The Shooting Star State Trail connects four small towns in southeastern Minnesota: Le Roy, Taopi, Adams, and Rose Creek. At nearly 19 miles long, the paved pathway offers a beautiful array of countryside views as it follows the Upper Iowa River, enters Lake Louise State Park, and continues through open prairie, wetlands and small patches of woodland. For much of the way, the trail parallels Minnesota State Highway 56, a scenic byway lined with wildflowers, including the attractive pink and purple blossoms for which the trail is named.
The route follows the former Milwaukee Road (also known as the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad), which first began in Wisconsin in 1850 and eventually stretched from the Midwest to the Rocky Mountains. A community group called Prairie Visions has been spearheading the rail-trail's development since 1992.
Construction has started on an 8-mile western extension of the trail from Rose Creek to Austin and is expected to be completed by summer 2016.
There is plenty of parking at the trailheads in both Le Roy and Adams, with restrooms and covered picnic areas. Taopi also has a restroom and picnic table with parking.