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Find the top rated birding trails in Bemidji, whether you're looking for an easy short birding trail or a long birding trail, you'll find what you're looking for. Click on a birding trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
|Trail Image||Trail Name||States||Length||Surface||Rating|
The Blue Ox–Voyageur Trail is a multi-use trail that permits ATVs and snowmobiles. It also accommodates mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians along the former railroad right-of-way between...
|MN||96.5 mi||Ballast, Dirt||
The Heartland State Trail is one of many long-distance trails managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. When established in 1974, it became one of the first rail-trail conversions in...
Paul Bunyan State Trail, stretching 119 miles from Bemidji to Brainerd, is one of the longest rail-trails in the country. The multiuse, fully paved trail is mainly for nonmotorized use; however,...
The Shingobee Connection Trail, spanning nearly 7 miles, offers a key link between two much longer rail-trails—the Paul Bunyan State Trail and Heartland State Trail—making it possible to travel more...
The Soo Line North Trail travels for 113 miles through forest and bog between Moose Lake in the south and Cass Lake in the north. The trail, which is popular with ATVs in the summer and snowmobiles in...
|MN||113 mi||Ballast, Gravel||
The Wapiti Trail is primarily used by snowmobilers and connects with the Big Red Lake Bog and McTrail system trails. The remote trail passes among boreal forests of willow and poplar. You may see...
|MN||50.17 mi||Ballast, Dirt, Grass||
Our first ride, we rode the section from Pine River to Brainerd and back to Pine River (68.35 miles RT). Very nice trail, mostly flat. Follows the highway for the first 7 miles or so but then moves away. Most scenic from Nisswa to Brainerd. Many sections of bumpy “seams” but not the entire ride...they come and go. No one on the trail until the afternoon, then it became a little busy but mostly around the small towns. Many places to stop and rest along the way. Highlight of our ride was spotting two bald eagles perched in a tree no more than 50 ft from us. The 2nd section, we rode north, starting at the Walker Hotel, down to the trail and followed the trail to the 18 mile marker (41.32 miles RT). There were some rough spots in the trail but for the most part, it was a nice, quiet, smooth ride.
We, my husband and I, rode a 20 mile round trip on this trail on August 31, 2019. The stretch of the trail which we were on, from Brainerd and Merrifield, was safe, clean and well maintained. It is fairly flat, so no real chances for coasting! I call it a Zen Trail because I felt safe enough in my riding to let my mind relax and simply take in the natural surroundings.
It is a good stretch for families, walkers and even slow bikers. There were several benches and one picnic table by a shelter.
Nice trail with some small town fun sites like Akeley’s Paul Bunyan, stop and pose on his hand, Nevis’ huge Muskie. We love the many MN trails. Thanks for paving all these trails.
We’ve done several sections of this trail. Some parts north of Brainerd are a little bumpy through the small towns. Our favorite section is the 8.5 miles going west towards the Heartland trail, north of Hackensack, south of Walker.
Peaceful well maintained trail.
As a connection trail it’s good and parts out of town are nice. But there are a lot of crossings and the highway one was crazy. Pretty high speed traffic, could use an overpass or some safer way to cross.
My friend and I biked from brainerd to pine river . 64 miles round trip. The trail is flat which is awesome. Also most of the trail from Brainerd is straight for miles. Easy to bike and lots forest. Scenic from nisswa.
the trail does NOT go over the massive Little Fork River. be careful
Toured this trail and was shocked at how poorly maintained it was. Heaved pavement everywhere and overall bad surface. I broke 3 spokes and gave up the trail halfway through in favor of riding the roads. Roads in Minnesota are beautifully maintained. The trails should be too. The state does not live up to its bicycle friendly reputation.
We are from Missouri in our 60's and look for rails-trails (preferably paved) where we can stay comfortably along the trail and park our car in a safe location. In Sept 2017 we stayed at a resort in Backus MN before riding and arranged a 4 day ride from Backus to Bemidji and back, which would result in about 30 miles per day. Weather was unusually warm on day 1, but misty for the rest of our tour. Fortunately it rained only at night while we were under a roof. Day 1 we biked to Walker, a town on shore of Leech Lake with a brief stop in Hackensack for breakfast. On the way to Walker, rather than taking the Shingobee shortcut, we took the Paul Bunyan trail through the Chippewa Forest, which is not a rail-trail- it is a paved mountain bike trail with some steep sections for 9 miles before joining up with the Heartland rail-trail into Walker. But that Chippewa stretch was well worth it, beautiful scenery. We stayed at Walker Hotel, nice facility with good breakfast about 3 blocks off the trail. Anyone interested in outdoor sports must go to the Reeds sports store in Walker! (about 6 blocks from hotel but no biking stuff) And there are nice tourist shops and a brewery in Walker. Then on to Bemidji on day 2, with a brief stop at the LaPorte grocery, as there aren't many places to stock up on that stretch. Contrary to previous reviews, we found the trail in Bemidji to be well marked all the way to the new bridge over highways to our hotel, which is close to the lakeshore park where statues of Paul Bunyan and Blue Ox and downtown stores are. Lots of good shopping and restaurants in downtown, check out the cooperative store and the Bemidji Brewery, maybe also the Minnesota Nice Café. Day 3 was back to Walker with a stop for pizza at the PoppleBar in LaPorte. Day 4 we took the Shingobee shortcut out of the southeast corner of Walker, to connect with the Paul Bunyan back to Backus. Note that the Shingobee also has some short but very steep sections. Overall, the trail was well maintained, no bugs, only a few sections of bumpy roots, and we met some nice folks. Will come back to do the southern section of the PB trail someday.
We used panniers to carry our things and did laundry along the way. But if you don’t want to do that you can use the shuttle service Dennis at Embracing Pines provides. He also has a terrific B&B right along the trail you can stay at and get shuttled to a different stop each day.
Flew to Minneapolis / St Paul and took the Executive Shuttle to Brainerd / Baxter MN. Shuttle driver was great though and dropped us at LifeCycles where we rented bikes (pre-arranged since their rentals are in Nisswa) – call and talk to Zach the owner. We rode the 2 miles to our hotel and stayed at the Baymont Inn. Dinner was at the Boulder Tap House the first night and they have 36 beers on tap and have avocado fries – so delicious. Staying at the Arrowhead Lodge would have been better since the shuttle drops there. Hunt around for the trail on Google Maps – you have to cross 371 – be careful. Rode 10 or 15 miles on the trail and checked out the small town of Brainerd. Lots of food establishments.
Rode 47 miles from Baymont Inn in Baxter to Crow Wing State Park and on to Nisswa. Walked around a little bit of the tourist shops and saw a Barbie collection and other nostalgic items. Drank a flight at Axe Brewery and learned that they play 18 holes of golf on the lake here in the winter. Each hole has a restaurant or brewery to taste and there are thousands of people. Ate pizza at Raffertys. Stayed in the Nisswa Hotel right there and the owner is Bob. Right after you leave Nisswa there is a Laundromat literally feet from the trail in Pine River about 5 miles north of Nisswa. There is another one in Backus just after Pine River.
Rode 32 miles to Hackensack.
Stayed in Hackensack at the Owl’s Nest hotel. Right in town there is a statue of Paul Bunyan and his girlfriend Lucette. Also a beautiful etched marble bench. Owls Nest motel is small but clean and generally ok. Ate spaghetti at Lucette’s Pizza of course. Dinner was at Udom Thai and then breakfast the next day was supposed to be at Joe's Vittles. Those are the three best restaurants here and there are only like 5. One is called Butts and Buns and the other is Char Broiled. At Char Broiled the food looked really good too and they have lots of beer on tap and allow you to try them with a flight. We also keep seeing signs for a meat raffle. Weird. Also in every town there is a water tower with the town name on it. This is a very small town and not nearly as nicely kept as Nisswa.
Rode 39 miles to Park Rapids
Left Owls Nest at 8:30 after skipping Joe's Vittles due to a steady drizzle of rain. We rode 38 miles through the Chippewa state forest. The forest section is 9 miles or so and slightly hilly and very beautiful and remote. Made our way to Park Rapids by turning onto the Heartland Trail. We made a point of stopping in Akeley to see the memorial to veterans and an enormous statue of Paul Bunyan. Arrived in Park Rapids at the Red Bridge Inn and host Chris was there to meet us. You can see this B&B from the trail. Chris and Robyn are the hosts. Chris was so wonderful and brought our bikes and us inside. Let us do laundry and helped us with getting settled. This is definitely the place to stay in Park Rapids. We ate a quick lunch at Subway and ate a terrific Mexican dinner at Vallartes. Relaxed the afternoon away with tea in this beautiful B&B.
Rode 28 miles to Walker MN after an enormous breakfast at the Red Bridge Inn. Stopped in Dorset (lots of restaurants) and Nevis (giant fish statue) and Akeley (home of the largest Paul Bunyan statue and a museum. We saw a small beaver swimming in one of the many lakes. Arrived in Walker and stayed at Chase on the Lake. The resort is beautiful with flowers and the town is kept up. We found three tall cryptmaria like bushes against a bank where there were a hundred or so finches chatting. Very cool. We went to Portage brewery and had a sampler flight and a stout pint. They use wild yeast and this is the best beer ever. Then we went to the Superone grocery store and got dinner. There are a lot of restaurants in town – but we were tired out.
Rode 32 miles
Next day we rode the Shingobee connection trail and then came back to town. We got a Subway sandwich and rode an hour or so towards Cass Lake. Turned around at mile 38 or so (11 miles from the lake) and came back. Took great photos of purple martins. Ate dinner at Zona Rosa. It was definitely only one or two stars. Got more breakfast and snacks at SuperOne. Walked around town and looked in the little shops – but this town closes up early.
Rode 32 miles to Bemidji
After leaving Walkter we stopped in LaPorte and bought water and ate snacks and the grocery there makes lunch and is very good. Rode to Bemidji and rode through the college town and along the lake. Stayed at the Country Inn and Suites literally 20 feet from the trail. Had beer in the hotel bar called JJ’s (great) and rode bikes to Dave’s pizza for a veggie pizza and spaghetti and it was super. There is a brewery and Tara Bemidji restaurant we really wanted to try but they were closed that day. There is also a very cute B&B in town called Lake Bemidji B&B but we didn’t stay there. Rode back and after sunset the bugs were horrible so we used the guest laundry. Tomorrow we go back to Brainerd on the shuttle with Dennis from the Embracing Pines B&B.
Rode the 26 miles again to Crow Wing State Park from Baxter / Brainerd.
Used the Executive Shuttle service to return to Minneapolis Saint Paul airport.
I parked next to Paul Bunyan and Babe in downtown Bemidji. Very nicely kept park, much improved from the abandoned amusement park that was there when I first saw them many years ago. I rode up the west shore of Lake Bemidji to the northern end, then through the state park and down the east shore of the lake.
I didn't have any issues with signage on the trail, although part of it just south of where I parked was closed for sidewalk construction. From the city trail 2 blocks west I made the connection to a trail bridge over the highway and continued on my way. The only confusion came on the north side of the bridge, where the trail loops back in the opposite direction before looping again at the lakeshore in an exaggerated "S" shape.
There were occasional views of the lake through the trees before lakeshore development took over and bumped the trail further away. The surface was excellent throughout. At the abrupt end of the trail I doubled back for a short while to the turnoff into Lake Bemidji State Park. This route had some ups and downs and fast curves before ending at a campsite. I then took the road straight through to the park entrance and turned left on the marked bike route, a county highway with a wide paved shoulder.
This is when I encountered the only less than ideal riding conditions. The paved shoulder disappeared and I had to continue a while longer until turning left again to head south on a rather busy state highway. But it wasn't long until I reached the turn to a quiet side street that took me the rest of the way to the college campus and a separate bike trail through the parks to Paul and Babe.
I then headed south through a well-signed on road section and back to dedicated trail south. I intended to stop at Guthrie and head back, but turned around sooner when Guthrie didn't show up where I expected, but threatening weather did. It was a very nice ride, and a little work to separate the full lake circle route from traffic would have made it perfect.
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