land, rolling fields, and forest. Not far from Rochester, the trail passes through its namesake town of Douglas. The trail is paved over its entire route, but there is also a parallel natural-surface treadway for horseback riders and snowmobilers. In Rochester, connect directly with the Douglas-Cascade Trail to continue farther into Rochester’s extensive 60-mile trail system within the city.
The trail crosses over the Zumbro River and two creeks along the route as it winds through a canopy of hardwoods lining the trail. It also passes by, and through, working farms, mixing agriculture with nature along its route. Recently widened and repaved, the trail provides a smooth, flat ride throughout. Two bridges damaged in the floods of 2010 closed the trail for two years but have since been repaired.
Just before crossing County Road 3, about 4 miles south of Pine Island, you can rest at a shelter next to the trail. There is a gravel parking lot providing access to the trail from New Haven Road. A couple of benches at other points on the trail provide convenient rest stops along the route.
Ample parking and services at each major trailhead make it easy to enjoy segments of this trail: about 8 miles between Douglas and Pine Island to the north or the 4-mile stretch between Rochester and Douglas in the southern segment.
Several county roads (some gravel) intersect this trail along its course, providing short-looped excursions off the main route. There is often limited parking at these intersections.
The Pine Island trailhead offers a Borrow-a-Bike program for those who would like to ride the trail.
Three trailheads along the route provide parking and restrooms, and all are accessible within a few miles from US 52.
To reach the northern trailhead from Saint Paul, go 59.7 miles south on US 52, and take the County Road 11 exit. Turn right onto Center Drive, and in 0.5 mile turn left onto First Ave. N.E. Pine Island City Park is on the left.
To reach the Douglas trailhead midway along the trail, from Saint Paul, go 69.1 miles south on US 52, and take Exit 61 for US 63/CR 14/75th St. N.W. Turn right onto 75th St. N.W./CR 14, and go 2.6 miles. Parking is on the left.
To reach the southern trailhead in Rochester, from Saint Paul, go 71.2 miles south on US 52, and take Exit 59 for CR 22 W./W. Circle Drive/55th St. N.W. Turn right onto 55th St. N.W./W. Circle Drive, and go 2 miles. Turn left onto Valleyhigh Drive N.W. in Rochester. The parking lot will be on your left in 0.2 mile.