This trail is so nice they named it twice: Sakatah is the Dakota word for Singing Hills. The Dakota people of the Great Sioux Nation originally lived in this scenic part of Minnesota, where the Big Woods once met the prairie. A rail line was built through the area in the late 19th century and abandoned by the Chicago & North Western in the 1970s. In 1980, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources opened the routewhich they had acquired shortly after abandonmentas a rail-trail.
The Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail runs through a beautiful landscape of farmland, lakes, wetlands and woods. The two anchor towns of Faribault (on the eastern end) and Mankato (to the west) are the trail's largest, with many restaurants and shops. In Watervillenear the trail's midpointthe trail leaves the former railroad corridor for a short signed detour on city streets. Other towns on the route are smaller but can serve as refreshing rest stops.
At times, the trail runs immediately adjacent to several large lakes, including Wells Lake, Cannon Lake, Sakatah Lake, Lake Elysian and Eagle Lake. Be sure to stop for an extended rest at Sakatah Lake State Park; the trail runs through the park for 3 miles, and it is a great place to picnic, hike or swim.
In Mankato, connect directly with the North Minnesota River Trail
, which leads to the Red Jacket Trail
and its stunning trestle over the Blue Earth River. In Faribault, the planned Mill Towns Trail
will eventually link the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail with the existing Cannon Valley Trail
. When complete, a journey from Mankato to Red Wing (the eastern endpoint of the Cannon Valley Trail) would be just shy of 100 miles long on a single converted railroad corridor.
The primary western trailhead for the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is located in Mankato on Lime Valley Road, just north of N. Riverfront Drive. In Faribault, park at the White Sands Dog Park on State Route 21/Lyndale Avenue N. The park is located north of 7th Street NW.
Parking is plentiful in many of the smaller towns along the trail's route as well. Refer to the TrailLink map for the exact locations of these parking lots.