Along much of its route the Root River State Trail follows the winding course of its namesake river for 42 miles through the Minnesota towns of Fountain, Lanesboro, Whalan, Peterson, Rushford and Houston. The paved trail is mostly level, although a section just west of Houston (around Money Creek Woods) has some steep hills for about 0.5 mile.
Along the way you'll have outstanding views of the tall limestone bluffs rising above the river. Watch for wildlife, such as turkeys, deer, raccoons and birds of prey. You might also encounter rattlesnakes sunning themselves on rock outcrops or along the river bottom and trail. Please leave them be; they are a protected species.
The towns along the way provide many amenities, including B&Bs, campgrounds, restaurants, museums, outfitters and interesting shops as well as historical buildings. Trail managers remind you not to leave valuables in your car while out on the trail.
The trail is built upon an old railroad right-of-way that followed the river, linking the rural communities in this part of the state. The trail is popular with cyclists, hikers and inline skaters; cross-county skiing is popular during winter, and the trail intersects with a system of groomed snowmobile trails.
Between Lanesboro and Fountain, the trail meets up with the 18-mile long Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail.
Parking is available in all the towns along the way and a few outlying areas.
Fountain: From US 52 take CR 8, about 1 mile to parking lot by city park/softball field Lanesboro: On-street parking and at the parking lot by the Community Center and Sylvan Park; also by the softball field
Lanesboro: In the lot next to the Bass Pond off CR 8; also on-street and at the parking lot by the Community Center/Sylvan Park
Rushford: From SR16, turn north on Elm Street (State Hwy. 43), go 1 block west; park by old depot.
Whalen: On street
Peterson: From SR 16, turn west onto SR 25 (Mill St.) into town; turn south on Fillmore St. to city park/campground
Rushford: West end of town just off SR 16
Houston: Nature Center at the end of Plum St.